How to Wash a Trumpet

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Music is beautiful, and the instruments you use to make music are precious. If you meet any renowned musicians anywhere, you will find that they treat their musical instruments like sensitive objects. They do not put them down too hard, and they are careful about how they handle them.

This care does not only come from the bottom of the heart, from their passion but also because the instrument needs it. You have to treat something right to get the most out of it. Even though they are not living beings themselves, musical instruments sure do put a lot of life in all of us.

This is why you have to occasionally clean them really well to make them last more. It is much like bathing your pet. However, you may be asking yourself, how does an air instrument like a trumpet deal with water? How exactly do you wash it without ruining it? You will find out soon. Now, we focus on the answers to the question- how to wash a trumpet.

How to Wash a Trumpet

How to wash a trumpet

Washing a trumpet is like washing dishes but with more dissembling, care, and attention to detail. You will have to take some parts off, and you will have to submerge some parts while parts that cannot be submerged as water can damage that part.

Let’s find out the whole process. And, the process does not stop just after washing.

Before You Begin

Let’s assume you already have the best trumpet to use.And there are certain things you will have to keep in mind and do even before you start washing the trumpet

​. So, let’s find all of them out. Here are the steps that will make your trumpet as clean as if it was new.

Part 1 : Disassembling the Trumpet

You have to take the trumpet apart to clean it deeply, right? But, you can not just pull parts apart. There is a systematic process of doing it, so let’s check it out.

Remove all the valves form your trumpet

We always have to start with the smaller parts. The first thing you have to do is remove the three valves form the trumpet. If your trumpet has four, then remove all of them.

You have to loosen the caps of the valves first before processing to remove the valves themselves. When you do this, keep in mind that the valves are really small, and so are the screws. Therefore, keep them in a place where they will not roll off to somewhere you will never find them in. Also, keep them away from kids. Do not forget to arrange the valves in the original order to not get confused when your ensemble the trumpet.

Remove the Slides

The second thing you have to remove is the slides. Apparently, you have to start with the slide that is nearest to you and then move on to the next ones gradually. You have to be a bit careful when doing this.

Just a bit of body pressure and a gentle pull will be enough to detach the slides. Keep in mind that the trumpet is a fragile instrument. If you pull the slides too hard, you may permanently damage the trumpet. So, be gentle with them when you pull them apart from the main body of the trumpet.

Remove the mouthpiece and then put it aside

Time for the part you are in contact with most- the mouthpiece. It is necessary that you clean the mouthpiece well because it can introduce germs into your body. In order to clean it, you have to detach it from the trumpet.

This is easy too. Just balance and hold the trumpet horn with one hand and pull the mouthpiece out with the other. Remember to be gentle in this case as well.

There you have it! The trumpet has been fully dissembled and is ready to go through the washing procedure.

Part 2: Clean the slides and body of the trumpet 

It is time for some water and mild soap to enter the show, let us proceed step by step.

Use soap and warm water and fill a large basin or a bathtub with it

In order to let the water reach all parts of the trumpet, you will have to submerge it fully under the water. This is why you need to fill up a large basin or bathtub. If you have neither (which is unlikely), you can use a bucket that can fit the trumpet to do this. Make sure you fill the whole tub so that the trumpet can fully go underwater.

Use a mild soap with the water. Mix the soap well. Also, make sure that the water is not too hot- it should be of a mild temperature.

Soak the body and the slides in your basin or bathtub 

In order to get the dirt loose, you have to soak the main body and the slide in the water for some time. You can keep the slides for up to a minute as the trumpet body can stay there for 5 to 10 minutes. But, you do not want to keep them submerged for too long.

Clean the Tubing and Slides of the Trumpet

This is where you may need cleaning equipment. Grab a handy cleaning snake that will come handy when cleaning the tubes. You need to get the dirt out of the walls of the tubes well, so gently use the cleaning snake to get it clean. But, make sure that you are not inserting the cleaning snake into a place that is too thin.

Then you can damage the walls of the tube, and that will ruin the quality of the sound the trumpet produces as well. After you are done with the inside of the tube, you have to use a brass saver or something similar to clean the exterior parts of the tube as well.

This should leave the tubes shining.

Work on the body of your trumpet 

Now it is time for you to work with the mighty bell. All you have to do is soak a washing cloth in the mild soap water and wipe the inside and outside its bell. Basically, you have to wipe the dirt off all parts of the trumpet body. So, now, the trumpet body and slides are free of dirt, or at least the soap is fighting the germs.

Rinse the trumpet body and slides using warm water 

Anything more than necessary is not good, and you do not want the soapy water on your trumpet for too long. So, it is time to rinse your trumpet well. This will stir the trumpet clear of any dirt, germs, and also the soapy water. Use warm water in this case for more efficiency. Make sure the water reaches all the parts of the trumpet body, slides, and inside the tubes too.

Dry the trumpet body and slides using a washcloth

This is a step that you should not forget, no matter what. None of us want wet spots on the trumpet body, do we? And, none of us want the material building the trumpet to corrode- that would ruin the music it produces.

