How to Clean Drums

We understand the struggle of a drummer. You have a gig coming up soon and you cannot find the time to properly clean your gear. At the same time, it is likely that you are also finding difficulty in practicing due to your gear being dirty. Well, we have got you covered today. Here are some easy steps on how to clean drums.

How Drum Sets Gather Grime

Drum sets are played in all kinds of scenarios. They all do share a very common situation however. They are often played outdoors, and they are used in areas of large crowds. Whether you like it or not, this makes it difficult for the drums to stay clean.

The regular usage of drums also makes sure that your drums are collecting dirt and dust. Oils from your fingers and hands, moisture in the air and general tendency to collect dust makes drums to getting dirty.

Drum sets are not unplayable when they get dirty, but it is best for your hygiene under such a situation.

What you will be needing

How to Clean Drums
Photo by: PeopleImages

Here are some of the items you should go and get before getting started. They are available easily at your local music store, and mostly will come under a budget.

Microfiber cloth

A microfiber cloth is one that is composed of threads with a diameter of ten micrometers or less. These cloths are considered supreme for their ability to collect dirt and grime with ease. This also includes a polyester fiber technology, but we will not be diving into that. In short, it makes the cloth very prone to getting rid of dirt.

Drum Polish

Drum Polish is a simple solution available in music stores commonly. They are designed to clean metal and wood, and therefore does a good job of removing dirt from drums. They soften unwanted substances from the surfaces of drums without damaging the drum itself.

Lubricating Oil

Lubricating oil will be used to reduce the amount of friction between the metals and wood of a drum. This will also remove most squeaky noises you can hear when adjusting your drum set.

How to Clean the Hardware

Grab all the moving parts of your drums, including the stands. Place them somewhere on a table or on the floor. Snares, hi-hats and toms should be placed carefully without risking damage.

The Wood and Metal

The metals and the wood need to come in contact with the cleaning products. This means the metal must be spread or sprayed with lubricating oil, and the wood with drum polish. In  harsh conditions, you may find the wooden body of your drum to have dried up badly. You can ease this situation by polishing it properly.

After lubricating the metal parts, such as stands and pedals, wipe them properly. This makes sure they move easily without making any unwanted sounds.

Note: If any of the sections of the metallic parts have rusted away, the general advice is to take it to a professional technician. Removing rust is very difficult for someone without experience, as it involves usage of some very reactive acidic solutions. It may end up harming you or your drum set.

Bags and Cases

For the bags and cases, they can just be cleaned gently with soap and water if possible. You do not need to be too harsh when washing them as they are more sensitive than the rest of the drum, and can be damaged more easily.

Drum Shells

A lot of you came to this article to just read this portion, and we understand why. Drum shells make the main portion of the drums and are responsible for the sound. They will sound less resonant upon getting dirty and also risk the chances of cracking or deforming.

Wipe the Shells

Wipe down on your drum shells using the microfiber cloths this time. We do not recommend using paper towels at all as they run the risk of scratching your drum shell. To get a glossy finish when you are done, you can use some of the drum polish to properly get them clean, with a sheen!

Edged Portions

The edged parts of your drums, like a screw head, has probably gathered a lot of grime. Remove the dust or wood, and other grims slowly using conditioner if you have any available. You will see the improvement in minutes when you try to tune your drum set the next time.

Maintaining Cleanliness

Here are some things you can do to keep your drums clean.

Using Bags and Cases

It may seem like a hassle, but please pack your drum set when not using them. It protects them from not only dust and dirt, but other contamination too.

Temperature and Humidity

This is possibly the most important part of maintaining drums. Never leave your drum set in extreme conditions. It can not only make your drum set dirty, but possibly damage it. Too much heat can make it crack, too cold and it will deform.

The perfect temperature to keep a drum set in is room temperatures or slightly above. Adhesives and screws in the drum stay best under such temperature.

Humidity is important too as some areas have too much water content in the air. This can cause the drum set to become problematic. Water is an enemy for both wood and metal, and you should make sure it stays away from your drum set.

Regular cleaning

Clean your drum set after every show or concert. Stay away from ideas that doing this is too much of a hassle. It can cause severe damage to your drums in the long run.


These are some of the tips on how to clean your drums. We hope you found this article to be helpful and useful. Cleaning your drums is going to prove healthy and also financially beneficial for you in the long run.

You can also read: How to Tape Your Drumsticks

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