· By Steffen Smith
Inner Liners: How to Keep Your Clean Records Clean
Putting your clean record back into a dusty old inner sleeve is like lathering up with a fresh bar of Irish Spring, taking a nice hot shower ... and then putting back on that nasty pair of sweats you’ve been wearing all week.
Literally, for pennies, you can slip your record into a fresh, new inner liner of archival-quality paper.
The issue with old inner sleeves is that the paper actually starts to degrade. They start shedding paper fibers, which because of the static nature of a vinyl record, wind up on the surface of your nice clean record, and eventually down in the grooves. Remember, just pulling your record in and out of the sleeve creates a static charge and turns your record into a dust-sucking magnet.
Literally for pennies, you can slip your record into a fresh, new inner liner. Modern sleeves are made with what is known as archival-quality paper, which is essentially acid-free paper that is designed not to break down over time and shed those nasty fibers.
Where Does the Hole Go?
When choosing inner liners, you do have some options. Some come with the hole in the center, but you can also get solid liners, with no hole, which make it a little easier to slip both the record into the liner and the liner into the album jacket. Likewise, sleeves with rounded corners make it a bit easier to slip them inside the jacket.
A note: If you have a collectible record, one that you might want to sell or trade at some point, don’t toss that sleeve — especially if it’s a printed sleeve with band photos and lyrics or even just one of the vintage ones from the record label. That original liner is certainly part of the value of a collectible record. So, keep it and maybe keep both stored inside the jacket.
Take It Up a Notch
If you want to take it up a step, you can invest in an inner liner … with its own inner liner. So, a paper sleeve with a polyliner inside. They cost a bit more than plain paper liners, but they will absolutely seal out the dust. They will also help keep down on any static as you pull the record out. Another option is a fully poly sleeve (no paper), but note that they have a tendency to bunch up when sliding the record in.
You can also opt for black sleeves or ones made with heavier stock. This is the type you’re getting more and more these days when you buy a good quality new pressing — typically something on 180-gram vinyl.
If you have a small collection of, say, 25 or 50 records, you can buy a pack of new inner sleeves and easily make the upgrade. I’ve got a pretty big collection, and I just replace them a couple at a time as I’m cleaning and listening to my records.
Seal the Dust Out
The final trick is to slide the sleeve in so that you’re not leaving your album open to the environment. By sliding the open edge first into the album jacket, you are creating a sealed edge. Note that some records are a little tight going in that way. This is where a sleeve with the rounded corners sometimes works a little better.
So, there you have it. A very easy, very inexpensive way to keep your clean records clean.
If you have any questions about record cleaning, protection and storage, just shoot us an email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.