Just like anything that is in constant use, your brass instrument needs regular cleaning and maintenance. Bacteria, fungi, mold, gunk, and grime may accumulate in the different parts of your brass instrument, specifically, in the mouthpiece. Hence, you need to clean it regularly. Regular maintenance and cleaning, of course, can also prolong the usability of your brass instrument. So, it is best to engage in regular maintenance and cleaning proactively. Moreover, if you are constantly using your brass instrument, you need to clean its body and mouthpiece to ensure that you stay safe from viruses and bacteria that may lodge and germinate in the mouthpiece.
Cleaning Tools You Will Need
Cleaning your brass instrument necessitates the use of specific tools. Moreover, you cannot just use any tools and soap to clean your brass instruments. You need to choose with care the tools and cleaning materials so as not to damage any part of your brass instruments. Here is a list of these necessary cleaning tools and materials:
1) Brush for Mouthpiece
The mouthpiece is an important part of the brass instrument that needs to be regularly cleaned. Since its inside bore is like a dark and dank room, narrow and small in diameter, it is a good breeding ground for bacteria and molds. Gunk can accumulate inside. As the gunk inside builds up, it narrows down the diameter of the mouthpiece and may affect the sound created by the brass instrument. Thus, you need to clean the outside as well as the inside of the mouthpiece. You can use a mouthpiece brush to do away with the dirt and gunk inside the mouthpiece.
2) Soft Cleaning Cloth
You can use a soft cleaning cloth to wipe the moisture that accumulates outside and inside the mouthpiece. It is advisable to use clean the inside of the mouthpiece every after session. You can do this by using a swab and running it through the inner part of the mouthpiece. As long as you have this cleaning habit, dirt will never accumulate inside the mouthpiece. Bacteria will never breed inside the mouthpiecece as well.
3) Cleaner Water and Mouthpiece Cleaner Spray
Aside from the swab and mouthpiece brush, you will also need cleaner spray and a bottle of clean water. You need to spray the mouthpiece with clean water before you wipe it with the clean swab before using the mouthpiece brush.
Recommended Frequency of Washing the Mouthpiece
If it is not your habit to wash the mouthpiece of your brass instrument, you should begin to develop that habit. Regular cleaning and washing of the mouthpiece can help prolong the lifespan of your brass instrument. It can also ensure that you are safe to use your brass instrument. You can engage in regular care and daily cleaning of the mouthpiece and occasional deep cleaning.
1) Regular Daily Cleaning
You should engage in daily cleaning of the mouthpiece once a day or before and after using your brass instrument. You can do this by spraying the mouthpiece with water and brushing any residue inside the mouthpiece. Saliva and particles of dry lips may stick to the rims of the mouthpiece. Grime may also remain in the leadpipe. You should wipe any residue with a clean, dry cloth.
2) Deep Cleaning
To thoroughly clean the mouthpiece of your brass instrument, you need to engage in deep cleaning of the mouthpiece. Deep cleaning, of course, requires you to remove the gunk and molds that have accumulated through time. The gunk and mold can never be removed by a quick daily cleaning. It needs a thorough and meticulous rubbing and cleaning of the inside of the mouthpiece. You should deep clean the mouthpiece once a month.
How to Deep Clean the Mouthpiece?
If it is your first-time deep cleaning your brass instrument, you can use the following steps to deep clean the mouthpiece:
1) Detached the Mouthpiece
You can never thoroughly clean the mouthpiece if it stays connected to the trumpet. So, you need to detach it from the brass instrument. Thmouthpiecece, of course, is detachable from the main body of the trumpet. You just need to disassemble it. Once disassembled, you can begin deep cleaning the mouthpiece. You can use a bit of vinegar to remove the gunk and mold on the surface of the mouthpiece.
2) Rinse the Mouthpiece with Soap & Water
Once disassembled from the main body, It is ready for deep cleaning. You can rinse it with warm soapy water. Don’t use hot water and harsh detergent because they can damage the instrument. Using a gentle detergent and lukewarm water, you can start washing off the vinegar that you have used previously. You can also use a soft brush to remove limescale. You can buy a brush that is specially made for cleaning brass instrument’s mouthpiece parts.
