How to Remove the Smell From a Microphone

Boy yelling

Even the best singers are sure to have a spell of bad breath from time to time. In fact, even with the most minty fresh breath on the planet, the proximity of a singer’s microphone to their mouth and the particles expelled during singing is enough to lead to a smelly microphone in no time. So what can you do about a stinky mic and how do you prevent this embarrassing odor from becoming a problem in the first place?

The easiest way to remove unwanted odors from a microphone is to remove the foam windscreen and grille, clean them both with water and mild dishwashing detergent, let them dry entirely, and then put them back on the mic. If you can’t remove the grille,  simply turn the microphone upside down and scrub using a soft toothbrush but do not turn right side up until fully dry.

Read on for more detailed steps along with a few additional tricks for removing the stink.

How to Remove Odors From Your Microphone

  1. Remove the foam windscreen and grille. The windscreen should pull right off and most grilles will screw off.
  2. Get the cleaning solution ready. The easiest solution is warm water with a few drops of dishwashing detergent like Dawn. You can also use a mixture of 1 part mouthwash and 3 parts warm water for your grille. This will clean, disinfect, and leave your microphone smelling minty fresh.
  3. Clean the windscreen. Let the solution soak into the foam and then squeeze out. Do this a few times depending on how bad it smelled to begin with. On the final squeeze, make sure to get as much moisture out as possible and then set on some paper towels to air dry.
  4. Clean the grille. With a soft-bristled toothbrush (or baby toothbrush), submerge the grille and then lightly scrub. Set on the paper towels to air dry as well.
  5. Wipe down the microphone body with a cloth and cleaner. The mic body will also get particles from your mouth but also the sweat and oils from your hands. This is remedied with a squirt of 409 or Simple Green into a microfiber cloth then wiping it down.

How To Clean Your Grille If You Can’t Remove It

If you can’t remove the grille, you’ll take the same approach for cleaning your windscreen as above. However, to clean your grille, hold the microphone upside down. Using a mixture of either soap and water, or mouthwash and water, lightly scrub the grille so that the bristles of the toothbrush don’t go in too far. Wipe down with a microfiber cloth to remove as much moisture as possible and then allow to air-dry upside down. Don’t flip the microphone back over until fully dry. A drying rack works great for holding a microphone upside.

As you clean your microphone, there’s a couple things to watch out for:

  • As you clean your windscreen, be careful not to scrub or brush the foam as it may cause damage. It is just foam after all. If you do need a replacement though, they’re pretty cheap – about $9 for a 6-pack on Amazon.
  • Keep all water away from the electronics of the microphone since it can damage the mic to the point where it won’t work.

What NOT to do When Cleaning Your Microphone?

As with any cleaning process, when cleaning your microphone, there are a few do’s and don’ts that are crucial to the success of your job. Here are the main things that you should watch out for as you clean your microphone:

  • Don’t forget to rinse your grille and windscreen after washing. If you don’t remove the cleaners from your windscreen and grille before letting them dry, they are sure to create water spots, potentially damage your microphone over time, and certainly damage your foam windscreen’s material strength.
  • Don’t wash the microphone as one piece, disregarding the electronics inside.
  • Don’t use damaging cleaners like bleach or polish.

Furthermore, cleaning your microphone without any care regarding water damage is a surefire way to lead to a dead mic. Fortunately, in the case of water damage, repairing it can usually be as simple as taking it down to your local music shop for a repair. If your mic is already water damaged or has had other liquids such as alcohol damage it, before cleaning the microphone, you will want to repair this problem and make sure that it is even worth it to fix prior to taking time out on cleaning it.

When Should You Replace Your Microphone Windscreen and Grille?

Windscreen covers - 6pkAccording to the experts, you should replace your foam windscreen at least three times a year to ensure that it is still useful and isn’t simply a deteriorated piece of old foam that’s not even protecting your microphone any longer. Did I mention that you can buy a 6-pack for around $9 on Amazon?

When it comes to replacing the microphone grille, the main things to be concerned about are damage to the actual shape of the grille such as dents as well as damage to the grille’s metal screen. If it becomes busted and holes form in the grille, this could severely damage your microphone and make it far easier for it to be continually damaged until it is replaced.

For this, it is recommended that a grille is replaced at least once a year to keep your microphone protected and clean. If the grille cannot be removed and has been damaged, this is the appropriate time to once more head down to your local music shop to see if it can be fixed or if the microphone is not worth repairing at that point.

pop filter

Microphone grilles can also be found on Amazon or your local music store but make sure to match the correct microphone model. For example, you can find a SM58 replacement grille on Amazon for under $8.

In the long run, replacing these two parts of your microphone is sure to increase the lifespan of your mic and also make your cleaning process far simpler as well. Without having to make up for lost time when it comes to the cleaning of a grille or windscreen by simply replacing them and starting fresh, you can spend your time on what is important—making music—and leave the deep cleaning jobs to the venue owners after you’ve rocked the house and blown minds.

Can a pop Filter Increase the Lifespan of Your Microphone?

Yes, a pop filter will absolutely help you to increase the longevity of any mic guaranteed. It will also reduce the pops in your speaking or singing as you record into the microphone.

Although pop filters are specifically used for recording vocals, they are a great way to reduce the moisture that would otherwise spread from your mouth to the microphone. Pop filters create a barrier between your mouth’s bacteria and the microphone making it far less likely that you will damage the microphone, need to clean it often thus wearing it down, or even have to worry about moisture damage whatsoever.

One thing to take into account is that pop filters must also be cleaned, using roughly the same process to clean them as with the windscreen, with some water and some dishwasher detergent.

There’s a wide range of pop filters on the market but you can find a good one on Amazon starting at around $10.

Keep It Clean

In the end, cleaning your microphone is the best way to keep it lasting longer, performing better, and smelling great for years to come. With a process as simple as this, how could you possibly choose not to clean your microphone? Clean it just 3-4 times a year and others will thank you for it – don’t be the musician with the stanky microphone!

You can find links to specific products in the text above but if you’re looking to buy a new microphone or high quality mic accessories, I’d recommend the Sam Ash website since they specialize in professional music gear.

While you’re on our website, make sure to check out other cleaning guides. By keeping your instrument well maintained, you’ll extend its life and keep it in top playing condition.

Josh Olswanger

I've been playing and writing music since the age of 13. My father is a piano tuner/technician of 40 years, and I've been musically involved in all aspects from composing, to recording, producing and playing live for most of my life. I've always had a fascination and appreciation for all types of music and musical instruments, so creating this site is a perfect outlet to share my knowledge.

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