Achive the Best Sound Quality from Your Vinyl Records
Cleanliness is absolutely mandatory to achieve the best sound quality of your vinyl records. A clean vinyl record will not only sound better, but last longer. It has long been proven that the playing of dirty records will result in a rapid deterioration of quality and degradation of the original recorded sound, or simply can cause permanent damage to your records. The preservation of your valuable or irreplaceable records requires special care and cleaning. Not to mention that, stylus wear is greatly accelerated by playing dirty records, with the cost of a new cartridges these days, playing dirty records can lead to significant and unneeded expense.
Three Essentials of Proper Vinyl Record Care
Vinyl records are delicate, and very susceptible to damage and wear. Therefore a few techniques should be used when it comes to handling, cleaning and storage of your valued records. There are essentially three concerns to consider when handling vinyl records. One that the record is kept free of foreign matter, Two that they be kept free of any pressure that might cause deformations such as warping and three that they are stored in a stable, controlled environment.
How Vinyl Records Are Made 1
How Vinyl Records Are Made 2
My Records Look Clean, What Is Foreign Matter ??
Think Micro Biology Dust,
Smoke & Body Oils
Hold On You Say, My Vinyl Records Look Clean, What Is Foreign Matter ?? One can classify foreign matter as deposits which are not part of the original record, such as body oils from fingerprints, smoke, stains, stearic acids, dust etc.. Dust is commonly a mixture of flakes of human skin, minute particles of mineral or plant material, textile fibers, smoke, fingerprint oils and other organic and inorganic materials. There are often salts such as sodium chloride from fingerprints, and skin fragments and gritty silica crystals. Within this chemical mixture are the spore of countless molds, fungi and micro-organisms which live on the organic material in the dust (fingerprints make for a good culture).
Mold loves vinyl, not vinyl per-se but what is in the grooves. The paper dust and such that settles in the grooves, combined with the occasional wet cleaning, the dark confines of an album sleeve coupled with moderate temperature, all are extremely conductive to forming your own mold colonies. Much of this dirt is "hygroscopic" (water-attracting) and this tendency can encourage molds, as well as increases the corrosiveness of salts. Dust is an abrasive and combined with the pressure exerted on the groove walls by the stylus, can permanently etch the walls and worse the dust can be embedded permanently into thermoplastic substances.
Only a small point of the stylus is actually making contact with the groove walls, one and a half grams of stylus pressure on such a minute surface translates to several tons of pressure per square inch. The resulting drag generates enough heat that the plastic partially melts, though not enough to deform the vinyl but cause a microscopic flow around the stylus into which dust can be embedded permanently.
Stearic acids have always been a part of the making of vinyl in one form or another. After a record is pressed there will be thin film of these acids on the surface of the vinyl. The stearic acids found in vinyl formulation has a two-fold effect in the vinyl production process, they act as a record mold release agent but there primary purpose is to act as a buffer for the vinyl stamping process.
Vinyl Records & Their Environment
Proper Storage for Long Life
For long life and playability, proper storage of your recordings is a must. Some of the factors to consider for the proper storage of vinyl records are temperature and humidity, dirt and dust, improper stacking, excessive pressure and weight, and mechanical or chemical damage. With respect to the environment, though not always practical, a constant temperature of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 degrees Celsius should be maintained. Plus a relative humidity of 45-50% is highly recommended. Avoid rapid changes in temperature and humidity, it could have an adverse effect on the life expectancy of your recordings. Special attention should be placed on sunlight and on sources of heat such as heaters, vents, and artificial lighting. Also beware of high humidity and water. This will cause mold to grow on the album jackets, and within the inner sleeves causing irreparable damage. Avoid dusty environments. Whenever possible, enclose your recordings in a relatively airtight container such as a cabinet with doors, or seal-able boxes. Don't be afraid to lightly vacuum the area surrounding your vinyl records. Replace dirty and moldy record jackets and inner sleeves to avoid further damage to the discs. Do not store, in or around smokey or cooking areas. Smoke and cooking greases easily adhere to phonograph records and their jackets.
