Cleaning vinyl records and ensuring that they are dust free is an important factor in their preservation, as all experienced analogue music fans will know. It is also important for retaining optimum sound quality for longer. Fingerprints, dust, static and scratches all create unwanted noise causing clicks, pops, surface noise and even distortion.
In particular, second-hand record purchases should always be cleaned before they are first played. The presence of dust and grime will diminish the sound and in more extreme conditions contribute to the physical damage of a record or stylus.
New records are often also positively charged with static electricity straight out of the record sleeve. Statically charged records will stick to the turntable mat every time you swap sides or remove the record, also attracting dust and particles in the immediate proximity. They may also be contaminated with factory dirt, packaging debris and release agent from the manufacturing process.
While your records should sound great if pressed correctly and mastered to a high quality, it is important to consider that this is an analogue medium, requiring regular cleaning and maintenance. If you love vinyl, the only way to properly clean your records is with a record cleaning machine.