How To Clean a Mic Diaphragm (Easy Guide)


If your mic is looking a little grimy, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got some great techniques to help you get your mic’s diaphragm squeaky clean in no time! 

How you should clean your mic’s diaphragm depends on the type of mic you have. For dynamic mics, you’ll likely only need to clean the grille and diaphragm pad to get your mic clean. For condenser mics, you can use distilled water and isopropyl alcohol to clean your mic’s diaphragm.

Next, we’ll go over whether or not you should attempt to clean your mic’s diaphragm, depending on the type of mic you have. Then, we’ll discuss techniques you can use to clean a dynamic and condenser microphone. Lastly, we’ll go over some preventive measures you should take to help keep your mic clean and grime-free. 

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Should I Clean My Microphone’s Diaphragm?

While all microphones need to be cleaned, whether or not you should do it at home depends on the type of microphone you have. 

Dynamic mics are considered the easiest to clean because they are durable and can handle a little scrubbing. Additionally, most dynamic mics have a removable grille which keeps the microphone’s inner components clear from dirt and other gross substances. Typically, all you’ll have to do is clean your dynamic mics grille and foam diaphragm pad to return it to its former glory. 

However, if you have condenser microphones, you’ll need to be extra careful while cleaning since they are more delicate than dynamic mics. If even the tiniest amount of water or moisture gets into their internal mechanisms, they will be completely ruined. Additionally, their diaphragms are incredibly fragile, so you can break the mic if you apply too much pressure. 

Because of this, most professional musicians and vocalists recommend that you hire a professional to clean your condenser mics instead of trying to clean them yourself. While it’ll cost you a bit of money, it’ll be less expensive than having to buy a new microphone! However, if you’d rather take the risk, we have a cleaning technique you can try below. 

Ribbon and valve mics are even more fragile than condenser mics and require a special process to clean them without damage. So, if you have either of these microphones, we highly recommend that you get them cleaned by a professional. 

For more information, check out this article to see if it is bad to leave a microphone plugged in.

How To Clean a Mic’s Diaphragm

Some microphones are easier to clean than others. We’ll go over the process you should follow in cleaning a dynamic mic and a condenser mic below. While these cleaning techniques work for many microphones, they won’t work for every type. 

How To Clean a Dynamic Microphone

Dynamic microphones are much easier to clean than the other types of mics since they have a grille that protects the diaphragm from the outside world. So, all you have to do is clean the grille to get your mic clean! Follow the steps below to clean your dynamic mic.

  1. Remove the front grille from your microphone. Some microphones’ grilles can be pulled off, while others need to be unscrewed. Be extra careful not to harm its cartridge. 
  2. Clean the grille with water and detergent. Move the mic out of the way to prevent it from getting wet. Next, mix some lukewarm water and dishwashing liquid. Then, use it to clean off your grille. 
  3. Scrub the grille with a toothbrush. Use a toothbrush to gently scrub your grille, getting into all of its grooves and corners. The toothbrush should be able to remove any stubborn residue. 
  4. Allow the grille to dry and clean the mic’s body with a disinfectant wipe. Permit the grille to dry naturally. Use a disinfectant wipe to cleanse the body of the mic carefully. Please don’t use any sprays on the mic, as they may get into the mic’s internal electronic components, causing damage. 
  5. Clean the foam pad covering the mic’s diaphragm. If your dynamic mic has a pad inside, you can clean it with a slightly damp toothbrush. Let it dry thoroughly.  
  6. Reattach the mic. Once your grille and pad are 100% dry, put your mic back together. Then, viola! Your mic should be squeaky clean.

How To Clean a Condenser Microphone

This cleaning method was performed on an AKG C414 condenser microphone. This is a classic large-diaphragm mic. If you have a different mic, you may have to alter some of the steps. Please proceed at your own risk.

  1. Collect your materials. Please acquire some rubber gloves, distilled water, isopropyl alcohol (99%), three small artist brushes, a can of compressed air, and a Phillips screwdriver. 
  2. Mix the water and alcohol into three solutions. Cup number one should have 75% water and 25% alcohol. Cup number two should have 90% water and 10% alcohol. Cup number three should have just distilled water. Label your cups so you can keep them straight. Assign one artist brush to each cup. 
  3. Put on gloves and disassemble your microphone. You’ll likely have to remove several screws to get to the mic’s electrical components. Then, you’ll need to pop your selector switch out to remove the amplifier board. Next, you should be able to remove the roll-off and pad switches, get the other electrical board off, and expose your mic’s inner capsule. Refer to your mic’s manual if you need help. 
  4. Apply solution number one to the diaphragm’s membrane. Apply as little pressure as possible to avoid damaging the mic. You should see the debris starting to clump together. Dry off the brush with compressed air when you are done using it. 
  5. Apply solution number two with a different brush. Keep swirling solution two around until the debris on your diaphragm’s membrane is loosened. Dry off the brush with compressed air. 
  6. Apply solution number three with a different brush. Some debris should start to collect on your brush. Do not clean off your brush in cup number three when it gets dirty. Instead, clean it off in cup number one (this will help prevent contaminating the clean distilled water in cup number three). Then, dry the brush with compressed air. 
  7. Repeat steps four through six until the surface is clean. Blow your brushes dry with the compressed air after each use so that they don’t get too wet. Carefully clean the entire interior space using steps 4 through 6. When you are finished cleaning, dry off any wet surfaces with your dried brushes. Never use the compressed air to dry the diaphragm itself. 

If you’d like a little more help, watch this video by FreddysFrets. In the video, Freddy demonstrates how to take apart your microphone to reveal the inner capsule and diaphragm. Then, he shows you how to apply each of the three solutions mentioned above with paint brushes to clean the entire interior space of the mic:

How Can I Help Prevent My Mic’s Diaphragm From Getting Dirty?

To help prevent your mic’s diaphragm from getting dirty in the first place, follow these tips

  • Use a pop filter. Pop filters go over the microphone’s head, preventing any saliva from getting into the diaphragm and inner capsule. These are a great tool to help keep your mic clean, especially when you are recording vocals.
  • Invest in a mic cover. If you are a vocalist, putting a foam microphone cover over your mic will help protect it from saliva and other grime, helping to keep your mic’s internal parts clean and dry.
  • Store your mic in a safe place. To help keep your mic clean when you aren’t using it, store it in a plastic bag. This will help prevent dirt, dust, and other unwanted particles from settling on your mic’s diaphragm. If possible, put the mic in its case between uses to add another layer of protection. However, if you have to leave your mic out permanently, always put a bag over it for protection.

Check out the best microphone isolation shields for recording studios.

Final Thoughts

The way you should clean your mic’s diaphragm depends on the type of mic you have. Dynamic mics tend to be the easiest to clean since they have grilles and pads protecting the diaphragm. Typically, all you’ll need to do is clean these elements to make your mic as good as new. 

You can use distilled water and isopropyl alcohol to clean a condenser mic’s diaphragms. These mics are very delicate, so you should clean them at your own risk. 

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Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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