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.

Yamaha Rider

Well-known 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?


Well-known 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 😆