Classes are done for the summer, you’ve played your last concert until August, so now you have a little extra time to do some cleaning. Here’s a quick list of things you should tend to over the summer months:
You pull it through the instrument every time you play. When’s the last time it was cleaned? If it’s an actual swab (fabric with a long, weighted string), it’s machine-washable. Just toss it in with a load of colored laundry BUT make sure you zip it up into a mesh laundry bag like this one, or tie it up in a pillow case. That long string can wreak havoc during the wash cycle!
Your Reed Guard
Also machine washable! (Hooray!) Take your reeds out and set them aside in a safe place, then just drop your reed guard into the silverware basket of the dishwasher. When the cycle is over, let it air dry overnight, just to make sure all that moisture from the wash is gone. Pop your reeds in and you’re ready to go.
I wouldn’t try washing it! But, to keep that musty instrument smell at bay, we’re going to use that magic combination of sunshine and baking soda. Set your instrument aside in a safe place. Leave the case open in the sun as long as you like (I’d say at least an hour), then just vacuum out the baking soda. If you think you want to try something like Febreeze, just make sure that you leave plenty of time for the case to dry completely before putting your instrument back inside.
Not machine washable! And I only do this once or twice a year. Just hand-wash with cool water, mild soap and either a washcloth or paper towel (no scrubby sponges!). If you’ve noticed some white buildup on the beak of the mouthpiece, don’t get too grossed out - it’s just mineral deposit from your saliva. If you want to get rid of it, here’s how.
Use as narrow a plastic or glass container as you can. I still have baby food jars hanging around, so I used one of those. A shot glass, a skinny vase, or even the cap from a bottle of mouthwash will do. You just want to keep the entire mouthpiece from being submerged. Next, you’ll need lemon juice and a paper towel. (You could use bottled lemon juice, of course. We frequently cook with lemons, so I tend to have them on hand.)
Only put enough juice in the jar to reach halfway up the beak, then gently set your mouthpiece into the jar and set it aside in a safe place. Leave it for 10-20 minutes. When you come back, take the mouthpiece out, rinse with cool water, and rub gently with a paper towel. Ta-da! Those white marks are gone.
And there you have it. Now your gear is all fresh and ready for summer practicing!