The point here is that you have to dry your trumpet. You have to wipe it dry with the washcloth, but make sure you are gentle on it. Never use too much force when cleaning. Make sure you take care of every droplet of water there remains on the trumpet.

Next is to air-dry the slides and body

It’s hard to accept, but all that wiping the trumpet dry is not good enough for the trumpet. You have to go a step farther and let it air dry as well. You can place the trumpet body and slides on a dry towel. Then you can wait for the sheet to soak up the rest of the moisture that the trumpet had been hiding from you.

Keep the trumpet-like that for quite some time. Because the moisture in question is not something, you will be able to see with your naked eyes.

Part 3: Cleaning the Valves and Mouthpiece

Now, it is time to put our attention to the little parts. You have to be a hundred times more careful with them.

Rinse the valves, especially the bottom part of it

There is a reason you have to focus on only the bottom of the valve. You have to clean the pipes following a unique method. You have to use preferably warm running water, it could be your tap, or you could ask someone to drop the water on the bottom of the valve with a mug. You can also see that you will need the help of a second person when you use the second option.

You also have to use mild soap in this case. You can rub some on your fingers or a washcloth. Then, wipe the bottom holes of the valves along with the exterior part of the valve with the washcloth or your fingers. While you do this, make sure that you clean every part of the bottom of the valve and do it well.

Make sure to prevent your top valves from getting soaked in water

Why do you have to be so careful? Because the top part of the valve contains felt pads. Now, when felt pads get wet, they tend to expand or change. As a result, you will have trouble reassembling the trumpet. Apart from that, the performance of the valves may get permanently changed.

So, keep the top parts of the valve as away from the water as you can.

Air-dry your valves

Use a dry towel, in this case, to let your valves air-dry. Because a wet towel may touch its felt pads and ruin the valves for you anyway. Do not make that happen.

Just keep them resting on the dry towel, and they will be dry and beautiful in no time.

Clean the mouthpiece with a brush specific for it

Ah, the mouthpiece! This is one piece you have to clean very well because it is in contact with your mouth so often. In fact, it goes through a lot too- spit buildup and all.

It is best if you have a mouthpiece brush with you- if the package does not come with one, buy one separately- you need it. What you have to do to clean the mouthpiece is first, put it under running water. Once it is in position, you have to insert the mouthpiece through the larger output of it.

Make sure it has gone all the way in. Then rotate the brush and scrub the wall off any kind of dirt and debris there is. You do not have to be too careful because a mouthpiece brush will have bristles that are gentle on the walls of the mouthpiece.

After you are done with the inner part of the mouthpiece, take the brush out and wipe the outer parts of the mouthpiece in the very same way. The water will rinse off the dirt in the process, but you can give it a final rinse once you are done using the brush.

Use a washcloth to dry the mouthpiece

As mentioned earlier, drying is one crucial step when cleaning instruments. In fact, it is crucial for any metal object because metals tend to react to moisture and water. So, even with as small a piece as the mouthpiece, you have to dry it with a washcloth. Firstly, wipe the exterior part of the mouthpiece with the washcloth.

Then you can rest the mouthpiece on a dry towel or cloth to let it soak out whatever moisture is left inside the mouthpiece.

Empty the spit valve

The spit valve has a similar function as to what it sounds like. In general, it would collect the spit and liquid buildup of the trumpet, and with the click of its lever, you can get rid of the liquid. When you are washing the trumpet, you can get rid of the water you used to wash it through the valve as well.

Since it has its place at the very end of your trumpet, you have to tilt the trumpet slightly forward in order to let the liquid accumulate in the spit valve. Then, you can touch the lever to let the liquid out. Make sure you are doing this over the sink or someplace where you want to discharge the liquid.

Check to see if there is any water left in the trumpet’s valve. If you do not sense any, then you can stop emptying the spit valve.

Part 4 : Polishing and Reassembling your Trumpet 

Now, it is time to put the trumpet back to the initial state it was in. Or else, what is even the point of washing the trumpet- it’s no showpiece.

Oil and reinsert your slides into the trumpet 

You have to be gentle with your trumpet at every step. When you are putting the slides in again- you have to be more careful; remember how you took it out? With a bit of pressure and pulling. So, when you try to put it back in, it won’t just smoothly slide in. If it smoothly slides in, it will easily slide out as well.

This is where you have to use grease oil to make it smooth for your slides. All you have to do is take some grease oil on your fingertips and rub it on the brass of the sides of the slides. Then, push the slides in the body of the trumpet. You may notice dripping oil afterward. If you do, then just wipe the dripping oil off.

Before reinserting the valves in your trumpet, Oil them 

You will notice time and again that when you maintain the valves, you mainly have to deal with the bottom part of the valve. When you are reinserting the valves, you will have to oil the bottom of the valves. Yes, this is where the much mentioned ‘valve oil’ is used. Most good brands include some valve oil with the trumpet to make it convenient for you to maintain the trumpet.

