- Store your records upright and invest in anti-static sleeves to protect them from warping and dust buildup.
- Routinely clean your records with a microfiber cloth or a vinyl-friendly cleaning solution to maintain the best sound quality.
- Clean your cartridge needle with a needle cleaner to remove dust particles and ensure optimal performance. Wipe down your turntable regularly to prevent dust buildup.
A great vinyl record collection is a work of love. Record enthusiasts will spend hours tirelessly thumbing through albums, always on the hunt for something on their wishlist. Other records might be prized possessions passed down from parents or grandparents. However, as your record collection comes together, you’ll want to take the best care of your records possible. This includes cleaning and protecting them, as well as cleaning and maintaining vital components of your record player like its cartridge, tone-arm, and platter.
Based off my record player expertise, these are the 4 accessories you’ll want to build your vinyl set-up.
We’ve put together a quick guide on how to clean your vinyl records and maintain your turntable, to ensure you can enjoy that rich, full, vinyl sound for years to come.
1 Store your records upright
Stack, wrap, or invest in an anti-static sleeve
Caring for your records starts the moment you take them home. You’ll want to store your records upright in your home, as stacking them horizontally on top of each other can cause warping by exerting undue pressure on records at the bottom of a heavy stack. Most records you buy will come inside their original vinyl jackets, and usually include an inner dust cover sleeve as well. Most inner sleeves are paper, and while this is certainly better than nothing, you might consider investing in anti-static plastic sleeves for your records.
Paper sleeves can, over time, leave behind fibers in the grooves of your records, as well as build static-electricity that attracts more dust to the surface of your records. An anti-static sleeve will go a long way to protecting them over time.
Additionally, your collection should be stored in a temperature-stable, dry, and indoor space rather than a garage.
2 Routinely and gently clean your records
Not all record scratches are cool
Hopefully you’re finding records in decent condition to begin with, but you’ll inevitably find yourself having to remove the occasional fingerprint or dust from your records. Vinyl records are easy enough to clean, and you can perform a pretty basic cleaning by just wiping down your records in a circular motion with a clean, dry, microfiber cloth. Simply following the grooves of your record around in a circle, removing dust as you wipe.
For a heavier clean, you might consider picking up a gentle cleaning solution that is vinyl-friendly. This can help remove stubborn spots or grime from the surface of your record.
Many vinyl cleaning kits also come with a velvet brush, which can be used for easy and gentle dust removal. With a velvet brush, you can get into the simple practice of quickly giving your vinyl records a wipe before playing them each time. Regular cleaning will save you time down the road, and ensures the cleanest playback possible.
Should something terrible come to pass, and you’ve spilled something on your record or a deeper cleaning is required, you can use distilled water and a drop of soap to carefully rinse your record. Be sure not to brush it with anything that could scratch it, so stick with that microfiber cloth here. It’s important to use distilled water since the minerals in tap water can dry within the grooves of your vinyl, affecting playback. Allow it to dry completely before playing.
3 Clean your cartridge needle
Make sure the needle stays sharp
The cartridge of your record player houses your needle as well as the necessary components to transmit what your needle picks up, to your turntable through your tonearm. Many cartridges come with a protective plastic cover that you can flip down to cover your needle when your table is not in use.
After careful listening, these speakers impress when it comes to both sound and style.
Over time, it’s entirely possible that the needle of your cartridge might pick up some dust particles from regular use. When you’re shopping around for a vinyl cleaning kit, be sure to grab one that includes a needle cleaner. This can take various forms, but is typically a small piece of polyurethane gel in which you carefully dip your cartridge needle to remove any dust or debris. The sticky nature of the gel will pull off whatever was stuck to your needle without damaging it.
4 Clean your turntable
Prevent dust build-up
Turntable mechanisms and care vary wildly across different tables, as it depends if your table is motor driven or belt driven, and how your platter (the part your vinyl sits on when playing) is constructed. Generally, you’ll want to wipe down the exterior parts of your table with a microfiber cloth once a month or so to remove any dust or debris. This is especially important if you own a table without its own attached dust cover, though it’s generally advised to have a dust cover over your table. If your table didn’t include one, you can find third-party options online.
The rule of thumb for proper turntable and record care is to prevent the build-up of dust, and to remove it when you see it, whether that be from your records, cartridge, or the record player itself.
Good care, proper cleaning, and the right storage will ensure the longevity of your collection.