How to Keep Your Microphone Clean and Free of Germs

The pandemic has thrown a spotlight on our hygiene habits, and it is safe to say that many of us are lacking in that area more than we would like to admit. If you’re a musician, podcaster, live streamer, or anyone who regularly uses a microphone, then this article is for you.

Microphones are breeding grounds for dangerous bacteria and viruses and, if you share this device with others or move it around, there is a risk of cross-contamination. Epidemic or not, if it’s something you touch and breathe, it needs repeated sterilisation. We have prepared this guide for those who need help in doing so.

what you’ll need

You can always buy a microphone cleaning kit, but chances are you already have most of these tools in your home. Different types of microphones will require different cleaning routines, so depending on the microphone you have, you may not need all of these things.

demineralized water. This water has gone through a process where the salt ions are removed, so there are no atoms that would conduct electricity. It is inexpensive and easy to find online.

Do not use isopropyl alcohol on plastic or acrylic parts; This can damage the material, creating tiny cracks and holes, and germs love tiny cracks and holes.

You may have heard about placing your microphone in a low temperature oven to kill bacteria. While this can be effective, do it carefully, and know that the lifespan of your mic will take a hit. We do not recommend this; Instead clean it by hand yourself or send it to a professional.

dynamic microphone

We’re going to start with the simplest—the dynamic microphone. These mics are the most durable, so you can be extra careful when cleaning them.

Step 1: Remove the Grill

Depending on the model, you’ll either need to bend the grill or remove some type of screw. Once it’s turned off, try not to touch the cartridge, and whatever you do, don’t let any liquid or moisture come into contact with the cartridge.

Step 2: Clean the Grill

Wipe the grill with a damp cloth to remove surface grime. Fill a clean bowl with warm water and a drop of soap; You can use regular tap water for this, but if you want to be extra careful, demineralized water is fine too. Dip into the grill and start scrubbing. Be gentle, and make sure you get into all the little gaps. Wash thoroughly with soap.

Shake off excess water and lay the grill on a dry towel, away from damp and dusty areas. It is important that the grill is completely dry before reassembling, so leave it for a full day or two.

Step 3: Clean the windscreen

Depending on the model, your mic may or may not have a windscreen. Windscreens are foamy, which makes them extremely porous. Their job is to absorb gusts of wind that can create loud pops in the audio signal, and with these gusts come bacteria and dust particles. As you can imagine, these things get very dirty.

If the windscreen is attached to the grill, don’t attempt to take it apart, and just stick to the first two steps. Otherwise, go ahead and remove the windscreen from the mic. This step also applies to the windscreen which is purchased separately and is mounted on the exterior of the grill.

Fill a clean bowl with warm water and soap, and submerge the windscreen in it. The water may turn brown, but don’t be alarmed, it can happen if you’ve never cleaned your mic after years of use. Wash and rinse it thoroughly until the water is clear; You may have to wash it a couple of times. Let it dry overnight.

Step 4: Clean the Body

For this step, you can use isopropyl alcohol or diluted soapy water. Dampen a microfiber cloth with the solution and begin wiping it over the handle of the mic. Try to get into all the little nooks and crannies, but don’t let the liquid touch any electrical components. Better yet, cover the top with a sock or some kind.

condenser microphone

Condensers are slightly different from dynamics. They are very sensitive, and often they do not have the same texture. If your condenser’s grill may be detachable (not all may), you can follow the above steps for dynamic. But be careful, everything needs to be handled with extreme sensitivity—the smallest bump or drop of moisture on the diaphragm can destroy it.

If we’re being honest, you’d be better off sending your condenser to a professional to be cleaned. This also applies for other sensitive microphone types, such as ribbon mics. However, there is a way that you can keep it relatively clean without risking too much.

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