Does water damage vinyl records

3 mins read

We’re so careful when it comes to handling records, storing them, and cleaning them, all to ensure that we get the most enjoyment out of them for the longest time possible.

Sometimes accidents do happen where water is spilled, you may have some unexpected water damage in the property, or you may have stumbled across a collection that hasn’t been as so well kept.

In these instances, the question about damage and the best way to ensure you protect your vinyl record is key here. In this article we’re looking at water and vinyl records, does this cause an issue with the vinyl and how to assess and fix water damage.

Can you put water on vinyl records?

Firstly, we should start by clearing this up. Does water actually damage the vinyl record? In short, no. Vinyl records are made from PVC which is plastic, water if spilled, on a vinyl record won’t cause any damage.

Does that mean you should be actively putting water onto the record, no – It just means you can have an accident and not have to worry.

If the record is within its sleeve and album cover and the cover gets wet, then you may have some issues. If the paper sleeve gets wet, over time this can cause the paper to break apart, you may get bits stuck to the vinyl which can cause issues.

If the album cover has been exposed to water, try to wipe it off and dry it out without using cleaning materials – Don’t overly apply heat to the album cover as this can also cause issues, it’s paper at the end of the day, so you need to be careful.

Can you save a record collection from water damage?

In the event of a flood to your property or a leaking roof where a vinyl collection may have been exposed to water for a period of time, you may think that the damage is too great and to get rid of the whole collection.

This isn’t the case, the album covers themselves may have surface damage. But as mentioned before the vinyl record itself may be intact and salvageable.

It’s best that you remove the album cover and sleeve and properly wash and dry your vinyl records – If you have some plastic sleeves around you can also place the records afterward in these to preserve them better.

See below for the method of cleaning and drying a vinyl record correctly.

Is it safe to clean records using water?

Yes, it’s very safe to clean a vinyl record with water. It’s best not to use water directly from the tap as this can have calcium deposits and other chemicals which can leave behind residue on the vinyl records themselves.

We recommend using distilled or deionised water to remove all potential deposits and contaminants from the water.

It’s also best to use a standard record brush with a cleaning solution (made for vinyl records) on the groove surface to remove larger bits of dust and dirt and prevent them from scratching the record when cleaning.

How to dry wet vinyl records

Make sure your vinyl record is completely dry before putting it back on the turntable or back in its sleeve. There are multiple ways of drying a wet vinyl record, below is one of the easiest and safest ways of doing it from home.

Pat dry with a non-static, clean microfibre cloth. Be sure not to use too much force as this can cause scratches, especially if any dust is picked up on the surface of the record. One patted dry leave out overnight or a few hours if the house Is warm to dry them out completely.

Quick tip: Use a dish rack, magazine or toast stand to keep your vinyl records upright when drying

Summary does water damage vinyl records

Water isn’t ideal for vinyl records, especially exposed for any length of time. The album covers and sleeves are most at risk here and they are pretty difficult to recover / clean.

The vinyl record itself is more at risk from the above with small bits of paper getting stuck to the plastic and causing issues.

Water generally is fine for vinyl records and actually can be used to clean them to help them sound better.

With everything make sure you follow a process and look after your record, don’t use force, don’t use abrasive materials to dry, and don’t put your records back without drying them completely.

See our other guides for more tips and tricks.

Music enthusiast with a love for vinyl, gigs and festivals. Here to educate, review, discuss and share the love of music and vinyl records for the next generation.

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