How to Clean the Drums

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Last updatedLast updated: May 04, 2021
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Drums are like any other musical instrument. They will catch dust and dirt that will negatively affect their performance. It’s even worse if your drums start to rust and lose the chrome’s gleam.

That’s why it’s crucial to maintain your drums, and there are lots of benefits of doing so. For instance, you’ll enjoy increased sound quality and seeing your drum set shining all over, whether it’s in your home or on stage. Experts also add that drums are costly, so you should care for yours to avoid frequent repairs and replacements.

Cleaning a drum set can be confusing if you’ve never done it before since they have several components like cymbals and tom-toms that need different care.

You’ll not only use a damp cloth to wipe off the dirt but invest in better cleaning accessories to clean your equipment well.

In this guide, we will cover how you can clean your drums and everything you’ll need for the entire process.

How often should I clean my drum set?

To care for your drums, it’s essential to know how often you should clean it.

Experts say it will depend on the amount of time you spend playing your drum set. If you use it daily, spot clean it immediately after use. You can also do periodic cleaning every 5 to 6 months depending on use. This ensures that your drum set is in shape, so it doesn’t inconvenience you when it’s time to play.

If you have lessons, we recommend dusting your drums weekly and checking for loose stuff and dings.

You can cover your drum with a sheet to prevent dust from entering to reduce the cleaning burden.

Overall, depending on your schedule, you can do deep cleaning once or twice a year. And spend time on lighter tasks like dusting your equipment once or twice a quarter.

Tools you’ll need

How to Clean the DrumsDrums sets have lots of parts, meaning you may need some specific tools to streamline the cleaning process and, in this section, we’ll discuss all of them.

First, look for a non-abrasive cleaner like Windex, and 409 which are all ammonia-based. We don’t recommend using cleaners like Comet, Ajax that can damage your drum set’s parts.

If you prefer to use a homemade cleaner, go for a 50-50 water and vinegar solution. White spirit also works well.

The other tools you’ll need include a finishing wax, masking tape, and metal polish.

We also don’t advocate for using any degreasing agents. You can use cloth, preferably an old T-shirt, for cleaning.

Zero wire wool works well for cleaning the lug cases. It’s even better if you can afford a chrome cleaner though we noted it’s prone to deposit residue.

For the metal loops, pick a chrome cleaner and metal polish like the one from Autosol to scrap off the residues. You should wipe it off with an old t-shirt after it dries.

How to clean the drumheads

How to Clean the DrumsThere are two types of drum heads: clear plastic and coated head drum head.

But what we love most about them is, they’re all easy to clean, but the differences come in what you’ll use for cleaning.

If you have a plastic head, use a non-ammonia window cleaner to thoroughly clean and eradicate residue, stick marks, and dirt. Rub your drumhead in a round motion while looking for signs of dirt or marks. You’ll have to scrub slightly harder to remove tough stains.

But if you own a coated head, a damp piece of cloth works well. As you do the cleaning, remember that it’s normal for some coating to flake off.

Experts warn against pouring water on the drum heads as that can negatively affect their overall quality. Some oils are risky as they tend to soften or damage the drum. Remember, if your drum is in poor condition after cleaning, get a replacement or repair from your nearest store.

Overall, you should clean your drum heads in the gentlest way possible, whether you have a plastic or coated one. And if you’re having trouble removing some residue, it’s okay to get an extra hand.


How to clean the drum shells

Drum shells are prone to come into contact with dust and particles chewed up from the drumstick.

And cleaning it is super-easy with the following steps.

  • First, you’ll have to remove the loop and the head. Ensure your tension rods are safe by placing them on one side.
  • Remove the lugs slowly and place them somewhere safe. Beware of the screws and all the parts connecting to it. Also, it’s unnecessary to strip the lugs but if possible, do it to get consistent results.
  • Next, cover your badges with concealing tape. You should do this because assembling and disassembling it is often a big hassle. After that, get a sharp blade and cut near the outline while avoiding contact with the shell.
  • Using a good cleaner, spray the shell cleaner and use a microfiber cloth like The Rag Company all-purpose cleaning towels that is made from premium polyester. It withstands several washings and gets softer with time. Ensure you wipe gently using the microfiber so that you don’t scratch the shell.
  • Use a good polishing agent like glass cleaners or T-Cut for a perfect finish.
  • Put the hardware back on the shell and add a tiny drop of oil on all the tension rods.

The next step is to return the hoops and tighten your rod.How to Clean the Drums

How to clean the bearing edge

Like all other parts of your drum set, the bearing edges also collect dust and dirt.

And however small it attracts; you’ll notice a significant impact on the overall sound quality.

The good news is the bearing edge is also easy to clean.

