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How to Clean Drum Heads

Drum heads can be cleaned to remove visible wear.
drums image by agno_agnus from Fotolia.com

The drum head--the surface of the drum you strike with a stick or mallet--can develop marks after continuous use. Depending on the stick or mallet used--and how long the drum head has been used--the marks can be black or a shade of yellow. Cleaning drum heads is quick and easy and can make your heads look newer and less like they have been subjected to heavy use. Be careful. Heavy cleaning products or polish can damage the heads.

Things You'll Need:

  • Non-Ammonia Window Cleaner, Such As Windex Or 409
  • 2 Dry Cloths
  • Drum Head
  • Water

Lightly dampen one of the dry cloths with water--if you are cleaning a coated drum head. Lightly dampen one of the dry cloths with non-ammonia window cleaner--if you are cleaning a clear drum head. In either case, the cloth should not be soaking wet. Also, don’t spray or pour water or non-ammonia cleaner onto a drum head.

Wipe the drum head with the damp cloth. Apply a little pressure, if necessary. Use your index finger and middle finger to press the cloth into the drum head. Don’t scrub too hard as this might damage the head.

Wipe the drum head with the dry second cloth. Wipe up any remaining water or non-ammonia window cleaner. Again, don’t scrub too hard. When the drum head is dry, you are finished cleaning it.


It's rare to find a store or company that will professionally clean your drum heads. If you can't get rid of the marks by cleaning them it's probably time to purchase a new drum head. You can buy new drum heads without buying a new drum. Drum heads typically cost $10 to $30, depending on the size and brand of the head. Replacing the drum head will give you a clean head--and a better sound.


  • Avoid using heavy cleaning products such as Ajax, foam sprayers, Never-Dull, Goo Gone and furniture polish. In general, stick to water--or non-ammonia window cleaner.
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