6 Best Cymbal Cleaners to Make them Shine!

Author: Brett Clur | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

So, you want to keep your cymbals looking squeaky clean and shiny? Cymbal cleaning isn’t something that everyone does. There’s an argument to be had over whether more worn cymbals sound better than they did brand new.

With that being said, brilliant cymbals start to lose their shine after a while and many drummers love that shine. A few drum companies sell some cleaners that will do the trick of keeping them sparkling. Here are some of the best ones for the job-

The MusicNomad cymbal cleaner is highly popular. Chances are that you’ve seen this bottle in most music stores that you’ve visited. It’s intended for cast bronze and sheet bronze cymbals which helps to clear off layers of dirt accumulated after many hours of use.

It’s an acid-free solution that cuts through multiple layers of oxidation, letting your cymbal come out shinier and more sparkling than before. A great thing about it is that it leaves an extra protective layer over the cymbal, stopping it from oxidizing further in the future.

It’s intended only for brilliant cymbals, so using it on traditional or other types of cymbals won’t get results that are as good. Some cymbals will take more scrubbing and rubbing than others. However, the end result will be highly worth the effort!

This cymbal cleaner may also take off the logos of your cymbals. So, make sure to work around them when polishing.

PROS

  • Adds protective invisible layer
  • No caustic chemicals or acids

CONS

  • Only works with brilliant cymbals

The Lizard Spit cleaner is a bit of a wild one. If you’re someone who judges things by their looks at first, this may not appeal to you to begin with. However, don’t let the outside appearance fool you because this thing works like magic.

It’s specially made to clean off things like grime, fingerprints, and dust from metals such as bronze, brass, gold, aluminum, and silver. This means it works pretty well for cymbals as well as other parts of your drum kit.

You could have a cymbal cleaning session and get to your aluminum snare drum while you’re at it. The cleaning solution is highly friendly to the environment, having a non-toxic mix that allows you to get pretty close without worrying about inhaling any bad fumes.

The spray bottle makes it easier than ever to just spray on a cymbal and start wiping. Similar to the previous cleaner, you just can’t rub across any logos or signatures as it has the potential to damage them. 

PROS

  • Works well with multiple types of metal
  • Spray bottle makes using it very easy
  • Environmentally friendly

CONS

  • The art on the bottle may chase some people away

With Zildjian being one of the most popular cymbal brands around, you can bet that the company has put out a fantastic cymbal cleaner. The Zildjian Brilliant Polish is advertised to work well with all of Zildjian’s cymbals. However, it works well with other brands as well.

This cymbal polish is so good that you can take vintage cymbals from the 80s and make them look brand new. All you need is some dedication and elbow grease and you’ll be good to go.

It also works fairly well on cymbals with traditional finishes, making it a bit more versatile than the previous cymbal cleaners on the list.

Make sure you have a cloth with you when using this polish as the chemicals react with the dirt on the cymbals and produce a black mixture. This mixture needs to be periodically wiped off while cleaning.

Once you’ve done the work, you’ll have some cymbals that you’ll be able to see your own reflection in. Once again, remember not to rub any polish on the logos on the cymbals.

PROS

  • Trusted Zildjian quality
  • Works great on vintage cymbals
  • Extremely shiny cymbals after use

CONS

  • Slightly more expensive than the previous cleaners

The Sabian Safe and Sound cleaner is a cream that you rub on your cymbals to get all the dust and grime off of them. The difference with this cleaner is that it doesn’t tend to restore any of the shine of the cymbals. Instead, it aims to keep them clean while preserving the sound qualities.

Cymbal cleaners often change how cymbals sound. This is a big reason why most drummers are opposed to polishing cymbals. However, this cleaner is a bit safer to use as your cymbals won’t sound any different after looking a bit cleaner.

Another great thing about this cream is that you can use it on hardware as well. Hardware tends to get dusty and grimy just like cymbals do. So, the Sabian Safe and Sound cleaner will be your all-purpose tool for taking care of your drum kit.

