How do you clean the skin on a drum, or the drumheads on a drum kit? It depends on the type of material the drum is made of. Traditional drums made of actual goat skin or similar materials, and they require different cleaning techniques than the plastic drum heads featured on most rock-style drum kits. While cleaning plastic drum heads is less vital, knowing how to clean the skin on a drum made of natural materials is important to the longevity and sound quality of the drum,
To clean the skin on a drum made of goat skin or other natural skins, you will need:
- Lotion or lanolin-based cream
- Soft cloth
- Massage or teak oil
- Use a soft, damp cloth to clean the skin on a drum. Don't use too much water, as water will cause the skin to loosen, changing its sound. Too much water can stretch the drum enough to make it unplayable. It will work again once it's dry, but too much stretching could damage the head, so keep this in mind when you clean the skin on a drum.
- Treat the drum skin with lotion. Lotions or lanolin-based creams can help maintain the suppleness of the drum skin, especially for a drum that is played with sticks, such as a bodhran. Drums played with the hands absorb oils from your skin and so do not necessarily need additional oils. Many drummers put massage oil on their hands before they begin to play to condition the skins a bit more, and periodically treat the drum with teak oil
For plastic drum heads, use:
- A cleaning cloth
Ammonia-free window cleaner
- Use a camp cloth to clean coated drum heads. Most marks and accumulated dirt on coated drum heads can be removed with water and a cleaning cloth. Some scrubbing might be necessary for more stubborn marks.
- Clean clear drum heads with window cleaner. Clear, uncoated drum heads can be cleaned with window cleaner, but be sure it's ammonia-free. Ammonia will damage the drum heads, especially if used over time.
For a thorough cleaning of the drum kit, heads can be removed before cleaning, and the insides of the drums can be wiped down with a damp cloth.