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10 Things NOT to do to Your Vinyl Records

A real vinyl record collector would never commit any of these TEN sins to their records.

10 Things NOT to do to Your Vinyl RecordsIn our previous article How To Clean Vinyl Records you learned all about cleaning your records with a vacuum record cleaning machine or by hand and also cleaning with regular household items. We now turn to things NOT to do to your vinyl records. Vinyl records are treasures to enjoy, but one must treat them with care as they are very fragile and easily damaged. Below are things that one should NOT do to vinyl records as it can cause damage and/or impede their sound quality. Please take the following into consideration and remember a "real" record lover wouldn't do these:

  1. How to properly cue up a song on a vinyl record
    Use the cueing lever on your turntable to raise and lower the needle. Your hands are never truly steady and it's easy to slip up and gouge the grooves of a record or even break the needle on your cartridge. Never drop or abruptly pick up the needle on a vinyl record especially as it's fading out. Over time you'll start to hear ticks and pops as the vinyl is gradually getting gouged in those areas. Use the cueing lever and aim to cue up a song just before the music starts so that the needle SLOWLY drops in the silent area of the grooves and not in the areas with music. Also, wait for the music to fade out completely or stop before picking up the needle. Better still is to play an entire album side straight through.

  2. Do NOT stack vinyl records
    Never stack records on top of each other whether in their jackets or not. This is one sure fire way to cause warping, possible cracking of the vinyl record because of the weight and will inevitably produce scuff marks and ring wear on the record's album cover marring the artwork. Records must always be stored upright like books on a shelf.

  3. Wet playing a vinyl record is not a cure
    Never wet play a vinyl record in an attempt to quiet the crackle and pops. Doing so only forces the abrasive sludge deeper into the grooves as the needle makes its way around the record possibly doing irreversible damage. This makes the record sound even worse as the crud has dried embedding the dirt throughout the record. The liquid goop will also muck up the delicate cantilever and needle assembly on phono cartridges possibly causing the assembly to detach from the cartridge as the adhesive deteriorates from the liquid. It can also damage the turntable as the fluid can mar the surface and get into the moving parts.

  4. Keep fingers off the record
    Never touch the record's playing surface with your bare hands or fingers as your body oil will transfer onto the record attracting even more dust and affecting the sound quality. Always hold a record by its outer edges only. If you accidentally touch a record it's best to immediately clean it with a liquid record cleaner or isopropyl alcohol and making sure it is dry before putting it away.

  5. Your T-shirt is not a record cleaner
    Resist the temptation to wipe your vinyl record with your shirt or dry cloth no matter how soft it may feel. This will scratch and scuff the record and only move the dirt around. For dry cleaning or light touch up, use a carbon fiber record cleaning brush as it actually discharges static and lifts dirt without damaging the vinyl record.

  6. Say NO to non-approved cleaners on your vinyl records
    Do not use lubricants or solvents such as baby oil, lighter fluid... no matter what anyone may tell you. These fluids can cause a devastating chemical reaction that can permanently damage a record. Use only products labelled as a vinyl record cleaner such as Discwasher D4 for manual cleaning or Nitty Gritty Pure 2 Record Cleaning Solution for vacuum record cleaning machines. If it's not specifically labelled for use on vinyl records then do NOT use it.

  7. Wait for the record platter to STOP
    Never place or pick up a vinyl record as the turntable platter is spinning. This will quickly scratch the flipside of a record. Always wait for the platter to come to a complete stop before doing anything.

  8. Don't mar that beautiful album cover art with tape
    Refrain from using Scotch tape or packaging tape to fix a record cover that is splitting or tearing. It will completely destroy the cover especially as it ages becoming brittle, yellow, gooey and making things worse than before. Best to place the record jacket in a poly outer sleeve and place the record in its inner sleeve behind it or place the record in its inner sleeve inside a generic cardboard record jacket and save the original jacket in a poly sleeve for safekeeping.

  9. Dropping records into a sleeve or jacket is a NO-NO
    Resist the temptation to let a record just plop into an inner sleeve and/or record jacket as this is how covers and sleeves split open. How to properly put a record into its sleeve/jacket: Simply hold the cover horizontally and slightly bowed open and gently slide the record in making sure it doesn't bind.

  10. Never leave your records out of their sleeves longer than necessary
    Put vinyl records away when you're done. Remove a record from the turntable platter as soon as you are finished listening to it to prevent it from attracting dust and dirt. The only time a record should be outside its protective sleeve and jacket is when it is actually being played. No excuses!

We hope the above list helps you preserve your valuable records for years to come.

