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How to Keep Your Vinyl Records Sounding Their Best

Updated on February 16, 2018

Achive the Best Sound Quality from Your Vinyl Records

Cleanliness is absolutely mandatory to achieve the best sound quality of your vinyl records. A clean vinyl record will not only sound better, but last longer. It has long been proven that the playing of dirty records will result in a rapid deterioration of quality and degradation of the original recorded sound, or simply can cause permanent damage to your records. The preservation of your valuable or irreplaceable records requires special care and cleaning. Not to mention that, stylus wear is greatly accelerated by playing dirty records, with the cost of a new cartridges these days, playing dirty records can lead to significant and unneeded expense.

Cal Tjader Quintet "Cal Tjader Quintet" Fantasy Records 3232 12" LP Red Vinyl Record US Pressing (1956)
Cal Tjader Quintet "Cal Tjader Quintet" Fantasy Records 3232 12" LP Red Vinyl Record US Pressing (1956) | Source

Three Essentials of Proper Vinyl Record Care

Vinyl records are delicate, and very susceptible to damage and wear. Therefore a few techniques should be used when it comes to handling, cleaning and storage of your valued records. There are essentially three concerns to consider when handling vinyl records. One that the record is kept free of foreign matter, Two that they be kept free of any pressure that might cause deformations such as warping and three that they are stored in a stable, controlled environment.

How Vinyl Records Are Made 1

How Vinyl Records Are Made 2

My Records Look Clean, What Is Foreign Matter ??

Think Micro Biology Dust,
Smoke & Body Oils

Hold On You Say, My Vinyl Records Look Clean, What Is Foreign Matter ?? One can classify foreign matter as deposits which are not part of the original record, such as body oils from fingerprints, smoke, stains, stearic acids, dust etc.. Dust is commonly a mixture of flakes of human skin, minute particles of mineral or plant material, textile fibers, smoke, fingerprint oils and other organic and inorganic materials. There are often salts such as sodium chloride from fingerprints, and skin fragments and gritty silica crystals. Within this chemical mixture are the spore of countless molds, fungi and micro-organisms which live on the organic material in the dust (fingerprints make for a good culture).

Mold loves vinyl, not vinyl per-se but what is in the grooves. The paper dust and such that settles in the grooves, combined with the occasional wet cleaning, the dark confines of an album sleeve coupled with moderate temperature, all are extremely conductive to forming your own mold colonies. Much of this dirt is "hygroscopic" (water-attracting) and this tendency can encourage molds, as well as increases the corrosiveness of salts. Dust is an abrasive and combined with the pressure exerted on the groove walls by the stylus, can permanently etch the walls and worse the dust can be embedded permanently into thermoplastic substances.

Only a small point of the stylus is actually making contact with the groove walls, one and a half grams of stylus pressure on such a minute surface translates to several tons of pressure per square inch. The resulting drag generates enough heat that the plastic partially melts, though not enough to deform the vinyl but cause a microscopic flow around the stylus into which dust can be embedded permanently.

Stearic acids have always been a part of the making of vinyl in one form or another. After a record is pressed there will be thin film of these acids on the surface of the vinyl. The stearic acids found in vinyl formulation has a two-fold effect in the vinyl production process, they act as a record mold release agent but there primary purpose is to act as a buffer for the vinyl stamping process.

Dschinn "Dschinn" Bellaphon Bacillus Records BLPS 19120 12" LP Vinyl Record German Pressing (1972)
Dschinn "Dschinn" Bellaphon Bacillus Records BLPS 19120 12" LP Vinyl Record German Pressing (1972) | Source

Vinyl Records & Their Environment

Proper Storage for Long Life

For long life and playability, proper storage of your recordings is a must. Some of the factors to consider for the proper storage of vinyl records are temperature and humidity, dirt and dust, improper stacking, excessive pressure and weight, and mechanical or chemical damage. With respect to the environment, though not always practical, a constant temperature of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 degrees Celsius should be maintained. Plus a relative humidity of 45-50% is highly recommended. Avoid rapid changes in temperature and humidity, it could have an adverse effect on the life expectancy of your recordings. Special attention should be placed on sunlight and on sources of heat such as heaters, vents, and artificial lighting. Also beware of high humidity and water. This will cause mold to grow on the album jackets, and within the inner sleeves causing irreparable damage. Avoid dusty environments. Whenever possible, enclose your recordings in a relatively airtight container such as a cabinet with doors, or seal-able boxes. Don't be afraid to lightly vacuum the area surrounding your vinyl records. Replace dirty and moldy record jackets and inner sleeves to avoid further damage to the discs. Do not store, in or around smokey or cooking areas. Smoke and cooking greases easily adhere to phonograph records and their jackets.

