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Vinyl Record Care
Keeping Your Vinyl in Good Shape
As a kid growing up in the sixties and seventies, I had many years to build up an extensive record album collection. I still prefer to pull out my vinyl over other methods of musical entertainment, if the opportunity arises. My record collection ranges from the average 33 1/3, to 45’s and 78’s; it’s exciting to see that vinyl albums and turntables are making a comeback! The Bluetooth turntables are even better.
If you don’t keep your vinyl clean dust can get stuck in the grooves of the record, which can cause those awful popping and clicking sounds you might be familiar with. This can create uneven wear of your record, in turn causing damage to your stylus (needle).
Clean your vinyl with a carbon fiber brush made for records. These brushes are made to gently wipe dust from the record’s surface, not to clean out the grooves. Be sure to always clean with the groove, never across it.
Heat and Water
It seems obvious, but you should always keep your vinyl records away from heat and humidity. These two factors can warp your albums, causing irreversible damage. Always keep your vinyl in a cool, dry place away from windows and heat sources.
There’s a reason record albums come with inner sleeves made of paper. According to Linn Records, “Plastic sleeves are not a good idea, especially in warmer climates, as they can create permanent damage.”
Never rinse your vinyl with water. Tap water is filled with impurities that are damaging to your records.
I’ve been there. You’re so excited to get that new album on the turntable you’re oblivious to the damage you could be causing. Never touch the vinyl’s surface with your fingertips! Your fingers contain oils and acids that, in time, will chemically wear away your precious record. Keep in mind that while fingerprints can be removed, fingernail scratches cannot.
Alcohol and Common Cleaning Products
In the past, isopropyl alcohol was deemed a safe way to clean your vinyl, but this is not true. While it will strip away most of the dust and grime from the grooves, it will also remove the protective coating of the groove’s wall and floor, according to The Vinyl Factory. You may not notice the damage after one use, but after three or four alcohol cleanings it will be easy to detect and cannot be reversed.
Commercial cleaning products from your kitchen will attack the vinyl and plant more unwanted dust and grime into the grooves.
New Doesn’t Mean Clean
Always clean your album before playing it, even if it’s straight out of the package the first time. Vinylrecordfair.com says “new records come coated in a mold release compound that should be cleaned off if you wish to achieve the highest quality of sound from your vinyl records.”
No Dropping and Plopping!
Never drop your vinyl into it’s protective sleeve or record cover. This is how record sleeves and covers split open and no longer provide your vinyl the protection they need.
Take your time placing and removing your vinyl from the turntable. Never place or remove your vinyl if the turntable is still moving - this ends up scratching the opposite side of the record. Be patient and wait for the turntable to stop completely.
Odds and Ends
Never lean or stack your vinyl records; they should always remain upright.
Always keep your stylus (needle) clean. If you do not take great care of your stylus, no amount of cleaning is going to protect your vinyl. And no amount of cleaning can repair a record that is already damaged.
If you are a vinyl record aficionado, it would be wise to invest is a professional cleaning system.