Record Cleaning Shopping List

By Bernard Lopez


Your Comments

Annij |

Does anyone know where I can buy record display cases I can mount to the wall. NOT album display cases--RRRReeeecord display cases. You know where you ACTUALLY see the record, yet the plastic sheeth prevents the colours in the records from fading due to light exposure. The Melvins have both beautiful record "covers," AND "vinyl records" within the album covers. I want to display the records themselves.

Navin Johnson |

Actually, this is the BEST way to remove a stylus in the middle of a song.

That is if you're turntable supports this.

STOP the turntable from spinning. You can just switch the unit if it has a switch.

THEN once the record has stopped spinning THEN use the cue lever to lift
the stylus off the record.

The reason is that while the record is spinning, the stylus actually
has force in the groove that moves the stylus along. If you life the
stylus off, even with the cue lever, while the record is spinning,
it puts undo pressure on the walls of the groove and can even
cause a micro scratch. If the record is not spinning it cannot do this.

Vet |

After many many years on air... and in clubs, etc. I can tell you to buy two albums. One you plan to burn on air, one you plan to store in case anybody ever thinks it valuable (IE - Abbey Road, etc.) No matter what you do... that wonderfully full and warm feel you get from vinyl is due in part to the fact that it is wearing away, every time you play it. No matter how you do or don't slipcue, or use the lift lever or not, the entire track wears a little each time you play it.

Joshua |

How bad is to accidentally cue too far in? (When the music has already started 'before' the needle has dropped)

Shanna |

I found a box of records in a basement, unfortunately they were wet from a leak (who knows how many times). How do I even begin to clean them? Some are in sleaves and others are not.



Duane Thamm Jr. |

This all reassures record playing is too much work unless in a jukebox. I switched to 8 track tapes for ultimate convenience, great analog sound and no crackles in the background...a little hiss on tape I can deal with...sounds like air conditioning.

Eric Dzumedzey |

I forgot something, use only 100% Naphtha fluid not the red bottle (Additive).Kodak photo flow 2ml max for 250 ml solution. the rest is to experience your cleaning technique, it's a long process, I cleaned by hand over 2000 vinyl.When you finish always use new inside sleeve, never the old one full of dust. Don't use paper sleeve (abrasive) only good antistatic one. For regular cleaning session, use Decca brush (the best one) because the bristles are harder. Last advise, if you are also audiophile, use a good cartridge with a small stylus. That way permit to read area never read before on your vinyl, increase tracking ability and frequency response. I am using for my own an AT-150 MLX Audio-Technica cartridge (Not for back cue) with a Technics SL 1200 MK 2 turntable. I like this one more than my old Oracle Delphi MK2.

Eric Dzumedzey |

First warm water with few drop of dishing sop to remove grease and dust. After camping fuel is good but give a lot of static, can be dangerous. The solution is 25 % off camping fuel (naphtha) with 75% of isopropyl alcohol in a fine cloth not to much, store the cloth in a pot of jam to avoid evaporation. Result is TERRIFIC, I rediscover my old record sound like a new one. The last treatment is 75 % distilled water with 25% isopropylic alcohol and add for 250 ml total solution 3 drop of Kodak photo flow, shine like a new one. I did that for many many years.For 250 ml solution, 188ml of distilled water and fill to 250 ml with alcohol.

Si |

One more for the list - Never ever write your name or anything else on the record label or sleeve. Many otherwise valuable old LPs have been destroyed by people doing this. It was a common practice in the 60s and 70s unfortunately.

Wolfie Rankin |

Who cares if a 30c cover splits?

Many record covers are actually more valuable than the record itself.

Luuk |

Danny, is that sarcasm? :')

Danny |

Dear Jay, Yes it's perfectly normal and okay to stop a record in the middle of a song. Feel free to do it with any vinyl. The rarer the better!

Jay |

is it bad for the record or record player if i turn the record player off in the middle of a song and let the needle stop still on the record?

Dizzie |


If your Crosley is one of their models like the Traveler or Keepsake that has a magnetic cartridge as opposed to a ceramic one, you should be just fine. The tracking force they use is actually quite low. If it is a model with a ceramic cartridge, you will notice a degradation in sound quality that begins after a number of plays, as well as a bit poorer sound quality in general when compared to magnetic. I think that for most listeners, Crosley offers a good value. For collectors hoping to resell at a later point, though, it is not their best choice.