Pink Floyd "Relics" Drum 8026 12" LP Vinyl Record, UK Pressing (1971)
Pink Floyd "Relics" Drum 8026 12" LP Vinyl Record, UK Pressing (1971) | Source

A Few More Vinyl Record Storage Tips,

Don't forget to protect your albums cover or jacket against dust with poly sleeves


Never store recordings on their sides or flat! Always maintain vinyl records in an absolutely vertical position. Remove the original manufacturers wrapping from records. These wraps will shrink over time, eventually warping the jacket and it's contents. Replace this "shrink wrap" with high density polyethylene, or "acid free" sleeves. Additionally, one should also replace regular paper or "acid bearing" inner sleeves, with mylar or polyethylene lined sleeves. Regular paper inner sleeves will scratch the surface of your recordings with every pass. Also available are rice paper inner sleeves from Japan, though these type of sleeves are a little expensive.

Do Not Discard the Original "Dust Sleeve"
as it completes the originality of the packaging of your record

Handle with Care

Charlie Parker "Charlie Parker Big Band" Clef Records MG C-609 12" LP Vinyl Record (1954) DSM Cover
Charlie Parker "Charlie Parker Big Band" Clef Records MG C-609 12" LP Vinyl Record (1954) DSM Cover | Source

Handling Your Vinyl Records

When handling your vinyl records avoid touching the playing or grooved surface. You should handle the record by either edge and the labeled surface only.

Remove the vinyl record from the jacket with the inner dust sleeve by bowing the jacket open by holding it against the body and applying a slight pressure with a hand. Pull the record out by holding a corner of the inner dust sleeve. Avoid pressing down onto the disc with the fingers as any dust caught between the sleeve and the disc will be pressed into the grooves. Remove your vinyl record from the inner dust sleeve by bowing the dust sleeve and letting it slip gradually into an open hand so that the edge falls on the inside of the thumb knuckle. The middle finger should reach for the center label. Never reach into the sleeve.

To hold a record, place the thumb on the edge of the disc, and the rest of the fingers of the same hand on the center label for balance. Use both hands on the edge to place disc on turntable. Do not use paper or cardboard inner sleeves and do not store records without inner sleeves. Use soft polyethylene inner sleeves. Do not use record sleeves made of PVC.

Uforia "Uforia" Private Pressing 12" LP Vinyl Record (1980)
Uforia "Uforia" Private Pressing 12" LP Vinyl Record (1980) | Source

Keep Those Grooves Clean !!

The Beatles "Abbey Road" Apple Records EAS 80560 12" LP Vinyl Record Japanese  Pressing (1976)
The Beatles "Abbey Road" Apple Records EAS 80560 12" LP Vinyl Record Japanese Pressing (1976) | Source

Record Cleaning Fluids

Okay most will agree that these foreign substances should be removed to achieve ultimate playback and to preserve the life of the record itself, the debate rages on as to how best to accomplish this goal. If you ask 10 different record collectors about the best way to clean a record, you are a likely to receive ten wildly different answers from the alchemist approach to Ivory Liquid Soap in the kitchen sink.

The base fluid for record cleaning solutions is distilled water. Distilled water is used for cleaning for many reasons. First being, its precise chemical make-up is known, distilled water will not leave any residue behind, it is safe to use and inexpensive. Water disperses static charges and counteracts the increased conductivity from the pick-up of salt deposits from finger prints. However water alone can not dissolve grease and oils, thus surfactants are used as additives to enable water to be grease solvent. Surfactants break grease surface bonds and allow water to penetrate grease solids, causing swelling and the random dispersion.

Never Ever Play a Wet Record.

In Closing ...,

The proper care and maintenance of records is really a common sense procedure. once we understand and appreciate those conditions or circumstances which contribute to record wear and deterioration, we are in much better position to do something about it.


Jack Johnson "Better Together"

Eric Clapton "I Shot the Sheriff"

Lynyrd Skynyrd "Things Goin' On"

Copyright Disclaimer

I make no copyright claims on the video content or images of drawings, paintings, prints, or other two-dimensional works of art contained with-in this article, the copyright for these items are most likely owned by either the artist who produced the image, or the person who commissioned the work and or their heirs. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

Keep It In the Groove -- Let Us Know You Were Here Too !!

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    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 2 years ago

      Thank You claptona

    • claptona profile image

      John D Wilson 2 years ago from Earth

      Good Fox Music.

      Good hub with some great info.


    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 2 years ago

      Thanks For the Kind Words Kosmo -- Glad to Hear Your Still Spinin' That Vinyl Though !!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 2 years ago from California

      Tremendous article. I have lots of records and should take better care of them. In fact, I think I have a few resting on their sides. Yikes! I better rectify that! Anyway, I dusted off an old one last night and played "Rock Me Baby" by Jimi Hendrix. Oh, the memories! Later!

