Sound recordings need to be handled correctly to avoid contamination or other damage. Even when your hands appear clean, traces of sweat and oil are present which can attract dust or promote mould growth when deposited on a recording.
The playing surfaces of a disc or tape should not be handled: reels of tape should be carried by the hub or centre; and discs should be held only on the edges and label. It is normally safer to use arm lifters when playing LPs or 78s, rather than raising or lowering the stylus by hand.
Unless being played or cleaned, recordings should be kept in their sleeves/boxes, which also offer physical protection and resistance to fire and water damage. Recloseable plastic envelopes with suitable liners will protect against dust, moisture and mechanical damage.
Discs and tapes should be stored in cool, dry conditions with a minimum of dust and pollutants, and shelved upright in sturdy shelves with dividing supports every 100mm-150mm. Hubs used for storing tapes should be smooth and rigid. Changes in temperature or humidity, direct sunlight, local heat sources, moisture, dust and magnetic fields should be avoided.
Cassette boxes should have projections to lock the hubs and prevent them from turning during storage or movement. Tapes and cassettes should be played to the end, leaving the tape wound smoothly with only leader or unrecorded tape exposed. Reels of tape should have the end fastened with an approved tape or packing which avoids uneven pressure.
Compact discs benefit from the same cool, dry conditions and careful handling as other sound recordings. The standard CD jewel case offers good protection for CDs and they can be stored either vertically or horizontally when kept in their cases.