How to Clean a Flute with a Rubbing Alcohol

How to Clean a Flute with a Rubbing Alcohol


A flute is a woodwind musical instrument usually designed in a tubular shape that is played to produce a distinct sound when a certain amount of air is blown towards the edge of a hole called an embouchure.

The embouchure is either situated at the end of the tube or the side of the tube. The flute can be held vertically or horizontally, when held vertically, the air is blown against the edge of a hole at the end of the flute. These types include panpipe and Japanese bamboo.


How to Clean a Flute with a Rubbing Alcohol

The other is held horizontally and is played by blowing air against the edge of a hole in the side of the flute.

These types of flutes are designed with modern metal and can be used in orchestras. The modern flutes are usually made of wood and when played, they produce a different sound from metal flutes. They also have metal keys and mechanisms. The majority of flutes are made of metal-like alloys, while the expensive ones are made of silver. 


If the design of any flute is to be carried out, the flute maker must first consider the need of the user of the flute. It should be designed professionally with high quality and special change keys to accommodate the musician’s special needs. The most crucial part of the flute is the head joint cork. The head joint cork is responsible for the production of different sounds.

The flutes made of wood usually produce a dark sound, while the ones made of metals produce a very bright sound. The thickness of any metal flute alters and changes the sounds at intervals, all these are to be mostly considered in the design of any flute for different purposes.

How to Clean a Flute with a Rubbing Alcohol


Generally, when using a musical instrument like a flute, regular and adequate instrument hygiene must be carried out in order to maintain and keep the flute dry and clean. Make sure to sterilize the lip plate with alcohol to clean the flutes always and check the head joint cork placement by using the cleaning rod which should focus on the embouchure hole once in a while. Do not leave your flute in heat areas as the extreme temperature can cause huge damage to the flute.

While or before playing the flute, snacks like biscuits, gum, candy, and soft drinks, or any sugary edibles should be avoided. Because sugar mixed with saliva gets sticky and builds upon the pads, thereby making it a bit difficult to play the flute. When there is debris that is pilled up in the flute, there should be an urgent cleaning of the flute with hydrogen peroxide.

In order for moisture to not get into the pads, use an absorbent drop swab or use alcohol to clean out and remove the specks of dirt in the flute before you keep it back in the case. Also, the flute is a delicate instrument that must be handled with great care, never use any instrument like pliers or hammers to remove or fix anything on your flute so as not to cause internal harm.

 If you choose to set it down during class, make sure to put it on a flat surface with the keys up, and be sure to never leave it on a music stand.

Do not bang or bump the flute so as not to get dented easily, dent and bangs are expensive to repair and remove nowadays.

You can also maintain your flute by using silver polish to remove rusts or tarnish so as to make your flute extra shine. Although much silver polish should not be applied to avoid much liquid in your flute which can cause damage to the finger pads.

Most importantly, it is paramount to effectively disinfect your flute specifically with rubbing alcohol such as hydrogen peroxide because it is perfect for keeping the head joint and the pads clean. Rubbing alcohol is the most preferred solution to disinfect your mouthpiece thoroughly.

How to Clean a Flute with a Rubbing Alcohol

There are basically three types of alcohol that can be used to clean a flute, they are;

  • Ethanol alcohol
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide

All these alcohol are perfect and good for the removal of tarnish, stains, germs, and bacteria from your flutes and are generally useful in instrument hygiene. You can also use silver polish seldomly to polish your flute in order to make your flute shiny and to get rid of tarnish. 


  • A small spray bottle to spray the alcohol
  • Microfibre cloth or soft cloth material
  • Cleaning rod
  • Q tip
  • Silky cloth material

How to Clean a Flute with a Rubbing Alcohol


Follow these steps to successfully clean your flute from moisture, stains, and germs without causing any damage to it.


Start by disassembling the flute parts one by one. Also, make sure to fill some alcohol to be used in the spray bottle so as to prevent your hand from getting in contact with the alcohol.


Use a microfiber cloth or any clean synthetic cloth material to wipe down the exterior part of your flute, paying adequate attention to any visible signs of smudges or debris from sticky or sweaty hands.


Then spray some content of alcohol on the flute and soak your cotton swab with alcohol as well, make sure the swab is not dripping with liquids in order to avoid getting the flute’s part getting too wet. Continuously and gently wipe down with the swab and leave the keys for some minutes.


You can now go ahead to clean the keys. Be very careful in cleaning your flute at this moment in order not to cause damage to the keys or get it too wet. Do not clean vigorously but wipe back and forth to ensure adequate cleaning.


Use the wet Q-tip to gently clean the head joints and the notches of the piping area.


Continue by cleaning all the joint areas of the head joints, body joint, and foot joint in order to be able to assemble the flute’s parts together faster. Avoid getting any liquid inside the mouthpiece and the lip plate of the flute because it is responsible for the production of good sound and turning. It must not be wet.


You can now go further to clean the interior part of the flute. A cleaning rod and a silk cloth material are commonly used in cleaning the inside of the flute. Apply some content of alcohol to the silk cloth for adequate cleaning.


Wrap the silk cloth material onto the cleaning rod and take one of the flute parts and move the cleaning rod with the wet silk cloth back and forth through the lip plate to clean out the specks of dirt and moisture. Continue the process for the remaining parts.


Leave the parts to get air-dried and wipe down again with the microfiber cloth. Assemble the flute by putting the three parts together and put it inside the flute case.



 Alcohol is highly advantageous for cleaning the flute in several ways which include:

  • Generally kills germs that prevail on the flute’s surface.
  • Keeps the flute clean and maintained
  • Cleaning your flute makes the silver flute shiny like its new
  • Helps in removing the tarnish and stains.


Musical instruments should be taken care of and keep clean always. Because if it is not properly cleaned, the user may be susceptible to infections and diseases. Cleaning your flute with alcohol is highly recommended and effective. 

Nevertheless, excessive use of rubbing alcohol or silver polish should be avoided on the flute so as not to get it too wet and damaged. Also, a lot of precautions should be taken when cleaning in order to avoid the breaking of some vital parts of the flute.  You can take the flute to a reputable flute repair technician to clean your flute for you if you can not do it yourself.

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