Cleaning drums is a pretty simple process, and it doesn’t have to cost you much. Even those rusty-looking drum hoops can be made to shine like new without a lot of effort (and expense).
When it comes to cleaning your drum kit, you have three basic areas: the shells, the hardware and the cymbals.
Cleaning Drum Shells
A simple dusting with a soft cloth is really all you ever need to do. If you’ve done the unthinkable and let your kit get really dirty, try the following:
- one-half cup distilled white vinegar
- One-and-a-half cups water
Put the above into a spray bottle. Spray it on the drums and wipe off with a soft cloth. If you’ve got any built-up residue, the vinegar (and a little elbow grease) should take care of it.
You could finish things off with a little furniture polish, but my experience has been that once you do this the dust seems to show up even quicker on the drums.
Cleaning Drum Hoops and Other Hardware
Start off with the vinegar-water mix. If your chrome is in good shape, that will be all you need. If you have an older drum kit and the hardware is showing some rust, I’ve got a magical tip for you that will work in all but the worst circumstances: aluminum foil.
Yes, it’s that simple. I don’t know why it works (maybe a chemist can chime in), but it does the best job of anything I’ve ever seen – and it’s a lot lessy messy than chrome cleaners. It will turn your hands black, but what is a pair of dirty hands when it comes to having the shiniest drum hoops on the block?
You can watch the video to see how I do this, but it’s really just as simple as folding the foil into a square and rubbing it on the hoop, lug, or whatever is dirty. It’s much easier if you remove the hoop, as that allows you to get to the area that comes in contact with the drum head.
You will note that the video that accompanies this article is called “Cleaning Drums (and cymbals, if you must). The reason for the “if you must” part is that I don’t clean my cymbals anymore.
I spent hours doing it when I was younger, and it’s not easy work. But the main reason I don’t do it anymore is that I think cymbals, good ones anyway, sound better as they age. If you are constantly shining them up, they never seem to develop that “character” that makes drummers prize their cymbals above all other earthly possessions.
That said, if you really want clean and shiny cymbals, I recommend a product called Brasso. There are commercial cymbal cleaners, but I’ve not seen anything that works as well as this.
A note of caution, though: This stuff is messy! And the smell is pretty toxic. I recommend doing it outdoors, and be sure to have lots of rags and old newspaper on hand. Set aside plenty of time as well, because once you get started you don’t want to stop with a half-clean cymbal.
The best way to keep the dust from accumulating on your drums to sit down and play them! That’s the best cleaning drums tip I’ve got!