I’m stating the obvious here, but vinyl records are a physical medium. Unlike those lovely MP3s on your phone, these records need to be cared for. Part of the charm of starting a record collection is that the quality of the vinyl can change over time. But, vinyl enthusiasts will remark that all those pops and cracks so associated with classic vinyl, can in fact be avoided. A clean and well-cared-for vinyl record will play seamless audio for years to come.
But how do you keep those LPs pristine? You’ll want to invest in some special pieces of equipment but, overall, it’s really not that hard. And it starts with how you store and stash your vinyl records. Here are our tips for general vinyl record care.
How to Care For Vinyl Records
Proper vinyl care always starts with storage. Keep your records stored vertically, don’t pile them on top of each other. While they often seem like decent storage options, we’d recommend against using milk crates or anything with hard, sharp corners. Instead, opt for shelving that won’t warp or dent your vinyl. Below are a couple of our favorites.
Way Basics 2-Shelf Cube Book Case – Buy
Simple Wood Goods Storage Cube – Buy
Additionally, we’d suggest investing in some proper anti-static plastic sleeves. A plastic outer sleeve will keep your vinyl cover crisp and pristine. And, while most records come with an inner sleeve, those paper ones can easily collect dust and potentially scratch the surface of your records. Go with some anti-static plastic inner record sleeves. Below are some solid options.
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab Inner Sleeves – Buy
Anti-Static Plastic Inner Sleeves – Buy
And, last but certainly not least, your handling of the record will have a significant impact on quality. Our hands have plenty of oils and dirt that can damage the vinyl’s surface. So, as a general rule, try not to grip the vinyl on the grooved surface. Try to stick to the edges or the center label when picking up your vinyl.
But, of course, even with all of these measures, dirt, grease, dust, and oils will certainly work their way onto your vinyl. So, how do you clean your LPs?
How to Clean Vinyl Records
Before you buy that hundreth record, before you upgrade your stylus, before you get that pricey turntable, get yourself a brush. A carbon fiber, anti-static brush helps collect the dust and dirt that regularly lands on your vinyl between plays. So, before you drop the needle on your favorite vinyl, let the record spin and gently brush the surface for a few rotations and, with the bristles still touching, pull the brush toward you picking up the dust and removing the static buildup. Below is a great, inexpensive anti-static brush.
Boundless Audio Record Cleaner Brush – Buy
For a deeper clean, opt for a wet cleaning method. There are several effective automated or mechanized wet record cleaners on the market, but we usually go for a simple cleaning by hand. We’ve used a handful of ready-made record cleaners but there’s an easy DIY alternative, too.
Simply grab some isopropyl alcohol, distilled water, dish fluid, and microfiber cloths. Combine 1/4 isopropyl alcohol, 3/4 distilled water, and one or two drops of cleaning fluid in a spray bottle. Place your record on a clean micro-fiber cloth, spray the liquid on the record, and wait for the solution to get into the grooves. Take another cloth and wipe in a circular motion for a couple of times. Flip the record and repeat. Always make sure to allow your records to dry fully before returning them to your sleeve. If you opt for a pre-made record cleaner follow the same steps with the purchased solution.
Vinyl Record Cleaning Solution – Buy
Microfiber Cleaning Cloth – Buy
Spin-Clean Record Washer – Buy
If you’d like to go the automatic route, there are a handful of recording cleaning machines that will do the trick. While pricey, these machines will quickly and effectively clean the records. No matter what method you choose, you’ll want to make sure you’re regularly cleaning your vinyl. And, while some folks recommend cleaning every new vinyl, we’d suggest at least applying some cleaning method to any used records you acquire.
Record Doctor Vacuum Cleaner – Buy
Pro-Ject – VC-S2 ALU Record Cleaning Machine – Buy