The outbreak of the Coronavirus – COVID-19 – has shone a light on the importance of healthy hygiene. It is right to say it has taken us all by surprise and given us some harsh realities to consider. music and hygiene do not often go hand-in-hand, after all. But, our chosen interest – producing music – actually puts us at a fairly high risk of cross-contamination.
Think about it; musicians are usually in confined spaces with others, we share instruments and accessories, and the original act of playing an instrument is fundamentally tactile.
So, it makes sense for us to offer some advice on how to ensure the risks are low when it comes to performing, enjoying, or recording music in any form.
One of the most important risk areas comes in the form of microphones. No piece of equipment is shared more between other peoples. In studios, in rehearsal studios, at venues, even in your homeroom – the humble microphone is that most common piece of music gear.
Yet due to the way, it is used, and it is proximity to hands and mouths, it could potentially be one of the most dangerous.
We have put together this guide to help you clean your microphones. Apart from hygiene, it makes good sense for you to clean your mic frequently regardless of hygiene concerns.
It is not uncommon to find, lipstick, saliva even bits of food lodged in the grille of your vocal mics, plus a microphone free of dust stands the best chance of giving you the recorded sounds you are looking for.
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After cleaning your microphone check whether your mic works properly or not with mictests.net
Which microphone can be cleaned?
Before anyone rushes off to the cupboard to get the bleach, it is important to understand the differences between microphones. Dynamic microphones are much more robust than condenser microphones, making them ideally suited to live performance and the stresses that come with that.
On the other hand, condensers are much more fragile and require, special attention, when it comes to cleaning. Ribbon and valve microphones are even more so, and we would advise checking with the manufacturer before you start attacking it with a spare toothbrush.
For dynamic mics, you usually remove or unscrew the grille. If so, this makes life a lot smoother. The grille is the layer of protection within the magic going on inside and the grime-filled outside the world, if you can remove the grille you will be able to use a basic solution of water and mild detergent to clean it.
A toothbrush will help you when it comes to cleaning in between the gaps. If the front grille cannot be removed, or if you are using a condenser microphone, the best advice is to avoid water or any form of liquid.
Mics are delicate things and they most definitely do not like water. Again, a toothbrush will help you in removing any dried scum, but make sure to hold the microphone upside down so any dislodged particles fall to the floor, rather than back inside.
As well as the usual home items, there are some great tools designed to improve hygiene in the mic. Let us take a look.
Tools and products you might need
Microphome microphone sanitizer kit
Elacin Hygiene Kit
While pointed at earplugs and earphone users, the Elacin Hygiene Kit is perfect for cleaning microphones. It comes with two bottles of cleaning spray and a collection of small brushes capable of getting into the tight areas of a microphone grille.
A specialist microphone cleaning product, Microphome antimicrobial cleaning fluid goes into the mic as a foam that clings to the grille. This keeps it aside from the electronics and dissipates quickly.
More a preventative measure than something that will clean the mic, but it is well worth spending in a pop filter if the mic’s primary function is recording vocals. There are plenty of inexpensive options available, and they do a great job of reducing sibilant and plosives in your recording too.
Similar to the pop filter, a basic foam microphone cover will serve as a barrier between saliva and other moisture’s and ensure they do not reach the parts of the mic you need to keep dry.
Shop Amazon’s microphone cover selection
How to clean a dynamic microphone
Dynamic mics are arguably the easiest to clean. The majority come with a grille which can be gently or unscrewed pulled apart from the body.
Step 1. Unscrew or remove the grille from the mic, being careful not to damage the cartridge.
Step 2. With the grille removed, set the microphone body to one side. Using a solution of plain, lukewarm water and mild detergent – dish-washing liquid is fine – wipe the grille to remove the surface layer of grime.
Step 3. Using a toothbrush, gently rub the grille, taking care to get into all the cavities and corners. The combination of detergent and toothbrush will ensure any caked-on residue is removed. You can also use a gentle disinfectant to kill off any nasty bugs or microbes which are still hanging around.
Step 4. Allow the now-clean grille to dry naturally, Be calm here even a drop of water could kill your precious microphone if it gets inside. While that’s drying, use a disinfectant household wipe to clean the body of the mic, being careful not to touch the electronics inside.
Step 5. When the grille and body are dry, reattach both together.
How to clean a condenser microphone
Cleaning a condenser is an altogether trickier task. Some have detachable grilles, and all of them are considerably more fragile electronically. So, the key to cleaning a condenser microphone is to take care, using a dry soft toothbrush, gently scrub the grille. Keep the microphone facing downwards to ensure loosened particles fall away from the grille. Be mindful of pushing dirt or grime through the grille and into the chamber. As with a dynamic, you can use a disinfectant wipe to clean the body.
Now you know how to clean the microphone. Apart from hygiene, it makes good sense for you to clean your microphone frequently regardless of hygiene concerns. follow our step-by-step guide to keep yours mic clean.