To safely remove the labels from your records, I recommend first boiling some water in a pot or pan approximately the diameter of your vinyl, and placing it over the label. This will loosen and break the bonds of the lacquer and the vinyl, allowing for easy removal of the label. Remove and scrape off the label using a tool such as a plastic scraper. To clean any residue, gently wipe the surface with orange oil (or a similar product). Finish off with a lint free cleaning cloth, and you’re good to go!
In this article, we will be discussing several different methods for removing labels from your records without causing any damage or leaving any residue. We took the liberty of researching these methods so you wouldn’t have to cause any harm your own priceless collection while trying out some frantically Googled guesses!
I’m sure we’ve all been there: returning home after a successful day of perusing the shelves of vinyl, adding the newly purchased records to your collection, and wanting that smooth solely vinyl feel. You decide you want to remove the labels… but how to do so safely?
With the chance of ruining the pristine condition these records are in, there’s no other choice but to rip them off, right? Not quite! Continue reading for some tried and true ways (pros and cons included) to remove these buggers from your vinyl collection without any damage to your music listening experience.
Table of Contents
Methylated spirit, Orange oil, or Simply Cooking Oil/vinegar
To begin, heat up some water in a pot or pan approximately the size of the label on your vinyl. Let it cool for a minute, and place it over the label. Leave it on for around 45-60 seconds. This is an important step, as the labels are lacquered onto the vinyl during the creation process, as opposed to being glued. The heat will allow for the bonds to be loosened, leading to an easier removal process.
If you’re worried about what temperatures your vinyl records can handle, check out this temperature guide I wrote.
Note: Make sure the vinyl isn’t overheating during this process! You can check on this by periodically placing your hands on either side on the vinyl to gauge the temperature. When this is finished, remove the pan from the record. The label should be easier to peel off now that the heat has taken effect. For this process, you could use either your hands or some form of a scraper (could even be a credit card!)
To finish off the process, use your methylated spirit, orange oil, or simply cooking oil/vinegar to wipe off any remaining residue left on your vinyl. These should dissolve what’s left of the label after removing it with the heat. Disclaimer, though – the cooking oil/vinegar most likely won’t work as well, as they’re not quite as strong as the orange oil.
Finally, if you have a microfiber or lint free cloth, use this to add the finishing touches! Your label-less vinyl is as good as new.
Note: If the label still won’t take after heating it, try using sand paper (~80-100grid) to damage the outer layer of the label. Dust off any loose scraps remaining, and process with the orange oil swipes.
Goo Gone, Un-DO
This method utilizes store-bought products, which I was eager to avoid, as I’m all about home solutions. However, these have been tested with some success as well, so I wanted to include them all the same! Using adhesive removal products such as Goo Gone or Un-DO has been proved to work in a few cases, but not so much in others.
Their success will depend upon the manner of attachment of the particular label you are trying to remove. As some labels are more intensely lacquered than others, the adhesive-breaking properties of these products that normally work like a charm on glued merchandise won’t always yield the result you are looking for.
This final method is not as encouraged as the first or second, as it won’t always yield ideal results, depending on the make and quality of your vinyl. Exercise with caution! However, you could feasibly use a WEAK percentage acetone to remove the label from your vinyl.
Pour some on a paper towel or cloth and gently scrub at the label. This should remove the majority of the sticker, according to my research. However, be sure to test this method on vinyl you don’t mind potentially tampering with before you try it out on those you don’t want to see damaged.
A Word of Caution
DO NOT USE WD-40 OR RUBBING ALCOHOL – any type of solvent could potentially ruin the label, as they are too strong for the materials used to create the vinyl and will soften or dissolve them. Some forums advertise this, but the majority warned away from this harsh method.
If you’re interested in whether or not you should clean vinyl records with alcohol, check out this article I wrote.
Remember to apply heat with a pot or pan, scrape off the label with an apparatus such as a plastic scraper, and use orange oil or a similar substance to wipe off any remaining residue. Make sure you have a clean work space free of any grit or sticky substances to avoid damaging the record further. Again, I would recommend testing out all three of these methods on vinyl records that won’t be missed before using on your most near and dear.
Always be gentle and exercise great caution with your records – these treasures deserve the utmost care! This is the best way to ensure a long life for your music in the quality form it deserves. Keep on groovin’!
Thanks so much for referring to Record Player Expert for all your vinyl needs! Hopefully, some of these methods worked for you and were easy to follow.
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