Over the past decade, vinyl has made its big comeback, and record stores have popped back up in cities across the country, many people now own or collect vinyl records. Storing them properly is essential to keeping them in good working order for years to come. Here are a few things to consider to keep your collection in their best condition.
Like all items being prepared for storage, you should take care to clean records before going into storage. This includes removing dust with an antistatic brush or cloth. The easiest way to do this is by putting the record on your turntable and allowing it to spin while holding the cloth or brush to it lightly. This removes dust from the grooves of the record which is easily attracted to vinyl.
If you’re wanting a deeper clean of your records, know that wet cleaning does pose some risks, but you can find clear instructions and product recommendations at the Document Conservation Center website.
Best practices with vinyl records are to include an inner and outer sleeve. Most newer records will include an inner sleeve, but if you do need to purchase some for your older records, ensure that they are a smooth and silk like texture. Inner sleeves with a paper texture will wear your records down over time, and reduce their ability to play well.
Outer sleeves protect the cardboard sleeve of the record from dust as well as moisture. Outer sleeves should not be tight to the records, but slightly loose so they do not adhere to the actual cardboard sleeve and peel images or covers.
The best way to store your records after they are cleaned and covered is vertically on a strong and sturdy shelf. One record at a time may not seem like much weight, but as you know if you’ve tried to pick up a stack at a time, are considerably heavy. Metal shelving, or strong wood shelving is recommended for holding multiple records. Never store your records horizontally, or flat, this not only helps to disperse the weight of your records, but stacking records can damage them over time as well.
You can also take this time with shelving to organize your records with dividers, which will also disperse weight, and allow you to group records by size as well.
Pro-tip: If you need to box up your records, strong plastic boxes is the way to go. They will prevent moisture better than a cardboard box, and be able to handle the weight of records as well.
We hope these tips get your too a good starting point with your collection, and keep them playing well for years to come!