Vinyl records require a lot of maintenance if you want them to provide you with the best sound quality. However, people sometimes leave them on the turntable so that they will not need to position it again once they want to play music. While that sounds convenient, what you don’t know is that it can damage your vinyl record.
Leaving your record out of its sleeve will or on the turntable will expose it to dirt and dust. It will also increase the risk of damaging the record’s surface. In the long run, the sound quality of your vinyl record will degrade until you can no longer use it.
Apart from leaving your vinyl record on the turntable, other things can ruin it. Fortunately, you can take several steps to keep the integrity of your record.
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Leaving Your Record On The Turntable: Is It Bad?
If you want to get the best possible audio quality from your vinyl record, you need to exert a significant amount of discipline. Unlike digital music that does not require any maintenance, vinyl records need lots of time and care to remain in their best state.
If you are new to collecting vinyl records, you may have tried leaving it on the turntable, so you can simply play it whenever you want to. But as good as that sounds, leaving your record on the turntable while it is not in use can ruin it.
Ideally, the only time you can keep your record out of its sleeve is while using it. If you leave it on the platter or for an extended period, you are exposing the vinyl record to dirt and dust. Leaving the record on the turntable often will increase the risk of damaging its surface.
Even if your turntable has a dust cover, leaving the record on the platter when not in use is still not ideal. A vinyl record sleeve or jacket is there for a reason, and that is to protect your record. So, make sure that you put your vinyl record in it the moment you are done playing some good music.
Bad Habits That Damage Your Vinyl Record
Knowing how to clean your vinyl record is one thing. But that is only the beginning of maintaining it. Apart from cleaning, you should be aware of your habits to avoid to ensure that you are not damaging your record.
- Horizontally Stacking Your Records
Horizontally storing your vinyl records on your storage shelf makes sense. However, this storage method is the most common habit that every record owner should avoid.
Under extreme conditions, stacking your records can render them unplayable. Putting your records on top of each other will apply excess weight to those stored under the stack. That can lead to warping and permanent damage to the record sleeve.
For that reason, store your vinyl records vertically to prevent warping caused by pressure.
- Touching The Surface Of Your Record
Your hands have dirt, natural oil, and grease. Touching the vinyl record will transfer these oils and dirt to the surface. That will result in the griming build-up, and the dirt and dust that stuck to the oil your hand transferred to the record’s surface will contribute to wearing the stylus.
To avoid damaging your vinyl record, always handle it by the outer edge. In case you touched the surface accidentally, the best thing to do is to clean it immediately.
If you cannot avoid touching your record, use a record cleaning solution to clean your hand prior to handling.
- Picking Up The Record Even Before The Platter Stops
Removing the record from the turntable even before the platter stops spinning will scratch the wax’s other side. Flipping the record as soon as you turn the turntable off to play your favorite song may sound tempting. However, your patience can go a long way in preventing any damage to your vinyl record.
- Carelessly Pitting The Vinyl Record Back To Its Sleeve
Some people let their vinyl record drop as it enters the sleeve. This habit will damage not only the record but also the sleeve.
If you let the record slip into the sleeve often, you will end up punching a hole into the bottom of the sleeve. It is also likely that you will scratch the surface of the record.
To prevent these damages, open the sleeve wide enough. This way, you will be able to reduce contact with the vinyl record.
- Poor Cleaning Practice
One thing you need to avoid when cleaning your vinyl record is using household cleaning products. Using harsh chemicals to clean your record will be the fastest way to render it useless.
In my experience, this is one of the biggest problems people have when trying to increase the longevity of their vinyl collection.
Vinyl records are delicate as they consist of polyvinyl chloride. Even the slightest change will cause a significant impact on the tiny grooves of the record. So, if you have no choice but to clean the record, make sure that you are aware of the proper cleaning method and the materials that you need to use.
How To Properly Clean Your Record
Whether your record is new or old, you need to take time to take care of it. As mentioned, the wrong cleaning practice will damage your vinyl record and reduce its audio quality. Worse, you might even destroy your record permanently if you cleaned it the wrong way.
To prevent yourself from damaging your vinyl record, you need to be aware of the proper cleaning method that you can do.
But before that, here are the materials that you need to use when cleaning your record:
- Record brush
- Cleaning solution for vinyl record
- Microfiber or cotton cloth
- Use A Record Brush To Remove Static And Dust
When removing dust particles from your vinyl record, use a brush specifically made for a vinyl record. Do some long and gentle brush strokes to ensure that you can remove dust without scratching the record’s surface.
- Check If The Record Has Visible Blemishes
Inspect the surface of the vinyl record under a soft and bright light to see if there are smudges, discolorations, and fingerprints. If there are any, you will need to exert time and record to remove them. You may even have to scrub the entire record in some cases.
If there are many smudges and fingerprints, use warm and soapy water to clean the record. Next, allow it to dry and repeat the first step.
- Use Spray Cleaning Solution On Parts That Need Intensive Cleaning
Check the entire record for sections that need intensive cleaning. If you find problem areas, spray a cleaning solution directly on them. However, it would be best if you were careful not to touch the label with any liquid to prevent the epoxy from loosening.
Additionally, use a cleaning solution specifically made for vinyl records. Avoid using household cleaning solutions as the harsh chemicals in them can damage the record’s delicate surface.
- Wipe The Record Clean With A Microfiber Cloth
After applying a cleaning solution on the record’s surface, wipe it in a circular motion using cotton or a microfiber cloth. Apply pressure to rub away the blemishes.
Again, avoid touching the label to prevent any damage and discoloration.
- Store The Vinyl Record Back To Its Sleeve
As mentioned, open the sleeve wide enough when putting the vinyl record back to it. This way, the sleeve will not touch the record too much, preventing its surface from acquiring scratches.
- Marc Henshall, Seven Bad Habits That Will Destroy Your Vinyl Records, Your Sound Matters, https://www.yoursoundmatters.com/seven-bad-habits-will-destroy-vinyl-records/ Accessed July 28, 2021.
- 10 Things NOT to do to Your Vinyl Records, Disco Music.Com, https://www.discomusic.com/10-things-not-to-do-to-your-vinyl-records/ Accessed July 28, 2021.
- James Schiff & Brandt Ranj, For The Record: How to Clean and Care for Your Vinyl Collection, https://www.rollingstone.com/product-recommendations/electronics/how-to-clean-vinyl-records-850080/ Accessed July 28, 2021.
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