How To Clean Cymbals: 6 Methods To Try!

Welcome to my article all about how to clean cymbals!

Like other instruments, drums need to be cleaned and cared for to keep them looking and sounding their best.

This is particularly important with cymbals since their usual shine gets dull and they lose their crisp sound when they’re caked in dirt and grime.

Luckily, there are several methods that you can try when learning how to clean cymbals(professional cymbal cleaning service)to keep that clear sound and eye-catching shine.

Let’s dive right in!

How To Clean Cymbals: 6 Methods!

Microfiber Cloth

If your cymbals aren’t overly dirty, you may be able to remove what has collected using a microfiber cloth.

Microfiber is soft and non-abrasive, so it won’t scratch the cymbal’s surface as you wipe it.

Be sure to use gloves to avoid leaving behind any skin oil or fingerprints.

You may also want to hold the cymbals by the sides during cleaning to prevent any new blemishes from marring the surface.

Here’s how to clean cymbals using a microfibre cloth:

  1. Remove the cymbal from the drum set.
  2. Using a circular motion, wipe the entire surface of each cymbal with a microfibre cloth. This removes dust or light dirt that may be coating the metal. Be gentle to avoid leaving any scratches, dents, or bends.
  3. If the surface is clean after wiping, replace the cymbal on the drum set and move on to the next one.

If not, you can try a deeper clean using one of the following methods.

Cymbal Cleaner

A cymbal cleaner is a product that is designed to clean the metal of the cymbal and contains safe, non-abrasive ingredients that won’t damage the surface.

Many cymbal manufacturers have their own brand of cymbal cleaner, though there are cheaper options available if you want to save money.

Follow the instructions on your specific cymbal cleaner to use it, but here is a general guide:

  1. Spray the cleaner over the entire surface of the cymbal, coating it evenly.
  2. Take a soft brush, like a toothbrush, and gently scrub the entire cymbal.
  3. When all of the dirt has been removed, rinse the cymbal with warm water and dry it well.

View Cymbal Cleaner on Amazon Here!

Soap and Water

If you don’t have any cymbal cleaner, you can use a mild dish detergent and warm water to clean the cymbals.

Due to the gentleness of the detergent, you can even soak them for a while to remove thick coatings of dirt from the metal.

For this method:

  1. Find a bin that is big enough to hold the largest of the cymbals.
  2. Fill it with warm water and add some detergent.
  3. Submerge one of the cymbals. Do not place more than one cymbal in the bin at a time or they could be scratched as they rub against each other in the water.
  4. Let the cymbal soak for a few minutes
  5. Use a soft brush to gently scrub away the grime. If it is difficult to remove, soak the cymbal for a few more minutes and then try scrubbing it again.
  6. Once the cymbal is clean, dry it thoroughly and set it aside.
  7. Soak and scrub the remaining cymbals.


As well as normal cleaning products, there are a few household items that you can use to clean your cymbals if you want to try them out.

One option is toothpaste, which is cheap to buy and gentle on the metal of the cymbals, giving it a shine without any damage to the surface.

To use toothpaste to clean your cymbals:

  1. Remove them from the drum kit.
  2. Take one of the cymbals and coat the entire surface with the toothpaste, leaving no visible metal.
  3. Set the cymbal aside and coat the next one.
  4. Repeat this until all the cymbals are coated.
  5. Leave them for a few hours to give the toothpaste time to break down the grime that is discoloring the metal and altering its sound.
  6. When the soaking time is up, use a clean cloth to wipe away the toothpaste.

The paste is somewhat sticky, so you can also use some warm water to remove it completely.

The metal beneath the toothpaste should have a lovely shine. If not, you can repeat the toothpaste method on the areas that are still dirty.

Then dry the cymbal completely.


how to keep cymbals clean

Ketchup may seem like an odd choice as a cleanser but its acidic quality breaks down the layers of dirt coating the cymbals in no time.

Of course, this acidity can also damage the metal if left on too long, so be sure to monitor the cymbals carefully when trying this method.

To begin, coat the entire surface of the cymbal with ketchup, ensuring none of the metal is visible.

Set the cymbal aside for a few minutes to give the ketchup time to loosen up the caked-on dirt.

You can add ketchup to the other cymbals during this time.

When the cymbal is ready to be cleaned, use a soft cloth or brush to gently scrub it.

After scrubbing the entire surface, rinse the cymbal with warm water, removing all of the ketchup.

Then dry it thoroughly and set it aside while you clean the next cymbal.

Vinegar and Lemon Juice

Using vinegar and lemon juice is a great method for cleaning cymbals since these two ingredients are cheap and you only need small amounts to get the job done.

The downside is that vinegar is more abrasive than the other household options, so you need to be extra careful with it.

This is especially true around the logos since the vinegar could damage these areas.

For this method:

  1. Spread a bit of fresh lemon juice over the surface of the cymbal, coating it lightly.
  2. Pour the vinegar over the lemon juice.
  3. Use your gloved fingers to spread the vinegar over the metal, avoiding any logos.
  4. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to break down the grimy layers.
  5. When the dirt has loosened, use a damp cloth to wipe the metal surface.

You can start with a small section to be sure the dirt is coming off.

If not, leave the cymbal for a few more minutes to give the solution more time to work.

When the cymbal is clean and the two ingredients are removed, dry the metal well.

How To Polish Cymbals

Though the cleaning process will have given your cymbals a brighter look, adding some polish will have them shining like new.

This step doesn’t need to be done every time you clean them, especially since the abrasiveness of the polish can damage the metal if used too often.

To polish your cymbals:

  1. Add a small amount of polish to a soft microfiber cloth.
  2. Rub it into a small section of the metal using clockwise circles.
  3. Work your way over the entire cymbal, wiping away any excess polish as you go.

View Cymbal Polish on Amazon Here!

How To Keep Cymbals Clean

Cleaning your cymbals isn’t a fun task, so if you want to do this as infrequently as possible, you may want to take steps to prevent excessive dirt and grime build-up.

One option is to use a drum cover when you’re not actually playing your drums.

You can use an actual drum cover or even an old sheet to keep the dust off.

When traveling, place the cymbals in a hard case to keep them clean and prevent any damage if they get bumped.

If you have to carry your cymbals, touch only the edges with the palms of your hands to keep any oil or moisture from your hands off the metal, and wipe them down whenever you do have to touch them.

How To Clean Cymbals: Conclusion

I hope this article has given you a few ideas on the best way to keep your cymbals shiny and clean!

If you enjoyed this article, here are a few more that you may also like to read:

How To Clean Coins with Coke
Essential Oils for Mold