Record collections are passed down through generations, built with a
collector’s consideration, enjoyed in quiet contemplation and at raucous
social events. Vinyl is a warm, textural listening experience, and
steps must be taken to preserve it. Following a few basic principles
will help to conserve your collection for present and future enjoyment.
Inventory. Depending on its size and/or value, you should prepare an
inventory of your collection. Record the title, artist, date of release
or date purchased (if known) and any other noteworthy information of
each recording. Organize them in a way that makes sense for you – but
keep it consistent.
Care. Keep your records clean. Dust and body oils can and cause poor
sound quality and static. They damage the vinyl as well as the needles.
Use cloths and brushes specially made for cleaning records; special
chemicals are also available. The best, and easiest, way to clean a
record is while it rotates on the turntable. Do not use soap and water.
Once your record is clean, put it in a new sleeve so that dust from the
old sleeve isn’t deposited. But keep the original sleeve! Original sets
have a greater value for collectors, so protect the cover as well by
keeping it in plastic sleeve.
Storage. Ideally, vinyl records should be stored in a dark, clean, cool,
dry place at approximately 15.5 C (60 F) and with 20-40% relative
humidity. This isn’t realistic for most of us, but your records will be
ok as long as you protect them from extreme changes in temperature and
humidity. So don’t store them next to an outside wall, in a soggy shed
or near the kitchen. Moisture can cause mold that will damage the
jackets and sleeves and harm the record. Heat will warp them and maybe
even make them brittle. Smoke and cooking greases easily adhere to
records and their jackets.
Whether you store your collection on a shelf, in the attic or in a
storage unit, records should be stored upright and snug against each
other as leaning can cause warping. Do not stack record boxes on the
floor – create at least a few inches of space between the floor and your
Listen to your records – enjoy the ritual of hitting needle to groove.
Store them if you must. But treat them with care and they will continue
to give you pleasure for years to come.