How Long Do Vinyl Records Last? How to (Almost) Immortalize Your Vinyl's Lifespan
Posted on June 07 2022
The sound of a vinyl record is something truly special, but unfortunately, it’s more prone to natural degradation than its digital counterpart! Your record will still give you that incredible, irreplaceable sound for a lifetime if you take good care of it.
So, how long do vinyl records last? We’ll walk you through a typical vinyl record lifespan and how you can care for it to extend and enjoy that life as long as possible.
How Long Do Vinyl Records Last, Exactly?
There are many factors that affect a vinyl record’s lifespan:
- How often the record has been played
- How the record was stored and cared for
- How high-quality your record player is
- The quality of the original vinyl record after its initial production
Vinyl records are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is where the “vinyl” term comes from. PVC takes hundreds of years to decay if left to the elements, but in reality, that’s not how long vinyl records last.
Realistically, if you take fantastic care of your records, you can expect them to last for over 100 years. That’s assuming they’re kept in nearly-mint condition, but we all know how often we love to play our favorite albums, over, and over, and over again! Friction is an unfortunate reality of record playing, and it’s important you don’t overplay a certain track or album.
You can still play your record a lot! A controlled study found that new records could be played around 1200 times without a decline in sound quality with a cleaning every 20 plays. You simply need to take care of them properly and make sure you play the record from the beginning each time for even wear.
How Can I Extend My Vinyl Record’s Lifespan?
Keeping a professional record collection in top condition is our company’s mission and passion. Big Fudge has written extensively on this topic in the past, because it’s what we’re all about. Our store sells specialty products designed with this purpose in mind.
There are some highly important tips you should follow to keep your vinyl records in their best possible condition. We’ll go over the basics so you know how to get started.
1) Use Inner and Outer Sleeves
Dust is a true nemesis of records. To keep them protected while on display, you’ll need both an inner and outer sleeve. Inner sleeves protect your record from dust and scratches. Outer sleeves add essential protection and allow them to be stored safely. Use quality sleeves and don’t skimp on them: they’re one of the most important ways to keep your records safe.
2) Don’t Forget To Display Them Properly
Make sure to display your records vertically so they don’t have too much pressure on them. Too much pressure, especially if it’s uneven, can cause them to bend and warp. Storing them on a bookshelf or a purpose-built storage cube works well, and you can also display your favorite album cover using a sturdy record display stand.
3) Pay Attention to the Climate of Your Storage Room
Temperature and humidity can significantly damage your records! Temperatures that are too hot can cause your record to warp. Temperatures that are too cold, especially if they’re below freezing, can cause your record to become brittle and even crack. Keep your record stored in a place between 65-75 Fahrenheit (18-23 degrees Celsius).
Humidity is also an important factor. Many people are surprised at how much humidity can affect how long vinyl records last. Keep your room between 45% and 50% humidity if possible.
3) Clean Your Records Well
Cleaning is essential to preserve your vinyl record’s lifespan! Vinyl cleaning kits are very intuitive to use and cover all the bases: cleaning solutions, cleaning brushes, and dust removers. Whatever you do, don’t try to use a t-shirt or random cleaning solution to clean your record! If it’s not made for that purpose, you could destroy the record fast.
Don’t forget: you also need to clean your record player, especially your stylus! We sell a specially-made stylus gel for this task.
Cleaning a lot of records? You can always get refills and replacements for these record supplies rather than buying them new again.
4) Try Not To Touch Your LPs
The natural oils on your body contribute to the decay of records faster than you might think. If you’re handling old records, we highly recommend you only hold them on the edges. If you’re extra serious about preserving how long your vinyl records last, you can even use gloves to handle them.
Protect and Celebrate Your Vinyl Records at Big Fudge
Vinyl lovers and passionate collectors are the norm here at Big Fudge. If you’re looking for more cool (and safe) ways to display vinyl records or tips on how to keep your vinyl albums sounding great, explore our ongoing articles for more vinyl-collecting inspo.