How to clean your instrument

Best ways to clean string and wind instruments

Best ways to clean string and wind instrumentsAttention to cleanliness of your instrument not only helps with reducing the potential of it harbouring nasty bacteria, but it also prolongs the life of your instrument.

Ideally your instrument should be cleaned every time you use it, but often the practicalities of this is just not possible! Start with once a week and build up from there once you become more proficient at cleaning it.

Making sure that you always wash your hands prior to playing your instrument as this will also ensure that it is kept cleaner for longer.

Here’s a quick run down of what you should be doing when cleaning  each type of instrument:


Reeds: wipe with clean cloth and store in reed holder

Mouthpiece: clean with warm water and small brush (like a toothbrush). Use a lint free cloth to dry thoroughly by pulling it through the mouthpiece. Particularly dirty mouthpieces can be soaked for short periods in detergent before gently brushing clean.

Body: Use your swab to gently pull it through the body to remove moisture from the inside.

Keys/outside: Wipe over with a soft lint-free cloth. Don’t use water on the body of the instrument.


Body: As dust can scratch the body of the piano, the best option to use is a feather duster. If you want to remove fingerprints or other dirty marks then a slightly damp cloth will do the trick

Keyboard: Use a dry cloth or slightly damp cloth to gently wipe over the keys


Strings and bow rosin: Remove shoulder rest and using a lint free cloth, wipe over the strings and bow

Neck and body: Using a second lint free cloth wipe over these areas. Using a different cloth will ensure that the rosin dust on the first cloth doesn’t scratch the varnish. Never use any time of alcohol or alcohol wipe as this will damage the varnish.

If your instrument has stubborn marks then it is always advisable to take it to a professional for cleaning. A yearly service will also ensure that your instrument remains in good working order.

Remember that your instrument is a living thing! Just like us, it needs to be clean in order to be in peak working condition. By remembering to take a few extra steps each time you play your instrument, you will ensure that it will last a lifetime.

If you have any questions about hygiene or cleaning your instrument, please ask your teacher. We can refer you to a professional if need be.