how to clean drum heads

Rhythm Revival: How to Clean Drum Heads Properly

Last Updated on August 14, 2023

As a drummer, I know how important it is to keep my drum heads clean. Not only does a dirty head sound bad, but it looks bad too! Cleaning and maintaining your drum heads may seem daunting at first, but really all you need is the right supplies and some knowledge of what works best for each type of head. In this article, I’m going to cover the basics of cleaning different types of drum heads so that you can keep your drums in tip-top shape!

In addition to the basics, I’ll also give you additional tips on how to prolong the life of your heads by preventing dirt build-up and taking care of hardware. With this guide in hand, you’ll be able to make sure every beat sounds as good as possible!

Duster and Water

Giving your drums a fresh feel doesn’t have to be a chore – just grab a duster and some water, and you’re good to go! Start by using the duster on the drum head to collect any dirt or residue that has built up. Then use a damp cloth with some water to wipe away any remaining marks on the metal part of the cymbal. Finally, use a clean cloth with just water to make sure there is no remaining dirt or residue left over. This will give your drums that freshly cleaned feeling without having to resort to harsher cleaning methods.

Soaps and Vinegar

Now it’s time to get your hands sudsy and make those drums sparkle! For cleaning drum heads, you’ll need a few supplies: paper towels, wood polish (if applicable), a lint-free cloth, soap (or cymbal cleaner if the drum head is made of metal) and a microfiber cloth for buffing. Additionally, you may want to use a non-ammonia window cleaner or towel in order to wipe down the frame and surrounding area.

Begin by wetting the lint-free cloth with warm water and wringing it out until damp. Gently scrub the top and bottom of both drum heads with this cloth, then rub some soap onto them using circular motions. Rinse off any residue with warm water before wiping them down gently with a dry cloth or paper towel. If there are wooden components involved on your drums, be sure to polish them accordingly after cleaning the heads. Finally, buff each head with a microfiber cloth until they shine like new!

Using these steps will help ensure that all components of your drum set are properly cleaned without damaging them in any way – leaving you ready to rock out with clean-sounding drums!

Alcohol and Prevention

You should be aware of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, as studies have found that those who drink heavily are up to four times more likely to suffer from depression. However, when it comes to cleaning drum heads, using a small amount of an alcohol-based cleaner can help to keep them looking their best for longer. When using any type of cleaner on your drum heads, or any part of your instrument for that matter, you should always use a soft cloth or microfiber towel and diluted soapy water or mild soap.

Cleaning MethodResults
Soft Cloth & Soapy Water/Mild SoapRemoves dirt and oils from chrome pieces & stick marks; Good for regular maintenance
Brushes & Warm WaterLoosens stubborn dirt buildup; Can cause damage if not used carefully
Alcohol-Based CleanersRemoves built-up grime without damaging the head; Use sparingly due to strength of product

It is important to note that all methods should be used with caution in order to avoid causing damage to the drum head. To ensure optimal results without causing harm, it is recommended that you only use a small amount of each cleaner and make sure you rinse thoroughly with warm water afterwards. As mentioned earlier, alcohol-based cleaners can be particularly strong, so take extra care when handling these products. All in all, understanding how different cleaning methods work will ensure your drums look at their best for longer – while avoiding any unnecessary damage!

Coated vs Clear Heads

a drum with various cymbals

Comparing coated and clear drum heads can be tricky, but it’s worth the effort to get the right sound for your kit. When considering different types of drum heads, you need to consider the materials they are made of and how this affects their ability to handle cleaning.

Coated drum heads have a thin layer of plastic that is applied over the top, whereas clear heads do not have this coating. This makes them more susceptible to sticky residue from cleaning chemicals like ammonia or grease, as well as abrasive cleaners. Cleaning solutions should not be used on electronic drums either, as they could damage the sensitive components inside them.

When it comes to cleaning your drum heads, you’ll have different considerations depending on whether you use a coated or clear head. Coated drums require special care when cleaning so that you don’t damage or strip off their protective plastic layer. It’s important to use a milder cleaner if needed and avoid harsh chemicals like ammonia-based ones, which could cause discoloration or streaks on the head. Clear drums are more durable and can take harsher cleaners without any negative effects – making them easier to clean overall.

Having an understanding of both coated and clear drum heads is key when choosing how best to clean them in order to maintain their condition and keep getting great sounds out of your kit! By selecting the right type of cleaner for each head type and avoiding any abrasive materials or strong chemicals, you can ensure that your drums will stay in good shape for years to come while giving you great-sounding music every time you hit them!

Plastic-based Cleaning

Discovering the right plastic-based cleaner for your drum heads can be a challenge, but with a little bit of research and experimentation, you’ll be able to find the perfect solution – like a needle in a haystack! Depending on the type of product and finish on your drums, you may need to consider different cleaning solutions, as some products can damage skin, chrome or other materials. For instance, if you have bass drums or drum pads with plastic surfaces, use a cloth dampened with water and mild soap or an all-purpose cleaner that is nonabrasive. Avoid harsh chemicals such as window cleaners when cleaning any drum hardware.

When it comes to cleaning dirty drums, special attention should be paid to areas around lugs and lug casings where bits of dirt tend to accumulate. You may want to invest in a quality instrument cleaner such as Groove Juice which will help keep your drums looking shiny and new. Additionally, make sure the edges are clean by using either an old drum key or soft cloths that won’t scratch off coatings or leave remaining residue behind.

