Hygiene Music sets are the perfect breeding ground for germs. You might pick up a microphone or instrument without a second thought, but that surface could be contaminated. If you don’t clean your instruments properly, viruses can easily spread between singers.
In the current pandemic, there’s a global campaign for people to prevent the spread of germs. Whilst many artists are working from home, it’s still the perfect time to learn how to clean and disinfect your music instruments and equipment properly – something you should be doing even when it’s not flu season.
Can you get sick from a microphone?
People don’t usually suspect microphones as a germ carrier. But mics can harbour lots of bacteria and germs and transmit all types of flu and colds between performers – especially if you’re sharing a microphone with lots of other people during a show.
Performers can accidentally spit on microphones and sneeze or cough on them. Germs can then stay on the surface of the mic for as long as 48hours after it was last used and infect the next performer. If the microphone’s foam windscreen is wet or old, it becomes an even better breeding ground for bacteria.
In the same way you’d clean surfaces and wash your hands to prevent spreading germs, you should do the same with your music equipment and instruments.
How do you clean and disinfect your microphone?
There are two main types of microphone: dynamic and condenser. Dynamic microphones are typically sturdier and less sensitive to background noise. There are two categories of dynamic microphone: moving coil mics, and ribbon mics.
To clean a dynamic mic with a removable grill:
- Remove the grill by gently unscrewing it from the mic.
- Clean the grill with plain water, or with a mild detergent. You can make your own solution by mixing washing liquid in water.
- If there’s anything caught in the grill, use a soft bristle toothbrush to gently remove it.
- Make sure you let your grill dry completely before you reattach it to your mic, otherwise it could damage your kit.
Cleaning a dynamic mic without a removable grill
As the grill can’t be removed from some dynamic microphones, you’ll have to follow a slightly different, more careful process.
- Hold the microphone upside down, as this will prevent any liquid dripping onto the microphone cartridge during cleaning.
- Gently scrub the grill with a damp soft bristle toothbrush.
- Once you’ve finished cleaning, make sure you dry the grill with a paper towel.
How to clean a condenser microphone
Condenser microphones are a lot more delicate than dynamic microphones. If you have a condenser microphone with an unremovable grill, you should never use any water or liquid to clean it.
Moisture can damage your condenser element, so if you can’t remove the grill, use a dry soft–bristle toothbrush to clean it instead. Hold the microphone facing downwards while you do this so any particles trapped in the grill can fall out.
If you can remove the grill from your condenser microphone, it should be okay to clean it with water and a toothbrush like you would with a dynamic mic. It’s really important to make sure it’s dry before you reattach it as microphones don’t tolerate moisture well.
How to clean microphone foam cover
The foam cover on some microphones is called a windscreen, or a pop cover. You usually find them on ribbon mics or dynamic mics, and they can easily be removed and cleaned.
To clean your microphone foam windscreen, remove it from your microphone. Wash it in warm, soapy water and then rinse it with plain water afterwards. Shake as much of the water off as you can and leave it to air–dry for the night.
ShareFaith magazine suggests using mouthwash to soak your foam filters in. Mouthwash is antibacterial and sanitary so would provide an extra deep clean. If you try this technique, don’t rinse your filters with water after they’ve soaked. Just ring them out as much as you can and press them with paper towels to remove as much mouthwash as possible. Leave them to dry in a warm place for a couple of hours.