Once you have started building your LP collection, you must make sure to keep your valued pieces in the best condition possible. While the LP is not as vulnerable to humidity, as other record mediums, they are extremely vulnerable to some everyday conditions. Some of the dangers to your LP include oils from fingerprints, adhesives, soot, cigarette/cigar smoke, and grease in the air from cooking. However, the single biggest threat to your LP is simple household dust. Before storing your LPs you’ll want to properly clean them. Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts for you LPs:
*DO NOT: Clean your LP with rubbing alcohol, lighter fluid, bleach, WD40, Armor-All, or baby oil.
*DO: Clean with distilled water (not mineral laden tap water) or a product designed specifically for cleaning LPs such as those made by the “Nitty Gritty” brand. There are also quite a few recipes for homemade LP cleaning solutions online, be careful to watch for oily or acidic ingredients.
When LPs first hit the market it was common for people to clean them with rubbing alcohol, lighter fluid, or WD40. Now experts tell us that these chemicals actually break down the stabilizing agent in the vinyl. It was also common to wipe an LP down with baby oil, it was a common belief that baby oil made the vinyl more “supple” and therefore preserved it. Now we know that baby oil only holds in and/or attracts more dirt.
*DO NOT: Clean with T-Shirt, dish cloth, or any other material that produces static or lint.
*DO: Clean with lint and static free cloth such as microfiber cloths.
*ALWAYS: Clean in circular motion with the grooves.
There are a few other products on the market to help you keep your LPs clean. The first is the vinyl record brush. You hold it lightly hold over an LP as it spins. These brushes run about $25 each, however some experts complain that after a few uses these brushes create too much static and can actually attract dirt.
The second product is for serious collectors only—it runs about $1,500. Vacuum Machines for LPs are extremely effective at cleaning LPs with no static, oils, acids, and they completely remove all dust particles—as they should for that price.
Now that your LPs are clean you will want to keep them that way. The manner in which you handle your LPs is just as important as how you clean and store them.
*DO NOT: Touch your LP with your fingers.
*DO: Handle just the edges or label part of the LP and preferably handle only while wearing white, static free gloves.
The oils from your fingertips will leave acidic imprints on the LP causing corrosion or attracting and holding dirt particles.
*DO NOT: Expose to air or light any longer than necessary or for a prolonged amount of time.
*DO: Return LPs to sleeves and jackets immediately.
Our environment is uniquely adept at decomposition. Light and oxygen can break down the polymer chains in vinyl rather rapidly.
*DO NOT: Wet play your vinyl records.
It was once a common practice to play LPs while they were still wet from cleaning, it was believed that wet play sounded better, hampered dust particles from interfering with the needle, and helped the needle to “clear debris out of the grooves”. This is actually one of the worst things you can do to an LP. If it’s played while wet, the dust particles will build up on the needle, damaging the needle and effectively turning it into an implement for scratching your LP. This practice will not only seriously damage your LP and destroy the needle, but it can also damage the arm of the turn table itself.
*DO NOT: Place or remove an LP onto or off of a spinning turntable.
*DO: Place an LP on the turn table before turning the table on. When removing an LP, always wait for the table to stop spinning.
Placing or removing an LP onto or off of a spinning turn table causes immediate friction and will scratch the underside of the LP.
*DO NOT: Drop LP into sleeve or jacket.
*DO: Gently slide LP into sleeve and jacket.
As vinyl ages it can become brittle, particularly if it is/was not properly cared for and stored. Any jarring to the vinyl can cause hairline splits or cracks.
We have covered how to clean and handle your new LP collection, but you will not be listening to each one all day every day, so how should they be stored in the interim?
*DO: Store your LP collection exactly vertical.
*DO NOT: Stack your LP collection.
LPs that are stacked are guaranteed to warp with gravity; however, like the great arches of Rome, the curve of the LP will retain its structural integrity.
*DO: Place spacers every 4 to 6 inches to keep your LPs exactly vertical.
*DO NOT: Mix and match LP sizes in storage.
*DO: Store LPs with other LPs of the same size.
When a 12” LP is stored next to a 7” LP, the smaller of the two can leave imprints on the larger, this can happen even if your LPs are properly stored in their sleeves and jackets.
*DO NOT: Allow LPs to hang over shelving.
*Do: Store LPs on metal shelving rather than wood shelving because wood will expand and contract affecting the angle of the LP.
*DO: Remove shrink wrap from jackets immediately to release static.
*DO: Store LPs in polyethylene inner sleeves.
*DO NOT: Store LPs in PVC or paper sleeves.
It is best to store LPs in the polyethylene sleeves because they absorb static, do not interfere with the chemical makeup of the vinyl, and they do not break down. PVC sleeves have a similar chemical makeup to the vinyl and can fuse with the LP. Paper sleeves deteriorate and leave oils and residues on the LP.
*DO: Store LPs at 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit for in home or short term storage.
*DO: Store LPs at 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for long term storage.
*DO: Store at optimum humidity (RH) of 45-50%.
*ALWAYS: Store LP in sleeve with open end facing down into jacket to protect from dust.
With all collectable or valuable items, preservation is very important and that includes making sure these items are properly stored. Here at Iron Gate Storage we have a variety of storage unit sizes and amenity options. For information on our storage options or any storage questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our office to speak with one of our storage experts.