I got a comment recently on a past blog post that inspired me to create this post on how to take care of your instrument cleaning supplies! With a little TLC, your cleaning supplies can last for several years. So when your cleaning cloths get a little dirty, save your hard-earned dollars and give them a scrub!
Interior cleaning swabs
Swab cloths to clean the inside of the flute are generally made of cotton or silk, or a hybrid of the two. When it starts looking (or smelling…) like it needs a cleaning, feel free to hand-wash it or toss it in the washing machine. My best recommendation is to wash with warm water with NO liquid fabric softener. Liquid softeners leave a residue on cloth that can build up over time and can transfer to the metal and pads inside of the flute, so it’s best not to use it. Hang dry or tumble dry low, with like materials. If your cloth has a “raw” edge I would not recommend putting it in the dryer.
Exterior polishing cloths
Like interior swabs, polishing cloths can be washed in a similar manner, in warm water with no liquid softener, or as recommended by the manufacturer. When purchasing a polishing cloth, take care to ensure that it is not “treated” with any chemicals, as they can damage the pads. Also remember to never use jewelry cleaner or other liquid or spray silver cleaner on the body of the instrument, for the same reason. Tumble or air-dry.
Pad Savers are a great product, but it is important to ensure they are used correctly. For more information, read my blog post on these handy products here. If you are using them properly and not as the primary swabbing method, they should only need to be cleaned once a year or so. Based on my personal experience, I recommend only hand-washing the pad saver with some gentle dish soap. A little goes a long, long way–just use a tiny amount, as it will produce quite a bit of suds! Gently scrub the pad saver with your hands, then rinse (very!) thoroughly. Squeeze any excess moisture, then leave to air dry in a dish drainer or paper towels. Keep in mind that it will probably take 24 or more hours for it to get completely dry all around it. Make sure it is thoroughly dry before using it inside your flute again.
Do you have other questions about flute TLC? Post your comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!