The flute is a precious instrument that requires regular care. Not only is it expensive, it collects moisture, and it’s also made of metals that tarnish. Over time, it will become hard to play, and you’ll be more likely to give up.
Fear not, however, because you have all the power and tools to make sure that your flute lasts and plays well. By the end, you will know how to clean a flute like a pro. This is a skill every flutist should have, whether you’re experienced or a novice.
If you’re looking for a beginner flute check out our article about the best flute for beginners to get started.
- 1 Things you’ll need to clean a flute
- 2 Cleaning Instructions
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
- 4 In Summary
Things you’ll need to clean a flute
- Microfiber or cotton cloth to clean inside the flute. An old T-shirt will work too.
- A cleaning cloth to clean the outside of the flute. These usually come with the flute.
- Cleaning rod. These should be included with the flute. If you don’t have one, buy one since they are cheap.
- Cotton swabs for the hard-to-reach places.
- Cotton gloves (optional)
How To Clean A Flute Inside
1. Take the flute apart and place the parts gently on a table or flat surface. You need to separate the head-joint and foot-joint from the body to clean them thoroughly. Make sure to be gentle with the keys because too much pressure will damage them.
2. Thread the microfiber or cotton cloth through the cleaning rod hole as if it’s a needle. Place the cloth over the rod. Twist the cleaning rod gently so that the cloth wraps around it completely.
3. Start with the foot-joint because it’s usually the driest part of the flute. Gently insert the cleaning rod through the foot-joint while twisting it. Do this as many times as needed. If you’re sure that all the moisture is taken care of, put the foot-joint down gently.
4. Repeat the same process from step 3 with the body of the flute. However, be careful as the body has many keys and avoid getting the cloth caught between the keys.
As you move the cleaning rod up and down the body of the flute, be mindful of how you handle the keys. Be gentle and careful throughout this process.
5. Now take the head-joint and make sure the embouchure hole is facing towards you. Carefully pass the cleaning rod through the head-joint to wipe the saliva and moisture collected inside.
Slow down when you see the rod pass through the hole. If you push any further, you’ll disrupt the tuning cork at the top of the head-joint.
Repeat this cleaning process until you’re satisfied. Afterward, you may want to take a cotton swab to clean the embouchure hole, lip plate, and other hard-to-reach places.
How To Clean The Outside Of The Flute
6. Now that your flute is clean and dry inside, it’s time to clean the outside.
Grab the cleaning cloth and rub each separate part one at a time. Wipe gently to remove fingerprints and dirt. Eventually, it will regain its shine.
The ends of the parts where they attach (called tenons) tend to gather grease and dirt, so make sure to clean them before joining the pieces together.
Be delicate when wiping because the cloth can get caught in the springs underneath the keys.
How To Maintain A Clean Flute
Here are some important things to take note of when cleaning your flute. These will ensure that you don’t damage your precious instrument and it remains clean all the time.
- Do not touch the keypads when wiping. Hold each part underneath by the barrel.
- Do not give your flute a bath. Water and flutes don’t go together. The pads will become unplayable and need replacement.
- You do not need any kind of silver polish or soaps because these will cause the metal to rust.
- Wash your hands before playing. This will remove any grease, oils, and dirt on your hands. Handling your flute with clean hands also means that there are fewer fingerprints to worry about.
- Remove jewelry when playing to avoid scratches.
Clean your flute following the instructions listed above after every use. It should take you 5 mins after each performance or practice. This will keep it clean, dry, and shiny. Above all, your flute will last longer and play comfortably.
Last but not least, store it in its case to avoid collecting dust and moisture. Place the case away from any windows, heat, and direct sunlight. Heat will cause the parts to expand, which will damage your flute.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to grease the joints where the flute parts attach?
It’s not necessary. The tenons will be fine as long as you clean your flute regularly.
My friend played my flute while sick. How can I disinfect it?
You can use a hygienic mist mouthpiece cleaner and wipe it off gently with a soft cloth.
How do I remove rust from a flute?
I would recommend sending your flute to have it professionally cleaned.
How often should I get my flute serviced?
Aim to have it serviced at least once a year. A professional will fix any adjustment mistakes, replace faulty keys and clean the flute thoroughly without causing any damage. You’ll be more excited to pick it up if it looks and feels good.
Now that you have all the knowledge to take good care of your instrument, it’s now time to put it to use. Cleaning your flute daily will not only save you money in the long run but will also last until your next upgrade. Having a sparkling instrument is encouraging, and it will make you look professional too. Keep this article bookmarked to quickly refer to it when you need it.
Kindly share this with other flutists so they also can reap the benefits of having a clean flute. A win for everybody!