5 Best Cymbal Cleaners to Make Them Shine Again

Updated on by Gavin Whitner | There may be affiliate links on this page.

A clean and well-maintained drum kit is the first sign of a serious and dedicated drummer. While it doesn’t need daily cleaning, it is highly recommendable to clean it in regular intervals. 

This goes twice for the cymbals, as their tone and performance depend heavily on the care they receive. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best cymbal cleaners.

5 Best Cymbal Cleaners - Keep Them Polished

Here are my favorite cymbal cleaning solutions. If your babies need some care, grab one of these.

The first item on the list is the Brilliant Finish Cymbal Polish from Zildjian. It’s a formula made for drummers who use brilliant cymbals. If you’re not sure if your cymbals have a brilliant finish, make sure to do some research on them before using this polish. Typically, brilliant cymbals will have a pure look and shine to them.

While some cymbal cleaners come in liquid form, the Brilliant Finish Cymbal Polish is a cream formula. It is on the stronger side, and while it does a great job of cleaning grime and fingerprints off the cymbals, it can potentially damage any print on the cymbals. However, if you accidentally get some cream on a logo, it won’t instantly damage it like with some other cleaners that I’ve tried.

Apply the cream onto a cloth or paper towel and rub it onto the cymbal. Wait ten to fifteen seconds for it to dry. After it’s dried, use a clean cloth or paper towel to remove the remaining cream from the cymbal.

Take note that when using this particular cymbal cleaner, you’re going to have to do some heavy rubbing. The cymbals will be black and smelly at first, but incredibly shiny by the end of it. Just make sure to avoid rubbing the cream across the logos.

While the cream does a great job in shining the cymbal, it struggles to get rid of any stick marks that have been there for an extended period of time. You may need something stronger to get rid of those.

  • Strong
  • Easy to use
  • Great for brilliant cymbals
  • Limited usability
  • Potentially harmful to logos

The next item on the list is the MN112 Premium Drum and Cymbal Care System from Music Nomad. This is an affordable two-in-one kit made for players who like to keep the entire drum set shiny and clean.

The MN112 Care System contains two separate liquid solutions – Cymbal Cleaner and Drum Detailer. While the Cymbal Cleaner is made for cymbals only, the Drum Detailer is an overall polisher and can be used on all metal and wooden parts of the kit.

The Cymbal Cleaner formula is both acid and silicone-free so it is safe to use on all cymbals. It works best on brilliant cymbals. However, it has the potential to clear off any scrapes and smudges on other types of cymbals as well. You’ll just need to scrub a bit harder with those.

Sprinkle the formula onto a clean cloth and apply it to the cymbal. Leave it to dry for a couple of minutes. Take another clean cloth and wipe the formula off the cymbal. Depending on the state your cymbal is in, you might want to repeat the process once or twice.

You can use the Drum Detailer to wipe down your cymbal stands and make them just as shiny as your cymbals. The package includes a cloth for each cleaner. Just note that these cloths don’t hold up too well over time. They will work well with the first few cleans, but start to wear out very quickly.

 You’ll need to keep getting new cloths every few cleans. Also note that the cymbal cleaner is even stronger than the previous Zildjian one, meaning it’s more harmful for the logos on the cymbals. Make sure to avoid those at all cost if you want them to stay on there.
  • Strong
  • Includes a drum cleaner as well
  • Comes with cloths for each cleaner
  • Included cloth doesn’t last very long
  • Not that great with non-brilliant cymbals

The MP03 Cymbal Polish is a popular Lizard Spit cymbal care product that numerous pros and amateurs rely on to keep their cymbals shining.

The main aspect that separates this cleaner from all the others is that it is incredibly strong. So strong that it’s best suited for raw metals. So, you should use it with cymbals that are uncoated or unlathed. If you use it with brilliant cymbals, it will damage them.

The Lizard Spit cleaner is the option you should go for if you have fairly old cymbals that are full of dirt and grime. The strong formula is designed for cymbals like those. It can be very damaging to new cymbals.

Take a clean cloth, pour some MP03 on it, and apply it onto the cymbal. Let the cymbal dry for a minute or two. Take another clean cloth and wipe the polisher off the cymbal. In case your cymbal is in really bad shape, you might need to repeat the process.

The cleaner works well for hardware as well. It has the power to get rid of any thick dirt on drum and cymbal stands. Just make sure that you use it on hardware that isn’t coated with any extra metal for visuals. The cleaner will take that coating right off.

I’ve found that you can weaken the formula by mixing it with a bit of water. That way it can work on newer cymbals that aren’t as dirty. However, I wouldn’t advise you do that as there’s a fair bit of room for error.

  • Incredibly strong cleaner
  • Works as a polisher as well
  • Efficient
  • Best used on older and dirty cymbals
  • Not to be used with brilliant cymbals

Jim Dunlop is one of the biggest manufacturers of guitar, bass, and drum accessories. Their world-famous System 65 cleaners are among the most popular drum and cymbal care products on the market.

