I get a lot of questions from students and drum buddies about how I would suggest cleaning cymbals. People have forwarded me links to all kinds of insanely overpriced cleaning products as well as videos of people bathing their cymbals in a their bath tub and using buffing tools and all kinds of craziness.
After 20 years of trial and error, a lot of touring, playing in the rain and mud, cutting my hands and smearing blood all over my cymbals…, I’d like to help take some of the mystery away.
Here’s all you need:
– Two small (hand) towels
– One can of Pledge Lemon Clean (about $5 at any supermarket or pharmacy)
Lay cymbal on a flat surface (table) on top of a towel of blanket. I don’t recommend laying it on the floor. You wouldn’t be the first person to stand up, lose his balance and step on the cymbal! Spray small amount of Pledge onto cymbal (but make sure entire surface is lightly covered). Wipe in circular motions along with the grooves of the cymbal with towel #1 until surface becomes smooth and cleaning product disappears. Wipe with towel #2 to really shine the cymbal.
That’s it! You’ll notice that the Pledge product creates a super smooth, somewhat slippery film on your cymbal. This is a huge bonus! Dust and water (sweat) will roll right off of the cymbal (just like Turtle wax on a car), and finger prints will be caught by the film and won’t stick to the cymbal itself easily. They’ll come off super easy. Just one wipe with a towel!
For drummers who play a lot, I suggest you do this with all your cymbals about once a month or more. Plus, always wipe off finger prints after playing. Acid in your sweat is nasty stuff. It will actually eat into your cymbal and contribute to your cymbals cracking.
If your cymbal is a little more dirty than Pledge can handle, just use hand soap or dish detergent and a wet towel (dispense soap/detergent onto towel, not onto cymbal directly). Rub along with the grooves of the cymbal. Then wipe with other end of the wet towel (that has no soap in it) to remove soap, and dry with clean, dry towel. Then apply Pledge and shine with clean towel to apply protective film.
For more severely dirty cymbals, I strongly recommend PAISTE Cymbal Cleaner (also for other cymbal brands). Use as directed. That stuff will make the dirtiest, oldest cymbal look like new. Then treat with Pledge to apply protective film.
NEVER NEVER NEVER use industrial brass/metal/chrome polish or jewelry cleaner. Those products contain chemicals that will severely damage the cymbal and contribute to cracks appearing more easily.
Pledge is very gentle and will not affect logo prints. PAISTE Cymbal Cleaner could damage a logo print if you rub on the logos excessively, which you shouldn’t! When using the PAISTE Cleaner, rub in circular motions along with the grooves on the cymbal. Simply release pressure off the towel when going over the logo and apply pressure again once you’ve gone over it.
If your logos have faded to the point where they are practically gone, you can always contact your cymbal’s manufacturer. Almost all manufacturers sell logo replacement kits or will accept consumers to send in their cymbals and have them re-stamped at the factory.
If you want to actually remove the logos/prints off your cymbal, simply use nail polish remover (acetone). Apply a small quantity of remover on a towel/rag (NEVER onto the cymbal directly!) and gently rub in small motions onto the print. Clean with water and soap immediately after and then dry with a towel.
A lot of people also run out to buy cleaning products from their local music store because they figure water and cymbals are a bad combo so they can’t use water and soap. Your cymbals will not rust from cleaning them with water (and soap), as long as you make sure you dry the cymbal thoroughly (but, unlike another myth says, NEVER use a hair dryer to dry your cymbal!).
Pledge is also AMAZING for cleaning/protecting your drums. For drums, I suggest using an old (but clean) t-shirt rather than a towel (turn the t-shirt inside-out if it has a print on it). A rough towel could scratch a delicate finish.
Once the Pledge film is applied, dust will have a hard time actually collecting on your drums. And when it does, all you have to do is run an old t-shirt/soft rag over them and the dust will fall right off.
I wouldn’t use Pledge on hardware. Your hardware would be so slippery, it would be a nightmare to set up and break down your kit. A clean towel without any cleaning product works great. Chrome shines easily just by rubbing it with a towel or cloth. To get dust out of hard to reach places in your hardware, pedals or drums, just use compressed air (you know, one of those cans you use you blow the dust and crumbs out of your keyboard).