How to clean a drum set?

Keeping your drum kit shiny and polished is not only a matter of cosmetics - letting your drums unattended for long can actually slightly affect their sound. Whether you like your drums shiny or not, cleaning and maintaining them does have an impact on your performance.

And you know what they say - the more you tend to something, the more you love it. If you either already have a set or you're asking around how much work there is around the drum kits, we give you all the simple steps that you need to do so your drums will be tip-top.

How to clean a drum set

The kind of dirt that gets stuck

Of course, any part of the drum that's in contact with air will eventually accumulate dust. Dust can affect the sound slightly especially if the drums are left unattended for a while. We all know how to clean dust, so that won't be the problem, especially after we go over in a bit the products that remove it effectively.

There are, however, hazards that go with the work and they are related to - wood! Drumsticks wear off over time and they need to be replaced, yes. But, there's also an issue with wood pieces and splinters that can fall off every time you hit the drum. Some of these pieces can get stuck in the rims of the drum and that can affect the sound the snare releases even more.

Having all this in mind, let's head to the shop and acquire the following goods.

Products for cleaning the drum set

You won't need much, especially for the dust. The wood residue from the drum sticks and anything else can be a little tricky (if you like to have a snack at the set especially), so here's what you need to have before taking your drums apart:

  • A few Cloths (microfiber or terry)
  • Brushes - 1 inch and 0.5 inch
  • Conditioner, for wood, such as lemon oil, etc.
  • Chrome polish, non-abrasive
  • A light lubricant (WD40 for example) for the moving parts
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Masking tape

Now, let's get to business! Follow the steps below to clean your drum kit thoroughly.

Take it apart

It's a blessing in disguise actually, but every drum set has its own way to be disassembled, so you better learn that before you begin. It won't be that hard, the manufacturers usually try their best to keep it as simple as possible. You've probably gotten all the kit you need for this job along with your drum set. Take your time.

What you'd additionally need to do is, of course, know how to re-assemble it back. Keep track of bolts and parts and where their place is. What you'll need for this job is to sort out the wood and metal, because you'll need to treat them with different cleaning products.

Rims first - brushing

Collect the toms and snare drums in one place and use the brushes to take out any residue that's been stuck in the rims. There will be some chipped wood pieces from the drum sticks. A bigger brush will do most of the work, and the smaller one is the back-up for the pieces that are too stubborn to get out.

Polish - metal

To avoid any corrosion or loss of color to your wood and skins, use the masking tape to protect the from the metal polish you're about to use. After you've done that, apply the polish in small amounts (until enough) to a terry cloth and polish the metal parts of your drums. Use another clean terry cloth to remove the polish and bring the metal parts to their shine.

Redo the said onto all the metal parts of your drums, like cymbals and hardware. It shouldn't be too difficult.

Polish - wooden

Now comes the wooden part of your baby - snare, tom, and bass drum will be as easy as a walk in a park. Remember the masking tape? Take it off. The next step is basically the same - use your wood conditioner (lemon oil gives nice protection), apply it evenly over the wooden surfaces with one terry cloth, and remove the excess with a clean one. Just in case, don't mix the cloths for metal and wood. 

Putting it back together

That's it - you're done cleaning! All you need to do is to re-assemble your drum kit and prepare it for the next session. The process is usually pretty simple if you remember which goes where, and the original manual makes it all the easier. Happy drumming!

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