Stop using your shaky hand to cue up a record
Here's how to properly cue up a song on a vinyl record: Use the cueing lever on your turntable to raise and lower the needle. Your hands are never truly steady and it's easy to slip up and gouge the grooves of a record or even break the needle on your cartridge. Never drop or abruptly pick up the needle on a vinyl record especially as it's fading out. Over time you'll start to hear ticks and pops as the vinyl is gradually getting gouged in those areas. Use the cueing lever and aim to cue up a song just before the music starts so that the needle SLOWLY drops in the silent area of the grooves and not in the areas with music. Also, wait for the music to fade out completely or stop before picking up the needle. Better still is to play an entire album side straight through from beginning to end.
Do NOT stack vinyl records
Never stack records on top of each other whether in their jackets or not. This is one sure fire way to cause warping, possible cracking of the vinyl record because of the weight and will inevitably produce scuff marks and ring wear on the album cover marring the artwork. Records must always be stored upright like books on a shelf.
Wet playing a vinyl record is not a cure
Never wet play a vinyl record in an attempt to quiet the crackle and pops. Doing so only forces the abrasive sludge deeper into the grooves as the needle makes its way around the record possibly doing irreversible damage. This makes the record sound even worse as the crud has dried embedding the dirt throughout the record.
Keep fingers off the record
Never touch the record's playing surface with your bare hands or fingers as your body oil will transfer onto the record attracting even more dust and affecting the sound quality. Always hold a record by its outer edges only. If you accidentally touch a record, it's best to immediately clean it with a liquid record cleaner or isopropyl alcohol and waiting for the record to dry before putting it back in its sleeve.
Your T-shirt or towel is not a record cleaner
Resist the temptation to wipe your vinyl record with your shirt or dry cloth no matter how soft it may feel. This will scratch and scuff the record and only move the dirt around. For dry cleaning or light touch up, use a carbon fiber record cleaning brush as it actually discharges static and lifts dirt without damaging the vinyl record.
Say NO to non-approved cleaners on your vinyl records
Do not use lubricants or solvents such as baby oil, lighter fluid... no matter what anyone may tell you. These fluids can cause a devastating chemical reaction that can permanently damage a record. Use only products labelled as a vinyl record cleaner such as Last or Discwasher D4 for manual cleaning or Nitty Gritty Pure 2 Record Cleaning Solution for vacuum record cleaning machines. If it's not specifically labelled for use on vinyl records then do NOT use it.
Wait for the record platter to STOP
Never place or pick up a vinyl record as the turntable platter is spinning. This will quickly scratch the flipside of a record. Always wait for the platter to come to a complete stop before doing anything.
Don't mar that beautiful album cover art with tape
Refrain from using Scotch tape or packaging tape to fix a record cover that is splitting or tearing. It will completely destroy the cover. As the cellophane tape ages, it becomes brittle, yellows, and will ooze adhesive making things worse than before. Best to place the record jacket in a poly outer sleeve and place the record in its inner sleeve behind it or place the record in its inner sleeve inside a generic cardboard record jacket and save the original jacket for safekeeping.
Dropping records into a sleeve or jacket is a NO-NO
Resist the temptation to let a record just plop into an inner sleeve and/or record jacket as this is how covers and sleeves split open. Here's how to properly put a record into its sleeve/jacket: Simply hold the slightly bowed open cover horizontally and gently slide the record in making sure it doesn't bind.
Never leave your records out of their sleeves longer than necessary
Put vinyl records away when you're done. Remove a record from the turntable platter as soon as you are finished listening to it to prevent it from attracting dust and dirt. The only time a record should be outside its protective sleeve and jacket is when it is actually being played. No excuses!