It doesn’t work well on traditional cymbals, so only use it for the brilliant ones. Also, don’t rub it on the logos!

PROS

  • Aims to maintain the sound quality of cymbals
  • Works for hardware as well

CONS

  • Doesn’t work for traditional cymbals

Meinl, Zildjian, and Sabian are the biggest three cymbal companies at present. Since we’ve already mentioned Zildjian and Sabian, we have to move onto Meinl. Luckily, Meinl offers a cymbal cleaner that is a bit different from the others, giving you a variety in your choices.

This cymbal cleaner comes in the form of a spray bottle. Unlike the other cleaners, you just need to spray the cymbals and then wipe them 20 seconds later. No rubbing or polishing is required. The cleaner works like a charm.

It’s a great product for people who don’t want to sit and labor over cleaning their cymbals. It works wonderfully with traditional and brilliant cymbals, making it a versatile cleaning option.

It does struggle a bit to get rid of the finger marks, though. Those may need some rubbing. Overall, it’s a great product that makes quickly cleaning cymbals an extremely easy process. Hopefully, by now, you’ve realized that you can’t use these things over the logos of cymbals.

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • No rubbing or polishing required

CONS

  • Not great for getting rid of finger marks

If you’re that drummer that needs every single bit of your kit to stay immaculately clean, the Dunlop 6400 cleaning kit is just what you need. This pack comes with three bottles.

It includes a cymbal cleaner, a drum shell cleaner, a cymbal intensive care bottle, and a cloth to wipe everything with.

It has everything you need. The cymbal cleaner works well on brilliant cymbals while the drum shell cleaner works on all kinds of shells you can think of. The third bottle provides some protection to your cymbals and will stop them from getting too dirty in the future.

The added cloth is a great feature as often drummers will be wandering around the house to find a usable cloth to wipe their cymbals with.

Since this is a pack of cleaners, it does come in at a higher price than everything else on this list. However, it’s highly worth it. Just remember not to wipe the logos with the cymbal cleaner. That’s the last warning, I promise.

PROS

  • Full pack of cleaners for drums and cymbals
  • Includes a cloth

CONS

  • More expensive than other options on the list

Cymbal Cleaning Debate

Many drummers on this earth will swear to you that cleaning your cymbals will just make them sound worse. When it comes to dark, dry, and warm cymbals, this is true.

That’s why cymbal cleaners are never intended for these kinds of cymbals. The older a dark cymbal gets, the better the tone tends to sound. That’s why vintage jazz cymbals sound so good. You’re not supposed to polish them and they’re not supposed to be shiny.

Things get a bit different with bright and brilliant cymbals. These cymbals have a punchy and high-pitched sound that cuts through a mix of instruments in most situations.

The bright sound won’t be affected by cymbal polish as the polish is specifically designed for the brilliant finish of the cymbal.

So, just remember that if you have earthy and artistic cymbals, don’t try cleaning them. It will just make them sound worse and they’re not supposed to be shiny anyway. If you have brilliant or traditional cymbals, polish away! It won’t affect the sound most of the time.

Conclusion

Whether you want your cymbals to be shiny or not, it’s a good thing to have a cymbal cleaner on hand for whenever you suddenly do need some shiny cymbals.

You never know when you’ll need to be part of a photoshoot or music video where your cymbals are clearly shown. It won’t look too great if you have grimy cymbals that are actually supposed to be shiny.

All the cymbal cleaners that I’ve mentioned above will do the job well. You just need to read the fine print on them to see if they’ll cater to the type of cymbals you have.

All cymbal cleaners work for brilliant cymbals. Not all of them work for traditional cymbals. Just be wary of that!

About Brett Clur

Brett has been drumming for almost two decades. He also helps his students get better at drumming. He can be found on Instagram (@brettclurdrums), where you can regularly catch glimpses of his drumming.

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