Keep Your Flute in Good Condition, Cleaning Advice and Maintenance Tips
Hello fluters! In this blog post I'll be going through how to clean your flute along with some general flute maintenance advice.
I've brought up the importance of keeping your flute clean in my previous blog posts, but to summarise very quickly, here a few reasons why you want to practise good cleaning habits with your instrument:
Your instrument will last longer in between services
Your flute will need fewer repairs
You won't put yourself at risk by playing on an instrument that has been inhabited by mould
You can avoid making certain skills more difficult to accomplish because of the flute not working optimally
You can fetch a better selling price if you decide to let go of the flute in the future
Let's get started!
Keeping Your Flute Clean
Your instrument is quite valuable, so it makes sense to spend some time and care ensuring that it can last for as long as possible. As a general rule of thumb, you need to clean the inside of your flute after every time you play - even if you only played for five minutes!
This is because moisture and condensation builds up inside your flute the second your start producing a sound. If you let that moisture sit overnight when you're not playing the flute, your instrument quickly becomes a growing environment for mould and you can expose yourself to some health risks. Excessive moisture under your keys can also deteriorate the keypads faster, which means you'll need to replace them more often.
Cleaning the outside of the flute isn't as crucial as cleaning the inside, however you shouldn't forget about doing it. Giving the outside of your flute a thorough wipe down every few days/practice sessions can avoid an excessive buildup of dirt, grease and oils on the exterior. This is especially important for the joints of the flute - where the head joint connects to the middle joint and where the middle joint connects to the foot joint. An excessive build up of dirt, grease or oils can lead to the parts jamming. The parts can then become so stuck that you have to take the instrument to a technician just to be able to take the flute apart again.
Essential Cleaning Equipment
Essential cleaning equipment you should have in your case are:
1. A cleaning rod (preferably wooden)
2. Cleaning gauze
3. Polishing cloth
4. Cleaning paper/blotting paper (optional)
The gauze wraps around the cleaning rod and is used to wipe the inside of the flute while the polishing cloth is used on the outside of the flute to get rid of grease, dirt, and fingerprints. These tools are generally included for free when you purchase a new flute, but if you don't have any, they are available at most music stores at a very affordable price. If you play on a plastic flute, you only need a cleaning swab or the combination of a cleaning rod and gauze. You don't have to use cleaning paper or blotting paper if you're just starting out on flute, but it's very useful in getting rid of any moisture under your keys if you start to play more regularly.
Here are some links to the cleaning equipment:
🎻Cleaning rod - https://amzn.to/3817ZGr
🎻Cleaning gauze (inside the flute) - https://amzn.to/3y4lSOL
🎻Polishing cloth (outside the flute) - https://amzn.to/3D3SJqL
🎻Cleaning swab (for those with plastic flutes) - https://amzn.to/2YMSWiL
🎻Yamaha cleaning paper - https://amzn.to/3B0XzmU
🎻Oil blotting paper (budget) or tally ho - https://amzn.to/3gma4RY
It is strongly recommended that all flutists who are playing their instruments regularly have their flutes serviced once a year or at least every 18 months. The technicians usually clean the keys, oil the levers to make sure that everything is functioning properly and replace any pads that need replacing. Your flute is very similar to a car that needs to be serviced regularly. If an issue comes up with your flute from lack of servicing, it can also make accomplishing certain skills more difficult than it needs to be (due to leaky keys) and therefore slow down your progress. Infrequent servicing can also lead to parts wearing out faster and result in longer or more frequent periods away from your instrument due to repairs. You especially don't want to be caught out just before an exam, audition or performance with an issue and have to stress about finding an available technician last-minute.
At time of writing, you can generally expect to pay around AUD$200-$300 for a student flute service. This amount can be more or less depending on how well you've maintained your flute or the amount of things you need replaced. The servicing cost will generally be higher for intermediate to professional flutes as they have a more complex build and will therefore require finer technician skills.
So those are some of the reasons why it's wise for flute students to begin practising good cleaning habits early on and some things you can do to keep your flute in its optimal condition for as long as possible.
To see my recommendations on beginner flute brands/model, check out my Best Beginner Flute Models/Brands blog post.
For more flute-related resources please feel free to check out my other blog posts. Happy fluting and see you in the next article!