High-end cymbals such as Zildjian, Paiste and Sabian have a high-gloss, clear-coat finish covering the metal of the cymbal. The coating is not only for looks; it protects the metal and the sound quality. Removing this coating by using harsh chemicals to clean the cymbals can lead to corrosion of the cymbals and it will change the way they sound.
A mild acid, lemon juice is effective in removing mild dirt and grime from the cymbal's finish. Use lemon juice several ways to clean cymbals. Cut a lemon in half and rub it over the cymbal. Then wipe off the cymbal with a damp rag. Or make a mixture of lemon juice, water and vinegar. Spray this onto the cymbal, wipe off and dry with a soft cloth.
Vinegar is another mild acid that is useful in cleaning cymbals without damaging the brilliant finish. Mix vinegar with water, spray it on the cymbal and wipe off. This should remove most dirt buildup, tarnish and stick marks. Adding lemon juice to the vinegar mix will increase the acidity. This is a good way to remove heavy dirt buildup.
Although this is an effective way to remove dirt, tarnish and grime from your cymbals, it is not a safe cleaner. Muriatic acid is very caustic. It should only be used in a well-vented area. Gloves and protective eye gear are required. Muriatic acid may aggravate asthma and other breathing issues. Mixing muriatic acid with soaps or cleaners may release toxic fumes. It is safer to use muriatic acid diluted with water. Muriatic acid will take the logo off of your cymbals.
Making a paste of salt and water is another way to clean cymbals. Mix table salt and water until it forms a paste. Rub this paste onto the cymbal with a clean, damp cloth. Continue rubbing until all of the dirt is removed. Rinse the cymbal with water and dry with a clean soft cloth. This method requires some care as it will remove logos from the cymbals. Be careful not to rub too aggressively as this cleaner is abrasive and excessive rubbing can damage the brilliant finish.
- "How to Clean Just About Anything"; Jeff Brendenberg; Readers Digest; 2006
- "The Cymbal Book"; Hugo Pinksterboer; Hal Leonard Publishers; 1993
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