How to Store and Display Vinyl Records Safely

Keep your collection looking (and sounding) pristine with proper storage techniques.

Similar to comic books and baseball cards, vinyl records are nostalgic collectibles. The difference with records, of course, is that you can pop one on a player and fill the house with your favorite music any time you like. Putting them on display can also create a conversation piece in any room.

bhg vinyl records on a shelf

Tria Giovan

Whether your collection is large or small, your records need to be protected so you can enjoy the tunes for years to come. Don't worry: You can still store them on the shelf for easy access or rotate out your favorite albums to store on display. We're sharing our best storage ideas to help you prolong the life of your collection so your records can be enjoyed for generations. These are our best tips to show off and store your vinyl records safely.

bhg vinyl records on shelf and guitar

Kim Cornelison 

Double-Up on Record Sleeves

Most record purchases include an inner paper sleeve insert to keep the vinyl protected. However, depending on how used the record was when you bought it and the material of the insert, you might want to swap it out for something new. On used records, the original insert could have acquired dirt and dust from handling and it also could be ripped from wear and tear. Even with new purchases, the paper insert can scratch the record. Consider investing in acid free paper sleeves or, even better, sleeves made of polyethylene.

Many record purchases (particularly older ones) don’t come with an outer protective covering. It might be worth exploring  the idea of adding one to keep the album artwork in top shape. Look for inserts that are made out of polyethylene or polypropylene. You can also use vinyl bags to protect all four edges of the record, although you may find it’s only necessary for long term storage. If you’re unsure of what to buy, ask a local record shop owner for suggestions. They may even have them for purchase in the store.

bhg vinyl records on a shelf

Tria Giovan

Short-Term Vinyl Record Storage

Perhaps you have a space in your home where you like to put on your favorite albums to wind down after a long day. Whether it's the living area, basement lounge, or even a room dedicated to music, consider storing at least part of your collection there. It’s important to keep them organized, not only so they don’t clutter the room, but also to keep them in good working order.

You can use pre existing built-ins, a standalone bookshelf, or specific record player stand that includes storage. Regardless of what you choose, it needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the albums—especially if you have an extensive collection. Feel free to sort them however you like, whether by genre or by artist, then add dividers so you'll be able to find them quickly.

No matter where the records are stored, avoid stacking them horizontally at all costs. The pressure from the weight of the vinyls on top of one another can cause damage. Always place them vertically, as you would with books. Leaning on a slant can actually warp the records so consider using a bookend or other light object to keep them fully upright. Refrain from overstuffing them on shelves so they slide in and out without force.

Another important thing to know is that you should never store vinyl records in immediate sunlight or near a radiator. Heat is detrimental to the vinyls themselves (that's why record stores are usually chilly!) and the sun can fade the artwork, even with a cover on it. 

vinyl albums framed on the wall

Jacob Fox

Long-Term Vinyl Record Storage

If you would rather store your records instead of putting them on display, they can easily be put away for the long term. The most important factor for successful storage is to keep them in a place with low temperatures and low moisture. Experts recommend storing them in temperatures ranging from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level of 30 to 40 percent. Temperature controlled finished basements and other storage spaces in your home work well. Garages and attics generally get too hot (or cold) and humid for safekeeping.

Much like displaying vinyls short term, you want to steer clear of sunlight exposure when it comes to storage. One of the best ways to preserve records in storage is to contain them in a lidded box. Leftover cardboard and bankers boxes should be avoided as they tend to be a breeding ground for pests and can deteriorate over time. Instead, look for plastic or, better yet, archival boxes that are made to specifically fit albums of different sizes and that are an inch or two taller than the tallest album.

Try to keep the vinyls of the same size stored together. For example, consider designating one box for 7 inch records, one for 10 inch, and a third for any measuring 12 inch. Label the outside of the boxes and use dividers on the inside to keep them organized for when you’re ready to sell, pass down, or listen to again. If your collection doesn’t fill up an entire box, stuff it with archival paper so the records stay straight rather than slanting.

Remember to Clean Your Records

All vinyl records, including those on display or in storage, should be occasionally cleaned. Whenever you take one out to play, give it a gentle wipe down with a specialty cleaner and brush that you can find online or at a music store. For those being stored, set a reminder to take them out about once per year for a thorough cleaning.

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