How to Clean a Flute

The Band Geek's Guide

By: Megan Trujillo and Abby Nelson

Is your flute nasty? Does it have that old instrument smell? Has it been laying on the top shelf in your closet for quite some time now? Fix that up by cleaning your flute.


You will need
  • A clean open space
  • Flute
  • Cleaning Wand
  • Bandana/Rag
  • Eye glasses cloth
  • Tiny screwdriver
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Q-tips

Step 1:

Find a nice open space to take apart your flute, you dont want to lose any pieces. It is best to work on a flat surface, like the top of a table. We are are using the floor in a practice room.

Step 2:

We will now begin to take the keys off of your flute, but dont worry, it should be fine if you follow these instructions. Take a look at the keys. They are all held together by what appears to be a stick. If you look at the end, you will find a tiny screw. Use your screwdriver to take the srew out.
Make sure you put the screws in a place where you wont forget about its existance.

Step 3:

Now you need to pull the stick out from between the keys. Keep the flute close to your surface, and try your best to put little distance between the two. BE VERY CAREFUL while doing this, and try to keep the keys in order. This will save you a lot of trouble at the end.

Step 4:

Now that you have a keyless flute, it is time to get cleaning. Use the rag (bandanas work great for this) and dip the corner into some rubbing alcohol and clean the space between the key holes and anywhere else that would be hard to get if the keys were still attached. Using a Q-tip will also work. When some flutes get old, the space between keys starts to turn a dark color, like black. This can be cleaned off.

Step 5:

Take the cleaning cloth to your glasses and "polish" the space between the keys and the stick. Make sure that you only use the cloth, you don't need special polish or water or anything.

Step 6:

Now it's time to start putting your mutilated instrument back together. Slip the keys in order onto the stick, then reattach the stick to your instrument using the screws.

Step 7:

Move any out-of-place springs back to where they belong. If you don't, your flute will not play right. The springs help to move the keys when you play.

Step 8:

Take your bandana rag and pull it through the hole on the top of your cleaning wand. Push this through all three pieces of your flute to clean out the inside.

Step 9:

Take a Q-tip and dip it in some rubbing alcohol. Use this to clean out embouchure hole in the lip plate.

Step 10:

Polish your flute with the glasses cloth to give your flute a beautiful shine!


Dont use silver polish on your flute, It will wear away the sliver plating and damage the metalTry to keep the rubbing alcohol away from the pads on the bottom of the keys. It will ruin them.Never clean the body of a flute with any product that contains bleach. You will destroy the finish on the flute. The entire finish will lose its luster and shine.Dont get your flute wet! The pads will swell and the intunation-cork will shrink, making your flute impossible to play.

For further help, you can refer to this video, where we take apart a piece to a flute and explain the steps better.

How To Clean Your Flute-A Band Geek's Guide