Cleaning the Radio Pandemic 101

Look closely. A cleaning product damaged this after-market shock mount.

Letting employees work from home is a great way to keep them safe and healthy during a pandemic, but it’s not always possible. It is therefore more important than ever to keep the radio studios clean.

Best practice, of course, begins with training staff on how to wash their hands properly and how to use hand disinfectants. And hopefully you’ve given your air talent custom microphone windshields.

But what about cleaning your special radios?

Let’s share some recommendations from manufacturers. The information should not be taken as the last word, but rather as a complement to national guidelines and recommendations from organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

Buttons turn into lumps

The components of common cleaning products can cause unexpected problems when used in radios.

Optimized Media Group’s Jim Gray has a client whose employees started using household cleaners with the pandemic. These included 409, Clorox, Windex, Lysol, and a few other well-known brands.

However, many of these cleaners contain ammonia, which can be very harmful to rubber and plastics. Whether from a particular cleaner or a combination thereof, the equipment at the station responded poorly. Device buttons became soft and deformed. Automation screens turned cloudy. Microphone shock absorbers had to be replaced.

Keycaps coated with rubber can be cleaned after frequent cleaning with non-approved cleaning agents, e.g. B. Products with ammonia, become “jelly”.

Jim estimated the cost of the damage to be around $ 2,000. Since making the necessary repairs, he has bought disinfectant-proof disinfectants. He uses 70% isopropyl alcohol as a cleaning agent, but encourages others to do their own research for their needs.

The CDC does not have any radio-specific guidelines, but for electronics it is best to use covers that can be wiped clean if possible. Obviously, this is not practical for devices that are used all the time.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfecting. If instructions are not available, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays that contain at least 70% alcohol. Apply it to a clean cloth, not directly on the surface. Then dry the surfaces thoroughly.

For convenience, Jim Gray cut a roll of heavy paper towels into three parts and placed them in a disposable Rubbermaid food container containing 70% isopropyl alcohol.

The CDC has a detailed information page on disinfection equipment, including sections on soft surfaces, electronics, laundry, outdoor areas, and other problem areas.

Ask the makers

As the CDC points out, manufacturers are an important source of information for cleaning and disinfecting specialized equipment.

At Telos Alliance, for example, support engineer Johnny Goldsmith and marketing coordinator Bryan Shay find that some parts of Axia products have rubber coatings, so household cleaners can cause problems.

They recommend 70% isopropyl alcohol, which is applied with a damp, soft cloth. Let it sit on the device for 30 seconds or more and then dry it thoroughly with another soft cloth.

The Telos Alliance reminds us to wipe with 70% alcohol solution, let sit and then dry.

They say you should avoid using Clorox wipes or similar wipes on consoles and similar equipment as it can cause the print to fade. They do not recommend spraying disinfectants or detergents directly on a surface as liquid can cause major problems if it penetrates electronics.

With Telos VSet telephones, the handset can be cleaned with Clorox cloths. However, the company continues to recommend isopropyl alcohol to ensure that no liquid gets into the earpiece or mouthpiece holes.

According to Goldsmith, you can find recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting consoles and devices on the company’s website.

According to Support Technician Dick Webb, you will be looking at Wheatstone for disinfectant wipes that are specifically labeled as suitable for use on electronic devices. Check the ingredients and avoid corrosive substances.

Dick recommends testing a detergent on an inconspicuous area to make sure it won’t damage the surface. In addition to not spraying equipment directly, he notes that a cloth can also cause damage if it’s soaking wet and liquid drips onto and into electronics.

Little who

Microphones are an obvious problem. If windshields are used, each user should be issued their own.

As for cleaning, Audio-Technica’s Audio Solutions division says you can remove a windshield and lightly spray it with a disinfectant. Foam windshield and headphone covers can be hand washed in a sink with mild soap. However, carefully wring them out and dry them thoroughly before using them.

For microphones, arms, booms, and headphones, dampen a wipe with 70% alcohol and wipe the surfaces. It should be damp enough to show moisture on the surface to be cleaned, but never so strong that it saturates the inside.

Most microphones have metal grilles and foam or other material to reduce wind / popping noise. Food residues as well as viruses and other germs can penetrate through the grilles. Some manufacturers recommend that you spray a microphone very lightly with a “mist”, but Audio-Technica strongly advises against it.

“If a microphone, like most handheld microphones, has a detachable metal grille, unscrew the grille and clean it while it’s separated from the microphone’s membrane and electronics,” a support page said. “Internal windshields should also be removed from the grille and cleaned separately.”

While ammonia or chlorine detergents can be effective for viruses, I would be very concerned about their use on microphones as both can quickly destroy soft materials. and they can leave a pretty foul smell on someone holding their face an inch away from a microphone.

For a useful and in-depth discussion, see How Do I Clean My Audio-Technica Microphones? For other brands, try a similar search or contact the manufacturer.

ElectroVoice staff add that if the microphone has a removable threaded mesh, it can be removed and soaked in hot, soapy water with the internal foam components. The grille and foam components should air dry before reassembling and using the microphone. With solid grids, a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush can be used to clean between the grid wires. Visit

Furniture making

Regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched, such as: B. Light switches and doorknobs. Detergents like Brillianize, used with microfiber cloths, can kill 99% of bacteria, according to a University of California, Davis study found on its website.

Studio furniture is one such surface. According to David Holland, Omnirax’s chief design officer, the company builds its countertops from Wilsonart high-pressure laminate, a very durable material. You can use more robust cleaners on these than with electronics.

Omnirax builds products with durable Wilsonart HPL. It’s a good idea to get used to trying a cleaner in an inconspicuous place first.

Wilsonart recommends cleaning with detergent, warm water and a soft cloth first and then applying a SARS-CoV-2 approved disinfectant. If it doesn’t, use a dilute bleach solution per CDC guidelines (remember to test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area first):

Wilsonart has a helpful nine page guide that includes discussion of specific brands. you can find it at

You never want to forget your remote control. It is not only in contact with people but also in the field.

Jacob Daniluck at Tieline gives advice never to spray directly on your equipment and use a clean, soft rag dampened with 70% isopropyl alcohol.

Tieline and other manufacturers say don’t spray your equipment; Instead, use a damp but not soaking wet cloth. A solution of 70% isopropyl alcohol can be used.

One final note is that OSHA requires companies to keep Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all chemicals and detergents. Please note this when handling chemicals at your station. If someone is “splashed” in the eyes or inhales a cleaner, you need to know how to handle them. You should consult OSHA regulations and / or your safety manager.

In summary, manufacturers want us to be intelligent and well informed about cleaning. The real experts are doctors and scientists. So the manufacturers I spoke to said that you should refer to CDC guidelines when protecting the health of your employees.

While this pandemic will eventually be overcome, colds and fluids will not be overcome. Adhering to our best cleaning methods will help minimize future sick staff and downtime and keep your equipment and studios safe.

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