Whether you’ve got vinyl that you listen to all the time or special records that you want to keep safe, it’s imperative that you learn how to store vinyl records the right way. Improper storage can lead to all kinds of problems, from excessive dust accumulation to warping that can ruin an LP.
How to Store Vinyl Safely
If you don’t know how to store vinyl records, it’s time to learn. Even if you’re not a serious collector, knowing the right way to store vinyl will ensure that your LPs last longer and sound nicer.
The first step in how to store vinyl records is to clean your discs. From there, you’ll want to be sure that the record and its outer sleeve are protected, and then you’ll find a spot to store your LPs — in the correct position.
Clean Your Vinyl First
Before storing your vinyl, it’s a good idea to give it a quick cleaning. This will remove dust and dirt, preventing it from becoming a stuck-on mess. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of dusting off your vinyl after every use.
Depending on the condition of your LP, cleaning can be as easy as using a record brush. For dirtier vinyl, use a cleaning solution or an automated vinyl record cleaner.
Use Sleeves to Protect Your Vinyl
When you purchase vinyl records, they typically come with paper sleeves that help keep them clean.
If you have vinyl records that don’t have sleeves because they were lost or didn’t come with them to begin with, you’ll want to invest in some new ones. You’ll also want to purchase new sleeves if you’re purchasing older vinyl that has dirty or torn sleeves. Don’t keep these old sleeves as they may be saturated with dirt, mildew, bugs, and other debris that you don’t want anywhere near your LP.
Vinyl record sleeves come in a wide variety of styles, materials, thicknesses, and colors.
When it comes to style, make your purchase based on personal preference. The most common style features a square corner. You can also choose sleeves with rounded corners, as well as a hybrid style that sort of combines square and round.
Paper is by far the most popular material for sleeves. These sleeves are cheap and hold up well, though some may be concerned with scuffing when it comes to more expensive vinyl. An alternative to paper is a plastic or vinyl-lined paper sleeve. The outside is made of traditional paper, but the inside has a protective lining that won’t scuff vinyl and helps cut down on static. If you have valuable records that you really want to protect, you can opt for plastic sleeves, but note that these are the most expensive of the bunch.
Lastly, you can choose inner sleeves in a variety of colors. White is the most common choice, and while you may choose another based on personal preference, the color will have absolutely no effect on the sleeve’s protection.
Don’t Forget to Protect the Outer Sleeve Too
When you push and pull a vinyl record from a stack, you create friction that slowly wears away at the paper of the outer sleeve. With time, you’ll notice ring wear, and it will only get worse with repeated use.
The best way to protect your outer sleeve is to use a plastic protector. As with paper sleeves, there are many varieties available, and you’ll make a purchasing decision based on how much protection you need and how much money you’re willing to spend. The cheapest, thinnest protectors are made from polyvinyl. The thickest, most expensive sleeves are made from mylar. As a general rule, you’ll want to use plastic protectors that are rated 3 to 5 mil for everyday use records and protectors rated 6 mil or higher for expensive or collectible vinyl.
Find a Place to Store Your Vinyl Records
Once your vinyl is ready for storage, you need to determine exactly where you want to keep your records. The most common options include storage boxes or cubes and bookcases or shelves.
Storage boxes and cubes
If you have a small vinyl collection or want the freedom to move it whenever you please, you might opt to store your LPs in storage boxes or cubes. If you only need one or two units, you can opt for cheaper, cardboard boxes. If the boxes are intended for long-term storage or you need to stack them, it’s a better idea to invest in boxes or cubes that are made of plastic.
Bookcases and shelves
If you often use your vinyl or like displaying it, storing it on a bookcase or shelf is likely a more convenient option. You can purchase a standalone unit specifically for storing your collection, or you can use an existing unit that also houses books, trinkets, and other decor.
Position Your Vinyl Records Correctly
No matter whether you store your LPs in a box or on a shelf, the most important part of how to store vinyl records is how you position them.
For starters, you always want to keep your records in the vertical position — that is, standing up rather than lying down. This is because when you stack vinyl on top of vinyl, you’ll weigh down the discs at the bottom of the stack. In time, those LPs may crack or warp.
When placing records in a box or on a shelf, you want to allow for some freedom of movement. Shoving too many into one spot will cause pressure, which again can damage your records, especially those on the end. Likewise, storing too few in too big of a space will cause the records to lean to one side. If you leave your records like this for too long, you can cause warping along the bottom edge of the disc.
In short: When storing records, you want to be sure there aren’t so many discs that you can’t sort through them, but not so few that they start to lean.