A Few More Vinyl Record Storage Tips,
Don't forget to protect your albums cover or jacket against dust with poly sleeves
Never store recordings on their sides or flat! Always maintain vinyl records in an absolutely vertical position. Remove the original manufacturers wrapping from records. These wraps will shrink over time, eventually warping the jacket and it's contents. Replace this "shrink wrap" with high density polyethylene, or "acid free" sleeves. Additionally, one should also replace regular paper or "acid bearing" inner sleeves, with mylar or polyethylene lined sleeves. Regular paper inner sleeves will scratch the surface of your recordings with every pass. Also available are rice paper inner sleeves from Japan, though these type of sleeves are a little expensive.
Do Not Discard the Original "Dust Sleeve"
as it completes the originality of the packaging of your record
Handle with Care
Handling Your Vinyl Records
When handling your vinyl records avoid touching the playing or grooved surface. You should handle the record by either edge and the labeled surface only.
Remove the vinyl record from the jacket with the inner dust sleeve by bowing the jacket open by holding it against the body and applying a slight pressure with a hand. Pull the record out by holding a corner of the inner dust sleeve. Avoid pressing down onto the disc with the fingers as any dust caught between the sleeve and the disc will be pressed into the grooves. Remove your vinyl record from the inner dust sleeve by bowing the dust sleeve and letting it slip gradually into an open hand so that the edge falls on the inside of the thumb knuckle. The middle finger should reach for the center label. Never reach into the sleeve.
To hold a record, place the thumb on the edge of the disc, and the rest of the fingers of the same hand on the center label for balance. Use both hands on the edge to place disc on turntable. Do not use paper or cardboard inner sleeves and do not store records without inner sleeves. Use soft polyethylene inner sleeves. Do not use record sleeves made of PVC.
Keep Those Grooves Clean !!
Record Cleaning Fluids
Okay most will agree that these foreign substances should be removed to achieve ultimate playback and to preserve the life of the record itself, the debate rages on as to how best to accomplish this goal. If you ask 10 different record collectors about the best way to clean a record, you are a likely to receive ten wildly different answers from the alchemist approach to Ivory Liquid Soap in the kitchen sink.
The base fluid for record cleaning solutions is distilled water. Distilled water is used for cleaning for many reasons. First being, its precise chemical make-up is known, distilled water will not leave any residue behind, it is safe to use and inexpensive. Water disperses static charges and counteracts the increased conductivity from the pick-up of salt deposits from finger prints. However water alone can not dissolve grease and oils, thus surfactants are used as additives to enable water to be grease solvent. Surfactants break grease surface bonds and allow water to penetrate grease solids, causing swelling and the random dispersion.
Never Ever Play a Wet Record.
In Closing ...,
The proper care and maintenance of records is really a common sense procedure. once we understand and appreciate those conditions or circumstances which contribute to record wear and deterioration, we are in much better position to do something about it.
Jack Johnson "Better Together"
Eric Clapton "I Shot the Sheriff"
Lynyrd Skynyrd "Things Goin' On"
I make no copyright claims on the video content or images of drawings, paintings, prints, or other two-dimensional works of art contained with-in this article, the copyright for these items are most likely owned by either the artist who produced the image, or the person who commissioned the work and or their heirs. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.
Keep It In the Groove -- Let Us Know You Were Here Too !!
Fox Music (author) on July 30, 2015:
Thank You claptona
John D Wilson from Earth on July 30, 2015:
Good Fox Music.
Good hub with some great info.
Fox Music (author) on July 25, 2015:
Thanks For the Kind Words Kosmo -- Glad to Hear Your Still Spinin' That Vinyl Though !!
Kelley Marks from Sacramento, California on July 25, 2015:
Tremendous article. I have lots of records and should take better care of them. In fact, I think I have a few resting on their sides. Yikes! I better rectify that! Anyway, I dusted off an old one last night and played "Rock Me Baby" by Jimi Hendrix. Oh, the memories! Later!
Fox Music (author) on June 13, 2015:
Thank You PeggyW -- Yours is not an uncommon story and now in the information age and the advent of digital formatting listening to music is easier that ever. As it does take a certain dedication to maintain & listen to a record collection most people opt for the ease of the digital format and have relegated there albums to dark depths of the closet or basement. -- Keep It In the Groove
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2015:
Over the course of years we have gotten rid of most of our vinyl records. I think that we still have a few in a box somewhere. I had no idea that such care was required to keep them in optimum shape! Apparently there is a resurgence in interest in acquiring and maintaining vinyl records again. Very informative article! Will pin and share.