For more delicate pieces, such as wooden pieces or cymbal stands, try making your own homemade cleaner with white vinegar instead of harsher chemicals. A bit of elbow grease will also go along way towards lifting away any dirt and grime without damaging the material’s surface. With these tips in mind and careful consideration given towards what kind of product works best for each musical instrument component, you’ll be able to effectively clean your entire setup without having to worry about sacrificing sound quality. Transitioning into animal skin cleaning requires just as much care, so it’s important that extra time is taken when giving each piece its due diligence in upkeep.

Animal Skin Cleaning

Caring for your animal skin drums requires special attention, as the wrong cleaner can cause discoloration or damage. Start by carefully wiping down the drum shells and bearing edges with a bit of water and a wet cloth. Then, using a diluted dish soap and warm water, clean the entire drum kit, paying particular attention to the bearing edges. Avoid ammonia-based cleaners as they may damage or discolor the drum heads and hoops. Treat your animal skin drums with caution to ensure they last for many years of use.

When cleaning an animal skin drum head, always use lukewarm water and a mild detergent such as liquid dish soap. Avoid scrubbing too hard, as it can cause irreparable damage to your drums’ skins! Instead, gently rub the dirt away using soft circular motions. Always be sure to rinse off all detergent completely before drying each part of your drum kit thoroughly afterwards with a dry cloth.

By taking extra care when cleaning animal skin drums, you can prevent any unnecessary wear and tear on them over time while maintaining their quality sound output. With proper maintenance in place, you will soon be able to enjoy playing all parts of your drum kit without worrying about any potential issues arising from poor upkeep habits!

Additional Cleaning Tips

Maintaining your animal skin drums is like polishing a prized gem, and with these extra cleaning tips, you can ensure they stay sparkling for years to come! Regular maintenance of your drum set’s chrome hardware is essential to keep it looking like new. Here are some useful tools that can help:

  • Metal polish to remove rust and oxidation from metal parts
  • Chrome cleaner to wipe away dirt and grease buildup
  • Chrome hardware cleaner for overall shine restoration
  • Chrome polish to add a protective coating that won’t flake off

You should also make sure all the pieces of your drum sets are properly oiled and lubricated. This will allow them to move freely without squeaking or sticking. Finally, take special care when handling the animal skins on your drums, as even gentle scrubbing could damage them. With regular maintenance and these extra care tips, your drums will stay pristine for many years.

Hardware Maintenance

a musical studio with blue drums

Keeping your drum set’s hardware in top shape is essential for a great sound, so don’t forget to give it the care it deserves! This includes regularly lubricating all moving parts, such as the tension rods and pedal chains. Also, make sure to double-check that all screws are securely fastened. If any are loose or missing, replace them immediately with ones of the same size. Additionally, examine your cymbal stands for rust and corrosion or any signs of wear and tear. Tighten them up if necessary, and make sure they feel secure when you’re playing.

It’s also important to clean off your hardware after each practice session or gig because dirt and grime can accumulate on metal surfaces quickly. Use a damp cloth to wipe down everything, including the lugs, rims, washers, brackets, struts, arms and clamps. You may need something like steel wool for more stubborn dirt spots, but be careful not to scratch the metal surface accidentally while cleaning. Lastly, don’t forget about taking care of your hi-hat stand by regularly cleaning out its clutch mechanism, which will help prevent sticking over time due to accumulated debris inside it.

Maintaining proper hygiene around drumming equipment is often overlooked, but it really does have an effect on how well your drums sound in addition to ensuring longevity of their parts. With some regular TLC applied here and there, you’ll be able to enjoy a better-sounding kit for years ahead!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to store drum heads?

Storing drum heads properly is crucial to ensure they stay in good condition. I always make sure to keep my drum heads away from direct sunlight, as this can cause them to dry out and become brittle. Additionally, I recommend storing the drum heads in a cool, dry place where there isn’t too much moisture. If you must store the drums outside of their original packaging, use a cloth or plastic bag to cover them and protect against dust particles. Finally, make sure that you don’t leave the drum heads under any kind of pressure for long periods of time, as this can cause warping or cracking.

How often should drum heads be replaced?

Drum heads should be replaced on average every 6-9 months. This may vary depending on frequency of use, type of drum head and environment the drums are stored in. It’s important to regularly check your drum heads for signs of wear and tear, such as cracking, warping or loss of tension. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to replace your drum head right away.

What is the best way to clean drum heads on the go?

I’m a drummer on the go, and I know that keeping my drum heads clean is essential for getting the best sound out of them. Cleaning my drum heads while traveling can be tricky, but there’s an easy way to do it: moisten a cloth with some water and gently wipe off dust and dirt. It’s just like wiping down your car windows – you don’t want to use too much pressure or scrub too hard, as it could damage the surface of the drum head. This simple cleaning method will keep your drums sounding great while you’re on the road!

Are there any special considerations for cleaning vintage drum heads?

When it comes to cleaning vintage drum heads, there’s a few important considerations you should keep in mind. Firstly, try to use gentler cleaning products that won’t damage the delicate material of older drum heads. Additionally, be careful when removing and replacing them, as they may be more fragile than modern drums. Finally, make sure to oil any metal components regularly to prevent rusting or corrosion. Taking these special considerations into account will help you keep your vintage drum heads looking and sounding great for years to come.


Cleaning drum heads is important to keep them sounding their best. It’s not hard once you know the right techniques, and with a little effort, you can extend the life of your heads. There’s no need to worry about drums drying out if they’re cleaned properly; in fact, they should stay well-conditioned and protected from environmental damage. And don’t forget that regular hardware maintenance is also an essential part of keeping your kit in top shape. So go ahead and take care of your drums – it’ll be worth it!

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