TAKING CARE OF YOUR RECORDS
after your records is actually pretty simple (provided you keep at it),
and many regard it as part of the magic of keeping a legendary
collection. Chances are, if you own a sizeable vinyl vault, you'll be
using the right cleaning materials already. Not everyone does though.
And if you've mistakenly thought that tap water will do the trick,
there's much more to learn. So stick around.After all, this is probably
the one major part of your life that's not stored digitally.
Storage and Passive Care
comes down to you treat your records when they're not in use. This part
is usually simple, but if you do it properly you'll be rewarded for
decades to come. This involves some obvious pointers like keeping your
vinyl out of the sunny windows and heat sources like amplifiers, and
humid areas of the house like bathrooms or kitchens, presuming they
don't have an extraction fan, are a definite no. Be wary of areas that
are just hot or humid in general. If you're new to the game, you may not
have known that records should never be stored horizontally in large
numbers. If you really need to though, stacks shouldn't exceed 15-20 in
Then there are the obvious points: records should be
kept in their sleeves when not in use. This comes down to the war
against dust is, but it doesn't have to be a struggle. One fool-proof
method is to store them in plastic sleeves. If you find that comes off
as tacky, the cardboard sleeve should fare just fine. It also generates
Guarding against static
is the other area you'll need to guard against. The paper sleeves which
records are shipped in tend generate plenty of it. It pays to invest in
some polyethylene lined sleeves for your most favored records.
Handling your records
you're staging a romantic dinner and have been cooking all evening,
remember keep those oily paws off the fine grooves. If you want your
records and stylus to be playing like they did a year from now that is.
For general handling though, the place you hold the record matters too:
The labeled area and outer edges are safe-zones for those fingers.
Before and after slipping on a record, a carbon fiber
brush is handy of removing any micro-particles that could've landed on
your favorite LP between taking it out and replacing it inside it's
sleeve. Another great way to remain dust-proof is to buy a record player
with a lid.
matter how meticulous you are about record storage, a good cleaning now
and then will benefit your vinyl, keeping the sound just as crisp and
clean as it should be. If it's an older record or you've just let it
become dusty as hell through lack of discretion, there are a number of
tried and tested ways of restoring it to it's former glory provided it's
not been scratched. Any grime that invariably comes with second-hand
records should be dealt with immediately so as not to damage your
If you want to simplify the process, there are plenty of
cleaning machines available that will save you time, but assuming
you're more hands on, there are some classic methods of record-cleaning
that will be available for as long as records are around. That said,
cleaning machines are also available, which will make the load lighter.
automatic record-cleaning machines tend to be expensive and
space-consuming, that doesn't mean you can't save time and money by
buying a compact and trusty manual cleaning machine. Especially if you
have a massive vinyl collection, this will turn a day's cleaning into a
couple of hours. The Spin Clean Record Cleaner is one fine example of
this, and it works using the same mixture of cleaning solution and
The Classic Cleaning Method
Before you start to clean, always use a dry carbon fiber
brush to take off any loose dust particles. Some cleaning solutions
include this as part of the package, such as the Clear Groove Record
Cleaning Solution for instance. If you don't brush before applying the
wet cloth (the next step), dust can become lodged inside the grooves.
apply your cleaning brush with record-cleaning solution. You might
choose to dilute with some distilled water (Again, never use ordinary
tap water as the minerals will cause the vinyl to degenerate). Now
gently wipe the grooves, going with the grain, for obvious reasons.
After a few swipes, check the cloth for any dust deposits and rinse them
off before restarting the process. The cloth shouldn't be sopping wet,
so just wet it enough to pick up those finer dust particles. While
you're cleaning, be wary of getting any water on the label. This can cause smudging.
Now stack your records vertically and leave them to dry in an area of the house that isn't too dusty.
is the point where the needle hits the groove, so it's crucially
important to maintaining a healthy library.As we mentioned before,
keeping your stylus clean and properly aligned will have a direct effect
on how long your records last. This is because a badly maintained
stylus can end up scratching your records. Keeping your records clean in
turn, will effect the longevity of your stylus, so it's this cycle you
need to keep an eye on, and fortunately it doesn't require a lot of work
provided you don't let things get out of whack in the first place.
A few pointers are worth bearing in mind here:
- Never use a worn-out stylus.
-Ensure that your stylus is clean and free of grime at all times.
-Make sure you've balanced your stylus in accordance with your cartridge's requirements.
- Be sure to align your cartridge properly.
-Set up your anti-skate counterweight properly.
Summing it all up
a nutshell, record-maintenance is all about keeping the physical
connection between record and stylus crisp and clear. Records are still
the most magical form of music-appreciation, and caring for your record
collection won't require heaps of work if you take care of regular