Records Are Fragile, Here’s How to Protect Them

Records Are Fragile, Here’s How to Protect Them

With Record Store Day 2024 right around the corner, the topic of vinyl storage and care couldn’t be more important. Vinyl isn’t just about playing vinyl; it’s also about collecting and preserving pieces of history. Vinyl collecting is a hobby that requires a bit of love and care — some people have been preserving their records for decades, and keeping a record in good condition for that long takes a bit of know-how. If you’re looking to buy some records on Record Store Day this year, make sure you know how to properly store and care for them, so you can enjoy them for years to come.

 

Why Vinyl Care is Important

The fragility of vinyl is a commonly debated topic among those who were around for the age of the turntable. Many will claim that records are indestructible, telling tales of spinning records after they’ve been dropped, thrown, frisbee-ed, scratched, bent — the list goes on. While these tales may be true, we’re not interested in asking “will it spin?” after putting our records through the wringer. The quality of the spin matters too; when you look at sound quality, playback accuracy, and audio preservation, records are actually quite fragile.

When you spin a record, the turntable needle “reads” the vinyl by gently running over the grooves. If there are any changes or disruptions in the groove texture, the resulting audio will be altered. Although a record may technically work after being bent or scratched, the texture of the grooves will never be the same, resulting in imperfections in playback. There are a number of things that can interfere with proper playback of a record or damage the grooves, so keeping your vinyl protected is extremely important.

No Heat, No Light, No Moisture

When it comes to storage, records like a space that is cold, dark, and dry. Polyvinyl chloride, the material records are made of, can start to warp at temperatures above 140 degrees, so it’s essential to keep your records away from heat sources like radiators, electronics that produce heat, or windows where the sun could warm them. Sunlight can be damaging to vinyl in more ways than one; UV rays can cause the sleeve artwork to fade, so keep them shaded. As far as moisture goes, the ideal humidity levels for records is between 45 and 55 percent. High humidity can lead to mould or mildew, which isn’t good for anything in your house, so if you’re concerned about humidity, try using a hygrometer to measure moisture levels in your home.

Stacking is Wack

The golden rule of vinyl is to never stack your records on top of each other. When records are stacked it creates a significant load of pressure on the vinyls at the bottom, which can lead to warping over time. For long term storage, always keep your records upright, like books on a bookshelf. Try to keep them as vertical as possible by storing them close together; avoid leaning them in either direction as this can also apply pressure to the disc. It’s also a good idea to use protective plastic sleeves or dividers to minimize the amount of physical contact with the records and their cardboard covers.

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

The buildup of dust and dirt is one of the top vinyl destroyers, so clean your records regularly! Use a record cleaning cloth (or any microfibre cloth) to give them a quick wipe before putting them away. You can also use record cleaning solution and an anti-static brush to help keep dust from settling on the record grooves. All of these tools will be included in a standard record cleaning kit, and we’ve got plenty of those here at Selby. Much of our records and accessories are on sale for Record Store Day 2024, so check out our selection today.