Always store your records in a cool, dry, dark environment in an upright position (never flat) that is high off the ground, and that provides some airflow around them.
Ideally each record would be stored in a polypropylene or Mylar plastic bag, with the record stored in its own poly inner sleeve outside of the record jacket. The closer that you can come to these ideals the longer your records should last, which can be a lifetime, or even become a family heirloom.
If you practice these guidelines on a daily basis and on a long term basis you will get the most possible enjoyment from your collection. You will come to learn that light scratches on good old vinyl is nothing to be overly concerned about and that with proper care and cleaning that they can actually come to sound better with repeated use.
Dirt and static electricity may cause good records to sound “scratchy”. A proper cleaning will remove dirt and static electricity from the vinyl. You may be very surprised to hear how good your records sound once cleaned. What you thought was noise caused by scratches may disappear.
An old or worn stylus will cause your records to sound bad or sound scratchy. This is because a worn stylus is getting down to the bottom of the record groove where there is no music. Understand that a stylus begins life shaped like an ellipse (rounded) and then wears down to a point and falls further down into the groove until it hits bottom. This is bad for your records. The music resides on the sides of the record groove and is where a new stylus (needle) sits while playing.
It doesn’t take very long searching the web to find dozens of articles about record cleaning using a variety of different methods and materials for cleaning vinyl records. Questions abound regarding the chemical cleaning agent, the type of brush, cloth, or machine to use for the best results.