How to Clean Cymbals Properly in 5 Steps​

January 8, 2024

In this article I will explain how to clean cymbals properly.

Additionally, I’ll address some frequently asked questions such as “Can I clean cymbals with household items?” and “How can I clean them without removing the logo?”

Now, let’s dive right into it.

Renowed cymbal companies like Paiste and Meinl have their recommendations for cleaning cymbals properly and they are all pretty much the same. I’ve combined that information with my years of expertise to give you a simple guide to getting your cymbals sparkling clean.

What you need

 – Duct tape (or any other strong tape) – Use this to protect your cymbal logo.

 – Professional cymbal cleaner – Both Paiste and Meinl like other cymbals companies all recommend using professional cymbal cleaner on their cymbals. Meinl has even developed two additional products for polishing and protecting cymbals.

– Two cloths or tissues – Use one in combination with cymbal cleaner to clean and polish the cymbals and other to dry them after cleaning.

Step 1 – Use duct tape to cover and protect the logo.

protect logo when cleaning cymbals

Whether you’re using professional cymbal cleaners or household items, it’s quite easy to accidentally remove the logo.

To safeguard the logo, I recommend using either duct tape or electrical tape, especially for smaller areas.

Keep in mind that the protected area and the rest of the cymbal will look different after cleaning, so it’s important to cover the logo precisely without covering an excessively wide area.

Step 2 – Apply the cleaner to the cymbal

apply cymbal cleaner

This step involves applying the cymbal cleaner.

Later in this article, I’ll discuss how to clean cymbals using household items, but for now, let’s stick to the professional approach.

Gently apply the cymbal cleaner to the surface. Remember, a thin coat is sufficient; there’s no need to overdo it.

Here are some of the most popular cymbal cleaners I recommend:

cymbal cleaner

Groove juice

This cymbal cleaner works best for premium, professional bronze cymbals

cleaning cymbals

Sabian safe and sound

The fully organic and acid free cymbal cleaner suitable for all cymbals not just Sabian. 

how to clean cymbals

MusicNomad Premium

Works great as a replacement for other cymbal makers, such as Sabian, Zildjian, Paiste, Meinl, etc. It is perfect for cymbals with brilliant finish.

clean tarnished cymbals

Zildjian cymbal cleaner

Preserves the original coating, and it removes perfectly dirt and marks.

remove oxidation from cymbals

Meinl MCCL cymbal cleaner

Packed in the 250 ml bottle. It’s a spray that removes the oxidation and dirt without rubbing.

Step 3 – Begin Rubbing

cleaning the cymbal

Be gentle around the areas where the logo is and apply more effort to the rest.

You may need to rub harder along the edges, where the cymbal typically receives the most strikes.

If needed, repeat this step until you achieve the desired cleanliness.

Step 4 – Dry the Cymbal

dry the cymbal after cleaning

The bulk of the work is now complete.

Simply dry the cymbal using a cloth or tissue, and voilà! Your cymbal is clean, dry, and looks and sounds rejuvenated.

Step 5 (Optional) – Apply polisher for the final touch

polishing cymbals

You don’t necessarily need electric tools to polish cymbals effectively.

However, if you happen to have an electric polisher at your disposal, it’s a great option to achieve an extra level of cleanliness.

Just apply the cymbal cleaner and use circular motions to polish the cymbal.

Can I clean cymbals with household items?

Let’s debunk the myth about cleaning cymbals with household items.

I must clarify that this is NOT a method Paiste, Meinl, Zildjian and Sabian recommend.

However, if you choose to try it, consider doing a test on some old cymbals, similar to the experiment shown in the video above.

Briefly, ketchup and vinegar often yield the best results, but you can also experiment with lemon, toothpaste, WD-40, and hand sanitizer.

Now that you have a straightforward guide on cymbal cleaning, let’s address some common questions you might have.

Frequently asked questions

Should you clean cymbals?

Yes and no. Cleaning cymbals is advisable to maintain their appearance and prevent grime and fingerprints, which can subtly change their sound over time. However, not cleaning them won’t cause harm; it just alters the sound, which is reversible with cleaning.

Do clean cymbals sound better?

Clean cymbals can offer a brighter and clearer tone, but the impact on sound is subjective; some drummers prefer the mellowed sound of uncleaned cymbals as they age.

Does water damage cymbals?

Water itself doesn’t typically damage cymbals, as long as you dry them well after cleaning you are fine.


To sumarize, it’s best if you clean cymbals with a cymbal cleaner. To preserve a logo make sure to protect it.

Next step is cleaning and drying it or as an optional step polishing it with a electric polisher.

You can use household items although I would not recommend these since there is no study that’s explores influence of these items on the cymbal material.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

1 Comment

Leave a reply

Drum That