Tips to restore and repair your 78 records

Your 78s are no doubt invaluable to you. Here's how to keep them clean and straighten them out when warped. It's all delicate work (and a bit risky). Here's what you need to know.

Tips to restore and repair your 78 records

Clean with care

  • Use a clean cloth saturated with a mixture of lukewarm water and a bit of mild detergent.
  • Let the solution run through the grooves to wash out any dirt, dust, or iron particles from player needles that may be trapped between them.
  • Then give the record a final cleansing under slow running cool tap water, and gently pat it dry with a soft towel.
  • Allow the record to thoroughly air-dry overnight before playing it or putting it back into your collection.
  • Sandwiching a damp 78 among dry records can result in mould growth that could lead to disintegration.
  • Alcohol should never be used to clean 78-rpm phonograph records; it will dissolve the shellac base.

Straighten a warped 78

  • Do you have an unplayable, warped 78 record? You may want to try straightening it out by placing it between two pieces of tempered glass to form a "shellac sandwich."
  • Place the sandwiched record in your oven under low heat — start at around 30°C (85°F) and gradually increase it, but do not go above 65°C (150°F ) — for 12 to 25 minutes.
  • Allow the record to cool for 30 minutes before removing it from the glass.
  • If it's a hot, sunny day, you can try placing the sandwich outside for 10 minutes to an hour (depending on the temperature), with frequent checking.
  • This method can also be used to straighten unplayable, warped vinyl LPs and 45s, although it is notoriously difficult to remove the warp in a vinyl record.
  • Exercise caution: This procedure is not without significant risks; it's quite possible to inadvertently destroy the record in the process.
  • It should only be attempted as a last resort on records that are otherwise unplayable.
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