Vinyl records, LPs and CDs

Tips on How to Take Care of Vinyl Records
by Alexis Andrews 
posted on December 11, 2008

Tips on How to Take Care of Vinyl Records
Keep those vinyl records clean
The mere possession of hard-to-find music and rare vinyl records does not a vinyl junkie make. Yes, you might be an audiophile with wide, robust collections of, say, Beatles music on vinyl, but without any basic knowledge on how to take care of your old records, your hobby may not be any more valuable than any other. You’ve got to know the value of vinyl records! You’ve got to realize how to keep them from getting scratched and bent and broken and damaged!

As with all our prized possessions, vinyl records need taking care of: they have to be stored, used, handled, and cleaned properly, no matter how old they are. (Besides, the older they are, the more precious they can become.) Here are some tips you can follow in order to keep them clean and – literally – long-playing:

Clean the vinyl record before playing it on the turntable. That’s as sound as any advice gets. Most collectors clean their vinyl records by wiping them in circular motion with distilled or filtered water using a soft cloth. As for me, I use a 50/50 solution of water and denatured alcohol, the latter having fewer impurities than does isopropyl alcohol. Others still use mild detergents like Johnson and Johnson Baby Bath, also applied with water but with no rinsing necessary. Of course, it’s also important to regularly clean and maintain the turntable’s stylus – or needle. If you think it’s so old it’s scratching your vinyl records, then a replacement might be necessary.

Always store your records in a cool, dry area. Vinyl records easily get damaged and warped-through when exposed to direct sunlight, heaters, fireplaces, and other sources of heat, moisture, and humidity. That’s because warmth and humidity are conditions that are ideal for mold, mildew, and fungi to grow. You don’t want your records and their covers to be infested with that, do you?

Handle a record by its edges and avoid touching the grooved surface. Static can distort the pure sound of a vinyl record, and is likely to have an adverse internal or external reaction with environmental agents, corrosive products, acid, even bubble gum. So do your best to not let your fingers – or anything else – touch the grooves. Do this by handling a record by its edges and pinching them when trying to remove a record from its sleeve. It takes practice, but it pays off. Even better is the recommendation made by the most serious collectors: wear quality cotton gloves when handling the valuable, hard-to-find vinyl records in your collection.

Always store vinyl records in an upright position. Vinyl is not CD. Don’t just leave them out in the open or on a table or floor; otherwise the chances will be more likely that your record will get scratched. Get yourself a box or crate in which to store the records. If possible, use both the inner paper sleeve and the outer cardboard jacket, so that you can prevent any unwanted elements or particles from touching your vinyl records while they are stored.

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