The Flute Academy
How to clean a flute the correct way

Flute Q&A #31: How to clean a flute the correct way

Sep 12, 2022

In this Flute Q&A you'll learn how to clean your flute correctly and the fastest way to do it!

How to clean a flute the correct way

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Swabbing the flute

Welcome to flute Q&A #31. This question comes from Sylvia. She says, what is the correct way to swab my flute? Well, conveniently I have my flute cleaning rod with me here. Now this is a little bit embarrassing. It's not very clean. Actually it is clean. It's been washed. It's just not very new. 

Quickest way to clean your flute

This is the cleaning gauze that you will need Sylvia to clean your flute. I'm gonna explain to you why to clean your flute, besides the obvious reasons to keep it clean and the quickest way to clean your flute.

Fast ways to improve on the flute

So, firstly, my name is Jane Cavanagh. I am a flute teacher and I love teaching people fast ways to improve on the flute. So in this case, this is not a fast way to improve on the flute, but it is a fast way to clean your flute.

Clean flute

And when your flute doesn't smell, which is good, it makes you more inclined to want to play it which means that you'll play more and then you will improve. So indirectly, this is gonna help you get better at the flute, but no, actually this is just a maintenance thing really.

Cleaning rod for the flute

All right. So this is a cleaning rod that you should have with your flute. This is the cleaning cloth that is old, but it is clean. The first thing you do is put the little corner of it through like that. Now these cleaning gauze are really cheap. This one was about $5 and I've had it for a long time. As you can tell by the state of it.  After every time I play the flute, I swab out the inside of my flute. The reason for this, you want to remove as much moisture as possible from the inside of your flute before you put it in the flute case.

Flute stand

If I leave my flute out in my flute stand here. If I leave my flute out because I'm playing all day or I'm going to play the next day, I actually don't clean the inside of my flute at all because it dries in the air. So the reason that you swab the inside of your flute is to keep it dry. The reason you keep it dry is so that it doesn't eventually stink/go mouldy/go green/whatever else.

Flute can smell if not cleaned

Wet flutes are smelling like after a few weeks of not drying them on the inside. So think of it as wet swimmers in Australia. Well, in Sydney, we call them cossies as in swimming costume. So if you have cossies in a bag after you've gone swimming in a plastic bag and you chuck them in your bag, this is what I tell my students, chuck them in your school bag. And then you don't take them out for a week. They're going to smell bad. Same with the flute. If you don't clean it.

How to clean your flute

Okay, this is the quickest way to clean the flute in history. You can try it. I do this. Then I push it through with my longest finger that goes in the case. Push this through with my longest finger. Now on a good day that stays in the head joint, that goes in the case. Then here, twisted around. You can see that I have flicked the cloth over the top of this rod like that. Push it in, twist it around and you can see up here in the hole that it's getting out most of the moisture. And then that goes in the case.

Removing moisture from the flute

Now some of my flute students look and they're like, I can see a bit of moisture. It hasn't got at all. Don't worry if you're get 99% of it it's good enough. That's it. That's the quickest way to clean the flute or you can just take it apart piece by piece <laugh> and clean it separately. That's it, was it Sylvia? Yes Sylvia. I hope that helped.

Free flute mini course on tone

Now I didn't mention the free minicourse if you Sylvia or anyone watching this would like to instantly improve your tone on the flute. Join me at www.flute.school/free register there. And I will literally improve your tone instantly over a series of three days. Bit instantly on Day 1, big instantly on day 2 and instantly on Day 3. See you there.

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