How Best to Care For and Enjoy Your Vinyl Record Album Collection
Most LP's and singles released after the early fifties are composed of polyvinyl materials and are more durable than their predecessors. When cleaning vinyl records, a 50/50 solution of isopropyl alcohol is recommended
(70% by volume) or denatured alcohol (fewer impurities) and filtered or distilled water (again, fewer impurities). Some record collectors claim that alcohol is damaging to vinyl (70% or more by volume strength and continual contact for a long period of time), but not in the recommended dilution. Alcohol is water soluble and leaves little or no residue. A mild detergent, such as Johnson and Johnson Baby Bath, can be used in small amounts with water with no rinsing necessary. Photo Flo is a wetting agent used in photography to help reduce water spots and marks during the rinsing of negatives. A couple of drops in the above solutions also help in reducing residual deposits. The solution should be applied with a soft, clean washcloth, wiping in a circular motion with the grooves. Rinse the cloth often in the solution and replace with a fresh mixture when needed. Thoroughly drying the record with a soft, clean towel is recommended and this further reduces residue left behind. Make sure you try not to get the labels wet.
Dirty covers and labels are best left alone. If the album cover is laminated or glossy, a damp towel can be used. A mild furniture polish does work nicely too. Marks or writing on the cover may be able to be removed with a rubber eraser. Lighter fluid (naphtha) or even hair spray works great on pen marks. Permanent marker can be removed by marking it over with a dry erase marker, then wipe with a dry cloth. This works quite well. Stickers, labels, tape and such can be removed by heating the area with a hair dryer. The heat breaks down the adhesive and makes it softer and easier to remove and all without a great risk of damaging the cover or sleeve. Sticker residue can be removed with most citus-based cleaners or lighter fluid (naphtha). Again, this only works well on glossy covers. Matte finish covers and label marks are usually set. One stands a chance of removing part of the printer color and making the situation worse.
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General Care For Records
It is equally important to handle, store and play records with the same care used in cleaning. Once a record has been thoroughly cleaned, it should be placed in a new, clean inner sleeve. Inner sleeves come in different styles and are made with different materials. There are many opinions to which sleeve is best. Most record collectors prefer quality made, paper sleeves. Most collectors prefer to keep the sleeved record in the original cover jacket along with the original sleeve and any inserts. Some prefer to put the record in a plain jacket and store it and the original jacket together in a outer poly sleeve. This helps prevent further wear to the cover, inner sleeve and other inserts. Some actually put them in record album frames and hang them on walls. In either case, use outer poly sleeves to reduce cover wear and dust. Always store records vertically, leaning as little as possible but not too tight. You should be able to easily and freely insert and remove a record from between two others without moving them. Storing records too tightly o rhorizontally can promote ring wear on the cover or sleeve and cause unnecessary stress to the record's materials, surface and label, resulting in warps and contact damage. It is best to store records in a cool, dry area. Avoid any source of heat such as direct sunlight, heaters, fireplace and moist or humid areas. Warmth and humidity are ideal conditions for mold, mildew and other fungi which can infest the cover, label and inside the grooves. When handling and playing records, hold the disk by the outer edge and label. Eliminate contact with the playing surface. Always replace the disk in it's sleeve and cover immediately after play. Ensure that your playback equipment is set and adjusted correctly and that the stylus is not worn. Extreme damage can result.
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