Discover our top tips on how to actually look after vinyl records and our takes covering longevity, common causes of vinyl record damage, vinyls storage, handling, cleaning, and essential care accessories. A guide both for DJs and vinyl enthusiasts! Preserve your collection like a pro with us!
- How Long do Vinyl Records Last?
- Why do Vinyl Records Get Damaged? – Common Causes
- How To Keep Your Vinyl Records in Good Shape?
- How To Store Vinyl Records Properly?
- Handling DVS Vinyl Records as a DJ
- Cleaning Vinyl Records Without Damaging Them – How To
- Essential Vinyl Record Care Accessories
- How to Take Care of Vinyl Records – Summary
Check out also: Do Vinyl Records Wear Out When Used For DJing?
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How Long do Vinyl Records Last?
The general lifespan of vinyl records can depend on a lot of different factors, the most important ones being the conditions in which the records are stored if they are not used a lot, and the actual ways they are used when they get out of the storage every once in a while.
The longevity of a vinyl record also largely depends on the quality of the pressing and how well the record is cared for on every part of its journey out of the pressing plant. With proper care and handling, vinyl records can last for decades or even centuries, although that may be an exaggeration.
Some collectors have classic records in store that are over 50 years old and still play beautifully. However, if not properly maintained, vinyl records can quite easily deteriorate and become unplayable in just a few years.
In this guide, we will explore the factors that affect the lifespan of vinyl records and provide tips on how to care for them to ensure they last as long as possible.
Why do Vinyl Records Get Damaged? – Common Causes
Vinyl records can get damaged for various reasons, affecting their sound quality and longevity. According to our own experience with storing and handling quality vinyls, we will now outline the common causes of vinyl record damage:
- Improper handling: Touching the grooves of a vinyl record with your fingers can transfer oils and dirt to its surface, causing damage over time. Always handle records by the edges and label. Accumulating dirt and grease is one of the first enemies of a vinyl record.
- Poor storage conditions: Storing records in direct sunlight, high humidity, or too high temperatures can very easily warp and irreversibly damage the vinyl material.
- Dust and dirt: Dust and dirt, if it can accumulate in the grooves can lead to scratches and reduced sound quality. Regular cleaning (once every 10-15 plays) is essential for maintaining the condition of your records if you tend to use them a lot, especially as a DJ.
- Stacking records: Stacking records horizontally, especially in large amounts is probably the worst way of storing vinyls, and it can quickly cause warping of the record’s surfaces, even in correct ambient temperatures. Always store records vertically and with proper support.
- Poor quality turntable equipment: Using a low-quality cheap turntables or a worn-out stylus can cause scratches and groove damage during playback. Invest in good quality equipment and replace the stylus when needed.
- Skipping and dragging: If a record skips or the stylus is dragged across the grooves, it can cause serious damage to a record. Always ensure that your turntable is properly calibrated and the stylus is in good condition.
By understanding these common causes of damage, you can take the necessary steps to protect your vinyl records and keep them in pristine condition.
How To Keep Your Vinyl Records in Good Shape?
Keeping your vinyl records in good shape is essential for maintaining their longevity and sound quality. Here are some tips to help you achieve that:
- Handle with care: Always hold the record by its edges or label, avoiding direct contact with the grooves. This can minimize the transfer of oils and dirt from your fingers to the vinyl’s surface.
- Use a quality turntable: Invest in a turntable with a well-balanced tonearm and a good-quality stylus to minimize wear on your records during the playback process.
- Replace the stylus regularly: A worn-out stylus can cause damage to your records. Replace it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations or when you notice a decline in sound quality / the needle starts to skip or bounce.
- Keep ’em clean: Regularly clean your records and turntable to remove dust, dirt, and other debris that can cause damage both during playback and in the storage. Use a soft, lint-free cloth or a record cleaning brush to gently remove dust from the record’s surface whenever necessary.
- Maintain a stable storage environment: Store your records in a cool, dry place with consistent temperature and humidity levels. Extreme fluctuations can cause warping and other damage. More on the ideal temps and humidity in the next paragraph.
