While there are some excellent reasons for cleaning your instruments, keeping them in good condition makes sense. Not only do they look good, but they also work better.
If you ever share an instrument, it is vitally important that you clean it before using it yourself. This is because of the bacteria and viruses which can be spread through sharing them.
Cleaning instruments are essential is schools where several students may use one instrument. Some basic rules should be in place:
- Every musician should have an instrument where possible.
- Every musician should have their mouthpiece.
- Reed instruments should never be shared.
- Any instruments that are shared should be wiped with an alcohol wipe or a germicide solution before being used again.
So, How Do We Care For Different Instruments?
Rotary Valve Brass Instruments
At the end of the day, you should wipe the instrument clean, particularly where you hold it. To do this, you should use a clean polishing cloth.
The rotary valves should be oiled once a week to keep them moving freely.
This is the area which potentially could attract the most bacteria and spread viruses. They need to be cleaned at the end of every day.
To soften any pieces of dried on gunk in the mouthpiece, you should soak it in water with a mild detergent. Don’t use warm or hot water on rubber pieces.
Add a few drops of malt vinegar to some rolled up pieces of kitchen paper and wipe around inside the mouthpiece. If there is hardened gunk, you can leave this overnight to soften, and then remove.
You can buy special swabs at most music stores which stop bacteria forming in the mouthpiece.
Flute Head Joints
Use a cotton swab which has been saturated with denatured isopropyl alcohol. You can also use alcohol wipes on the lip plate if the instrument has been shared.
After you have cleaned it, you should use a soft, lint-free cloth to clean the inside of the head joint.
Do not use hot water on this as it will eventually shrink the head joint.
Hard Rubber Mouthpieces
These are normally made of Ebony and should be swabbed after every use and properly cleaned once a week.
Place the mouthpiece tip in a small container. Fill the container with a solution of half water and half white vinegar. You can also use half and half of water and hydrogen peroxide.
After a short soak, you should use a small brush to remove any calcium from the inside.
Rinse thoroughly then saturate with a germicidal solution and wipe dry with kitchen paper.
Many people use earbuds during the day. Often you will use them on your way to work and during your work.
Earbuds transmit bacteria from person to person if they are shared. They can cause very unpleasant ear infections.
You should clean your earbuds every week or after every use if they have been shared. Here is a detailed guide from Victorbailey.com on how to clean your headphones properly.
Use a small mix of soap and warm water; dishwashing detergent will work fine. Don’t use too much of the soap as it can leave a residue. Also, don’t use too much water.
For any visible dirt or dust, you can use a brush to remove and dislodge the dust and dirt.
Earbuds with removable covers can be taken apart and cleaned separately. Don’t submerge the little heads in water as it will damage the wiring.
The little foam covers can be gently washed in a mild solution of soapy water and then left to dry before replacing on the heads.
To Sum Up
If possible, never share any instruments. If you need to share make sure that the instrument is clean before you use it so that you don’t come in contact with any viruses and bacteria.
While cleaning is essential for health reasons, it will also make your instrument look good and work better.