Anyone who's had a serious record collection knows that every once in a while a great record comes along in a cover that's ripped, marked, stinky, or otherwise in need of some serious TLC. Thankfully, there are many vintage vinyl collectors who've dealt with the same problems and can suggest solutions that are neither expensive nor difficult. Whether you want to get your LPs ready to sell or you want to keep your collection looking sharp, take advantage of some simple ways to refurbish your favorite album covers.
Clean up dirt and grunge with Magic Eraser cleaning pads, especially the ones that can be rinsed and reused. Start by very lightly dampening one end of the sponge, stroking the area that needs cleaning, and then using the dry end of the sponge to pick up any residual grime. Wipe with a dry paper towel.
Remove ink from album covers by using Krazy Kloth. It will leave a slight oily residue, but you can take care of that by wiping the area with a paper towel. Be careful not to rub too hard or for too long, or you will remove the cover art ink.
Use a kneaded eraser to remove pencil marks, dirt and grime on your album covers. Make sure to only use the clean portion of the kneaded eraser -- if you do this often, you'll need to buy new erasers every so often, but the good news is they're inexpensive and easy to find.
Repair tears or rips in LP cover slicks with glue stick. If there's a tear in the slick and the torn piece of the slick is still present, apply the glue stick and press down. You can fix a tear at the opening of an LP cover with piece of clear packaging tape.
Get rid of strong mildew smells by putting just the LP cover -- not the album, of course -- in the microwave on a low temperature for about 20 to 30 seconds. The microwave should absorb the smell, but if it's still stinky, put it back in the microwave as many times as necessary to take care of the odor.
Take unwanted stickers, labels, and tape off your album covers by heating the area around the offending sticker with a hair dryer. The heat breaks down the adhesive and makes it softer and easier to remove. There might be sticker residue, but a little citrus-based cleaner or lighter fluid (naphtha) can take care of that -- but only on glossy covers.