Tried cleaning/polishing some cymbals: REALLY disappointing


Senior Member
I've tried cleaning cymbals with several of the methods mentioned - Magic Eraser (abrasive, leaves residue), Zildjian polish (polishes, obviously), soap and water (does nothing), and I've been disappointed every time, so I don't do it anymore. I like my cymbals to look new, so now I mostly just buy new or mint-condition cymbals when I need one. It costs me more money, but not a LOT more - cymbals hold their value quite well. If I have one that gets nasty-looking for some reason, I'll sell it and get a new one, but that generally doesn't happen because I handle my cymbals carefully. I lift them by the edges or by putting my finger underneath the hole. I even do cymbal chokes by putting my palm to the edge of the cymbal so I don't cover it with fingerprints. A dry microfiber cloth will get rid of most stick marks, but fingerprints are pretty much permanent.

I wish I wasn't so particular about it, I see other drummers eating fried chicken and then doing 5-finger cymbal chokes without a care in the world, and they look so happy. But I can't let anyone touch my cymbals.


Silver Member
Tim, I had replied to one of your posts previously. I did clean them, with Dawn dish soap. It removed some of the black and gunk. But I took no before pics. It simply didn't shine them up or change them much at all.
Oh, dang, that's right, I recall seeing that now. My bad. I'd still try once more with the cleaners I mentioned, because they practically do all the work; it really is very little effort. Even with the nylon bristle brush I mentioned, I don't work at it very hard. Maybe if that doesn't do it, they're too far gone, barring something extreme like the sanding mentioned above, and I wouldn't go that far.


Platinum Member
I like Groove Juice because I like my cymbals to be shiny. Peace and goodwill

Yamaha Rider

Gold Member
In the 70's, the last time I tried cleaning cymbals, I used Wrights silver polish. It's a thick pink paste that needs a lot of elbow grease to work, but the results are spectacular. This black oxide rubs off on the cloth and I could clean it for a hundred years and the cloth would still get black. Silver needs a gentler cleaner than most metals, so it shouldn't harm brass. I remember my cymbals being as shiny as Buddy Rich's cymbals on the Tonight Show. He always had beautifully clean cymbals. I always lusted after that look.

Anyone ever use the silver paste polish on their brass?

I also used Tarn-X once. My cymbal looked like an old penny. Took the brass finish right off.
Brass? You mean bronze?


Active Member
Original Lysol toilet cleaner is hydrochloric acid and tallow (to make it thick), correct?

Rubbing H2O:HCl and pig fat on a cymbal to clean it is possibly the most Canadian thing I've ever heard.
Well friend it works.. big time and yes I have to rinse them off a few times with straight water but they come out great.
My old cymbals need cleaning about twice a year and the Lysol makes it a cinch. A piano tuner/restorer came up with this as he had to clean brass hinges, pedals, etc. Yes it’s an acid so I don’t leave it on more than a few minutes.. and as I said it’s a heck of a lot easier and effective than so called Cymbal cleaners out there, I know as I’ve tried them ...Eh ?


New Member
Mr clean magic erasers are an abrasive just a micro-abrasive. They feel soft like a sponge but they are made from a crystalline thats pretty hard on the mohs scale so be careful.


I notice someone used sandpaper in a different thread started earlier this year. And, I saw some vids. . .

So this guy rigs up a drill press I think. Uses a sanding bar/pad. This was on a cymbal that was DANG old. He said 30 years or more. It was definitely 50 yrs old or more. As you can see, the cymbal looked AMAZING! There is no before and after sound test. Obviously, it removed any "finish", that had been applied.

In cleaning a cymbal with sandpaper or a scratch pad, etc---what are the bad things that can happen? Rust? Sonic differences?
I mean, I worked up a sweat trying to clean these suckers! Not lacking effort at all. Results are definitely disappointing.
If you choose to sand the cymbal down you are going to lower the pitch, it is also likely that any logos that are painted on will fade or disappear.


Senior Member
I use either Groove Juice or Barkeeper's Friend liquid and both work great. I prefer clean, shiny cymbals. Not a fan of patina or aged cymbals.

One thing I keep forgetting is the neutralizing rinse. My Zildjians develop flash patina within a couple of weeks. I'll be sure to add this step the next time I clean them.
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