Fox Music (author) on May 17, 2015:
Thank you --- proper care and maintenance of records is really a common sense procedure. once we understand and appreciate those conditions or circumstances which contribute to record wear and deterioration, we are in much better position to do something about it. - Keep Spinin' That Vinyl
Joshua Patrick from Texas on May 17, 2015:
Fox Music (author) on May 10, 2015:
Keep Spinin' That Vinyl !!
TZNelson on May 09, 2015:
Thank you for sharing this great information !!
othellos on September 12, 2013:
Thank you for sharing this information and these tips. I learned so much here. Very detailed and informative!
BarbsSpot on April 21, 2013:
@Lensmaster...Thanks for the great tips here on vinyls. I've got a mountain stack of them, and playing them still pleases me immensely!
Cara on March 05, 2013:
I don't have any vinyl records but my husband has quite a collection. I will let him read this informative lens.
Malu Couttolenc on February 21, 2013:
Awesome tips to clean and keep your vinyl records. I have a collection of 500+ and I treasure them dearly :)
Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on February 11, 2013:
Thanks for sharing these tips.
anonymous on January 28, 2013:
Great advice, thanks
anonymous on January 26, 2013:
Fantastic guide. Thanks for sharing this here!
rawwwwwws lm on January 17, 2013:
Thanks for sharing.
Dorian Bodnariuc from Ottawa, Ontario Canada on January 16, 2013:
I always wondered what is the proper way to clean a vinyl. Thanks for sharing this in depth informational lens.
spids1 on October 26, 2012:
Great lens very well written.
Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on October 24, 2012:
Thanks for all the great tips and info.
custompaul on October 16, 2012:
Very good lens. I enjoy learning new things about vinyl and thanks for for keeping us vinyl collectors in check on keeping our collections clean.
mediawizard lm on December 18, 2011:
This ia awesome!
The vinyl records are really getting a hot item.
Well done Fox Music
bokal99 on December 07, 2011:
Wow! I wanna have his collection!!!
Mauhro on November 28, 2011:
Great lens. I should take care of my records. :)
Treasures By Brenda from Canada on November 25, 2011:
A nice resource about looking after your records.
Obsidianram on November 11, 2011:
Pretty good collection of technical info you've put together. Sometimes the hisses and pops give the music character you don't get with CD's / downloads, though. : )
FriendAdder LM on October 23, 2011:
Very nice informative lens, I'm a big vinyl buff myself. Just started Rare 45 Records and made lens http://www.squidoo.com/rare-records . Am voting you up !!. Hope your having a great day!
anonymous on June 13, 2011:
Very informative lens! It's obvious that you know your records. Thanks for the hard work you put into this.
Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on June 11, 2011:
I learned a lot of new things about an old subject...vinyl records. I had no idea they made poly sleeves to encase a vinyl record. Makes me wish I'd taken better care of my albums back in the day.
anonymous on May 31, 2011:
Had Never seen the production of vinyls in such detail before
Stephen Carr from Corona, CA on April 10, 2011:
Great lens. Sadly, I only have a handful left.
TriviaChamp on April 05, 2011:
This is a great resource for those of us that still enjoy vinyl. Blessed.
dessertlover on February 28, 2011:
Very cool lens here, and very helpful. Thanks!
irenemaria from Sweden on February 27, 2011:
Very nice lens about caring for your Vinyls. Blessed by a Squid Angel!
dahlia369 on February 11, 2011:
Nicely done & great resource. â¢ââAngel blessedâââ¢ & featured on "My Life with Angel Wings" lens ... :)
Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on February 02, 2011:
Most Excellent! I have a few of my records from my younger days :) I even received a new record player last year for Christmas so I could continue listening to them. They may be outdated, but they are old friends and I definitely want to take good care of them.
nebby from USA on February 01, 2011:
I think that the oldest vinyl record set that we have is Danny Kaye. Most of them are from the 60's and 70's and unfortunately we not stored well over the years (they were stored flat - yikes!). I should go through them all and clean up the ones I can (some have mildew on them) and stick them on the phonograph. Usually I just like to look at the artwork on the covers and the liner notes - boy those were the days. Kids don't realize what they are missing by just downloading music - the covers on vinyl records are incredible.
Achim Thiemermann from Austin, Texas on January 17, 2011:
Excellent tips on vinyl record cleaning! I've got hundreds of 'em.
capriliz lm on January 04, 2011:
Sometimes I still miss my vinyl collection! I have been thinking of rebuilding a certain portion of it, and now I have found this excellent lens on the care and cleaning of vinyl records. Thank you.