- Use quality storage sleeves: Protect your records with polyethylene vinyl sleeves in storage to prevent scratches, scuffs, and dust buildup.
By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that your vinyl records stay in great shape for years to come.
So, How To Store Vinyl Records Properly?
Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the longevity and sound quality of your vinyl records. Here are some tips to ensure your collection stays in top shape:
- Vertical storage: Always store vinyl records vertically, as stacking them horizontally can cause warping or damage over time. Use sturdy shelves or crates to support the weight of your collection.
- Avoid direct sunlight: As we’ve already mentioned, exposure to sunlight can cause warping and fading of the vinyl records. Store your records in a cool, dark place away from windows or direct sunlight.
- Maintain a consistent temperature and humidity: The ideal temperature for storing vinyl records is generally somewhere around 64-74 °F (18-24 °C), and the advised humidity levels are between 40% to 50%. Avoid storing records in damp basements, hot attics, or in the close proximity of heating/cooling vents.
- Use proper storage sleeves: Invest in high-quality inner and outer sleeves to protect your records from dust, scratches, and static. Polyethylene or polypropylene sleeves are recommended.
- Leave some breathing room: Don’t overcrowd your vinyl shelves or crates, as this can cause unnecessary pressure on the records and increase the risk of warping or damage. Allow for some space between each record.
- Organize your collection: Keep your records organized by genre, artist, or alphabetically to make it easier to find and handle them. This will also help prevent unnecessary additional wear and tear from constantly shuffling through your collection if you tend to do that a lot.
Handling DVS Vinyl Records as a DJ
As a DJ, handling vinyl records with care even when using them for scratching is crucial to maintaining their quality. If you don’t know what DVS systems are, we have a neat resource on that! Here are some tips to help you handle your records like a pro:
- Always hold records by the edges: As per regular vinyl handling rules, to avoid transferring oils and dirt from your fingers to the grooves, make sure to hold the records by their edges or use the label area for grip.
- Use slipmats: Slipmats provide a cushion between the turntable platter and the record, reducing friction and protecting the vinyl from scratches. Choose a slipmat made of felt or cork for the best results.
- Keep your turntable clean and well-maintained: Regularly clean your turntable and replace the stylus as needed to prevent unnecessary wear on your records. The very same rules apply when you’re using DVS records for DJing! A well-maintained record and turntable will also provide better sound/signal quality. Remember that!
- Avoid excessive back-cueing: While back-cueing is a common DJ technique, doing it too often or with too much force can and will very slowly damage the grooves of your DVS records. While you don’t have to necessarily hold back at all times during your set (as this would be kind of hard), just keep this information in mind.
- Store records properly between sets: And yet again, just as with regular vinyl records, when they are not in use, store them vertically in a protective sleeve to prevent physical damage. Avoid stacking them horizontally, as this can cause pressure that leads to warping.
- Handle records with clean hands: Before touching your records, make sure your hands are clean and dry. This will help prevent the transfer of dirt, oils, and other contaminants to the vinyl surface.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your vinyl records remain in top condition and provide the best possible sound for your DJ sets. As you might have known, scratching does affect the longetivity of your vinyls (including your DVS records). Don’t worry though, vinyl records can last pretty long even when used for DJing if appropriate precautions are taken.
Cleaning Vinyl Records Without Damaging Them – How To
Cleaning your vinyl records is essential to maintain their longevity and sound quality if you use them a lot. However, it’s crucial to clean them carefully, so as not to cause any futher damage to their surfaces. In general, in an ideal world, you should clean your records once every ~10-15 plays.
Here are some steps to follow for a safe and effective cleaning process:
- Gather the necessary cleaning supplies: You’ll need a soft, lint-free cloth, a vinyl record cleaning brush, and a record cleaning solution. How to make a vinyl cleaning solution at home? You can either purchase a commercial cleaning solution or make your own by mixing distilled water with isopropyl alcohol and dishwashing soap in proportions 1:1:2.
- Prepare the cleaning area: Choose a clean, flat surface to work on, and lay down a soft towel or cloth to protect the record from scratches. Be sure that there is not much dust floating around in the room.
