Handy hints & tips around how to clean your saxophone
Keeping your saxophone clean is an essential part of a musician’s life; key to reducing odors, helping to avoid costly repairs, keeping your saxophone playing at its best for years to come and even reducing the risk of rare respiratory diseases such as saxophone lung - a disease caused by fungi and bacteria building up on or in your saxophone, which is subsequently transferred to your lungs via your mouth.
That’s why, to help you keep your saxophone clean, we’ve put together this easy-to-follow guide on how to clean your saxophone.
How to clean your saxophone
Always remove your reed - when dismantling your saxophone ready to put it back in the case, always be careful to remove your reed; wipe away any condensation left behind and place the reed in a reed case or humidity controlled reed case. This helps to remove bacteria left on the reed after playing, whilst protecting your reed from damage.
Scrub out your mouthpiece - your mouthpiece is where bacteria & food particles from your mouth and hands will transfer and consequently multiply. As a result, it’s a good idea to scrub out your mouthpiece after each use, removing any condensation, as well as bacteria & food particles. Alongside this, cleaning your mouthpiece once a week with lukewarm soapy water is also advised to keep the germs away!
Swab, swab, and more swab! If you don’t have one (or two!) already, get yourself a couple of saxophone swabs - one smaller swab for the neck and one larger swab for the body of the saxophone. Following each use of your saxophone, when disassembling your saxophone, run the smaller swab through the neck and then run the larger swab through the body; removing any condensation and/or bacteria that may have built up during play.
Wipe down the exterior - After you’ve finished swabbing your saxophone, it’s a good idea to wipe down the exterior of your saxophone - something you can do quickly and easily with one of your swabs. This simple action helps ensure the outside stays as clean as the inside!
Paper your pads! - using either a regular piece of paper or specially produced pad cleaning paper, clean sticky pads by placing said paper between the pad and the saxophone, pressing the pad down onto the paper and slowly pulling the paper out. Repeat this another 2 or 3 times if needed, until the pad isn’t sticky.
Polish your saxophone - polishing your saxophone regularly will keep it looking its best for years to come. Roughly once a week, take a soft microfibre polishing cloth and gently wipe this over the body and neck of your saxophone. But be careful not to use any chemicals on your saxophone and, if you have a silver saxophone, do not use silver polish! Whilst silver polish will remove any tarnish, it will also remove a thin layer of silver with it…
In short, regular cleaning of both the inside and outside - a quick wipe and scrub after each use - followed by a weekly polish and thorough cleaning of the mouthpiece will keep your saxophone in great condition for years to come; looking and sounding its very best.
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