There are wrong ways to clean a vinyl record. Read on to discover the simplest ways to clean vinyl records without ruining them here.
Owning and enjoying vinyl can be a fragile hobby sometimes. Records offer superior sound quality, but they’re also more fragile. Naturally, they’re more fragile than a digital file because that hardly even exists in the physical world.
It’s important to understand how to maintain your record player and your records if you want to enjoy the music you own for years to come. One important piece of that is knowing how to clean vinyl records.
There are ways to scratch, clog, and shorten the lifespan of the record through cleaning, so it’s crucial to know the correct methods.
We’re going to explore three ways for you to clean your records, hopefully keeping them in the best condition they can be. Let’s take a look.
1. Purchase a Cleaning Machine
The safest bet for you as a record collector is to buy a record cleaning machine These are devices that can safely remove all of the dust and dirt from your records’ grooves and keep them in great shape.
Typically, cleaning machines involve tiny vacuums, soft brushes, spinning mechanisms, and different features to account for the unique sizes and ages of the records you own.
Do some digging to find the best record cleaner for you and your budget, and see if it isn’t an investment worth making. The ideas to follow are just as effective at cleaning records, but the danger lies in our fumbling human hands.
We’re going to clean our records dozens of times throughout their lifespan. Each of those instances provides a chance for us to scratch, bend, scuff, or drop those precious records.
Additionally, as they age, they become more fragile and susceptible to our mishandlings. A record cleaner is like a crib for a sleeping baby, whereas other methods are like a good friend holding them. It’s pretty safe to let a trusted friend hold your child, but you know that the crib isn’t going to startle or drop them.
If you can swing the investment, a cleaning machine will keep your music pristine. If not, the following ideas will still get the job done well.
2. Brushes and Cloths
You can buy an affordable record-cleaning brush that’s designed just for removing dust and debris from vinyl. You can also do a decent job cleaning with a microfiber cloth.
It’s important that you use these items instead of coarser cloths that can damage the grooves and leave scratches. It’s also important that you use very little pressure as you work your way around the record.
Vinyl is strong enough to take a light brushing, but scratches are costly and often irreversible. Your goal is to get all of the dust and grime from inside the grooves without disturbing the disc in any other way.
It can be helpful to turn your turntable on with the record sitting on top. Allow it to spin as you gently hold the cloth or brush over the grooves. The cloth will pick up the dirt and it will build up as the record spins.
Try to only let it move around a few times or as long as it takes to get all of the visible dirt. Letting that dirt sit on the end of a cloth as the record spins could cause scratches or send debris deeper into the grooves.
3. Store Records Properly
Cleaning is absolutely important, but one way to make sure your records stay in great condition is to store them the right way. Normal use isn’t what will shorten your records’ lifespan.
The real danger is leaving them out, keeping them in warm or cold places, and exposing them to a lot of physical danger. You might be surprised to learn that vinyl records have the longest longevity of any physical music format.
Tapes and CDs are prone to quick degradation, but vinyl can actually last up to 100 years if it’s cared for the right way. Caring for vinyl is the delicate part, though.
Let’s explore some of the main risk factors to avoid.
Your best bet is to keep vinyl somewhere around room temperature. That tends to be anywhere from 60 to 75 degrees for most people. If you live in a climate or a home that doesn’t allow that, a cool basement is always preferable to a warm room.
It’s also important to store your records away from the pieces of your home that produce heat intermittently. A heating vent or radiator, for example, could warp records in close proximity.
Also, avoid storing records in your car for more time than you have to. You’ll be alright packing them up for a move, but storing a box of vinyl in your car over the winter will cause you some problems.
Vinyl is sensitive to ultraviolet light. Record sleeves aren’t always the best at keeping light out, so make sure to store your vinyl somewhere that it won’t be exposed to the sun or a lamp for too long.
This is also true for leaving your records out of the sleeve under a lamp while you’re sifting through them.
Weight and Position
Avoid storing your vinyl underneath anything heavy, or anything at all for that matter. When you’re moving your belongings to a new place, for example, try to keep your record collection on top of everything except the blankets and pillows if you can.
Some people also stack their records on top of each other as they lay on their side. This is also bad news, as a the weight that presses down upon the vinyl can warp and scratch it.
It’s best to store your vinyl standing up, only resting on the thin side of the sleeve and leaning against the rest of your vinyl or the wall of a shelf.
Want to Learn More?
Understanding how to clean vinyl records is one thing, but there’s a lot more to learn about how to enjoy them in general. The potential for improving your setup is almost unlimited.
Explore our site for music-lover ideas and insights on how to improve your listening experience.