Swabs & Brushes

Keeping your instrument clean will keep it feeling and playing like new, while also prolonging its life.


How often you should clean your instrument depends on how much you play it, as well as other factors like whether or not you brush your teeth prior to playing.

  • Avoid eating food or drinking sodas/sugary/flavored drinks prior to playing.
  • If you do eat before playing, brush your teeth in between!
  • Empty water from your horn completely before putting it away. Water left in slides and valves can cause corrosion.
  • If you play for a long time, consider leaving your case open or instrument out on a stand to dry after the gig/session. Be careful of course to not put this somewhere it could fall!

Home Cleaning Procedure - Proceed with Caution!

A good rule of thumb is to brush/swab out your instrument at least once per quarter if playing daily.

Begin by removing the valves from their casing and all slides. If feasible, you should start by running warm water through the tubing and valve bodies, being careful not to wet felts (or, remove such components for cleaning). While not necessary, a mild detergent such as plain dish soap is safe to use, in conjunction with brushes, but be very careful to completely wash out any soap residue. Do not use polishes on interior components such as valves/valve casings, because if any residue remains, these abrasive materials can cause significant damage to the valves resulting in leaks or wear.

Please consult the specific brush/swab manufacturer or packaging for details on the specific usage of their product. Ensure the fit of the swab or brush is not too large or too small for your instrument. If the swab doesn't fit, it could become jammed or even damage the instrument.

Lastly, and most critically, you should dry the instrument out completely using a quality paper/shop towel or soft cloth on the outside and a clean swab on the inside. Make sure you do not leave any shreds of paper or swab/brush inside the instrument or any bearing surfaces (valves/slides), as these can cause damage, scratches, or rough feeling operation.

Professional Cleaning

If playing regularly, it is strongly advised to have your instrument professionally cleaned annually. Virtuosity has a full-service repair shop which can clean and repair any brass instrument.

Professional cleaning uses special detergents and tools designed specifically to clean brass instruments, which are not available to the general public. Our technicians have decades of experience performing cleanings, and will fully disassemble and reassemble your instrument in the process. Felts and corks are typically replaced, valves are examined and re-lubricated, and the instrument is checked for proper seal and playing condition.

The result is a much more thorough cleaning than possible at home, and without the mess too!

Please contact us for details or to schedule your cleaning!

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