Vinyl record care can be a hotly debated subject. What we aim to do with this page is give you basic tips that will keep your record collection in tip-top shape and guarantee years and years of enjoyment from you prized record collection. If you are looking to buy items that will help with record care please go to our Accessories Section.
Record care can be broken down into three categories, Storage, cleaning and handling.
When storing records for long periods of time it is a good idea to store them correctly.
Cleaning is probably the most contested topic. There are loads of "snake oil" type tips on the internet. It is actually quite simple. When cleaning the record the idea is to remove any dust, dirt, oil, etc. out of the groove of the record, without damaging the record itself and without leaving any dirt or residue behind after you have cleaned it. Cleaning is broadly divided into two types; wet cleaning and dry cleaning.
Wet cleaning is done once in a while or for very dirty records you may have purchased or picked up. It involves using a liquid to "wash" or "loosen" the dirt out of your record. This can be combined with a brush, or a vacuum system to suck the dirty liquid away from the surface of your record. Vacuum type cleaning systems like "Nitty-Gritty" and"Moth" are great, but they are expensive. The liquid is normally a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and distilled water, again there are many "miracle recipes" out there. Find one that works for you, or buy a ready made cleaning fluid. Avoid using tap water as it is not pure and will leave a residue after cleaning.
It is important to note that "wet cleaning" is not meant to be carried out prior to playing your record. You never want to put a wet record on your record player under any circumstances. It is also important that if you wet clean your record that it is completely dry before it goes back into its sleeve for storage.
Dry cleaning is simply using a carbon brush to "wipe" the dust and dirt from your record. This can be done prior to playing your record provided your brush or pad is dry. Again, we would recommend buying a carbon brush, rather than using household items.
It almost goes without saying, that playing a dirty record is a bad idea for a number of reasons. Firstly it will greatly increase the amount of "crackle" and also reduce the fidelity of the recording. It is not only very bad for your record (as the needle will push the dirt deeper into the groove) but also very bad for your stylus, as the dirt will build up on the tip of the stylus making it a lot less sensitive to the groove.
Proper cleaning is an easy way to effectively enhance the sound of your record, and protect it and your equipment.
Handling is easy. Never touch the grooves of the record. Touch the label, and if you have to, the outer rim instead. When taking your record out of the cover take the sleeve out of the cover, then take the record out of the sleeve. Reverse this process for putting them back.
Don't put a record on a spinning turntable, and use the little lever to lift and lower the stylus. Also, it goes without saying that it is a bad idea to leave records lying around outside their covers, Take the record out, listen to it, and then put it back again. These all sound rather draconian, but really all that needs to be said about record handling is "be gentle and careful with your prized records."