How To Clean Drum Sets

Knowing how to clean drum sets is an important skill for drummers. Just like any musical instrument, drum sets need regular cleaning to keep them sounding their best. Because drum sets consist of a number of parts, many of them made from different types of materials, a different cleaning approach is necessary for the various pieces. Knowing what kind of cleaner and what kind of cleaning approach to use for each part is important to keeping them in good shape and not causing accidental damage.

  • To clean a drum set you will need:
  • Warm, soapy water
  • Non-ammonia cleaner
  • Clean, soft clothes
  • Cymbal cleaner
  • Chrome cleaner
  1. Remove the drum heads. For a thorough cleaning, remove the drum heads to clean inside the shells. Since a cleaning this thorough is only necessary periodically, cleaning the drum set at the same time you replace the heads can help you be sure you clean on a reasonable schedule.
  2. Clean inside the shells. Wipe both the inside and the outside of the shells with a soft cloth to remove dust and dirt. Dirt that doesn't come off with a wipe down can be removed with soap and water or a non-ammonia cleaner.
  3. Clean the chrome and stands. Chrome must be kept dry to prevent damage. Remove any moisture after performances or rehearsals if condensation has developed or any other moisture has spilled on the chrome. If rust develops, you can remove it with a very fine steel wool. Chrome can also be cleaned with chrome cleaner, but be careful not to get cleaner on other parts of the drum, as chrome cleaners can damage other materials.
  4. Clean the drum heads. If you're replacing the drum heads while you're cleaning the drum set, they won't need cleaning, but if you have older heads, you can clean them with soap and water if they're coated heads, or with non-ammonia cleaners if they're not.
  5. Clean the cymbals. Cleaning cymbals is a more specialized task than cleaning the drum set itself. Cleaners meant specifically for cleaning cymbals are least likely to cause damage or affect the sound in the long term. Metal cleaners such as Brasso are not generally a good choice, as they are overly abrasive and could ruin the cymbals.


  • Don't use abrasive cleaners. Any abrasive cleaners used while cleaning your drum set could cause damage to the drums.
  • Wipe the drum set down after every performance or rehearsal. Just clearing the dust and incidental dirt from the drum set can help reduce the need for more intensive cleaning.
  • Keep the drum set covered when not in use. When you're not using the drums, keeping the set covered with a sheet can reduce dust and dirt buildup so that you spend less time overall cleaning your drum set.
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