By Jessica Kane
Any vinyl enthusiast will tell you how crucial it is to maintain and protect your records. Although vinyl records are considered by many to produce the best quality sound, they certainly won’t do so forever unless you take care of them properly.
Records are particularly susceptible to scratches, heat, and sunlight. To help you take better care of your record collection, here are a few easy tips.
The first part of your maintenance routine is proper storage. As your records will spend the majority of their time not being played, this is especially important.
First, you should store your records vertically, never horizontally. When stored horizontally (i.e., stacked on top of each other) for a long time, your records can warp. Make sure that you store them away from extreme heat, sunlight, or humidity.
Second, be on the lookout for dust and dirt, as these are two of the most damaging substances for records. The best way to fight dirt is by preventing it from touching the record. Always keep your records in a protective sleeve and inside the cover. If you want an extra layer of protection, consider purchasing plastic outer sleeves for all your records.
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Handling Your Records
In order to keep your records clean, touch them as little as possible. When you must handle your records, try to only touch the edges and inner label. By keeping your hands off as much as possible, you can prevent any excess grease and dirt on your fingers from getting on your records.
When playing, you should also consider closing the lid of the turntable. This will help prevent any airborne dirt from landing on your record.
Playing Your Records
When listening to your records, there are also steps you can take to extend their playable life. When cueing your record, use a steady hand.
This is especially important if you have a manual turntable that requires you to lift the arm and put the needle on the record. If you are not careful, you could easily scratch your disk. Try to keep your hands as steady as possible or purchase an automatic turntable.
You should be equally as careful when removing the needle. Wait until the record stops spinning before you move the needle. Doing so will reduce the risk of scratching.
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Cleaning Your Records
Even if you follow every guideline for maintaining your records, they could still use a good cleaning every now and then. There are a few ways you can go about cleaning the records in your collection, though no one way is better than any other. Here are a few techniques that you can use to clear off any dust, dirt, and oil that may have gathered.
Carbon Fiber Brush
This sort of brush is especially effective because its bristles can easily find the grooves of the record, removing any debris. A carbon fiber brush can also reduce any static electricity that may be attracting dust to the record. You should brush your records before and after each listen.
Simply spin the record while you are holding the brush. Just be sure to clean out the brush after every use. Avoid using a towel or T-shirt to clean off your records, as these materials can damage the record further.
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You can purchase a cleaner made especially for records either online or at your local record store. You could also make your own DIY cleaner using distilled water, isopropyl alcohol, and a few drops of laundry detergent. Just be sure your detergent does not contain any dyes or fragrances.
Spray your homemade or store-bought cleaner on your vinyl and use a microfiber cloth to wipe it off until it is dry.
Vinyl Record Vacuum Cleaner
A product like this will give your records a deeper clean than both the brush and spray. The vinyl vacuum can suck out any dust or dirt way down in the grooves without damaging the record. There are also some vacuums that leave behind a thin layer of cleaning liquid. This will dissolve any oils on the vinyl and add another layer of protection.
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Jessica Kane is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, the number online source for the best vinyl records and turntables.