The popularity of owning vinyl records has increased hugely in recent years, and contrary to what people were predicting a few years back it actually seems as though the rise of streaming services such as Spotify have actually helped to drive sales rather than kill off physical formats.
This once archaic format has seen a renaissance, and people are carefully curating their music collections once again. There are no doubt a number of different factors that come into play when explaining their popularity, from the unique sound quality to the joy of having a more tactile music experience.
But if you are just starting to build a collection of your own, it is important to know how to keep your beloved vinyls in good condition. Unlike a playlist on your phone, records attract dust and dirt, and if it gets into the grooves this can have a big impact on the quality of the sound produced.
There are a few things you need to do in order to take proper care of your records, from storing them to playing them, and giving them a little bit of extra TLC. Read on for our quick guide to caring for your vinyl.
Store them correctly
Be aware that you can’t just store your records haphazardly if you want them to still be playable for years to come. Sure, they may look nice in a stack on a shelf next to a south-facing window, this probably won’t do them any favours.
To prevent warping, you will want to avoid laying them flat at all costs and be careful to avoid keeping them anywhere where they will be subject to any temperature or humidity changes, such as next to a radiator.
Always store your records in their sleeve, and ideally buy plastic outer sleeves as an extra layer of protection (these will also keep your sleeves themselves in great condition). The paper sleeves your records come with won’t do much to protect them from static, which is what attracts all of the dust and dirt, so inner record sleeves are also a great purchase.
Handle with care
How you handle your records is also important, and you should be careful to not get grease from your fingers on them when you’re taking them out of their sleeves of playing them. Hold them on the edges or by the label in the middle, and avoid touching the grooves with your hands.
While playing your records, close the lid on your turntable if it has one to protect it from dust, and use a carbon fibre brush before and after playing to gently and carefully remove any surface dust.
Clean your records
However careful you are with your records on a daily basis, there will always come a time when they need a good clean. Deep cleaning every so often is important, and it’s important to do it properly.
We spoke to VDC Group, who told us about a few different ways in which you can clean your records at home. They told us “there are a few different methods of deep cleaning your records. One of the most effective ways is to buy a vacuum based cleaning machine, which works by applying a layer of a cleaning solution to the record and then letting the machine suck it back out, along with any dust or dirt trapped in the grooves.
There are also manual methods if investing in a machine sounds a bit pricey to you, and while they take a little bit longer, they’re more budget-friendly.
You’ll want to find a soft surface that is free from lint to place your record on, and then apply some record cleaning solution diluted with distilled water. Don’t use tap water as it contains impurities and limescale that can damage your records. Take a microfibre cloth and gently clean in the direction of the grooves to get out any dirt, and follow this up with a second microfibre cloth to dry your record.”
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