Keep in mind as you read this I am NOT the most obsessive about my records as it is possible to get. There are levels way above me, but I have to admit I do a bit more than your average casual record buyer, and a bit of the anal retentive of the Aural Retentive shows here… but I own that.
I have purchased records from multiple stores, Goodwill, Discogs, direct from artists, at shows and even inherited a ton from my friend Dalton. One thing is for sure… everyone who uses protective plastic record sleeves to store the whole album in, uses a different kind. There are dense thick ones, the flimsy kind that you can actually tear if not careful. There are some exactly as tall as a record, and some taller. While I appreciate those that sell records in nice protective sleeves, if you know me at all you will understand how this has been an issue for me. There must be 10 different kinds in my collection.
I couldn’t go on that way.
I also have recently reached the end of my collection culling and what I have remaining is going to stay. So I decide to start cleaning them. I would say that at least half of my collection has been purchased used and could use a cleaning. I wasn’t sure how I would remember which HAD been cleaned though.
So… I decided on a path forward. I would clean each record, bag it in some sleeves I could purchase in bulk and have every record in the SAME type of bag, and then mark it as I cleaned it. This way, the whole collection gets the same type of bag and marking.
Ah… uniformity. Sigh.
So I started with the bags. BCW 2 Mil polypropylene. I bought 300 to start with and said a small prayer that this company will never fold. I don’t want to have to start this all over again.
As I cleaned each record I removed whatever sleeve it had on it and replaced it with a nice shiny new BCW sleeve. It felt SO right. This shot is from a session cleaning my Yes albums.
As I bagged each one, I put the record cover in, then the record in its sleeve in behind the cover. That way, when you want to play the record you just reach into the plastic and pull out the record. No need to pull the record cover out. Easy peasy.
There was a dilemma though.
How to mark the ones I had cleaned. I had already started storing my records with the sleeves in the back, so that alone wouldn’t be enough. I needed a simple way to mark them, and I was not going to write on them or use a post it note.
The answer? Sticker dots!
Turns out, this method is good for marking that the record is cleaned, and also that I have listened to it and there are no issues.
Green sticker on the right… cleaned.
Green sticker on the left… listened to, no issues.
The sticker is on the inside of the plastic sleeve, so it won’t get scraped off. I use a tiny knife to place them. It’s a labor of love.
Here we see Van Morrison – No Guru, No Method, No Teacher. Look at that pristine plastic sleeve! Cleaned and listened to with no issues. That’s a keeper.
So I have yet to use up the 300 bags I ordered to start with, but it takes time to clean and let dry completely before bagging and I try and do them in batches so I am not wasting the cleaning solution. The Beatles collection (and solo stuff) is on my radar but that will be a big job.
There is a fair amount of gunk and dust coming off even records that look clean, so it is certainly a worthwhile process. I have saved a few that had some minor issues. Once cleaned, the issue was gone. Conversely however I have discovered some that no amount of cleaning will remedy.
The process will continue until I have reached the last album.
Anyone need a pile of random used plastic sleeves?