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There’s no denying that listening to a vinyl record album is a unique experience to be cherished, and that’s just one reason to take exceptional care of your albums. Unfortunately, caring for vinyl records is a lost art, so you may not know exactly how to keep your records in prime condition. This guide offers a few tips to help you protect your collection.

Clean Vinyl Properly

Just as there are special products for cleaning compact discs, there are special products for cleaning albums. Using your T-shirt or a paper towel to wipe the dust off of a vinyl record will scratch its surface and ruin the sound of the music. Instead, you should buy a record cleaning brush from your local music store. You hold the brush lightly against the record as it spins on the player. For more thorough cleaning, you can also buy a spray specially designed for cleaning vinyl. Once you spray the record, use a microfiber cloth to wipe it dry.

Always Use Record Sleeves

The jackets that come with your record may seem like flimsy paper, but they provide a protective barrier that keeps dust from accumulating on the record. Each record should be stored in its sleeve after each use to prevent exposure to dust. Once you have the record inside this jacket, it should be stored in the outer album cover for the best possible protection.

Don’t Stack Vinyl

There are a few reasons to avoid stacking vinyl records on top of each other. First, the weight can cause any dust on the albums to become ground into the grooves of the records. Secondly, the shelf upon which they’re stacked may give way, leaving you with a pile of broken vinyl shards. The best thing to do is to invest in sturdy shelving and line the albums up as you would line up a row of books. This provides the added benefit of allowing you to categorize your collection for easy reference.

If you follow these care tips, you can keep your records in good condition for a lifetime. Since even small nicks in an album, or the oil from your fingers, can damage the grooves, it’s important to care for them as you would care for any fragile antique. This will enable you to enjoy your collection for a lifetime and pass it down to others in the future.