What Type of Outer Record Sleeve Do You Use For Your Vinyl? – My Advice is Do Not Use PVC

I have been collecting records since the early 1970s, first vinyl then a few cassettes and then CDs. Today I buy CDs and Vinyl Records. The CDs tend to look after themselves but as we all know Vinyl Records need a bit more care!

So the one thing that many of us do is invest in some sort of outer sleeve to protect the cover. I have always chosen PVC covers, the reason being they are sturdy, crystal clear and you can fit them onto gatefold sleeves and still open the cover. Ideal…or so I thought.

Over the years older PVC covers have bubbled and become brittle and discoloured. I have simply replaced them with whatever was available at the time. This latest batch was from a well-known supplier, they were extra thick and sturdy perhaps smelling more like a blow-up beach football than a record cover!

I had been reading a blog post about the dangers of PVC covers and how they can damage your records, first with the covers and then even the vinyl.

This sent me down a rabbit hole trying to find evidence that this was not true. Instead, I found more and more people saying the same thing and I even found damming reports on the Steve Hoffman forum and the Times and Telegraph websites.

So for my own state of mind, I decided to go through my record collection to see if anything was amiss.
The first album I picked up was Pump by Aerosmith, I pulled it out of the cover and a small part of the sleeve came with it. Horrified, I then spent hours going through every album. You can see the results in the video, I now have some albums which can never have their sleeves removed because of the damage it will cause. I had to cut off some covers with scissors!

I have now removed ALL of my PVC sleeves, (it is amazing how heavy they all were and the amount of space it has freed up!) However, do I now need to find an alternative outer sleeve solution for my records or should I leave them without outer covers?

So, if do you use outer covers, what type do you use?
Do you use PVC, Polythene or the resealable Blake type covers?

I have also posted this video on the Discogs Facebook Group and the response has been off the scale. Surely the companies selling PVC covers should issue some kind of warning? After all, the only reason you are buying these covers is to protect your record collection, not actually damage it.

Please let me know in the comments.

Thank you for your support.

Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine

PVC Sleeves awaiting disposal

PVC Sleeves will damage your vinyl collection

Do Not Use PVC on the your records

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3 years ago

I have used loose fitting polyethylene inner and outer sleeves for years with no problem.

2 years ago

Hi. I study PVC degradation, so you probably already know but your problem with PVC sleeves is the plasticiser in them, it will migrate out and become sticky on the surface, hence why it can peel off the paint. Most studies suggest humidity at a house level wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but light and temp can speed up the migration.

Is there anything common to the cardboard sleeves it’s happened to, like age? Cardboard can give off some acidic species as it ages, so that could cause the plasticiser to change too.

PE and PP sleeves are the way forward!

Richard Swan
Richard Swan
2 years ago

I recommend these.
I have tried probably 15 different types of sleeve, and these are easily the best, by a country mile. They are acid free, and are sized such that there is a small air boundary between the cover and the BOPP sleeve.
My whole collection is in these.

Jerry Bloom
Jerry Bloom
Reply to  Richard Swan
11 months ago

I Second that. These sleeves, sometimes called Blake Sleeves are the best. Lightweight and acid free as well.

Savannah Adams
Savannah Adams
1 month ago

I’m pleasantly surprised to realize I accidentally got polyurethane covers anyway

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