By Alan Bayer
Vinyl records are victims to many of the ailments of CDs, particularly scratches, and exposure to sunlight and heat. In addition, vinyl records also suffer from various other problems as well. To keep your vinyl in great condition, it is essential that your records are taken care of.
The first thing to consider when storing your vinyl is the direction. You should always store your vinyl records vertically. By storing them vertically, there is less stress on the record, ensuring that they don’t bend over time. Vinyl should not be stored horizontally, especially under a pile of other records. The weight causes damage to the grooves, degrading the sound quality. Vinyl should not be allowed to lean either. This can cause it to warp, and you can imagine the difficulties this causes. One other tip, don’t store records too tightly, even vertically, as this also puts pressure on the grooves, deforming them over time.
Vinyl should also be stored in a cooler portion of your house. Heat causes the records to get softer, and prone to bending and damage. You should never store your vinyl near a window or heater.
Also, take care to keep your vinyl away from humidity. Humidity eventually causes mold to grow, which can lead to damage to your record and cover sleeve. Treat your vinyl with respect! Don’t throw it in your basement or attic for 20 years and expect them to come out looking good.
Vinyl should not be stored outside of its liner or sleeve. This can cause the record to get dirty, and more prone to scratches. Dirt is one of the main things that scratches records. In addition to dirt causing damage, exposed vinyl can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays. This is another reason not to store your vinyl near a window or natural light source.
When handling your vinyl, the same rules apply as with CDs. Be careful to handle the record only by its edges. Don’t be careless with the record in hand, if it drops, you could cause a bad scratch, causing the record to skip.
If you don’t have an automatic turntable, be gentle with the stylus (needle). Don’t set it down too heavily. Be mindful while the record is playing: Try not to shake the turntable.
Lastly, when you’re done playing your record, you should return it to its sleeve.
How to clean your vinyl
Keeping your vinyl clean is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your record collection continues to sound good for many years. Here is what you can do to keep your records clean.
First of all, when finished listening to a record, give it a quick once-over with a carbon fiber brush designed for records. These brushes are great for removing small particles of dust and lint. In addition, they have a tendency to de-staticize a record, reducing the sound of pops and hiss. Most of the time, this is all you’ll have to do to keep your records in great shape.
When your records get dirty, it’s a good idea to clean them. Cleaning records doesn’t have to be done very often if you treat your records with care, but it’s not a bad idea once a year if you listen to a record more than a few times in that year. When you clean a record, the goal is to remove grease, dirt and other contaminants. You have to use some sort of cleaner. There are many products on the market that are designed for cleaning records, but many of them are expensive and hard to find. If you have some distilled water and isopropyl alcohol, you can do a great job cleaning your records.
Here’s what you do: Mix up one part 90%+ isopropyl alcohol and four parts distilled water. Add 5-6 drops of dishwashing (non-moisturizing) soap to the mixture. Next, apply the solution to a clean paper towel. Stroke the paper towel across the records, moving with the grooves. Repeat if necessary. Next, rinse the record with more distilled water. Dry with a clean towel. After the record has dried, place it in a brand new paper sleeve, and put it back in its cover. Paper sleeves can be purchased on the internet and ebay, as well as in local record and audio shops.
If you’re a baller, you can always buy a Nitty Gritty, which is a machine that sucks dust off your records. This system works very well, is very easy, and will help you clean a large vinyl collection. These machines are pretty expensive, but worth it if you have a large collection and listen to a lot of music.
Keeping your records clean will give you plenty of years of listening enjoyment. In addition, when they start to sound bad, you can just give them a quick wash, and they’re back to like new. Enjoy the music!