3) Remove the Limescale
You need to clean it to remove and kill germs thoroughly. Aside from that, you should remove limescale. This substance can affect the sound of the instrument. To remove limescale, you can use hydrogen peroxide or vinegar. You should use vinegar with the acidity of around 4 to 6 %. Use two sets of cotton. Stuff one end of the mouthpiece with one cotton and remove it after 10 minutes. Then, use the other half of the cotton set to remove the limescale by rubbing it vigorously with cotton. It is ideal for sinking, for a couple of hours, the mouthpiece into the solution.
4) Soak the Mouthpiece in Germicide
After you have cleaned it with soapy water, you can then soak it in the germicide to remove the remaining limescale from it. The ideal disinfectant for cleaning limescale is Sterisol. Using it doesn’t damage the instrument. If you don’t have Sterisol, you can use simple household mouthwash. You can give the mouthpiece a good bath using a simple mouthwash for several minutes.
5) Wipe the Mouthpiece Dry
Once you’ve washed, you can then wipe and dry it with a dry cloth. You should ensure that it is dry before you even attempt to polish it.
6) Start Polishing the Mouthpiece
After continuous usage, it may appear dingy and dull. So, if you want to keep it shimmering, you need to polish it in and out. You can use a silver polish along with a scrap t-shirt or paper towel. You can use a cotton swab to clean the difficult-to-reach throat and backbore. You can use Wright’s Silver Polish. You should wash after you have polished it to make it look shimmering and new.
7) Open Dry the Mouthpiece
After polishing and washing, you can now dry it in a safe place that is clean and open. The place should be dry so that it will be free of bacteria and germs that thrive in damp surfaces. After you’ve dried it, you can then put it inside for safe storage.
What Should You Do with Stubborn Dirt on the Mouthpiece?
Gunk is the usual problem that is hard to get rid of when cleaning. Gunk usually starts building up inside the mouthpiece. They may be difficult to get rid of. So, to get rid of them, you should soak it in hot water for several minutes to loosen up and soften them. You don’t need to use boiling water. Afterward, you can spray it with cleaner. Then, vigorously scrub the gunk out using the mouthpiece brush. Then, dry it.
To remove greenish buildup on the shank, you first need to clean and follow the abovementioned steps. Then, use a sponge to scrub the outside part. Allow it to dry completely.
Then, you should wear chemical gloves. Afterward, soak the mouthpiece shank into a deposit-dissolving solution like Lime Away. Once you’ve removed the deposits, rinse it thoroughly with water. Dip it into the water to do away with Lime Away residue. You can also use a solution mixed with baking soda and water. This solution is perfect for neutralizing the potent effect of Lime Away.
Extra Tips and Caveats On Cleaning A Mouthpiece For Saxophone
Aside from the abovementioned tips on how to clean brass instrument’s mouthpiece, here are some other useful tips that you should be cognizant of:
- Avoid using your instrument without cleaning your mouth, especially after eating.
- Be wary of limescale buildup. Make sure that you remove any sign of limescale buildup immediately.
- Avoid using an excessive acidic solution in cleaning your Saxophone mouthpiece. They can quicken discoloration of the mouthpiece. Instead, you should use not-too-strong acid.
- Don’t use strong detergent and very hot water. Don’t use the dishwasher to clean it.
- Don’t use other household tools in cleaning aside from the abovementioned recommended tools and materials.
- Stay safe when using Sterison and acid.
Thmouthpiecece is a crucial part of your brass instrument. It comes in contact with your mouth, and thus, it should be regularly maintained and cleaned. Regular maintenance and cleaning of your brass instrument can ensure the longevity of your instrument. Moreover, it can make the use of your instrument safe and clean. You should engage in daily and after-use cleaning of your instrument as well as deep cleaning. You should develop this habit, and once it has become a habit, you can be very sure that your instrument is safe to use and that it will last longer.