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How to Clean, Organize, & Store Vinyl Records

As lovers of all things vintage, we can’t get enough of old vinyl albums that bring back the nostalgia of yesteryear (and make pretty cool décor accents). Maybe your vinyl records are brand new, or they’re a few decades old; either way, they need a good scrub down every once in a while. The pops and clicks synonymous with vinyl albums can be removed (if dirt and dust are the main culprits) by merely cleaning your records regularly.

Our cleaning experts at Merry Maids® want to discuss long-term record care, getting rid of the surface dust once and for all, and properly storing these classic gems to preserve them for decades to come.

How to Clean Vinyl Records

When you’re planning to clean your vinyl records, you should think about the delicate nature of the material. Your vinyl records are precious commodities and should be handled with the utmost care. There are a few ways you can clean your records to ensure overall preservation and the best sound quality. 

DIY Cleaning by Hand

Sometimes going the DIY route is the best option to help you save money and develop cleaning products without all the harsh chemicals of store-bought cleaners. Because vinyl albums need to be handled with care, we’ve found a 3-ingredient at-home record cleaner that will save you a lot of time. In a spray bottle, mix one part Isopropyl Alcohol, one part distilled water, and one to two drops of any dishwashing detergent. Shake well and safely spray on your vinyl records. 

Using a Record Vacuum Cleaner

Before you whip out your handy home vacuum and go to town on your vinyl albums, we don’t recommend using just any vacuum. There are various vacuum machines explicitly made to clean vinyl records without damaging them. 

Some of the vacuum brands we recommend include: 

These record vacuums will give you the most bang for your buck and make your vinyl records shine like new. Not only that, but the sound quality will also improve exponentially.

Purchasing a Record Washer 

For a cleaning method that’s less expensive than a record vacuum (which is definitely an investment), try a record washer instead. These handy gadgets have a vinyl vacuum’s cleaning power with the gentle touch of your own hands. 

A few record washers that won’t break the bank include:

All of these recommendations come with their own cleaning solutions, so you don’t have to worry about using a product that could damage your records. However, if you want to use a safe household cleaner, our trusty friend, white vinegar, can help. Just mix one part white vinegar and one part distilled water for the perfect vinyl record cleaning solution. 

Using a Record Brush

If you don’t want to try the vacuum method or a full-on washer, we recommend investing in a record brush. It’s the most inexpensive alternative of the bunch and can provide results that help you enjoy your vinyl albums for the long haul. 

Some of the brushes we recommend include:

These brushes work to eliminate static, which can attract dust particles that settle on your album’s surface. Using any anti-static record brush brand provides proactive protection that helps preserve your vinyl albums. 

To use your vinyl cleaning brush, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Place your record on your turntable and turn on the power.

  • Step 2: Hold your brush at a 90-degree angle.

  • Step 3: Allow the record to spin under it, but don’t press too hard. 

  • Step 4: Move the brush from the inside to the outside grooves as it continues spinning.

Keep in mind, your record brush is designed specifically for vinyl records, but you can cause irreparable damage to the grooves by pressing too hard. You can actually lodge dirt and dust and trap them in the tracks you’re trying to clean. Your brush strokes should be nice and gentle to prevent accidental scrapes and scratches.

How to Organize Vinyl Records

It can be challenging for an avid vinyl record collector to organize their collection so it’s shown in its best light. Some people opt for an alphabetical system by an artist’s name, others like to arrange by the release year or month, and hardcore collectors might even organize by album cover color to create a beautiful rainbow tapestry on their shelves. There’s really no limit to how you can display your record collection. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Alphabetize by album name

  • Alphabetize by genre

  • Organize chronologically by release date

  • Arrange from most expensive to least expensive

  • Organize by oldest to newest

When it comes to organizing your vinyl records, the most important thing is to have the right protective sleeves to avoid dust, dirt, scuffs, and scrapes. 

How to Store Vinyl Records

Now that your records are cleaned and you know how you’re going to arrange them, it’s time to store them properly. If you have genuinely vintage records, the sleeves are likely discolored by now. To ensure your records stand the test of time, you should upgrade those worn-out sleeves with more effective ones.

Some inner sleeves we recommend include:

Remember, high-quality sleeves are usually as thick as 3 millimeters because they’re more durable and hold their shape better when inserting them into an outer record cover. The only downside is their thickness may make it trickier to slide into the album jacket easily. 

Don’t have time to clean anything in your home, much else your record collection? Never fear! Merry Maids® is here to help! Call (888) 490-4227 to find a location and request your free cleaning estimate.