Do paper sleeves scratch vinyls?

2 mins read

Looking to keep your vinyl record collection in the best condition with the hopes of having the same high-quality playback experience 30-40 years from now? Or simply just want to ensure you’re not accidentally scratching records?

Sleeves are designed to protect the vinyl record when putting them in the outer sleeve, minimising scratches and scuffs.

Below we look at paper sleeves, whether are they bad for your vinyl records, alternatives and the best protection solutions to ensure longevity.

Do vinyls need inner sleeves?

Inner sleeves help preserve and protect vinyl records. Without them you’re sliding the vinyl record back into an album cover which can bring with it dust and static which makes it more like to scratch, crack and split.

Are paper covers bad for vinyls?

Paper covers aren’t bad for vinyls. If they were modern vinyl records wouldn’t come in them. They are also highly eco-friendly compared to plastic variants.

That being said, the paper does have some downsides. Inner paper sleeves for vinyl records can create minor scratches and scuffs as you move the record in and out to play it. So those love vinyl records which are played often are more susceptible to this. Paper record sleeves can also create paper dust which can settle in the grooves causing noise/jumping.

If you are looking to get the most out of your records and keep them in the best condition for a long time then discarding the paper sleeve in favour of a plastic version can add years to a record.

Should I keep my vinyl in the paper sleeve?

For the everyday record collector keeping your vinyl records in the inner paper sleeve will be absolutely fine. When taking a record out as you would do any way you just have to be careful you’re not causing unnecessary friction from the record and the paper making contact. It can act like very fine sandpaper causing micro-abrasions.

If you’re looking to store vinyl records long term then replacing the paper sleeve with a plastic version would be the best option for you.

What sleeves are best for vinyl?

There are generally two types of record sleeves. The standard sleeve a vinyl record comes with is usually a paper one.

Collectors who want to look after their records often switch these out for plastic inner sleeves

Plastic sleeves offer:

  • Anti-static
  • Less abrasive
  • Easier to slide back into the album cover
  • Don’t break down over time

Anti-static vinyl sleeves

Traditional paper sleeves can degrade over time, this can potentially lead to a layer of paper residue in your record grooves which can heavily affect the quality of sound.

If you’re looking to upgrade your inner sleeves for plastic ones look for anti-static sleeves, this is usually indicated called HDPE plastic, it’s soft to the touch and won’t damage your records or degrade over time.

Summary: Do paper sleeves scratch vinyl?

Yes, with heavy use, each time you’re getting a record out and putting it away you’re causing unwanted friction from the paper to the record which can cause scratches.

We’d recommend those looking to keep their records in the best condition ditch the paper sleeve for an HDPE plastic sleeve which will ensure your precious vinyl remains protected. These can be picked up from record stores, Amazon, eBay etc. You’ll be looking at £10-20 for 50 sleeves.

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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