    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 3 years ago

      Thank You PeggyW -- Yours is not an uncommon story and now in the information age and the advent of digital formatting listening to music is easier that ever. As it does take a certain dedication to maintain & listen to a record collection most people opt for the ease of the digital format and have relegated there albums to dark depths of the closet or basement. -- Keep It In the Groove

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Over the course of years we have gotten rid of most of our vinyl records. I think that we still have a few in a box somewhere. I had no idea that such care was required to keep them in optimum shape! Apparently there is a resurgence in interest in acquiring and maintaining vinyl records again. Very informative article! Will pin and share.

    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 3 years ago

      Thank you --- proper care and maintenance of records is really a common sense procedure. once we understand and appreciate those conditions or circumstances which contribute to record wear and deterioration, we are in much better position to do something about it. - Keep Spinin' That Vinyl

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image

      Joshua Patrick 3 years ago from Texas

      Good stuff!

    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 3 years ago

      Keep Spinin' That Vinyl !!

    • profile image

      TZNelson 3 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this great information !!

    • profile image

      othellos 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this information and these tips. I learned so much here. Very detailed and informative!

    • profile image

      BarbsSpot 5 years ago

      @Lensmaster...Thanks for the great tips here on vinyls. I've got a mountain stack of them, and playing them still pleases me immensely!

    • Carashops profile image

      Cara 5 years ago

      I don't have any vinyl records but my husband has quite a collection. I will let him read this informative lens.

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 5 years ago

      Awesome tips to clean and keep your vinyl records. I have a collection of 500+ and I treasure them dearly :)

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 5 years ago from Alabama USA

      Thanks for sharing these tips.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great advice, thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Fantastic guide. Thanks for sharing this here!

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 5 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      I always wondered what is the proper way to clean a vinyl. Thanks for sharing this in depth informational lens.

    • spids1 profile image

      spids1 5 years ago

      Great lens very well written.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 5 years ago from Alabama USA

      Thanks for all the great tips and info.

    • profile image

      custompaul 5 years ago

      Very good lens. I enjoy learning new things about vinyl and thanks for for keeping us vinyl collectors in check on keeping our collections clean.

    • profile image

      mediawizard lm 6 years ago

      This ia awesome!

      The vinyl records are really getting a hot item.

      Great lens!

      Well done Fox Music

    • profile image

      bokal99 6 years ago

      Wow! I wanna have his collection!!!

    • Mauhro profile image

      Mauhro 6 years ago

      Great lens. I should take care of my records. :)

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      A nice resource about looking after your records.

    • profile image

      Obsidianram 6 years ago

      Pretty good collection of technical info you've put together. Sometimes the hisses and pops give the music character you don't get with CD's / downloads, though. : )

    • FriendAdder LM profile image

      FriendAdder LM 6 years ago

      Very nice informative lens, I'm a big vinyl buff myself. Just started Rare 45 Records and made lens . Am voting you up !!. Hope your having a great day!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Very informative lens! It's obvious that you know your records. Thanks for the hard work you put into this.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 7 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I learned a lot of new things about an old subject...vinyl records. I had no idea they made poly sleeves to encase a vinyl record. Makes me wish I'd taken better care of my albums back in the day.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Had Never seen the production of vinyls in such detail before

    • stephenteacher profile image

      Stephen Carr 7 years ago from Corona, CA

      Great lens. Sadly, I only have a handful left.

    • TriviaChamp profile image

      TriviaChamp 7 years ago

      This is a great resource for those of us that still enjoy vinyl. Blessed.

    • profile image

      dessertlover 7 years ago

      Very cool lens here, and very helpful. Thanks!

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 7 years ago from Sweden

      Very nice lens about caring for your Vinyls. Blessed by a Squid Angel!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 7 years ago

      Nicely done & great resource. â¢ââAngel blessedââ⢠& featured on "My Life with Angel Wings" lens ... :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Most Excellent! I have a few of my records from my younger days :) I even received a new record player last year for Christmas so I could continue listening to them. They may be outdated, but they are old friends and I definitely want to take good care of them.

    • nebby profile image

      nebby 7 years ago from USA

      I think that the oldest vinyl record set that we have is Danny Kaye. Most of them are from the 60's and 70's and unfortunately we not stored well over the years (they were stored flat - yikes!). I should go through them all and clean up the ones I can (some have mildew on them) and stick them on the phonograph. Usually I just like to look at the artwork on the covers and the liner notes - boy those were the days. Kids don't realize what they are missing by just downloading music - the covers on vinyl records are incredible.

