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Does Water Ruin Vinyl Records? What You Need To Know

Maybe you just do not have a record cleaner and want to know if you can use water. Maybe you spilled water on your brand new record? Or maybe, unfortunately, your house flooded and your vinyl records got soaked? This does not have to be the end of the world. As a matter of fact, there is an almost 100 percent chance that everything is perfectly ok, let me explain.

Does water ruin vinyl records? Water does not damage the vinyl records themselves. If your inner sleeve, outer jacket, or label in the center of your record got water on them there is a good chance that they will be damaged. However, if your vinyl records got wet you should be ok as water does not ruin vinyl records.

If your house flooded or you got water on your records there is no need to panic. We are here to help walk you through the details on what can be damaged, why it can be damaged and how to fix or replace the damaged, record related items. 

Can You Put Water On Vinyl Records?

If you have ever thought about putting your vinyl records in the water we can say if done properly everything will be fine. Vinyl is made from ethylene or crude oil, and chlorine to form a hard synthetic plastic called polyvinyl chloride. This plastic is not harmed by water just like most plastics. 

There are some things you want to keep in mind when putting vinyl records in water. It is best if you use distilled or deionized water in order to remove all potential deposits and contaminants from the water. You do not want to use tap water as calcium deposits and chemicals can leave behind residue on the vinyl record itself.

The labels in the center of your album are made of paper and they are glued on with a semi water-soluble glue. This means even getting a drop of water on the label could severely damage the center label especially if the water stays on the label. 

If you are going to put your records in the water we recommend protecting the center label with a waterproof clamp for record labels. The only downside is that these are not universal. While they will protect most 12 inch vinyl record labels some may be too large and it will not work for most 7 inch records. For those instances, you will just have to exercise extra caution.

Can You Clean Vinyl Records With Water?

Absolutely you can clean vinyl records with water. It is best if you use distilled or deionized water in order to remove all potential deposits and contaminants from the water. You do not want to use tap water as calcium deposits and chemicals can leave behind residue on the vinyl record itself. It would also help to rinse or use a standard record brush with a solution on the groove surface prior to cleaning with soapy water in order to remove the larger dirt, dust, and other contaminants on the surface that could scratch during the cleaning process. 

This article is not a how-to clean your vinyl records article but a brief overview of how to do this is using distilled water with a very small amount of liquid dish soap. Be sure you remove any larger contaminants from the record either with a record brush and cleaning solution or rinse with water.

Does Water Ruin Vinyl Records

How To Dry Wet Vinyl Records

There are multiple ways to dry wet vinyl records. Something that is very important to keep in mind when using any cleaning method but particularly with water is that the records are completely dry and we mean completely. The water can and will cause damage to the grooves due to temperature. So we have a few methods for drying that we recommend. 

  • One is simply pat dry with a lint-free towel and leave sitting out to dry overnight or for a few hours. 
  • Another method is to sit in a dish rack to dry. 
  • We really like combining those two. Pat dry then leave out to dry in a dish rack. 
  • A really great way to dry that we also recommend helping speed up the process is the Vinyl Vac used in combination with a small shop vac. Just make sure you use an old turntable or a lazy susan of some type so you can spin the record while vacuuming the water off.

If you just spilled water on the sleeve or jacket blot or pat your towel on the wet item. Do not wipe whatever you do, DO NOT WIPE. This can cause additional damage to the artwork or cardboard. If you just spilled water on the vinyl record itself pat dry with a lint free towel.

How Do You Clean A Water Damaged Vinyl Record?

This is one of those questions that is difficult to answer without knowing what happened to the records themselves and what is damaged. If you are talking about the sleeves or the outer jacket unfortunately there is nothing you can do about the water damage on them. There may be ways to minimize the damage such as blotting the water if it just got on the jacket. 

If you just spilled water on the sleeve or jacket blot or pat your towel on the wet item. Do not wipe whatever you do, DO NOT WIPE. This can cause additional damage to the artwork or cardboard. Unfortunately, if you got the inner paper sleeve wet there is likely no saving them. The good news is that inner paper sleeves are very cheap to replace. We do recommend you pick up some antistatic inner sleeves

If you have some pieces of the inner sleeve stuck to the vinyl record water will easily take this off. If you have mold on your records of white water spots the good news is that a little water or record cleaner solution should easily remove these. Just be sure to protect the center label as you do this.

Cleaning Vinyl Records After A Flood

The way we would recommend cleaning your collection after a flood is to first assess your damage to see what was impacted like the sleeves, jackets, or labels, etc. We would recommend if you have a smaller amount of records just give them a proper cleaning and replace the sleeves if needed. If the outer jacket is completely destroyed you can get some generic ones to protect your albums.

If you had a flood and you noticed that your records were affected just realize that mold will set in within 48-hour of something getting wet. This means you need to get them cleaned and dried as soon as possible. If you did not get to them in time just proceed with cleaning. 

Make sure you protect your label while cleaning. Use distilled water with a very small amount of liquid dish soap. Be sure you remove any larger contaminants from the record either with a record brush and cleaning solution or rinse with water. This should take off most if not all mold. Pat dry with a lint-free cloth and allow to completely dry before playing them. 

Wrapping This All Up

As you can see water may not be the most ideal thing to get on or around your collection but this should not be the end of the world. We encourage you to just take a breath and walk through the process of cleaning and drying your records thoroughly and you should be ok. If you got water on your jackets or sleeves and waited too long there is not much you can do to save them but it’s really not the end of the world unless you were trying to sell them. Water damage does severally damage the value of the album. 

Happy listening, and we hope you enjoyed the read.

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