Learning how to clean your DJ gear is crucial for ensuring everything works at its best each time you perform a DJ set.
DJ controllers and mixers, as well as other equipment, are exposed to dirt, dust, and moisture, which can easily compromise electronics.
Read on, and we’ll break down the best cleaning materials to maintain your gear and avoid expensive repairs and replacements.
How To Clean Your DJ Gear (Ultimate Guide)
Effectively cleaning DJ equipment requires a variety of cleaning products to remove dirt and dust as well as smudges and other gunk.
We’ve covered everything you’ll need to properly maintain your DJ gear, along with the best methods to follow for optimal cleaning.
Without further ado, let’s break down in detail everything you need to get your DJ gear looking brand new:
Why Clean Your DJ Equipment?
The first and most obvious reason you should clean and maintain your DJ setup is to ensure everything functions correctly.
Loose dirt, excess dust, and gunk can easily accumulate in DJ controllers and other gear, potentially causing lasting damage.
These unwanted artifacts can block heat exhaust areas by trapping hot air, increasing the chances of the device overheating.
Additionally, sticky sweat and general dirt from touching equipment, along with splashes from drinks, also build up over time.
Clean equipment is also crucial for anyone who is building their DJ brand and is keen to make a strong, lasting impression on clients.
If you perform your first gig with dirty equipment and have failed to keep your DJ gear clean, it may well be your last at that venue.
First impressions count, so taking the time to clean your DJ controller and other equipment could make the difference between success and failure.
If you’re DJing with traditional turntables or using a DVS setup, it’s essential that you carefully remove loose dust and dirt.
Finally, cleaning your gear is an important aspect of a DJ’s mental health, reducing the chances of illness due to germs.
What DJ Gear Should Be Cleaned?
Whether you’ve invested in the latest DJ technology or using traditional turntables, your gear is prone to damage over time.
Poor maintenance can lead to costly repair costs or, even worse, irreparable equipment you need to replace entirely.
Any equipment you’re using in a DJ set should be thoroughly cleaned to ensure it works optimally at all times.
This includes your DJ controller and DJ mixer, as well as any additional gear and peripherals, such as headphones and microphones.
If you’re using a laptop as part of your DJ gear, this should also be on your cleaning to-do list to ensure it’s free from dirt and dust.
Traditional turntables are prone to a build-up of dust, particularly around the needle and cartridge, and will need regular maintenance.
Likewise, DJs who are mixing on turntables should apply the same high standards of maintenance to their vinyl collection.
Vinyl records are not only prone to gathering dust but can also accumulate fingerprints that will detrimentally affect sound quality.
Cleaning Tools List
Whether you’re serious about building a DJ business or a casual DJ at house parties, you should invest in the relevant cleaning tools.
There is a range of effective cleaning products you can invest in on a low budget that will be important when cleaning your DJ gear.
- A Microfibre Cloth.
A microfiber cloth made using non-abrasive materials, which makes it ideal for cleaning gear without leaving marks or scratches.
- A Damp Absorbent Cloth.
If you have any moisture or beads of sweat on your gear, you can use this to gently remove it before a more thorough clean.
- A Vacuum Cleaner.
Using a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment is an effective way to remove dust from hard-to-reach places, such as beneath a crossfader.
- Can Of Compressed Air.
Like a vacuum cleaner, compressed air can be handy to blow dust out of difficult-to-access components.
- Isopropyl Alcohol/Cleaning Solution.
A great disinfectant for the surfaces of your equipment, isopropyl alcohol is also commonly referred to as rubbing alcohol.
A small paintbrush or toothbrush allows you to get into small spaces between controls and clean out stubborn dirt.
All of these cleaning products can be purchased for very little money and should last you for multiple cleans before and after DJ sets.
They should also be an integral component of your overall setup, so carrying them in your flight case or record bag is a must.
Microfibre Cloths VS. Traditional Cloths
One of the most crucial items of cleaning gear you’ll be using to maintain your DJ equipment is a microfibre cloth.
While standard soft cotton cloths are fine for perfunctory wiping down surfaces, they lack the ability to effectively collect dirt.
DJ equipment is also sensitive and requires the delicate touch offered by a microfibre cloth, trapping dirt, dust, and oil.
The fiber patterns inherent in a microfibre cloth make it perfect for handling surfaces typically prone to scratching.
These factors make a microfibre cloth one of the most important products for maintaining your DJ controller and other gear.
Now that we’ve established the essential products you’ll need, let’s dive into the step-by-step processes for cleaning your gear.
How To Clean Your DJ Gear (Step-By-Step)
Different DJs use different setups for their live mixes, so we’ve included instructions here covering all types of gear involved in DJing.
Make sure you thoroughly clean all of your equipment to make sure everything functions optimally at all times.
1. Cleaning Your CDJs & Controllers
Your CDJs and controllers get the most amount of use during a set, so cleaning these should be your priority when maintaining your gear.
There are several basic steps you need to follow to clean your DJ controller and clear it of dust and other dirt.
To clean your DJ controller:
- Begin by using a soft cloth to wipe off visible sweat and other dirt you can spot on your DJ controller.
