Ultimate Guide on How to Handle a Vinyl Record

Close up of a record and a stylus

If you’re here, you’re serious about protecting and preserving your records. We commend you for that! Your collection will last much, much longer if you know how to handle a vinyl record properly each time you use it. 

Poor handling might not damage your record visibly after a single mistreatment, but it does create long-term damage, reducing your record’s lifespan and sound quality by decades. Fortunately, it’s not hard to learn how to handle vinyl records correctly. You just need a few cleaning tools and some general knowledge. Let’s walk you through the necessities.

What You’ll Need


  • Touch The Edges of Your Records, Not the Surface

Our first step on how to handle a vinyl record is to always hold records gently by their sides. Don’t hold their surface directly. This is a very important general rule, because the oils on your skin contribute to uneven wear and pressure that can erode the surface of your record.

  • Remove Your Records From The Sleeves Correctly

How do you only hold the edges of records if you have to get them out of the sleeves? It’s simple. Once you’ve taken the inner sleeve out of the outer sleeve/jacket, insert your hand carefully into the inner sleeve without touching the surface of the record. Put your middle fingers into the center of the record and your thumb on the outer edge. Remove the record by holding the edges only. Avoid touching the surface as you remove it from the sleeve. Your inner sleeve shouldn’t be so tight that you can’t do this. It needs to fit more like a folder, not a rubber glove. 

  • Keep Your Hands Clean

Your hands should be washed, dry, grease-free and completely clean before handling vinyl records. This is probably obvious, but it’s a good reminder.

  • If The Record Is Vintage or Delicate, Use Gloves

If you’re extra serious about preserving the quality of your records and/or your record is extremely valuable and delicate, you can go the extra mile and wear record gloves. If you’re wondering how to handle these types of vinyl records, we recommend microfiber or nylon gloves because they are the softest and least likely to create static and dust on the surface. Even if you’re wearing gloves, try not to touch the surface.

  • Keep Your Records Clean

To keep your vinyl in mint condition, you can’t get around a good cleaning. Big Fudge has many specially-made cleaning kits, including our popular Record Friend™ and Record Pal, which contain everything you need. 

At minimum, you should give your record collection a deep clean every six months. You should use a specialized record brush to remove dust, a special cleaning fluid to wash it, and an upright drier to keep them dry.

  • Clean the Stylus

Caring for the stylus is a critical part of handling vinyl records because it is the main object that directly touches the surface of the record. You should keep your record stylus clean with stylus gel. This helps prevent the ever-dreaded static buildup, the bane of good sound quality.

  • Store Your Records Properly

Part of taking care of your vinyl records properly is storing them correctly. Keeping them stored in a way that eliminates unnecessary friction and pressure is one of the most important parts of how to handle a vinyl record.

You should use a purpose-made inner and outer sleeve to protect your records from dust, mold, and other factors that can ruin the surface. You should also always store them upright — never stack records! The records on the bottom of the stack will decay faster under the pressure. 

You also need to ensure your storage area is cool, dry, and dark. Hot, moist places can create lethal mold and destroy records. Icy, frigid, dry places can sometimes cause records to go brittle and crack. Store records between 65-75 Fahrenheit (18-23 degrees Celsius).

For more extensive instructions on how to display your vinyl record collection, read our guide.

Use The Right Tools for the Job

Big Fudge has a passion for the unbeatable sound quality of vinyl. Whether you’re an audiophile or just interested in a new hobby, we have the best tools for record care at competitive prices. If you’re interested in learning more about how to handle a vinyl record, how to collect records, and how to display your collection, read our blog!