  • First, get a damp cloth and a cleaner.
  • Remove the drum’s head and dry clean the edges with the damp cloth. Sometimes you may find tough spots or debris stuck on the edges, and in such a case, use extra fine steel wool to scrub them off.
  • Ensure you follow the shell’s circumference. While doing so, don’t mess with your edge’s profile and shape.
  • After you are satisfied that your edge is clean, it’s time to return the head. But before that, you can apply a reasonable amount of Carnauba wax on edge, then polish it with your rag for a smooth finish. Experts also say that 320 grit sandpaper for polishing the edges.

You’ll notice a great improvement in your tuning and head setting up your drum kit.

How to clean the cymbals

How to Clean the DrumsThough cymbals are not prone to contact dust or dirt, they will if you leave them unused for long.

And to get them back into shape, you’ll have to clean them thoroughly. However, with continued use, your cymbal’s coating wears off, so it loses its protection against dirt and dust.

And that results in weird sounds when playing. This shows you the importance of cleaning this equipment using both basic and advanced methods available.

Experts say that you shouldn’t confuse cleaning with polishing when it comes to cleaning cymbals.

With cleaning, you’ll remove all the dirt, dust, and fingerprints on the equipment.

Regarding, you’ll need special cleaning agents and cleaners like elbow grease, among others.

Here’s the process:

  • First, get a damp clean cloth and start wiping out the fingerprints. Dip the cloth in a mixture of soapy, warm water and dry it off fast.
  • After wiping your cymbals, don’t place your hands on the surface, or you’ll have to do the work again. Instead, hold them with the edges and wipe slowly. Though polishing your cymbals is awesome, we don’t recommend doing it multiple times as the coating can start wearing off.
  • Use a cymbal cleaner like Groove Juice Cleaner that removes all residue and moisture on your cymbal. We love that it restores the brightness fast. Next, apply it on your microfiber cloth uniformly on your cymbal. You can either use a dry cloth or run warm water on your cymbals to remove the polish.

How to clean the hardware

How to Clean the DrumsAs much as you focus on cleaning the cymbals and shells, it’s essential to care for and maintain your equipment’s hardware the right way.

To clean the hardware, you’ll have to strip down everything, so you focus on one piece at a time.

The tools you need for this task include a screwdriver, cordless drill, metal polish, and a good polishing cloth.

You can invest in optional accessories, including a good brush, drum key lubrication agent, and fine steel wool.

So, follow this process:

  • Start by removing the head and setting it apart from the other components. As you do so, you can soak the rods in spirit so that they stay fresh. By removing the head and the rims, you’ll be able to access the lug’s screws easily.
  • Next, loosen the lug screw with your screwdriver or cordless drill or wrench. Remember, this is an inside job. You may get some springs and rubber gaskets between the hardware and the shell so ensure you store them properly.
  • After you’ve stripped down your shell, the next step is to clean your drums well. You can wipe it clean with a good rag and polish with Pledge.
  • Clean your hoops using a cloth. If you notice any tough stains, then use wire wool. Get a brush to clean the lugs and the tension rods.

How to clean electronic drums

Electronic drums are easy to clean, but you’ll need the right equipment for the task, like a damp cloth, a brush, masking tape, and non-abrasive chrome polish.

Here are the steps:

  • Disassemble your drum pads. You may have to use a screwdriver to loosen critical components. Also, disassemble the wooden pieces.
  • The next step is to tidy up the rims. Remember, every time you strike your drum, particles of the chipped wood pieces accumulate on your rim and reduce music quality. You should use the brush to remove the particles. Then use a cloth to wipe off the particles. Depending on your preferences, you can polish the rim.
  • Next, clean your cymbals using warm soapy water and a rag. And polish it with a protectant to give it a fresh look.
  • Using a damp cloth, wipe your machine’s hardware. You can use the tape to mask the wooden pieces while cleaning the interior. Experts recommend using a wet cloth and a gloss cream for cleaning. Try and access all the hard-to-reach sections of your hardware for uniform cleaning.
  • Last, clean the drum shell’s exterior and interior to remove all fingerprints, dust, and dirt.

Final thoughts

It’s good to clean your drum kit whether you use it multiple times or not. If you care for it well, you’ll enjoy a consistent sound quality during your playing sessions. But if you don’t, you’ll hear a lighter to heavier sound, which is embarrassing. The good thing is, we’ve walked you through all the ways you can clean your drum fast. You can also cover your drum with a sheet or blanket to prevent dust build-up every time you’re not using it. All the processes we’ve mentioned are super-easy if you have the tools above.

Remember, if you notice a great drop in your sound quality even after thoroughly cleaning your equipment, it’s best to get a repair or replacement.

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