Anthony Godinho from Ontario, Canada on January 03, 2011:
This is an excellent lens on maintenance of vinyl records. I'm sure a lot of people still maintain their collections even though mainstream has switched to digital formats. Happy New Year! **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on January 01, 2011:
Oh, I didn't know about most of these. Thanks for bringing me up-to-date.
PizmoBeach LM on September 11, 2010:
anonymous on August 06, 2010:
What is the correct way to repair a separated (split apart) LP album cover?
anonymous on May 04, 2010:
Eklectik1 on June 29, 2009:
Thank you for some great information!
Tobbie LM on June 28, 2009:
Great lens, I have added it to my Glenn Miller lens to help spread the word. 5Stars
religions7 on April 16, 2009:
Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)
TopStyleTravel on April 10, 2009:
Wow! Great info, did not know vinyl records were still in. I was told the sound quality is superior to cd's. The old album covers were a work of art. Good to know that there is a source if I want to acquire albums again. Congrats on the Top 100!
Jennifer Sullivan from Chicago, IL on April 08, 2009:
Great lens, and wonderful tips!
MUJERDEEXITO on March 25, 2009:
This is a very useful, unique lens. Great information...
MUJERDEEXITO on March 25, 2009:
This is a very useful, unique lens. Great information...
dc64 lm on March 24, 2009:
I only own 2 vinyl records, and I've never opened them. They are both Star Trek stories with accompanying comic book. While they really aren't worth as much as one might think, it's still cool to have them.
Fox Music (author) on March 22, 2009:
[in reply to msbaby]That's true some of the artist that are in the "know" opt for a small vinyl pressing run of there new release. As far as turntables go.., big box retailers are reluctant to "show room" electronics that have small interest groups and the small shops can not afford to "show room" products to give consumers choices. If you are interested in a new turntable we offer several in our a-store, "Traveling 33 1/3 in an MPS World"
msbaby on March 21, 2009:
[in reply to PostRanger] The good news is that many artists are going back to vinyl so maybe it will become easier to find new turntables.
anonymous on March 21, 2009:
Great lens. It's clear you care about music and the value of artistic contribution. Please visit my lens to help video and music artists protect their copyright.
mistyblue75605 lm on February 15, 2009:
How neat are vinyl records......you have a great lens!! 5*'s
anonymous on February 12, 2009:
Great lens! I still have several vinyl records in storage. Thanks for the info on how to keep them in good condition!
singaporehosting on February 03, 2009:
I haven't heard from vinyl records for ages, they tend to produce the best music much better than the modern CDs, MPs and such.
Mary from Chicago area on January 28, 2009:
wonderful info! 5*****
PostRanger on January 20, 2009:
Really comprehensive look at vinyl record care. My question is where to get a really good turntable these days at a reasonable price. Have a lense on this subject? Suggestions?
Charlyjl on January 20, 2009:
My Mum still has an extensive vinyl record collection - this information will be very helpful when we go to listen to them. Thanks!
anonymous on January 19, 2009:
I love the Jacket-graphics - I recognize some Ray Charles, Chet Baker and Miles Davis from my own lonely, stored collection. This is timely information for me since my Lovely and I are anticipating restoring our collection. I'm going to check all you lenses for further info. Thanks.
anonymous on January 13, 2009:
My husband & I finally went through our joint collection of records - after 20 years of marriage. Luckily we had them stored vertically. However after trying to play a few it's evident they all need cleaned and cleaned well. I was wondering how to begin this process and your web site is very informative. I just wish the Nitty Gritty system wasn't so expensive.
MsMorrison on January 07, 2009:
Yes, I still have my fave old vinyl records. thank you for the cleaning tips!
s96designs on August 13, 2008:
I think we have about 100 or more records from 45's from the 80's to the LP's from the 50's. But I have no clue what shape they are in. I do know that they are upright! This was very helpful in the storage and cleaning factor.
WritingforYourW on July 25, 2008:
Woohoo, I had records as a kid but haven't seen them in a long time. Maybe time to rummage in the parents' basement :)
allsound on January 15, 2008:
Thanks - Very Helpful
I will visit your online
store - I love records too!!
thekid93 on January 09, 2008:
I Could Not Live without
Signhappy on November 16, 2007:
Excellent information which I'll use as a reference. Purchased some vintage records a while back and am trying to find out their value.