How To Safely Remove Tape Residue And Other Stains From Mic Bodies
Sometimes you will want to remove stains or residue from adhesive badges or labels on mic bodies.
The goal: to remove the stain without irreversibly altering or marring the mic’s surface.
Here is my general rule when choosing chemicals or mechanical means to remove foreign objects, stains, gooey or dried film from mic bodies: start with the lowest impact chemical and work up from there. The ultimate cure, mechanical abrasion, will usually also cause irreparable damage to the surface it is applied to.
Here is how I usually proceed, in the order from mild to aggressive:
1. VM&P Naphtha - the same stuff luthiers use when they need to remove pickguard adhesive from even the most expensive acoustic guitars: it will not harm the surface of your mic but in many cases will dissolve the adhesive completely without residue. This stuff works on a majority of all cases
2. 100% or 99% Isopropyl Alcohol. It will not affect the nickel-plated surface of your mic, but some types of adhesives will not budge.
3. If that still does not remove stains or decades-old adhesive residues, choose acetone. It's the most aggressive of chemicals I would use on a mic body. It does not affect or bite into metal, but if any lettering or symbols are painted, acetone will affect or dissolve the paint. However, if the lettering was anodized, acetone will not affect the anodization.
Test the acetone on a section of the surface to be treated that is hidden or not in the viewing center: put a small amount of acetone on a Q-Tip, and lightly rub it across the affected area. If the Q-Tip takes on even a slight amount of surface color, the chemical is too aggressive and is dissolving paint. But even with painted letters, you can sometimes still use acetone to remove film or glue residue, if you are very careful: remove the residue only around, not on the lettering or symbol to be preserved.
I'd stay away from abrasive cleaning pastes: at minimum they will alter the sheen of the affected area and make it brighter; at worst, they will leave scratches that cannot be removed without causing ugly shiny spots when you try to buffer them out.