01

Jan

2009

Cleaning a Silver Flute Print E-mail
Written by Ingrid Culliford   

"I have a new flute which is a silver model. Can you give me any tips on the best way to clean it?
Thank you,
Heather"

Thank you for your question, Heather. It is easy to take for granted that we all know just what to do, or not to do, in the care of our flutes – so perhaps this is a good time for a reminder. First of all, keeping the inside of the flute dry after playing is essential. Moisture collected inside the tube can damage the keypads, and it is not so healthy either! Always clean your flute with a soft cloth twisted around the cleaning rod to prevent scratching the inside. Take care not to push hard against the end cork in the head joint as, after a time, this could cause it to move and affect the tuning. Check pads for residual moisture using cigarette paper, without pressing too hard on the keys – you don’t want to damage the pads.

To keep the outside of your flute clean, use a soft cloth and wipe gently. Avoid putting pressure on the keys, or cleaning between rods and keys as you could accidentally cause a shift in the key alignment. Wipe the head joint clean each time after playing. Every now and then clean the tenons (the joints where the flute parts fit together) as dirt can build up gradually on these joints making them harder to fit together.

If your flute is open-holed, which I am guessing it is, you can, from time to time, gently clean the rims of the open holes using a Q-tip. Some people suggest this for getting between the keys, but I would advise not as you may inadvertently put something out of alignment and little bit of cotton fluff could catch on the mechanism.

Finally, it is very important not to use silver polish on your flute. Not only can minute grains of polish wear away at the silver of your flute, but they can get into the mechanism and clog up or damage the finely tuned key system. And … a word of warning…. silver polish is a toxin!

Enjoy your lovely new flute, and remember to have it serviced regularly.

Please send any questions direct to Ingrid at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Ingrid Culliford, Flute TeacherIngrid Culliford spent many years in London as a free- lance flautist and teacher, and was professor of flute at Trinity College of Music and the Junior Royal Academy of Music. She currently tutors in flute at Waikato University and the NZ School of Music, adjudicates at many festivals and competitions, is an examiner for the NZMEB and a Senior Examiner for the International Baccalaureate Organisation.