How To Clean Speaker Grills
Speakers are a great addition to any music lover’s home, but you need to take proper care of them if you want the experience to last. For example, did you know that the speaker grill is one of the most vulnerable parts of each speaker? If you were to splash your speaker with liquid, the greatest damage would be caused when it reaches the wires and the grill. Not only is this dangerous, but also costly to repair!
Modern speakers are often made in cylindrical shapes, which means that the speaker grill sometimes makes up to 70% of the speaker’s surface! That’s why taking proper care of your speaker grills ensures no damage to this protective membrane, which protects the whole setup inside.
Step By Step Explanation - How To Clean Speaker Grills?
Speaker grills combine several materials, which include cloth and metal. This is why we’ll have to work carefully and make sure we don’t damage any of the two. We use different approaches for different components - you don’t want to rip the mesh part by scrubbing it harshly like the way you’d scrub the metal part, right? Let’s dive into the explanation.
1. Prepare your work environment. Lay the speaker on a soft but firm surface. You can use a blanket or a cloth on the floor for this purpose. Get your tools, as well as a small container for the screws you might take out. Make sure there is no water around nearby, waiting to be spilled.
2. Unplug the speaker. You don’t want to start the process while the gadget’s still attached to the power source. That is dangerous both for you and the speaker - gently unplug all the wiring.
3. Detach the speaker grills. In some cases, this will be easy, as the grill just needs to pop off or slide off. In other cases, if the grill is attached from the inside, you will have to take apart the whole housing. To begin with, assess whether there are any screws to be taken out from the outside. If not, that means you have to remove a certain side of the speaker’s housing - check the top and the bottom for the screws. Sometimes you have to “pry the speaker open,” so make sure to apply force, but use a wiggling motion instead of simply pulling the gadget apart.
4. Make sure you don’t move the rubber gasket around, and if you do, put it back. The rubber gasket is a crucial part of the speaker, so make sure not to damage it. Although you may move it around a bit, as it’s usually located right under the grill, you should avoid manipulating it around on your own. If you do move it, make sure to put it right back - do not do this with a screwdriver or any sharp tools.
5. Vacuum the grill. Only do this if the grill is so filthy that you see particles of dust moving around through the air after popping the grill off. Make sure to use a lower setting and the dust brush attachment, as you don’t want to rip the cloth apart. If you don’t have this attachment, you can put a cloth around the vacuum’s pipe to make sure you don’t pull and stretch the speaker’s fabric. You can also blow some air into the speaker to remove any dust built up over time. But, again, be gentle, and do not move the wiring around.
6. Take apart the cloth and the metal part. If possible, it’s best to treat these two separately. You’ll be more precise, and you can be a little tougher on the metal without hurting the cloth. The two may be attached with glue, screws, or “the sandwich method” - metal, cloth, metal. Make sure you take the two apart only if you know how to put them back together and have proper materials to put them back.
7. Clean the metal part. This is usually the easier step of the two, as you don’t have to be as gentle. Using a microfiber cloth or a pure cotton cloth will be best, and you’ll have to use a cleanser (cleaning liquid) of some type. We suggest putting a little bit of mild detergent or soap into some warm water, but you can also use dish soap. Then, using circular motions, you gently scrub the metal, ensuring you don’t scratch the color off. If there are any stubborn spots, you can use a harsher detergent or an all-purpose cleaner.
8. Clean the cloth. This part is a bit more complicated, as you don’t want to scrub the cloth a lot - you’ll just create lint. We suggest you first use a lint roller (or packing tape) on the cloth’s surface and then use the wet cotton cloth or microfiber - use dabbing motions to press some mild detergent onto the surface. If there is no foul smell trapped in the grill’s cloth, you can use warm water only. You can spray a bit of natural hydrolate on it, as this will leave it smelling nice and fresh. A good rule of thumb is to use as little liquid as possible while leaving the cloth to dry naturally and thoroughly - this eliminates mold.
9. Put everything back together. Some parts of the speaker grill, especially if any rubber acts as isolation, can be quite fragile - be gentle when you’re putting things back together.
Our Words Of Advice
Make sure you know how to take apart AND put back the parts. Many people have fun while taking their speakers apart, as you just unscrew a few screws and continue with your day. However, putting everything back together can be quite tough - that’s why some people record the process of dismantling the speaker and reverse it when building it back together. You can also reach for the manual to see whether there is any advice in the maintenance section.
Consult the product manufacturer regarding the cleanser. Not all materials work the same - it’s always better to opt for something gentle until you know what the manufacturer recommends. You can always contact their customer service to check whether they have any suggestions.
Check the manual. This is quite obvious, but it’s important to keep in mind. Not only is each brand different, but each model in the brand’s production line too. Who could know better how to clean your speaker than the company that made it? Maybe there are some tips and tricks hidden in the manual, as well.
Harsh chemicals are allowed only for spot treatments! Of course, we suggest you always avoid solvents and harsh chemicals, but if you must treat a certain piece of cloth with something stronger, use foams made specifically for speaker grills. Many won’t be able to find those in their local shops, though, so you can give a foaming carpet cleaner a shot. Test it on a small patch first, though!
Don’t test your luck with essential oils. We had to mention this as essential oils have been taking the world by storm. Although they might be useful for many things around the household, they’re still oils, and putting them on the speaker grill might make the cloth prone to mold. It might even distort the sound by thinning the cloth.
Take your time with the drying process. It’s best to leave the cloth dry overnight. Don’t use excess heat on it, and make sure you don’t use the dryer machine.
Do not touch the speaker drivers. The only way to clean these is by using a feather duster while maintaining the gentlest hand possible. We assure you these do not need any extra attention, though, so don’t mess around with them too much.
Cleaning moldy speaker cloths often fails. We have to set realistic expectations here! You can try lemon, vinegar, or baking soda, and if you want to opt for something harsher, bleach does the work. It may discolor the cloth and potentially ruin it, but it’s your best chance of killing the mold spores. Replacing the whole cloth is much easier and safer, though.
Do not “mix-match” replace parts on your own. Many will rip their speaker grills’ cloth while using too much pressure, and then they replace it with a similar semi-opaque material they find at home. Beware - transparent and acoustically transparent materials are not the same thing, so make sure that you get your hands on the proper cloth replacement if this happens.
Do not put the cloth in a washing machine. Not only can it rip, but it can also shrink. Also, laundry detergent is way too harsh on this material. We know it sounds easy and tempting to just throw the whole thing in, but take your time and hand wash it.
Rinse and maintain, so you don’t have to scrub. To ensure that you don’t have to use extensive force and lots of chemicals, just maintain the speaker grill with cloth and water monthly.
You must take care of all parts of your speakers, especially those that act as a membrane. Cleaning the speaker grill might be a little bit tricky at first, but if you use mild cleansers, a steady, gentle hand, and take your time, not much could go wrong.
About the author:
I grew up to be a self-proclaimed stuck-up audiophile, and I – partially – blame Pinnacle Speakers for it.
The whole point of me starting this website was to keep the tradition going. Although the means have changed, the mission remains the same: Bringing „sterling sound“ as they once put it into home theaters and sound systems worldwide!