LP jacket "Ring wear"

brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 23,312
Why "ring wear" in quotes?  Because what I really want to talk about is dirt.  I'm surprised at never having seen this mentioned anywhere but a lot of what is described as ring wear is actually jacket soiling.  As a book seller, I've long had experience with working with cleaning book covers and dust jackets.  It's a bit of a tricky art because there are all kinds of things that work and all kinds of things that can go wrong.  Knowing the way paper and paperboard responds to cleaning solutions and devices is super important.  I've taken what I've learned that way and applied it to record jackets with fair to excellent success. 

Here's a list of cleaners and cleaning devices I use that work well depending on the situation:

-Erasers- all kinds, the more variety the better.
Erasers are very helpful for cleaning most record jackets.  I keep a pile of various kinds on my work desk and use them all depending on the job. They all work differently on different surfaces so a lot of experimenting is helpful.  It's always a good idea to keep the eraser clean.  Frequent use of a finger to rub off dirt or rubbing against some paper out of your recycle bin to rub off accumulated dirt residue is very helpful.

-Dry cleaning pads such as a Document Cleaning Pad or Alvin 1248 Professional Drafting Dry Cleaning Pad  (there are other brands, try a good stationary store of go to www.shopbrodart.com)  These work well on many types of paperboard but can rub off some of the softer papers so try on a small, less obvious corner first.

-Simple Green all-purpose cleaner diluted between about 1:25 (one ounce Simple Green to 25 ounce water) in a spray bottle.
Simple Green is my go-to cleaner for book covers but is also very helpful on record jackets.  A light amount sprayed on a soft cloth or blue mechanic's paper towel like Scott's Shop Cloth (both work well depending on the surface being cleaned) will remove most light soiling on smooth cover record jackets.  Be careful on softer  paperboard jackets as some don't respond well to moisture.  Dry cleaning pads and erasers work better on the softer paper surfaces.

-Citra Solv Natural Citrus Cleaner (WARNING: Citra Solv dissolves most plastics.  DON'T LET IT GET ANYWHERE NEAR YOUR VINYL!)
Citra Solve is great for removing sticker gum from books and record jackets but can leave a light stain on paper and softer paperboards.  This stain often disappears after drying.
I sometimes will add a few drops of Citra Solv to the Simple Green moistened cloth for more stubborn soiling but be very careful doing this to softer surfaces.

-Zippo Ronsonol Lighter Fluid (WARNING: This stuff is toxic.  Use In well ventilated area and keep off your skin and out of your eyes!)
Lighter fluid is sort of a last line of defense.  It's toxic but will clean certain stubborn glues and adhesives and drys quickly and clear.  I've experimented with using it on vinyl records themselves to remove stubborn finger prints and it works well and does not seem to harm the vinyl ( I have not confirmed that 100% so go cautiously).


The main thing here is to proceed with caution.  Early on, I ruined some perfectly good book dust jackets by not knowing enough about what I was doing.  It pays to experiment with covers of low value or perhaps even paper and paperboard out of your recycle bin.   Learn the feel of the paper and take notice of the texture of various surface types.

I have taken record jackets that should be graded "Good" or even "Fair" and upgraded them to "Very Good +" or better with careful cleaning.  I did this with a copy of Spirit's "The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus"  album I came across recently that has a lot of white on the cover.  White covers are often the hardest to clean.  I spent a half hour on this one cover alone. 

I spent a good bit of time on this Beach Boys cover yesterday.  It had terrible "ring wear" and soiling.  It looked awful!   Yes, it still has some true ring wear but not nearly as much as before cleaning.  I wish I had taken a "before" picture but here it is now:


Cleaning can take a lot of elbow grease and patience but if you're careful, you can make some of those iffy covers look great!

The reason I never give up hope is because everything is so basically hopeless.
-Anne Lamott


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