You love your collection of vinyl records, but you may not love all the space they take up if you live in a small space. Or you may need to store your LPs for a time while you’re between places. Protect your investment and your musical memories by storing your vinyl records correctly in your storage unit. With a little care, you can prevent damage and ensure that you can spin your favorite records for years to come. Read on for 6 tips for storing your vinyls.
Get a climate-controlled unit. By far the best thing you can do for your vinyls is store them in a climate-controlled unit. Heat and moisture can do serious damage to vinyl records, their covers, and their liner notes. Choosing a storage space that is heated, cooled, and moisture controlled helps to ensure that your records stay cool enough and dry enough. Climate-controlled units can be more expensive, but they are worth the extra expense in exchange for the peace of mind.
Choose your containers carefully. Choosing the right container to pack your records in is perhaps the most important step, whether you have a climate-controlled unit or not. The best choices are either sturdy cardboard boxes or plastic bins. If you live in a dry climate, cardboard is fine. Choose containers with square corners rather than rounded ones — rounded ones can result in “cupping” of the corners. If you choose cardboard, seal the boxes along all seams to prevent dust getting in.
Make sure your records are clean. Dust can do serious damage to vinyl over time. Before you store your records, take the time to wipe any dust away from the discs themselves and from the covers and liners. Use a record brush — not a cloth or (heavens forbid) a t-shirt. Cloth will leave lint and threads on the records, which have the potential to do major scratch damage. You should also use a record cleaning solution and microfiber and wipe each record in a circular motion to clear off lingering dust.
Pack your records correctly. Correct packing will go a long way towards preserving your records. Always store your records vertically. Storing them horizontally risks having them “dish warp” from the weight of the records on top. Store your records in their liners, and turn the open end of the liner towards the inside of the sleeve if possible. Pack your records tight enough that they cannot slant or lean, but with enough wiggle room to be able to remove individual records. You are going for a brick of records, so to speak. Packing them tight will keep them upright but leaving enough room to slide records in and out will help protect them from breakage.
Keep the stacks small. Once your records are all safe and snug in their containers, you’ll need to get them into the storage unit. Do not stack more than 4 boxes on top of one another. Albums are heavy and stacking them that high risks damage to the records in the lowermost boxes. If you can place the containers on shelves or otherwise not stack them at all, that’s ideal. However, if you must stack, keep the stacks small or find other lighter items to store on top.
Wrap ‘em up. If your storage unit is not climate-controlled and you live in a climate with cold winters, you’ll need to take some extra steps to keep your records warm when the temperature drops. Extreme cold can do as much damage as heat to vinyl records. If you’re storing your collection in a place with no heat, take the time to wrap the boxes or bins in some blankets for the cold months.