Now that you have begun your new record collecting hobby you should be sure to handle your records the right way. Improper handling and storage will greatly affect how well your records remain in optimum condition. The condition of your records will affect life span or the record as well as your equipment.
So, before you start to develop any bad habits let’s start you off in the right direction as to handling and storage of your treasures.
Keep your hands off the vinyl surface is rule number one and most important. You want to keep your skin oil and dirt off the surface of the record. Skin oil will let dust and other airborne stuff stick to the record. Then your needle will track over it and grind it into the grooves and gunk up your needle. This will not only work to degrade the record and needle but will also make your music sound less than desirable. You’ve paid good money for your records so give them the white glove treatment and not let your skin contact the grooves.
Handle them with a couple fingers on the label and your thumb on the edge
So, in the words of the Georgia Satellites “keep your grubby hands to yourself”.
When not being played, your record should always be in it’s protective sleeve and jacket. A record left out will only accumulate more dirt, dust and pet hairs.
Always clean your record with a carbon fiber brush before and after playing. I have a suggested brush and review HERE (affiliate link) if you want to check it out.
When you call it a day and put yourself away for the night you lie down flat. At least most of us do. That’s fine for us but not for your records. Your records need to sleep like a horse, upright.
Records should be stored in an upright vertical position with as little lean as possible. Letting them lie flat in a pile will eventually cause them to warp. It will also cause what is called ring wear on the jackets. Ring wear is where you can see the circular worn outline on the jacket or the impression of the vinyl showing through.
Invest in a decent shelving system. Records are heavy and need a sturdy place to hold them securely. A linear foot of records will weigh about thirty pounds. There are modular systems you can buy and add to when you need more space.
If you have a somewhat large shelf system you should reinforce it with some metal L brackets and even attach it to the wall to avoid a collapse or any chance of the shelf tipping over. Do not store records in a cardboard box as it will get to heavy and burst when you try to carry it. The back of the box will also not stay rigid causing your records to warp over long term storage. You can buy wooden crates that are made for records. Click here to see a nice record storage cube. You can buy more as your collection grows.
Most records come in a stiff paper sleeve. These sleeves can lead to minor scuffing and scratching so I suggest getting some plastic liner sleeves to keep the vinyl in. Just keep the original sleeve in the jacket to retain the original liner notes/lyrics or whatever is on the original sleeve. It will preserve value if you ever do re-sell your records. Click here to view or purchase the Mobile Fidelity plastic sleeves.
The Beatles felt good and laughed when the sun was out, but when it comes to your records they will be singing “Goodbye Sunshine”. Records and sunshine do not mix well.
The sun will cause your cover artwork to fade and the heat will accelerate warping so do not store them in direct sunlight. Avoid damp musty basements as well. If you must store in a basement perhaps consider a portable dehumidifier. Once mold and mildew get started on a record it is difficult to get rid of without major deep cleaning. Mold is not healthy for us or records. Be extra cautious if you live in the USA deep South.
Although vinyl records provide a really nice sound experience unfortunately they are rather high maintenance, so they won’t last long without maintaining them properly Just follow the handling steps I have outlined here and you should be fine. Good common sense will go a long way towards keeping your records in excellent condition.
Collecting vinyl records is not an inexpensive hobby so, it is imperative that you learn how to handle vinyl records properly. Proper care, handling and cleaning will go a log way towards preserving your collection in the best condition possible. A vinyl record will give you many, many years or musical enjoyment if you just exercise proper procedures and care. It will also go along way towards making your needle/stylus last it’s maximum life as well.
Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below.