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 7 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Excellent tips on vinyl record cleaning! I've got hundreds of 'em.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 7 years ago

      Sometimes I still miss my vinyl collection! I have been thinking of rebuilding a certain portion of it, and now I have found this excellent lens on the care and cleaning of vinyl records. Thank you.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is an excellent lens on maintenance of vinyl records. I'm sure a lot of people still maintain their collections even though mainstream has switched to digital formats. Happy New Year! **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      Oh, I didn't know about most of these. Thanks for bringing me up-to-date.

    • PizmoBeach LM profile image

      PizmoBeach LM 7 years ago

      Great info!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      What is the correct way to repair a separated (split apart) LP album cover?

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago


    • Eklectik1 profile image

      Eklectik1 8 years ago

      Thank you for some great information!

    • Tobbie LM profile image

      Tobbie LM 8 years ago

      Great lens, I have added it to my Glenn Miller lens to help spread the word. 5Stars

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 9 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • TopStyleTravel profile image

      TopStyleTravel 9 years ago

      Wow! Great info, did not know vinyl records were still in. I was told the sound quality is superior to cd's. The old album covers were a work of art. Good to know that there is a source if I want to acquire albums again. Congrats on the Top 100!

    • JenOfChicago LM profile image

      JenOfChicago LM 9 years ago

      Great lens, and wonderful tips!

    • profile image

      MUJERDEEXITO 9 years ago

      This is a very useful, unique lens. Great information...

    • profile image

      MUJERDEEXITO 9 years ago

      This is a very useful, unique lens. Great information...

    • dc64 lm profile image

      dc64 lm 9 years ago

      I only own 2 vinyl records, and I've never opened them. They are both Star Trek stories with accompanying comic book. While they really aren't worth as much as one might think, it's still cool to have them.

    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 9 years ago

      [in reply to msbaby]That's true some of the artist that are in the "know" opt for a small vinyl pressing run of there new release. As far as turntables go.., big box retailers are reluctant to "show room" electronics that have small interest groups and the small shops can not afford to "show room" products to give consumers choices. If you are interested in a new turntable we offer several in our a-store, "Traveling 33 1/3 in an MPS World"

    • msbaby profile image

      msbaby 9 years ago

      [in reply to PostRanger] The good news is that many artists are going back to vinyl so maybe it will become easier to find new turntables.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great lens. It's clear you care about music and the value of artistic contribution. Please visit my lens to help video and music artists protect their copyright.

    • mistyblue75605 lm profile image

      mistyblue75605 lm 9 years ago

      How neat are vinyl have a great lens!! 5*'s

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great lens! I still have several vinyl records in storage. Thanks for the info on how to keep them in good condition!

    • singaporehosting profile image

      singaporehosting 9 years ago

      I haven't heard from vinyl records for ages, they tend to produce the best music much better than the modern CDs, MPs and such.

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 9 years ago from Chicago area

      wonderful info! 5*****

    • profile image

      PostRanger 9 years ago

      Really comprehensive look at vinyl record care. My question is where to get a really good turntable these days at a reasonable price. Have a lense on this subject? Suggestions?

    • Charlyjl profile image

      Charlyjl 9 years ago

      My Mum still has an extensive vinyl record collection - this information will be very helpful when we go to listen to them. Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I love the Jacket-graphics - I recognize some Ray Charles, Chet Baker and Miles Davis from my own lonely, stored collection. This is timely information for me since my Lovely and I are anticipating restoring our collection. I'm going to check all you lenses for further info. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      My husband & I finally went through our joint collection of records - after 20 years of marriage. Luckily we had them stored vertically. However after trying to play a few it's evident they all need cleaned and cleaned well. I was wondering how to begin this process and your web site is very informative. I just wish the Nitty Gritty system wasn't so expensive.

    • profile image

      MsMorrison 9 years ago

      Yes, I still have my fave old vinyl records. thank you for the cleaning tips!

    • s96designs profile image

      s96designs 9 years ago

      I think we have about 100 or more records from 45's from the 80's to the LP's from the 50's. But I have no clue what shape they are in. I do know that they are upright! This was very helpful in the storage and cleaning factor.

    • WritingforYourW profile image

      WritingforYourW 9 years ago

      Woohoo, I had records as a kid but haven't seen them in a long time. Maybe time to rummage in the parents' basement :)

    • profile image

      allsound 10 years ago

      Thanks - Very Helpful

      I will visit your online

      store - I love records too!!

    • profile image

      thekid93 10 years ago

      I Could Not Live without

      my Records!!

    • Signhappy profile image

      Signhappy 10 years ago

      Excellent information which I'll use as a reference. Purchased some vintage records a while back and am trying to find out their value.


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