We use microphones in many ways, mounting them on stands and the ceiling but often holding them in our hands or mounting them on the body. In all these cases, they become really dirty from sweat, spit, and all kinds of dirt. Thus, it’s good to learn how to clean a microphone and keep it clean to reduce and, where possible, avoid the risk of contamination, especially during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are mainly three types of microphones; dynamic, condenser, and ribbon microphone. The steps to clean each type differ due to the difference in their architecture. Dynamic mics are the easiest to clean as they feature a grille that protects the diaphragm from getting dirty.
Below we’ve provided guidelines to follow to clean your particular type of mic; leave it in good working condition and make sure that it’s hygienically fit for use by you and others.
- Learn How To Clean a Microphone
- Steps To Clean a Ribbon Microphone
- Steps To Clean a Dynamic Microphone
- Steps To Clean a Condenser Microphone
Learn How To Clean a Microphone
There are three common types of microphones, including dynamic microphones, condenser microphones, and ribbon microphones. Take a look at the steps to clean each of these types below.
Steps To Clean a Ribbon Microphone
Typically, ribbon microphones are the hardest to clean. They have a very delicate construction, and cleaning the internals requires a lot of care. So, we recommend you seek the assistance of a professional if you’re not sure you can clean the mic yourself using the steps below.
Here are the tools you’ll need:
- Glass cleaner liquid in a spray bottle.
- Soft-bristle toothbrush.
- Clean cloth.
- Distilled water and soap in a bowl or small basin.
Step #1: Open Up the Mic
You must handle them with a lot of care, especially for the ribbon capsule. Open the microphone from the bottom side and unscrew the extreme part. Slip away the case gently.
Step #2: Clean the Metal Case
Spray some glass cleaner liquid on the clean cloth. Use the damp cloth to wipe the body enclosure (metal case) and the small metal pieces (screws) thoroughly until they are satisfactorily clean. Leave it to dry.
Step #3: Remove the Grill Capsule
There are two small screws on top of the grill capsule. Use the screwdriver and unscrew them to take the grill out. Place the microphone on the table vertically for easy unscrewing.
Once you remove the small screws, slide out the grill carefully. Note that there’s a strong magnet inside the ribbon mic which will attract the grill as you take it out. Pay attention as the grill could scratch and damage the ribbon.
Step #4: Clean the Grill Capsule
Apply the distilled water and soap to the grill capsule using a soft-bristle toothbrush. Alternatively, just put it into a container with distilled water and soap. Wash it carefully and once you’re satisfied, remove and wipe it with a clean cloth on both sides to dry. Allow it some time to dry.
Step #5: Reassemble Your Mic
The components of your mic are now clean and dry, and it’s time to reassemble the mic. Again, be careful during the assembling to ensure that the grill capsule doesn’t harm the ribbon in by scratching it.
You can also clean the case, and the grill capsule with a soft cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Clorox disinfecting wipes can also do the job of cleaning and disinfecting these components.
Steps To Clean a Dynamic Microphone
It’s easier to clean a dynamic mic than other types of microphones. That’s because dynamic microphones have a grille that keeps the diaphragm free of dirt. All you need to do is clean the grille, and you’ll have done the hardest part of cleaning your mic!
Here are the tools do you’ll need:
- Soft-bristle Toothbrush.
- Kitchen roll or damp clean cloth.
- Mild soapy water.
- Warm water.
- A pair of rubber gloves.
Step #1: Remove the Grille From the Mic
Put on a pair of rubber gloves. Use the screwdriver to unscrew and twist the grille carefully until it comes out. Once it’s out, remove the foam windshield gently, which is likely to have a lot of saliva build-up.
Sometimes the foam windshield may be glued tightly into the grille. In that case, don’t struggle to pull it out; see our next step.
Step #2: Clean the Grille
Dip the soft-bristle toothbrush into the warm water and start scrubbing the grille to remove accumulated dirt. Scrub patiently, dipping the brush severally into the water until the grille is satisfactorily clean. You can alternatively use mild soapy water only if you are able to remove the foam windshield.
