Drumset Maintenance

Maintaining a drumset a simple thing, assuming you do it regularly. If you allow yourself to let your kit fall into disrepair, you’ll be creating avoidable problems for yourself. Proper maintenance will keep it looking new and sounding great.

Here are some ideas...

Drums & Hardware


Chrome is found all over the drumset; tom mounts, lugs, stands, and rims are usually chrome plated. Chrome can be ruined by moisture so keeping your equipment dry is important. You should wipe down the chrome on your kit with a fluffy terry cloth towel once a week, at least. If you play somewhere cool or move your equipment from a cold car to a warm club, condensation may form on the metal parts of your drums. This should be wiped away immediately to prevent rust. If dirt, pitting, or rust builds up, you can use 00 (two-oh) steel wool to clean it off, but a finer wool, such as 0000 (four-oh), is preferred. If you buy a piece of equipment that is severely rusted, a 0 (one-oh) piece of steel wool soaked in gasoline or Naptha helps cut through rust and filth. A metal polish such as Noxon can also be used on metal surfaces, excluding cymbals.

Plastic Wrap Finishes

Maintaining a plastic wrap is simple. If dirt, snot, vomit, or blood contacts your wrap, simple dishwashing or hand washing soap and warm water will take it right off. Windex and other ammonia-based cleaners tend to leave the finish a bit dull, so I’d avoid them. Do not use anything abrasive such as steel wool, scouring pads, or abrasive cleaners like Soft Scrub. They will scratch the plastic.

Lacquered Finishes

Again, warm, soapy water works best to clean off dirt or other gross build up. Pledge furniture polish works well to keep them shiny. Guitar polish (I prefer Gibson, Fender and Martin work well too) also helps to shine them up. Again do not use any abrasive cleaners.


Lugs can lose their smoothness over time. To get them loose again, apply a small amount of lithium grease or Vaseline to the lug insert with a Q-Tip or toothpick and gently screw the tension rod into the lug. If lithium grease or Vaseline is unavailable, 3-in-1 oil (sewing machine oil) can be applied to the lower threads of the tension rod temporarily. Do not use a silicone lubricant such as WD-40 because it will remove any old lubricant and will dry up quickly.


Cleaning cymbals is a delicate process. I will explain the method I use and mention some other techniques others have found useful.

Zildjian & Sabian

I use three things when I clean my cymbals: Windex, Zildjian Professional Cymbal Polish (blue stuff in the tube), and car wax, all of which are applied and removed with paper towels. I use this method on Zildjian and Sabian cymbals, traditional and brilliant finish. I first spray the cymbal with Windex, removing any surface grime. I then apply the Zildjian polish, concentrating on heavily tarnished or scuffed areas. Be careful with cymbal cleaners, most will remove your logos if you go over them. After removing the polish, I look at the cymbal and see if there are any tough spots that didn’t get clean enough and re-apply the polish to those areas. Heavily tarnished cymbals may require 2-3 applications of polish to the entire surface of the cymbal.

Keep in mind that traditional finish cymbals aren’t supposed to look like brilliants so don’t waste your time trying to get a traditional to have a mirror-like shine. I again spray the cymbal with Windex to clean off any remaining polish. Making sure it is dry, I apply the car wax. The wax helps deter fingerprints and doesn’t alter the sound of the cymbal (to my ears anyway). It is best to use a car wax containing caranuba wax, that is solid or very pasty, and that is NOT a cleaner-wax. Apply the wax in the direction of the grooves, letting it dry to a haze, but not dry completely. Buff it off, and your set.


If you have Paiste cymbals, only use soapy water or Paiste brand cymbal cleaner. Paiste cymbals are coated with a special finish and any other cleaning methods can screw it up.

Other folks have used products such as Groove Juice and Wright’s Copper Cream with excellent results. I have used Sabian Clean Spray and didn’t like it. Don’t use Brasso, abrasive cleaners, or steel wool. It’s better to have a dirty cymbal than a ruined one.

Warning :) It is sacrilege to clean an Old K.

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