- Next, lightly wipe the surfaces and use minimal water so you don’t damage the electronics with a damp cloth and avoid any digital displays.
- Blow compressed air into the faders and knobs to lift out as much dust as you can that has been trapped in these areas.
- Switch to a microfibre cloth and use this for a more thorough wipe of the entire DJ controller to clear any remaining dust.
- Apply isopropyl alcohol to disinfect the surfaces of the DJ controller and kill off any remaining germs.
- Use a dry cloth, or leave the DJ controller to dry of its own accord before you stow it back in its protective carry case.
It’s important to take your time cleaning your DJ controller since this piece of equipment is highly prone to finger traffic and other dirt.
By performing regular maintenance, your DJ controller is less likely to accumulate dirt and dust over time and fail to perform optimally.
2. Taking Care Of Your DJ Mixer
Cleaning and maintaining your DJ mixer is equally as important as good maintenance of CDJs and DJ controllers.
If your mixer is compromised with excess dust or dirt, mastering DJ techniques will be more difficult due to unresponsive controls.
There are a few core components of a mixer you need to be aware of before you start to clean it.
These include the crossfader, as well as the channel faders and switches found in the mixer’s EQ panel.
More advanced mixers also include effects and filters that will also require your attention when cleaning the device.
Follow these steps to ensure your mixer is thoroughly cleaned:
- Remove any visible dust and dirt using the compressed air can in conjunction with the small paintbrush or toothbrush.
- Next, take an absorbent cloth that is damp rather than wet to wipe away any persistent marks and stains from the mixer.
- You may need to clean the inside of your mixer if dust or other dirt has fallen into the gaps around the crossfader and sliders.
- Carefully remove the mixer’s cover with a screwdriver and check the internal electronics for dirt.
- Then, use an air can to carefully blow this dirt out of the interior, avoiding using cloths or your fingers as this increases the likelihood of damage.
3. Optimizing Your Vinyl Turntables
Vinyl turntables feature components and moving parts you won’t find on other DJ gear and require a different approach to cleaning.
These components include the needles and cartridges, the pitch slider, and the turntable’s primary plate and slipmats.
To thoroughly clean your turntables:
- Carefully remove the cartridges from the tone arm and place them upside down so the needles are facing upwards.
- Lightly brush them or use compressed air from the can so any visible dust and fluff that has accumulated is removed.
- Take the slipmats off the turntable and wipe them down on both sides using a damp cloth until they are free from dirt and smudges.
- Wipe down the turntable platters with isopropyl alcohol or a fresh damp cloth, then allow them to dry or use a cloth to speed up this process.
- Use air to blow away any dust or dirt from the pitch sliders, then finish off by wiping around the sliders and tonearm to complete the cleaning process.
4. Maintaining Your Physical Media
Many modern DJs prefer to avoid physical media and sign up to a DJ pool where they can easily access digital music files.
If, however, you’re using CDs or traditional vinyl records, you’ll need to pay attention to this media and keep it clean.
There are many cleaning solutions/cloth combinations you can purchase online that use materials that won’t scratch your records.
Avoid using commercially available cleaners such as benzine and thinner since these are liable to damage your records.
Likewise, for CDs, there are specific tools you can pick up cheaply that will clean them without scratching the surfaces.
Again, microfibre cloths are a great asset to include in your DJ kit for regular cleaning and cost very little to acquire.
5. Wiping Down Your DJ Laptop
Some DJs use a laptop as part of their setup, which will also require regular maintenance to prevent it from getting damaged.
Turn your laptop off before you start to clean it, then open up the screen.
Once you’ve done this:
- Blast any loose dust and dirt off the keyboard and screen using an air canister, and turn the laptop upside down to shake off additional dirt.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush extension to suck up dirt without scratching the surface.
- Next, take your microfibre cloth and use this to gently wipe down the screen and keyboard or any remaining smudges until it is completely clean.
- Finally, close the laptop and wipe down the outside surfaces until they are also free from dust and other dirt smudges.
- For additional protection, using a protective case will also help to minimize the dirt accumulation on your laptop.
The Post-Gig Wipedown
Whether you’re focused on DJing at a wedding or working in clubs, your gear will be exposed to dust, dirt, and water particles.
This means you should perform a complete clean of all your equipment as soon as you can following your DJ gigs.
If you can do this in the venue before packing down, then you should try to be as thorough as possible.
Alternatively, if you’re in a rush to leave, make sure you unpack and clean your controllers, mixers, and other gear when you get home.
The sooner you perform cleaning and maintenance, the less likely dust and other dirt are to fall inside the gaps around sliders and knobs.
For more delicate tasks, such as cleaning the screen of your laptop, it’s advisable to wait until you arrive home, where lighting is optimal.
We hope you’ve found this guide to cleaning DJ gear an informative resource for equipment upkeep and maintenance.
With DJ controllers and mixers costing a lot of money, good maintenance is essential for avoiding expensive repairs and replacements.
Provided you follow the instructions outlined above on a regular basis, your gear should work optimally for many years to come.
Access a vast music library by signing up to ZIPDJ to make the most of your DJ gear.