Grace UMC Brass Ensemble

Brass Instrument Maintenance


Have you cleaned your horn yet this month (recommended)? This year (not good!)? If not, I strongly recommend you do so prior to all our performances in December, especially to keep valves functioning smoothly. This will also keep your horn looking and working well for many years and will protect your investment in your instrument.

At the URLs below are suggested cleaning tips as well as cleaning/maintenance products that I have personally used and can recommend. It is also a good idea to take your horn to a repair shop once a year for professional cleaning and maintenance. The links provided are not intended to endorse a particular vendor, but will provide you with a good start on what and where to buy the cleaning products you many need.

Cleaning Cautions

  • Do NOT use abrasive cleaners or cloths/brushes: These can damage your horn finish, valve pistons and piston casings!! Use horn brushes, microfiber, and chamois-like cleaning/polishing cloths instead.
  • AVOID paper towels and cotton cloths (e.g., t-shirts): These leave behind fibers that can hinder valve action. If used, rinse thoroughly, but horn brushes and micro-fiber cloths are best.
  • Do NOT lose or damage parts through careless handling: When disassembling your horn, use a large (old) towel to carefully place instrument components where they will not get lost, broken, or stepped on while cleaning.
  • Do NOT wash your horn in the dishwasher or with automatic dishwasher detergent: Enough said!
  • Do not set your horn directly on porcelain: Use a large (old!) towel to protect horn from sink/bathtub. A large rubber or plastic tub filled with water is another way to keep from denting your horn on hard porcelain sink/bathtub.
  • Do NOT allow metal-to-metal scraping of cleaner brushes and horn parts.
  • Do NOT use hot water which can damage finish; lukewarm is best.


Cleaning Tips


Cleaning Kits


Other Cleaning Accessories


Care & Maintenance Owners Manuals

Here are example owner manuals that provide care and maintenance tips relevant to your instrument. If you lost the owners manual for your specific instrument, you can probably find it online from your instrument manufacturer’s web site.


So, in summary, you should clean your horn monthly and take it in to a repair shop annually for professional cleaning and maintenance. Okay, now you can get back to practicing your music and building up those chops!