Ben |

How much does the weight of the record come into play? I got a Crosley as a gift and going through different forums and reviews of it people are ripping on it because they can ruin 180g records. Do you have an opinion on this? I'd hate to have to miss out on getting a lot of the new or remastered stuff out there because it seems like a lot of it is recorded on that... And when they say ruin... what to they mean? I understand there's a need to preserve your record to last a while... but if the damage is not likely to hinder it from playing the record from casual use what's the worry right? just throwing this out there. And I don't wanna read the same old: "croley's crap", "waste of money" I don't care, I'm just a new fan of records who likes the warmth and crackle of vinyl.

Paul Kane |

I use a solution of Basic-H (It's an all-natural cleaner) that is at less concentration than for doing windows (2-3 drops per 16 oz of water) - It costs about .002 cents per bottle. There's no residue, it's anti static, and my records love it. I use it every time I platter a record. (Brush by Diskwasher).

Fake Blood |

Most of this is common sense. But don't use bare hands to handle records? Mate - if you are somebody who wears gloves to play their records, then you need to take yourself into a dark corner and have a long chat with yourself. Actually, you probably do that all the time.

boogie |

Top Tip : wipes for cleaning spectacles are fab for cleaning vinyl!

Danny |

You're probably haven't checked these comments since January but I simply wanted to thank you for your hilarious addition. I couldn't agree more. I want to enjoy my vinyl collection, not savor it to listen to when invading Poland.

Jason |

You can make perfectly fine home cleaners, and save big money. Think gentle clean, plenty good brews on line to choose from.

R |

People play records while wet!? Seriously who the hell does that?

Also my record player doesn't have a cueing lever sadly. I know probably means bin it and get a new one!

drew |

Wow, what a buzzkill. This guy makes record collecting sound like nazi camp
What a strict set of rules, who cares if a thirty cent plastic jacket splits. Seriously?

Bernard Lopez |

Most turntables come with rubber or felt mat so as not to scratch the record. There are some high-end turntables such as a VPI that I own that has an acrylic platter and does not use any mat. Really depends on the material of the platter. If it's bare metal then yes, buy a generic rubber or felt mat to be safe.

Boxelder |

After my dad died, I inherited all of his old vinyls. I don't know anything about them. I guess displaying them on the wall is a big no-no? It's such a bummer! I love the way it looks.

I also just bought a little record player. Is it safe to play the records on it without any sort of slipmat?

Ray |

answer to brooklands
your solution is simple as far as dust make a small air filtration system out of a small PC fan or a small box fan secured to a box that you can duct tape an air filter place inside cabinet change as you see necessary in an enclosed environment such as a juke every 6 months or year
the better quality filter the cleaner the air the cleaner the air the cleaner your records will stay a 10x10 fan will fit a 10x10 filter and you can lose the box just make sure the fan is square and don't be cheap buy hepa filters not that black foam stuff ----also a good vac inside would be a great start
and a few days with the fan/filter running in it empty may be overkill but it wouldn't hurt

Luke Perman |

Have done all those things above, and more!

In the middle of DJing a party, sometimes one doesn't have time (or care!) to handle each record .......... We had plenty of fun though.

Heather |

My dad copied his records to CD the stashed them under the house laying FLAT! They've been like this for at least 5 years. All I've done is find a place and sit them upright, and I wont get back for a few months to go through them. What do you suppose my chances are of finding them in reasonable or restorable condition?

Ralph |

We opened the package and the albums look fine. Thanks for your prompt response - it put our mind at ease!

Bernard Lopez |

Although temperature extremes are never a good thing for vinyl records, it seems like you should be fine as you've let the records acclimate to room temperature gently over time. I'd go ahead and carefully open the package and start listening to them.

Ralph |

We ordered some records and we were unaware they had been delivered so they sat outside on the front porch overnight. The temperature got down to about 20 degrees Farenheit. We brought the package inside and have been letting them warm to room temperature but haven't opened the box yet.

Anything else we should do? Will the cold temperature overnight ruin the reocrds?


Bernard Lopez |

Records in a jukebox is definitely a unique case and one that I don't have an answer for as I don't know the inner workings of a jukebox. Having said that, I would imagine that at set intervals one would manually take the records out of the machine and give them a quick cleaning and then reinstall them. In that case please take a look at our article How to Clean Vinyl Records for some pointers. I hope that helps.

Brooklands |

It might be good to always put the records into storage after playing, but a juke box does not allow for this. Is there anything special that should be done for records sitting in a juke box. I volunteer at a museum where we have two vintage machines available for visitors to play...

CoryAnder |

Bernie: these are good but I'd add this one: when you see a white speck stuck between the grooves of a vinyl record never EVER try to remove it with your fingernail! You'll scratch the surrounding grooves every time and make the problem worse.


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