Dunlop’s System 65 Kit comes in a set of three solutions – 65 Cymbal Cleaner (4oz bottle), 65 Cymbal Intensive Care (2oz bottle), and 65 Drum Shell Polish and Cleaner (4oz bottle). A microfiber cloth rounds off the package.

The 65 Cymbal Cleaner is there for regular maintenance duties, while the 65 Cymbal Intensive Care is there for the toughest jobs. Both are made for general use on all types of cymbals. The 65 Drum Shell Polish and Cleaner takes care of the rest of the drum kit.

Pour some Cymbal Cleaner or Cymbal Intensive Care formula onto a clean cloth and apply it onto a cymbal. Both of them are strong, so be careful around the logos. Let the cymbal dry for a couple of minutes. Take another clean cloth and wipe the formula off the cymbal. Repeat as needed.

This kit is a great option if you’re looking for value for your money. With 3 different types of cleaners, you’ll be keeping your entire drum setup looking pristine.

The Intensive Care Formula is the best cleaner out of the 3 bottles provided, especially for bronze cymbals. A small issue I have with this pack is that you don’t get much of that particular formula with the amount of money you’re paying. Another option that will bring you more value is to buy a few bottles of it separately.

If you’re keen on having the standard cleaner and the drum polish, then this package is still a great option to go with.

  • Strong and efficient
  • Comes with a microfiber cloth
  • Includes a drum shell polisher
  • More expensive than the other cleaners on the list

Paiste is one of the most renowned cymbal manufacturers, popular among pros and amateurs alike. Their Cymbal Cleaner is very popular, and easily one of the best options out there. Many people have reported that this is the one true cymbal cleaner on the market.

The Paiste Cymbal Cleaner is a mild paste for all-around use. It comes in a 6.5oz bottle and unfortunately doesn’t come with a cleaning cloth.

It’s a general-use formula made for all types of cymbals, regardless of the material and the type of finish. It is equally at home on old and new cymbals by all major brands. This makes it incredibly versatile and a huge asset to have in your cleaning closet.

Apply some paste onto a clean cloth/paper towel or directly onto the cymbal and distribute it around. Like with the majority of other cleaners, make sure to skip the logos. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. Take another clean cloth and wipe the paste off the cymbal. If needed, repeat the process.

This cleaner works particularly well on Paiste cymbals. However, I’ve found that it works just as well on Sabians and Zildjians too. It’s a bit easier to use than many other cleaners as you usually don’t need to scrub very hard on the cymbals. Dirtier cymbals will require some elbow grease, though.

If your cloth starts to get black and dirty while using this cleaner, it means it’s doing its job well. Don’t let all the oxidation and dirt fool you. Paiste cymbals have a certain coating that stops this from happening, which is why the cleaner works better with them.

Cymbals from other brands don’t have that coating, causing more dirt to come off. The end result with all types of brand will be some shiny and fresh cymbals.

  • Mild formula
  • Large bottle
  • Highly versatile with all kinds of cymbals
  • Might take a long time to clean particularly dirty cymbals

Buying Cymbal Cleaners - Points to Consider

Depending on their quantity and conditions, cleaning your cymbals might take anywhere from fifteen minutes to several hours. It is, therefore, important to arm yourself with the proper tools for the job.

In the guide below, we’ll take a look at how to choose the right cymbal cleaner and how to properly care for your cymbals.

The Type of Cymbals on Your Kit

The first thing you’ll need to consider is the type of cymbals you have on your kit. In terms of finish, there are two main types – raw metal and brilliant. They require different types of cleaners and using the wrong type might damage your cymbals. Always read the label on the cleaner and make sure you’re buying the right type.

Cleaners and Polishers

Cymbal cleaners are for the most part just that, cleaners. Some of them, however, double as polishers. The combined cleaner/polisher products tend to be a bit more expensive to reflect their double role.

If you opt for a straight-up cleaner, it might be wise to also invest in a polisher, as the best cymbal polishers give the cymbals a protective coating which can significantly lengthen their lifespan.

How to Clean the Cymbals

While the basic cleaning process is largely similar across the board, specific brands will require you to use specific products and clean your cymbals in a certain way. To make sure you are doing the right thing, check the manufacturer’s site for a thorough explanation.

Final Word

When it comes to keeping your cymbals in good shape, cymbal cleaners are a must. Well-maintained cymbals can help you immensely in both your daily drumming and in the recording studio. Regular care will also increase their life and improve your tone.

About Gavin Whitner

A guitar player, songwriter, composer, and also the lead editor of MusicOomph, Gavin is one of the four musician friends behind this site. Outside of music, he's an avid sports fan and hardly misses anything from football (soccer) to F1.

1 thought on “5 Best Cymbal Cleaners to Make Them Shine Again”

  1. Very nice reviews of cymbal cleaners. Love your concept. Every drummer should have these cymbals cleaners. Because if you can not use cymbals cleaners then our drum cymbals do not produce good sound. For a better sound, cleaning the cymbals is very important.

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