Use the kitchen roll or damp clean cloth to wipe the grill and ensure it’s completely dry. This is a critical step as leaving any traces of water can encourage rusting. Indeed, you can allow the grille to dry overnight, but use a hairdryer for speedy drying if you can’t wait that long.
Step #3: Clean the Foam Windshield
This step only applies if the foam windshield is removable. If it’s not, you cleaned it together with the grille on step #2 above. In that case, proceed to step #4 below.
Wash the foam windshield with warm water only until all the build-up is completely out. Use your hand and not any scrubbing tool. Don’t use soapy water as it’s difficult to remove the soap from the windshield material once it absorbs it.
Like the grille, make sure that the foam has dried properly before reassembling the mic. You can also use a hairdryer if you can’t wait for it to dry overnight.
Step #4: Clean the Handle
Clean the handle of the mic by applying the mild soapy water with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Ensure that the water doesn’t get into the XLR connector. Block any slot at the bottom of your mic with your finger.
Additionally, avoid cleaning any buttons or switches that may be on your microphone. Use the kitchen roll to wipe the handle and allow it to dry completely.
You can also utilize suitable disinfecting wipes (see the link above) or isopropyl alcohol instead of warm or mild soapy water. The wipes and alcohol are especially suitable when you only want to disinfect the mic. Use the disinfecting wipes to clean wires. Be careful with the isopropyl alcohol, as it may affect the aesthetics of your mic by removing some of its paint on the handle. It’s good to test the alcohol first in an inconspicuous area to decide whether or not you should use it.
Step #5: Reassemble the Microphone
Once everything is clean and completely dry, reassemble the mic. Congratulations, your microphone is squeaky clean!
Steps To Clean a Condenser Microphone
Here are the tools you’ll need:
- A pair of rubber gloves.
- Isopropyl alcohol.
- Distilled water.
- Three artist brushes.
- A screwdriver.
- Compressed air.
Step #1: Prepare Solutions Into Three Different Cups
Mix isopropyl alcohol and water into three different solutions. Put 25% isopropyl alcohol and 5% water in one cup. Put 10% isopropyl alcohol and 90% water into cup two. Finally, put distilled water only into cup three. Label the cups for easy identification and put one artist brush on each cup.
Step #2: Wear the Gloves and Disassemble the Mic
Disassemble the microphone’s electrical components by removing the various screws using a screwdriver. Pop the selector switch out to get the amplifier board out.
Now remove the roll-off, pad switches, and the other electrical board to expose the inner capsule. Use your microphone’s manual for reference if you need it.
Step #3: Start the Cleaning Process
Apply the solution in cup one to the diaphragm’s membrane to remove debris and any dirt build-up. Ensure you apply minimum pressure to avoid damage to the mic. Once you’re done, dry the brush off with compressed air.
Next, apply the solution in cup two on the diaphragm’s membrane. Swirl it around until you loosen all the debris. Dry the brush off in compressed air.
Apply the solution in cup three to remove any stubborn dirt. Once the surface is thoroughly clean, dry the brush with compressed air.
Now clean the entire interior surface using the brushes you’ve just dried the same way you did with the diaphragm’s membrane. Keep drying the brushes with compressed air and use them to dry any wet surfaces. Avoid drying the diaphragm with compressed air.
Step #4: Assemble the Microphone
Assemble the microphone once all the components are clean and dry. Allow them enough time to dry before assembling.
The above was our guide cleaning a microphone. We’ve covered the steps to clean three common types of mics; dynamic, condenser, and ribbon. And we hope you have one of them.
We’ve learned that a ribbon microphone has a complex architecture, and cleaning the interiors must be handled with the utmost care to avoid damaging the ribbon. Call a professional if you’re not sure if you can clean your ribbon mic yourself using the steps above.
It’s good to take care of your mic and prevent too much dirt build-up. Practicing proper care for your microphone will ensure that it remains in good working condition and hygienically fit for use.