Introduction: Clean Your Brass Instrument From Home

Picture of  Clean Your Brass Instrument From Home

This Instructable is mainley for young musicians who's parents don't want to have to drop off thier brass instrument to the shop every week to be cleaned. Truth be told you probably have all the supplies at home to clean it youself! This instructable is'nt just for young musicians though so definently use this little trick!

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

The first thing you must do is get all your supplies together: Your disgusting Instrument, your bathtub, your soap, cleaning kit, oils and lubricants, and your warm water (not too hot not too cold). Remember this can be done with any kind of BRASS instrument, please don't do this with a woodwind please! Be sure your soap dos'nt have any BLEACH in it!

Step 2: Disassemble Your Horn

Picture of Disassemble Your Horn

After you have your supplies disassemble your horn. Be sure all fabric is removed from your instrument, it could grow mold!

Step 3: Cleaning the Horn

Picture of Cleaning the Horn

After the horn has been disassembled you can now put it in the tub. Also keeping in mind that you don't have any fabric on the horn! Be sure to get all the small parts of the horn, especially near the valves!

After cleaning let the tub drain out and rinse the horn!

Step 4: Drying the Horn

Picture of Drying the Horn

After cleaning you will obviously dry the instrument. For those who have an air compressor near by you can blow dry the instrument for streak free shine:). WARNING: IF YOU HAVE AN OILER ON YOUR AIR HOSE TAKE IT OFF THE HOSE!!! Do'nt use more than 80 pounds of pressure on your horn! If you need to move the instrument disassembled may I suggest putting it in your case for safe transportation. If you don't have an air compressor :( you can towel dry and it works just as well :)!

After drying take a polishing cloth and polish any little streaks.

Step 5: Greasing and Final Polish

Picture of Greasing and Final Polish

After you have completed all the past steps, be sure to lube your instrument again. Be sure to get all tuning sildes and valves. Slowly reassemble. Clean excess lube off with a towel, not your polishing rag!

Step 6: Tuning

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Once you are done you should tune your instrument if you can. You can buy a tuner at you local Music Shop.

Step 7: Final Product

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Once you have completed all the above steps you result should be a nice shiny, clean horn! (If you don't get the same results you may consider bringing you instrument to the music shop to have them put it back together!)


rcsuk (author)2016-10-04

Can I suggest you don't use any form of washing up liquid. Most washing up liquids use salt as a thickener, you don't need to be a genius to work out warm water, salt and metal are not a good mix. a great recently developed product for b sharp brass is the Virtuoso Brass Instrument Cleaning Kit which is the only dedicated cleaning kit.

MatthewG146 (author)2016-08-19

Can u clean a silver plated intrument with this method

TN777 (author)2012-02-25

You put valve oil in the bottom!! There are holes there especcially for this purpose!!

TheSuitIsNOTBlack (author)TN7772015-09-17

Yes, putting oil in the bottom is very ineffective. Take a look at the bottom of the actual valve and there's just a small hole in the middle. There's not really much space for the oil to evenly disperse. Take out the valve and apply oil directly to the valve ;)

lucas.henning.169 (author)TN7772015-06-21

If you've been playing a brass instrument for a while then you know it's more efficient to take the valves out and put oil onthem

hcloost (author)2011-07-09

just curious as to why the detergent must be without bleach?

does it matter if i don't have a valve casing brush? would a toothbrush and some persistence do? i also have a snake brush that i could use for the inside of the casings (on the main body, not the valves)


dulcimoo (author)hcloost2015-06-05

Bleach is an oxideant. It will make the metal tarnish or carrode.

TN777 (author)hcloost2012-02-25

I actually play the trumpet, and the bleach would probally damage the brass. You can get a full trumpet kit- in different instruments- at There is also a Lunsford's music store in Knoxville, TN, which is where I got my kit. NOTE: Kit does NOT contain spit rag. You will have to supply a rag for this purpose only. They need to be washed- I will post a instructable on how to clean them.

johnkelleh111 (author)2014-08-31

wunderfall this worked great, I recently got a 1910 conn trombone that is all brass and they apparently used graphite on the slides, got most if not all the crud off of it, next thing is giving it a good spit shine any suggestions?

cellacool (author)2014-08-25

I came to this site with a mind of cleaning a sousaphone thats in pretty bad shape there is mold growing on it and some sliver has came off with use. I have goten mine to be the cleanest in my section but it is still pretty gross do you have any suggestions for the bigger instruments?

curbowman (author)2011-12-11

Could this method be used to clean cymbals?

21GeeOff21 (author)2008-03-19

YEAH, brass for life. I might have to try this soon.

2001warrior (author)21GeeOff212008-03-20

Brass for life, heck yeah!

1spartan95 (author)2001warrior2010-11-29

Brass for life!!!!!!!!!

Badgergirl (author)2008-09-27

What about french horns? They have strings on them, and my teacher said we probably shouldn't give them baths. Probably the same reason you take off the felt stuff...

BeanGolem (author)Badgergirl2010-07-06

If the string is nylon, you should be fine, since it's really just plastic. If you have plant-fiber string you may not want to.

