an online community for flutists.
RUST ??? or silver tarnish which has a brownish sort of colour ?
Under the keys can be quite difficult to get at effectively.
You can buy flute cleaning kits on e-bay fairly cheaply, or see what's in a kit and source the items yourself. There are dry cleaning cloths, jewellers silver cleaning/polishing cloths, cotton buds etc.
Having the right equipment to do the job makes it so much easier, especially getting under those keys. Oh, and be careful of those little springs in there, make sure they stay pushing in the correct direction (blushes) .
Oh okay THANX!:D
I will have to look into that.
Well after two years of cleaning my flute using an old large mans cotton handkerchief and a cleaning rod, I've just bought a flute cleaning kit from Amazon, one of these > Stagg SCK-FL Care Kit for Flute. The kit contains a plastic cleaning rod, a flute swab (a large soft handkerchief with a weighted string attached to one corner), a silver polishing cloth (fairly obvious), a pack of pad cleaning paper (about 25 small 2" x 3") rectangles of greaseproof paper) and three small rectangles of cleaning felt (about 5" x 2.5").
I must confess, I don't have the faintest idea what I'm supposed to do with the pad cleaning paper or the felt (well I have a pretty good idea, but I'm not really sure). The swab is quite obvious, as is the silver polishing cloth, ones for the inside of my flute, the other for the outside. I'm a little disappointed that there doesn't appear to be anything to help clean those awkward places underneath the key rods and levers, or for removing all that condensation you get in your head joint.
Would any of you kind people be good enough to explain what probably seems perfectly obvious to you. I can't ask my teacher, because I don't have one. I'm teaching myself, at my leisure, from Hal Leonard, Essential Elements, Flute book 1 (which has a play along CD and a DVD). My progress is very slow, but as I'm learning purely for the pleasure of being able to make music, slow progress is sufficient.
The best tool for cleaning those small places on the flute is (drumroll) Q-tip ear swabs. As has been said, be careful of the little springs. Another handy device are pipe cleaners. Be careful of the metal tips so you don't scratch the flute though. As for cleaning the pads, hair curling paper or cigarette paper work the best. Slide the paper under the key, close the key and hold it down GENTLY while pulling the paper out. This doesn't need to be done every day but can be a great quick fix if a key is sticky. Dollar bills also work and even notebook paper in a pinch.
The rest of the stuff in most flute cleaning kits aren't usually necessary. And you shouldn't use the silver polish cloths too often if only so you don't get the polish in your mouth. Sometimes the tarnish can get bad and that's what the silver polish cloths are for. If all you have are fingerprints from playing, just use a regular soft cloth. The cloths with a weighted string are kind of handy but again a regular cloth on the flute cleaning rod works fine.
I also use pipe cleaners and cigarette papers to clean up my flute, and I can assure you that these work very well.
Being a flute repair person, the question of cleaning comes up frequently. The way we do a complete overhaul is to remove all the keys, put the body onto a special flute holder in a vice, and hand polish the flute using thin strips of cotton cloth impregnated with silver polish. Having the flute completely stationary and using the thin strips of cotton allows us to go all around the posts, across the body, around the cup rims, etc. For those tough-to-get areas, polishing rouge is also used. The keys are done separately, removing all the pads, springs, etc. If the outer layer of silver has tarnished through (some people's skin is more acidic than others, and this does happen), we have to replate the flute body and keys. Expensive.
For the day-to-day stuff on my flute, I use a plain cotton handkerchief to swab out the insides, and the same to gently wipe down the outside, if there has been condensation leakage during the gig/rehearsal/practice session. I do not have acidic skin, so I don't have the problem of acid errosion. For those who do, applying some clear fingernail polish to the places on the flute body most effected (i.e. the left hand 1st finger crook and the right hand thumb) is effective at slowing down the acid.
Once in awhile I get out some oil and apply it to all the post/rod/screw joints. For pads sticking, as someone else said, cigerette paper works well.
I always carry a tiny jeweler's flat head screwdriver and cigerette paper in my flute case for emergency repairs.
Ah, so using an old, large, mans cotton handkerchief hasn't been a bad thing at all. That's good to see. I use it to swab out the inside and to wipe finger prints off.
Q-tips is what I had in mind when I mentioned cotton buds. Q-tips are a brand, here in the UK the generic term for them is cotton buds. I've also found those wooden stirring sticks we get in coffee shops, are quite good for getting into difficult places, with a corner of cloth over the end.
I smoke handrolled cigarettes, so I always have cigarette papers. I think that pack of felt cleaning paper will last quite some time though, I haven't used 1 yet. The only item of the kit I'm not 100% sure of now, is the felt. I suppose its for putting on the end of the rod to swab out my head joint, but doing it with the felt wasn't any easier than using that old cotton handkerchief. So it seems I spent good money to get a spare cleaning rod, a large silver polishing cloth and a fancy cotton handkerchief (with a weighted string attached). Oh well, you live and learn :-)