Storing records takes a lot of consideration to make sure that your record collection keeps producing the high-quality sound that audiophiles love during playback. Whether you have an entire collection of new records or an older vinyl record collection that was passed down to you by a grandparent, finding the right storage options will help preserve the vinyl for years to come. Check out our guide to learn everything you need to know about storing records in your home.
Keep Your Vinyl Records Clean
The first thing that a record collector needs to do when storing vinyl records is to make sure that the LPs are clean. Cleaning records is a simple process involving a cleaning brush or microfiber cloth and some cleaning solution. When the cleaning solution has been applied, simply spin the record slowly and brush the vinyl in a circular motion, slowly moving from the label to the outer edge. Vinyl just purchased from the record store should be cleaned to remove all the dust.
Store Records in an Upright Position
Always make sure that you store your vinyl in an upright position. Of course, this will take up more space, but it will also keep the records from warping over time. When you stack records, the pressure and weight on the vinyl has the potential to warp it, causing the record not to play properly. Keeping your records upright helps ensure that they get enough airflow to keep the temperature down and prevent moisture from building up. It also keeps the corners of the record sleeves from bending.
Maximize Air Circulation and Avoid Direct Sunlight
As stated above, air circulation is essential when it comes to storing records. Make sure to allow an inch of space between records for airflow. The right amount of air circulation is beneficial when you need to lower the temperature and remove some humidity between records.
Make sure that your vinyl is never stored in direct sunlight because the UV rays will cause damage. Keeping your vinyl in the sunlight adds heat to the records, which eventually warps them. In addition, the artwork on the album cover will fade.
Maintain Proper Temperature and Humidity Levels
Too much heat is detrimental to your record collection. Keeping the room temperature between 60 and 75 degrees is going to be best for your records. Also, make sure that your records are not near vents or radiators that change temperatures quickly.
Dry environments are best for vinyl, so try to keep a relative humidity level between 35 and 45%. If the humidity levels are too far off, moisture will develop on the vinyl, and mold and mildew formation might begin. Once the mold forms, it is virtually impossible to remove from the record, and any paper sleeves or jackets you are using will be unsalvageable.
Record Sleeves to Consider For Long-Term Storage
Most records that you purchase come with inner sleeves made of paper. Since this is the first line of protection that you will have for your vinyl, it’s important to make sure that you replace these with plastic sleeves. This type of sleeve will not scratch the vinyl, and it will provide an anti-static cover to help keep it free of dust.
Years ago, collectors used to replace the outer sleeve of their records with PVC material. However, you want a sleeve made out of polyethylene because PVC sleeves damage records and cause them to deteriorate over time. If the oil from the plastic material mixes with the wrong climate, the record surface becomes contaminated. This oily substance will leave behind an audible hiss during playback. Polyethylene covers ensure hi-fi sound, and they are also UV resistant to help protect the records from the sunlight.
Day-to-Day Storage Units
For day-to-day storage, you will want a simple storage cabinet or even a shelving unit that you can keep near your record player. However, using this type of storage unit still requires you to keep the records upright. Record dividers are great for this purpose, especially if you have bookends on one side of the vinyl collection. The only downside is that if you have an extensive collection, you may not have enough space to fit all of your vinyl. However, a bookshelf holds more vinyl and works well if you desire this type of open shelving.
Containers that Work Well for Long-Term Storage
When it comes to vinyl record storage, you need to make sure that you have the right types of containers to store them. In the past, people kept vinyl records in milk crates, but these are not as readily available as they used to be. Today, other options are often considered. Ideally, a storage case with a lid is going to offer more protection to the records. There are even travel storage cases designed with handles, which makes them easier to transport.
Before packing away your vinyl, make sure that you always store similarly sized records together. 33s, 45s, and 78s should each have their own storage container. This will help ensure that the records are secure in the box and that warping cannot occur. Also, purchasing record dividers is ideal for separating 7- and 12- inch records in a smaller container.
Regardless of the storage box you select, the records need to be kept as straight as possible. Always avoid finding self storage options in a garage, a basement, or an attic because these areas are often not well-ventilated. If your basement floods easily, an unexpected storm could quickly damage or ruin your entire collection. Instead of risking it, opt for a climate-controlled storage unit.
Keep a Hands-Off Approach when Handling Records
When dealing with a record collection, never touch anything other than the record label or the edges of the vinyl. Your fingers have natural oils that can damage the surface, so when moving the record from storage to the record player, handle them with care. Also, never leave a vinyl record on a turntable when it is not being played. Even though this seems like a great short-term storage solution, it will only collect dust. This dust will also transfer to the stylus during playback.