- Dust off the record: Before applying any liquid, use the vinyl record cleaning brush to gently remove any loose dust or debris from the record’s surface. Do it very carefully, so as not to push the dust into the grooves or scratch the surface of the record by dragging the dust particles over the vinyl.
- Apply the cleaning solution: When all the larger debris and dust are removed, dampen the lint-free cloth with the cleaning solution, but don’t soak it. Again, very gently wipe the record in a circular motion, following the grooves. Avoid touching the record label. Don’t push the dust into the record by using too much force.
- Rinse the record: If you used a homemade cleaning solution, be sure to carefully rinse the record with distilled water to remove any soap residue. Use a second lint-free cloth to gently wipe the surface.
- Dry the record: Allow the record to air dry completely before playing or storing it. You can also use a microfiber cloth to gently pat the record dry. Don’t dry it in the sun or by using any kind of heaters as this will cause warping of the record’s surface.
- Inspect the record: Once the record is dry, inspect it for any remaining dirt or debris. If necessary, repeat the cleaning process.
Remember to clean your vinyl records regularly to prevent the buildup of dust and grime that can affect their performance and lifespan. After cleaning your vinyl, place it in a new clean protective sleeve and store it away keeping in mind the rules of storing vinyl records.
Remember that if your old storage sleeve has dust, dirt or debris inside all the cleaning went for naught! It’s oftentimes better to either clean the old sleeve too if possible, or simply use a brand new one – thankfully they aren’t that expensive.
Essential Vinyl Record Care Accessories
To maintain your vinyl records in the best possible condition, it’s essential to invest in some quality vinyl record care accessories. Here are some of the most important tools (some of which we’ve already mentioned in the guide), that you really should consider adding to your collection:
- Record cleaning brush (Amazon | Ebay): A soft, anti-static brush designed specifically for cleaning vinyl records. It helps remove dust and debris without scratching the surface of the record provided it’s used with caution.
- Quality record cleaning solution (Amazon | Ebay): A gentle, non-abrasive cleaning solution designed for use on vinyl records. It helps remove dirt, grime, and fingerprints without damaging the grooves.
- Microfiber cloth (Amazon | Ebay): A soft, lint-free cloth for wiping your records dry after cleaning. It’s essential to avoid using regular towels or paper towels, as they can leave behind fibers and unwanted residue.
- Stylus cleaner (Amazon | Ebay): A small brush or gel cleaner designed to clean the delicate stylus on your turntable. Regular cleaning of the stylus ensures optimal sound quality and prolongs the life of your records.
- Storage sleeves (inner and outer) (Amazon | Ebay): High-quality, acid-free sleeves for storing your records. Inner sleeves protect the record from dust and scratches, while outer sleeves shield the album cover from wear and tear.
- Record storage boxes (Amazon | Ebay): Proper storage solutions, such as record crates or shelves, help keep your vinyl collection organized and protected from damage. They also come in lots and lots of great and unique designs!
By investing in these essential vinyl record care accessories, you’ll be well-equipped to keep your collection in pristine condition for a long time!
How to Take Care of Vinyl Records – Summary
In conclusion, taking care of your vinyl records is essential to ensure their longevity and maintain their sound quality on the highest possible level. To recap, here are the key points to remember. If you want to care for your vinyl record collection the best you can, you should:
- Understand the factors that contribute to vinyl records’ lifespan and the common causes of damage.
- Keep your records in good shape by handling them carefully and avoiding contact of dust, debris and grease with their grooves.
- Store your records properly, in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, and store them vertically, do not stack them or pack them tightly in a container.
- If you’re DJing using your vinyl records (including DVS records) their lifespan will decrease faster.
- Clean your used records regularly, using the appropriate methods and products, to prevent buildup of dust and dirt.
- It’s often best to invest in essential vinyl record care accessories early on, accessories such as cleaning kits, brushes, and convenient and safe storage solutions.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your vinyl records remain in excellent condition for years to come. Happy listening!
You might also like: DVS And Timecode Vinyls For DJs – Explained. (A Simple Guide)
Main article photo: Ingo Ellerbusch