How to clean and polish your metal hardware to prevent rust and pitting.
What causes pitting? Pitting results from moisture getting through tiny cracks and scratches in the thin chrome plating. That leads to rusting of the underlying metal causing a cavity that the chrome plating sinks into. So the solution is to keep your hardware dry so it can’t pit. The most common protection for chromed stands and parts (and metal car bumpers) is wax. There are other high tech solutions like polymers but we are talking DIY home remedies here.
I know this sounds crazy and will not earn you any brownie points with your better half, but put your stands and lugs and hoops in the dishwasher inside some net bags and use regular dishwasher detergent. The heat and water will get the initial dirt, dust and crud off the metal without and will also dry it quickly. It also really works on the un-chromed inside of those stand tubes. Pull or push thin cotton strips or terry cloth strips through the stand tubes with a smaller metal rod to remove any build up .
Then, using Murphy’s oil soap in a plastic bucket or pan of hot water, clean each piece with paper towels and soft tooth brushes. If a piece is heavily oxidized then it will need to soak in Naval jelly which is a goo the Navy developed for taking the rust off of battleships! You can find it at Home Depot or the hardware store. Other products that clean chrome really well are Meguiar's Chrome Polish, Mother’s mag/metal polish and, believe it or not, toothpaste! If necessary for tough rust and tarnish spots you can use 00000 gauge steel wool and machine oil or WD40. The secret of keeping the steel wool from scratching the chrome plating is to use lots of oil – keep it wet and don’t use pressure – just lightly rub the steel wool over it until the rust spots and tarnish disappear.
After drying the stands and parts thoroughly with that hair dryer you haven’t used since the 80s, polish them. Here’s the secret to polishing; the cleaner the chrome, the less polishing it needs. If you have a buffing machine with a soft wheel and jeweler’s rouge, that will speed up the process but you do run the risk of buffing too hard and not having enough buffing compound on the piece thus wearing down or scratching the plating. If you have cleaned the chrome thoroughly, then a soft cotton cloth, like a diaper, is all you really need to rub the chrome to a high shine. You don’t have to use a polishing cream but, if you do, a cream cymbal polish or any cream metal polish will work and you don’t need to use a lot of it.
Pretty much any commercial wax will coat your stands and parts. Drum hardware is the same as car hardware – chrome on nickel on steel. Turtle Wax or any auto parts store premium car wax works well. Any carnuba type wax works well. Martin’s guitar spray polish is a carnuba wax that I use a lot. Apply the wax to the piece and rub it with soft cloth until blended in. Waxing is the simplest but most important part of the process that most drummers don’t do. This is what protects the chrome from humidity and fingerprint oil, and it adds years to the finish. Be sure to coat the stands and parts inside and out. And remember, "The drummer with the prettiest drum set gets the gig"!