Whether you’re a brand new collector, interested in getting into the hobby or want to expand your record collection, it’s important to know the best way to store vinyl records. As soon as you remove a new album from its cardboard jacket and the protective sleeve – you’ll get the sense that what you’re holding is something that needs to be treated with special care.
The shiny, glossed LP that you’re holding in your hands is a legitimate work of art that deserves to be handled as such. As you probably know by now, some LPs literally have artwork on the record itself. If you’re working on building a hefty collection and aren’t planning on giving them away anytime soon, keep scrolling to see the proper way to store your precious works of art.
The Best Way To Store Vinyl Records
You can’t talk about storing an LP without mentioning the basics for how to properly handle them. We’ll go over a brief overview of that (feel free to skip ahead if you’re already doing it) and then jump into the answer to your main question.
Basic Handling Fundamentals
Think of learning the basic ways of handling vinyl as learning the fundamentals of any other new hobby you want to become an expert at. They say it takes about 21 days to get into the routine of forming new habits – you’ll probably have it down long before that.
We did our best at organizing the most important bullet points for the best storage practices. After you’re done reading through our guide, you’ll be one step closer to achieving certified “vinyl-head status“. If you’re ready, let’s start with the handling techniques.
Skin Contact and LP Cleanliness – Always Wash Your Hands!
Our skin has natural oils that help it stay hydrated and healthy. Although it’s part of our body’s regulatory system (and keeps our body from drying out too much), it doesn’t have the same effect on records. In fact, it has the opposite effect. The more contact your skin (and it’s natural oils) makes with your LPs, the dirtier they get and the worse they’ll sound.
Over time, if you completely disregard the advice and handle them like you would a basketball – you’ll be able to hear a significant difference in their sound quality. As you do more and more research about proper handling and collecting vinyl in general, the more it will start to sink in and become a regular habit.
Imagine This, It’s The Weekend…
Let’s say you just finished munching on a greasy piece of delicious pizza. It’s the weekend and you have some friends over. You’ve been dying to show off your turntable and ever-growing collection.
Before you let your excitement get the best of you – always wash your hands first. No matter how impressive your collection is, it’ll be less impressive in a few years if it’s covered in pizza grease, oils from your skin, and a thick layer of dust.
Not only should you do your best to avoid direct skin contact, you should also get into the habit of washing your hands before you handle them. Cleaning them is also extremely important. Older albums, used albums that you found at a local mom and pop record shop, and even brand new albums all require regular cleaning. You can read more about that here if you’re not sure how to clean vinyl records by hand.
Keep Your LP In Its Protective Sleeve
It might seem pretty obvious that keeping your record in the sleeve that it came with would be smart but if not, here’s a friendly reminder. The sleeve helps protect your vinyl from most of the dust, dirt, and other debris that will find it’s way into the grooves.
Inevitable Build-Up (and How To Minimize It)
Although it’s next to impossible to prevent your vinyl from inevitably collecting dust over time – the sleeve will help minimize the eventual build-up. Often times if you buy albums online, your new record will arrive in a paper sleeve that doesn’t seem like it could offer adequate protection.
Regardless of how careful you are when handling your albums, eventually, that paper sleeve will start to break down and become virtually unusable. If you’re already at that point and the original paper sleeve holding your copy of Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness is starting to deteriorate, you can grab some replacement sleeves here.
Keep Your Records In A Vertical Position (Don’t Use Them As Place Mats or Pizza Trays)
At times it can be tempting to lay your LP face down on the table or desk when you’re in a hurry, but don’t give in to the temptation. Instead of -creating a tower of records by stacking 10 or more LPs horizontally on top of each other, here’s a better way that won’t jeopardize their overall quality.
The optimum way to keep them neatly organized is to place them on a shelf, bookshelf, or other stable flat surfaces. It’s best if you keep them stored the same way you would slide a book onto a shelf (with its spine facing outwards). This way you can keep quite a few albums both safely tucked away and easily accessible.
