Whether you’re an avid collector of vintage 78s, or you simply like your music to sound like raw music, you must know the keys to caring for your vinyl. While many people love vinyl records for their tangible size and weight, the medium is actually quite delicate. In order to avoid warped, cracked, or otherwise damaged records, always keep in mind the following.

Bust the Dust

Dust is public enemy #1 when it comes to vinyl preservation. Dust motes can settle in the grooves of the vinyl, and if left unchecked, ruin the record entirely. How often you clean your vinyl depends on how often you take it out of its sleeve (provided you’re storing it properly in the first place) but at the very least, you need to have an anti-static cloth handy to give the record a wipe each time it’s played. A vinyl brush is a good investment, and to further ward off dust accumulation, wash your vinyl in a special washing solution or with a little dish soap. Discwasher makes a Record Care System that provides all you need.

Storage War

Vinyl records must be stored upright, and not stacked. Milk crates have become the classic record portage method, but don’t pack them in too tightly. Squeezing records in any way can warp them. Conversely, packing them too loosely and allowing them to lean is also a bad idea. See, we told you they were delicate. As with Goldilocks, records should not be stored anywhere too hot or too cold, although heat is by far the worse condition. You must always keep your records inside an inner sleeve within their covers, and if you’re worried about the value of your classic albums, then you should wrap the covers with plastic. Finally, remember that records are actually pretty heavy, so as your collection grows, make sure to invest in steel shelving.

Stylus Stylin’

This pertains to your record player, not the records themselves, but that little needle at the end of the player arm is crucial to the life of your vinyl. Due to high static electricity, dust builds up on the stylus just as quickly as it does the record. If the stylus is not clean and sharp, it can affect the record's grooves, leading to skipping or worse. You can purchase a Stylus Care System from Discwasher, but you can just as easily clean the stylus with your anti-stat cloth, or even your fingers. You will eventually need to replace your stylus, but don’t panic—even record nuts can go several years on the same needle.