There are masses of accessories designed for cleaning your flute and keeping it in top playing order. Here’s our round-up of what we suggest every flute (and piccolo) player should have in their cleaning arsenal.
1. Cleaning Rod and Gauze
The most important cleaning accessory for every flute player! You should use a good-quality wooden cleaning rod (a metal one can scratch the inside of the instrument) with a lint-free, non-fluffy gauze, after every playing session. This will absorb the bulk of the water from inside your instrument, meaning your pads will last longer.
You shouldn’t store the gauze in the case with the flute – leaving a soggy cloth in the case isn’t good for the mechanism, plus there often isn’t space! Store it in the side pouch of your case cover.
2. A Silver Cloth
Most flutes are either silver or silver-plated. Silver reacts with sulphur in the air over time, making it look tarnished, dull and blackened. A silver cloth is impregnated with a chemical compound, and can polish silver up to make it bright again. If you notice that your flute is looking tarnished, a silver cloth will almost certainly do the trick.
Silver cloths are very mildly abrasive, and so should be used just once in a while on a lightly tarnished instrument. For everyday use, you should use…
3. A Fine Microfibre Cloth
Your finger prints contain grease and mild acids, and you should use a fine polishing cloth to gently remove them. This will keep your flute’s finish in its best condition, and is especially important on a silver-plated instrument, where silver-plating can begin to come off (‘pit’) if not kept clean.
4. Pad Saver
When used correctly, a pad saver can help increase the life of your flute’s pads. They work with the help of an impregnated dessicant which draws extra moisture from the pads’ surface. You should use the pad saver after cleaning your flute with a rod and gauze, and not as a substitute. Store it inside your flute body while it’s in its case, and it will help to reduce condensation when moving from warm to cold environments, too.
5. Picc Stick
This is an incredibly useful cleaner for piccolo players who suffer from water-logging keys. It assembles to the full length of your piccolo, so can be used mid-gig to quickly swab it out without having to take the headjoint off and re-tune. It takes down in to two pieces, which will easily fit your shoulder bag.