You might be wondering, “Can I keep them in crates, or do I have to buy a new bookshelf?”.
Find A Container or Bookshelf That You Like
Unless every last square inch of space is already taken up on your desk, table, nightstand, or bookshelf – you won’t need to make any trips to IKEA. The most important thing is that you have a flat surface that won’t fall over if someone accidentally bumps into it.
You can buy specialized crates that were made for storing vinyl – or you can use a plastic or wooden crate that has walls high enough to support an LP.
The bottom crate (in the picture above) would be a perfect storage container. It has walls that are high-enough and looks like it also has a durable, sturdy frame that would be a great container to keep a pretty decent-sized collection tucked away in.
Alternatively, you can invest in an official vinyl storage case like the Binder Way Storage Crate (pictured below).
This crate can safely store over 75 LPs and has removable dividers so you can organize them however you want. If you decide to take that route, you can also stack them 3 crates high which would give you enough space for a grand total of over 225 albums.
Is A Specialized Container (or Trip to IKEA) Absolutely Necessary?
Once again, if you already have a sturdy bookshelf that has some extra room, an additional storage container isn’t completely necessary (unless you want to do it right).
Watch this short video for a real-time demonstration and a few more quick tips:
What’s The Best Temperature For Storage?
Another important, but often overlooked piece of advice for optimum storage is the storage temperature. This isn’t to say that you’ll need an expensive cigar-humidor-esque container for LPs, but it can have an effect.
Direct sunlight day after day after day and extreme heat (or cold) will wear down and even possibly warp the shape of your favorite album. (Yes, even if you’re keeping them clean and vertically organized on a sturdy bookshelf.)
It’s not necessary to install voice-activated temperature control meters in order to properly store records. The main thing you’ll want to pay attention to is extreme shifts in temperature, whether hot or cold. Unless your garage or storage shed has heat and/or AC, you probably don’t want to keep your collection out there.
Using a Dehumidifier For Maximum Preservation
If you can keep your collection anywhere between about 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit, they’ll stay in great condition for a lot longer. Humidity also plays a role. Some of the more-dedicated collectors use a dehumidifier that they can keep in the same space they store their LPs.
If you see yourself consistently adding to your collection until the day you die, the upfront investment would definitely pay off in the long run. A lot of dehumidifiers can carry a pretty astronomical price tag, but for this purpose, the hOmelabs Portable Dehumidifier works great and comes highly recommended. Currently, it’s the #1 best-selling dehumidifier on Amazon and has an almost-perfect 5-star rating out of over 1,500 customer reviews.
We already went over how important it is to keep an LP in its protective sleeve but it won’t do much good if the sleeve becomes completely unusable due to extreme temperature fluctuation. The temperature and humidity level of your storage place can make a world of difference. It not only effects the vinyl itself but also impacts the lifespan of the cardboard jacket and protective sleeve.
How Do You Keep Your LPs Safe?
Now that you’ve learned everything from A to B about handling and storing your collection, you can keep adding albums without having to worry about where you’ll put them. Now, instead of appearing to be a completely disorganized hoarder of random artwork, you’ll be someone who loves music and is knowledgeable about what they’re into.
How did we do? Was our guide for the Best Way To Store Vinyl Records helpful? How do you keep your LPs safe from the elements, on display, and out of the way? Have you come up with a better method that you think we should know about?
Let us know by leaving your suggestion below! If you enjoyed reading our guide, share it with your followers on social media and spread the knowledge! If you still don’t feel like you have enough information to get started, feel free to ask a question below.
If you enjoyed this post, but you’re still hungry for more information, take a look at some of our other related posts. For more about vinyl, you might be wondering What Is Surface Noise? If you need a new turntable, take a look at our Audio Technica LP60BT Review here.
Thanks for stopping by and sticking with us ’til the end, we hope to see you here again!
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