What's really the best way to clean a drum? Here are some quick ideas that may help you out.
The first thing you will need is a 100% cotton flannel Rag. It's very important that the fabric be l00%-cotton. Man made fabrics like polyester or rayon are harder than the finishes that come on drums painted or wrapped. This simply means that they will scratch the finish.
The next item you need is a bottle of Windex. Never spray Windex or any other liquid directly on a drum, or use it in direct sunlight. Hold your rag one to two feet away from the spray bottle and lightly mist the rag. Now, with great care, gently clean the finish. Remember, the harder you scrub, the more likely you are to scratch the finish. This should remove the grimy junk that ends up on your kit from playing in smoky clubs.
If you play in a club where there is sawdust on the floor, or if you play outside on or near a dirt floor or open area, you should remove the edge pieces of dirt or heavy dust before you clean, because these pieces will cause scratching. As a rule of thumb, just imagine that everything you attempt may possibly scratch the drum, and go into your cleaning procedure with great caution. A feather duster works well as a dust remover when used regularly.
I make a point to clean bass drum hoops whenever I change a head. I have seen some old drums on which the front head has never been changed. Science experiments grow in that kind of mess. Accumulation between the edge of a head, and the drum rim, or between the head collar and the shell, can ruin a finish.
Replace claw hooks in exactly the same place from which they were removed, in order to minimize marring. If you don't do this, consider the following: over the course of a few years, you are likely to remove the batter head on your bass drum for replacement, or for any number of other reasons, many, many times. If you are not careful about replacing the claw hooks, you can destroy the bass drum hoop fairly quickly. On the other hand, if you do use care, you can maximize the life of the hoop and save yourself some money. Also, the rubber pads now available to protect hoops from the clamps of bass drum pedals are a good idea. You can use moleskin as well. It is available in any grocery store. You can use it for the second clamp of a double pedal and for cowbell clamps too.
Hardware can be cleaned in the same way that you clean the shells. Again spray your rag, not the item being cleaned. Even non-gritty spray cleaners can gum up the moving parts of stand tripods, hi-hats, etc. Chrome polish can sometimes be used very sparingly, with caution, and only as a last resort to shine up an older dull looking piece of equipment when Windex won't. However, if the item is pitted from rust, don't waste you time. It's time to buy something new.
The rule when cleaning drum equipment is to use great care. Never attempt anything you do not fully understand. Cleaning a drum set sounds easy but doing it improperly can permanently damage your instrument, to say nothing of your investment. If you are not sure about the best way to do something, ask another experienced drummer or come in to the music store and I will be happy to advise you on any problem you may have.