Record Care and Maintenance
Recorded materials are delicate, and susceptible to damage and wear. Therefore a few techniques should be employed when it comes to handling, cleaning and storage of your valued recordings.
Avoid touching the playing or grooved surface of any disc. You should handle the disc by the other edge and the labeled surface only. When available, thin, clean cotton gloves are advisable . Avoid stacking records on a turntable (the use of a spindle to stack albums and 45’s was commonplace in the 50’s and 60’s). Or placing on any other surface without a protective sleeve.
The cleaning of discs, should be performed before and after playing. This ensures the best possible playback, and prepares the disc for “dust free” storage. There are various methods, machines and formulas, for the cleaning of records.
Lp’s and 45’s (vinyl) …the basic approach, or the use a soft, clean cloth and water is generally acceptable. Distilled water is preferred over tap water. Also recommended is a “water based” cleaning solution with up to 20% isopropyl alcohol by volume. This type of solution is especially effective in removing dirt and dissolving oily contaminants from the contact with hands and skin.
When cleaning the disc, place it on a soft clean flat cloth. Next, apply the cleaning solution or water, and with a soft clean cloth, work the disc in a circular motion and in the direction of the grooves.
When at all possible, avoid a static build up on your discs. This will not only create crackles during playback, but also attract dust particles during playing and handling.
78’s(shellac) …for the most part, the use of tap water, distilled water, or a “water based” cleaning solution, should only be used while cleaning 78’s. The use of alcohol or a “alcohol based” cleaning solution can dissolve shellac recordings. Again, as with the vinyl, place the disc on a soft surface, and apply a soft, clean cloth in a circular motion.
For long life and playability, proper storage of your recordings is paramount. Some of the factors to consider for the proper storage of discs are temperature and humidity, dirt and dust, improper stacking, excessive pressure and weight, and mechanical or chemical damage.
With respect to the environment, though not always practical, a constant temperature of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 degrees Celsius should be maintained. Plus a relative humidity of 45-50% is highly recommended. Avoid rapid changes in temperature and humidity, it could have a adverse effect on the life expectancy of your recordings.
Special attention should be placed on sunlight and on sources of heat such as heaters, vents, and artifical lighting. Also beware of high humidity and water. This will cause mould to grow on the album jackets, and within the inner sleeves causing irreparable damage.
Avoid dusty environments. Whenever possible, enclose your recordings in a relatively airtight container such as a cabinet with doors, or sealable boxes. Don’t be afraid to lightly vacuum the area surrounding your records.
Replace dirty and mouldy record jackets and inner sleeves to avoid further damage to the discs. Do not store, in or around smokey or cooking areas. Smoke and cooking greases easily adhere to records and their jackets.
NEVER…NEVER…NEVER… store recordings on their sides or flat! Always maintain records in an absolutely vertical position.
Remove the original manufacturers wrapping from records. These wraps will shrink over time, eventually warping the jacket and it’s contents. Replace this “shrink wrap” with high density polyethylene, or “acid free” sleeves. Additionally, you should also replace regular paper or “acid bearing” inner sleeves, with Mylar or Polyethylene sleeves. Also available are rice paper inner sleeves from Japan, though these type of sleeves are a little expensive. Regular paper inner sleeves will scratch the surface of your recordings with every pass. And, certain plastic lined sleeves will create a chemical reaction with the record, while in storage (see record accessories).
As with most objects, time will eventually take it’s toll. But if you follow a few of these simple steps, you will no doubt extend the life of your recordings.
Article by Record Collectors Guild, Guild Staff
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