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So, you have a collection of vinyl records, but you’re not sure how the cleaning process goes? Don’t worry, because it’s not as complicated as you might think.
However, there are some things you should bear in mind before you start. In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about it. So, let’s see how to clean vinyl record collections.
Some people think that it’s not necessary to clean vinyl records. They figure that, since vinyl records are kept in their sleeve, there’s no need to clean them. Well, that’s not exactly the case. Vinyl records definitely require an occasional cleaning.
By keeping your records clean, you will actually prolong their life. Over time, a lot of fine dust and smut tends to gather on those tiny furrows on the records. It may not be visible, but it’s there.
And because of this, records can sound bad. Some of them may even go inaudible if they aren’t properly kept. And not only that the sound will be affected, but the quality of the record can be compromised permanently.
One more thing to bear in mind is that there are several ways to clean vinyl records. None of those methods should be considered the “right one”, because it all depends.
And know that cleaning the records also affects them in a bad way. Vinyl records are very sensitive, and even the slightest contact can jeopardize the sound quality.
Over time, vinyl tends to “show” i.e. to lose a bit of its original quality. Records will start to crackle, or skip a little bit.
However, the damage made by cleaning is practically insignificant compared to neglect. Therefore, the worst thing you could do to your vinyl record collection is – never clean it. But if you clean your records from time to time, they will last for a long time.
First of all, learn some general tips about cleaning vinyl records. If you’re a complete novice when it comes to this, these tips will set you up for what’s to come.
These are just some basic tips on how to get started. Be sure to all the advice imprinted on your memory, so that you don’t make any beginner mistakes. Now, you’re ready to move on to the actual cleaning process. Let’s go.
When you sit down to clean your vinyl records, there’s one very important thing to remember. And that is – take your time. Vinyl records are delicate, and any kind of force will potentially damage them irreparably.
Always know that cleaning a records isn’t just – getting the dirt off. It’s much more than that. Cleaning vinyl actually means – improving it for later use.
When cleaning vinyl records, you are, in fact, retrieving some of their lost quality. This is why it’s very important not to rush things and allot enough time to cleaning your vinyl record collection.
Let’s see what the basic steps of cleaning vinyl records are.
The most important thing is, of course, to keep your vinyl records properly stored. If they are kept outside their sleeves, in “unhealthy” conditions, it will ultimately affect their sound quality.
Furthermore, keeping vinyl records clean doesn’t only include proper “storage”. It also includes proper handling of vinyl. So, be sure not to touch vinyl records with dirty hands – and avoid touching the grooves.
The grooves are those tiny furrows on the records, where sound is recorded. To put it simply – that is the “memory” of the record. And it can easily be damaged. That’s why you should only touch the outer rim of the record, not the sides.
Imagine a vinyl records like a hot plate. To avoid getting burnt, you only touch the rim of the plate. Apply the same principle when handling records.
Hands should be kept clean because our skin contains various chemicals. These chemicals are, in fact, oils and acids. They can damage the vinyl by corrupting the surface of the record.
By holding the rims of a record, and not touching the grooves, you will keep the sound information intact.
You might think that it’s not necessary to clean a record you’ve just bought. But actually, you should clean those records as well. First of all, you never know how the record was transported in the first place. This is a great way to make sure it’s clean.
Also, every new record is coated in a special compound, that’s necessary for the whole printing process.
But in order to get the most of a new record, you should clean this compound. Just make it a living practice to clean every new record before you put it on the turntable.
If at all possible, be sure to use a vinyl vacuum cleaner. The drawback of these devices is that they are pretty expensive, and they make a lot of noise. But they are the best for cleaning vinyl records.
On the other hand, these specialized vacuum cleaners are used for large record collection, which number thousands of items. If you have a smaller record collection, or cannot afford a vinyl vacuum cleaner, don’t worry. There are other ways of cleaning vinyl records.
In addition to cleaning records with a vinyl vacuum cleaner, you can also clean them with soap and water. It a fairly inexpensive method, but of course – it has its drawbacks. The problem is that even the best soap will leave a little bit of residue.
And also, it’s never beneficial when you make direct contact with the grooves on the record. But it’s definitely much better than no cleaning at all.
This is how you should clean vinyl records with soap and water:
Today, there are many professional cleaning liquids you can use for your records. However, it’s practically impossible to go through all of them, because there are so many.
Some of them are great, but some of them don’t give the desired results, and can even damage the vinyl.
If you want to clean your records with a liquid, be sure to give it enough research. The product you want to purchase should have good testimonials.
Also, it should have some kind of guarantee, so that you have something to land on in case your records get damaged.
Finally, the best way is definitely to consult a vinyl professional. It can be a friend who is well-versed when it comes to vinyl records.
Or, it can be a record store owner with a lot of knowledge on the subject. But the most important thing is – not to rush things and go for the first product you come across.
Vinyl is a kind of material which doesn’t require a lot of cleaning. If you’re wondering how many times you need to clean your records – don’t worry. You don’t have to do it every year. You don’t even have to do it every two years, for that matter.
It all comes down to these two questions:
If you’re careful enough, and you keep the records properly, you’re safe. Be sure to clean the records when you buy them, and when they really get dirty.
It can be when you’re moving house, or find some records in a dusty basement. Otherwise, cleaning vinyl records shouldn’t take place that often.