Not many musicians know how to keep their drum kit clean; most assume that it’s like furniture, and all that’s needed is a simple wipe with a dry dust cloth every now and then. However, it’s important to do a deeper clean regularly to really keep your kit looking fresh.
What Not to Do When Cleaning Drums
The most important thing to consider is the type of cleaner you use. Under no circumstances should you use an abrasive cleaner. Abrasives such as Ajax, or even certain bathroom cleaners, can permanently scratch your kit and damage the finish. The abrasiveness of the cleaner will gradually remove the paint and reveal the wood underneath, and then you will be stuck with an unprotected drum kit, liable to rot after a given time.
For cymbals and hardware, it is not recommended to use substances such as Brasso. You can get away with using DIY solutions that contain a lot less chemicals and are less harsh on the metal. With these commercial brass cleaners, you might also mark your kit. While this may not affect the sound, it can tarnish the kit and leave it permanently marked. If you do decide to use any of these products, make sure it is in a well-ventilated area, and also make sure you wear gloves. They often smell quite bad and the fumes are a potential danger.
How to Clean Drums with the Best Cleaning Solutions
There are a few homemade solutions that provide great cleaning power. Something as simple as a damp cloth will suffice when cleaning the drum heads. However, the coated shells might need something else. An effective and relatively cheap solution can be made up with a 50:50 mix of white vinegar and water. This will absorb any musty smell and won’t damage your drum kit.
For your chrome stands and hardware, you can use cleaner without ammonia. Avoid any cleaners with harsh chemicals, which don’t mix well with the coating on the drum shells. You can get away with using typical chrome cleaner, however, be careful not to get this on the drum shells.
The final thing to clean is the cymbals. There are several commercial cymbal cleaners available that can bring out a nice finish, without damaging the cymbal. When looking for a cleaner, make sure it mentions that it is non-abrasive. Wiping the cymbals with an abrasive cloth or cleaner can change the sound of the cymbals.
How to Look After your Drums
Once you have learned how to clean drums, you should think about waxing the shell. This will protect the drums for a while from dust and further degradation. Simple furniture polish is usually OK, but anything else like car wax or other commercial liquid waxes could damage the shell. Make sure not to excessively buffer the coating, as it can rub away.
When your kit is looking beautifully clean, it’s best to cover it with something, such as a bed sheet. If you do not do this, dust may settle on the drums and moisture may cause further damage and marks. Marks and a build-up of dirt will eventually act as an abrasive and give it a shorter life span. By taking the extra steps to keep your drumset clean, you can ensure years of playing and a
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