BeanGolem (author)2010-07-06

A couple things I've found from cleaning my euphonium: 1) Put a towel down in the bottom of the bathtub so that you soften the surface a little. Accidental dings/scratches are no fun. 2) Don't leave the horn in the tub while you drain it. Often, the grime and oil from the inside of the horn will float to the top and creat a film on the surface of the water. As it drains slowly, the film can be deposited on your horn, making extra work for the rinse. I have a detachable sprayer on my shower so I just run that over the horn as I pull it out of the water. 3) I've found that brushing parts while they are submerged works best to wash away as much as possible. This is especially true for snaking out the actual instrument tubing. Also, it helps to let the horn soak for 45-60 minutes before you brush anything. 4) For silver instruments, make sure you don't polish the horn too often. Polishing takes off a thin layer of the silver and can eventually wear through, especially where you hold the horn. When you do polish it, make sure you use no-grit jewelers polish to avoid scratches. I've heard you can use lemon pledge on laquered instruments, but have never done so and cannot speak from experience.

rjdjhey (author)2010-02-01

so I use warm soapy water?

2001warrior (author)rjdjhey2010-02-01

 Yes. You don't want water that's too hot because it might damage the lacquer. Although you don't want cold water because it's the heat along with the soap that get rid of the odors, mold, or other that may be present in you horn. I use Joy when I clean my horn. I would recommend  that you choose a soap with a scent you wont mind smelling for a few days. I suppose you could use an odorless soap but personally I don't mind the smell of Lemons so I use Original Joy. be sure to pick a product without bleach though. This instructable is from a while back. I now also own a Silver plated Yamaha Xeno. When I put it back together I use the Yamaha Silver Treated polishing cloth. Be sure to dry your horn off first. If you have a lacquered instrument a basic polishing cloth works just fine, there's no point to getting a silver polishing cloth if you don't have a silver instrument. Oh, I also now use "Blue Juice"  Valve Oil and "Schilke Slide Grease with Lanolin", its the best slide grease i've ever used. The last time I greased my slides was about 5 months ago and they still slide like the day I applied the grease. I also find if you put a few drops of valve oil on the slides it works a little better. Hope this helps!

rjdjhey (author)2001warrior2010-02-02

yeah it helps quite a bit thank you very much

gmjhowe (author)2008-03-20

bath tub - great use of

Lithium Rain (author)gmjhowe2008-11-07

Talk like Yoda you really do!

gmjhowe (author)Lithium Rain2008-11-07

not understand, what you say i do

Lithium Rain (author)gmjhowe2008-11-07

find that hard to believe do I

Jr Hacking kid (author)2008-04-25

how about a tuba cuz i play the tuba

Well I suppose it would work but you would need a huge tub, If I were you I would check with someone who knows more about tubas before you try it!

aliceownsj00 (author)2008-03-21

oh I remember those days during junior and high school... except mine was a trombone and it would take me a while to clean it. If you're lazy you could put it in a jacuzzi tub and turn on the jets lol

2001warrior (author)aliceownsj002008-03-22

good idea, except for the fact that my parents jacuzzi tub is big and GA is in a drought so I don't think the residents of GA would let me do that!

Shifrin (author)2008-03-19


2001warrior (author)Shifrin2008-03-20


threecheersfornick (author)2008-03-19

Fantastic! I just came up the stairs from practicung my trumpet, and I've been procrastinating cleaning it for a short while, so this instructable came at the perfect time!

One question: how often am I supposed to clean it?

I'm not sure how often to clean either... I did some research and people seem to disagree. Some say at least once every three months, others say you don't need to clean at all. I'm thinking of cleaning mine out once a year at the end of each school year as a compromise.

2001warrior (author)Aar000n3y2008-03-20

same as what i told threecheersfornick, it really depends on how much you play or how well you want your horn to look.

Hm. According to those rules, I clean mine way too often -- I try to clean mine out as soon as the sound starts getting worse.

I clean mine every one or two weeks, but that was during marching season on Thursday before game night, on Fridays, so probably once a month!

Labot2001 (author)2008-03-20

Great job, Braden! I'll go ahead and give you a +1 =]

Maybe I should make one on cleaning saxophones? ;]

btw, nice use of air compressor!

pingeee (author)2008-03-20

Reminds me of my old school days. I remember we only washed/polished our instruments twice a year, now it sounds very dirty and disgusting for the amount of saliva you could have (I played euphonium)

Noodle93 (author)2008-03-20

I've never cleaned mine, it's probably disgusting. I can't get myself to put my trumpet in the bathtub after I did it to my relic (older than me, like three times my age, if not more) trumpet, after a man at a music shop told us to use something, we did, and it corroded some of the brass and practically make the metal as tough as hell. Sad, I should get the old one out sometime.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-03-19

Nice! I might show this to my friends, they're in marching band and stuff like this, they would love this!
+1 rating.

Aar000n3y (author)2008-03-19

Hey, a fellow trumpet player! Nice instructable though. Reminds me that I kind of need to clean mine... It hasn't been cleaned for a few years and it's getting a bit nasty...

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