According to the invention, techniques for cleaning a rotary magneto-resistive head. Embodiments according to the invention are especially useful in tape drive systems, and the like. Embodiments can provide methods and apparatus for cleaning contaminant from rotary magneto-resistive heads while guarding against damage to the head from excess cleaning, and the like. Specific embodiments can control the rotational speed of a rotary magneto-resistive head in order to facilitate cleaning operations. Embodiments include a cleaning device and a control method, and are suited for use in a magneto-resistive head mounted on a rotary cylinder of a computer tape storage unit, for example, although application of the present invention is not limited to such embodiments.