Once you insert the valves, push them up and down to confirm that the valve oil is working, making the movement of the valves smooth.

Use your polishing cloth 

It is time to make the trumpet shine. It can shine in more ways than just making great music. In fact, it can make you shine as well.

For now, let us focus on the physical aspect. Use a good polishing clothe, preferably lacquer or silver polishing cloth to polish the surface of the trumpet. This also depends a lot on the type of finish your trumpet has. Use a polishing cloth that is most suitable for your trumpet. Then, gently rub the entire trumpet with the polishing cloth to give it a glow.

Reinsert the mouthpiece. 

Reinserting the mouthpiece is very similar to how you take the mouthpiece out. All you have to do is hold the trumpet body with one hand to stabilize it and insert the mouthpiece. Now, the essential part of the trumpet is in the body, and you can go ahead and play the trumpet!

​Have a glance on the instance of the infographic driven designs given below which will cause you to more clear about the concept.

How to Clean a Trumpet

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean a trumpet at home? 

When you look at an air instrument, the first thing that may cross your mind is- Do not let it anywhere near water. However, that is exactly where you have to submerge the trumpet to wash it. But, you have to do it in the right way.

If the stores can wash trumpets using the same things as you have in your house, you can too. All you have to do is learn how to. And, now you know the whole procedure of cleaning the trumpet. However, it also depends on the type of trumpet you have.

For example, if you have difficulty when you are taking out the slide, it is better to consult a professional than forcing the slide out of the trumpet. So, you can clean the trumpet easily at home, just a bit carefully. But, if you face problems, then it is better not to push it further and leave it up to a professional.

​How often should a trumpet be cleaned?

If you use your trumpet a lot, then you have to clean it quite frequently. There are usually two ways to clean your trumpet- a surface cleanse, and a deep cleanse. Now, when it comes to surface cleaning, you have to do it multiple times every week.

This only includes wiping the exterior of the trumpet off any dust or moisture that could lead to water stains on it. It is just to keep the trumpet in its best condition for as long as you can. When it comes to giving the trumpet a deep cleanse, like the one we described, you can be less frequent.

In fact, it is a good idea to ‘wash’ the trumpet and water to clean all its interior sections once every six weeks. That is once every month is a good idea for a wash.

How to clean a trumpet without a snake

You had come across the cleaning equipment ‘snake’ when you tried to find out how you could clean a trumpet. But, you do not own a snake, and you want to clean the trumpet without it. Can you? Of course, you can, but the bad news is that you won’t get it cleaned that well.

A snake is a long thin brush with bristles in one end. When you insert in a tube-like structure, you have to move it around, back and forth, to get the debris and sticky dirt on the walls out. That is precisely what you do to the slides and tubes of a trumpet when you use a snake.

Without a snake, you can run warm water through the inside of the tubes. You can release the water at a suitable pressure so that it faces some friction inside the tube. That way, you can get some dirt out. But, again, it won’t take the sticky mud out in any way.

So, it is best if you buy a cleaning snake as they are not very expensive anyway.

Can you put trumpet valves in the water? 

Let’s start with a big “NO.” Do not do that unless you are planning to replace your valves with new ones, and we know you are not planning to do that. Even when washing the valves, it is only the bottom part of the valve that should come in contact with water.

The top part of the valve has felt pads in it. The pads will expand in size when it touches water. Furthermore, even if these are durable pads and it handles water well, it will take a long time to dry. Even when dry, the size of the felt will never be the same.

You need the valves to be in perfect condition when you play the trumpet. And, valves with the wrong size are not the perfect condition, and you will not be able to hit the notes right if that happens. So, do not put the trumpet valves in water.

What kind of soap should I use? Does it matter?

As long as it is a mild soap that won’t react with the materials building the trumpet, it’s okay. Most people use the readily available dish soap to clean trumpets. Because don’t you wash the metal plates or objects with the dish soap? Avoid detergents or any such rough soaps that you use on clothes. A common soap people use Dawn soap.

How much does a snake pipe cost? Are they rare?

No, cleaning snake pipes are not rare at all. You can easily find them in musical stores as a cleaning product too. They usually start at dollar 5, and the price may go up depending on the quality of the pipe. You see, it’s not so expensive. It is best if you buy one as the trumpet is more expensive and you must keep the trumpet in the best shape.

Should I wash my trumpet every time I play?

No, you don’t need to wash your trumpet every time you play. Well, if you play once a month, then you can. But, you do not have to ‘wash’ the trumpet so frequently. Once a month is enough depending on how much you play.

What you can do after every use is to wipe the trumpet clean from the exterior. This will keep the trumpet looking as good as new.

Will the trumpets from cheap brands work, or will they rust?

You will find both cheap great trumpets and expensive, poor trumpets. The question here is not about the price but the quality of the build. The cheaper brands may cut out on some features in order to reduce the cost. But, if they use great quality metals with a good finish, the trumpet will not rust.

Again, if the expensive ones just include a lot of bells and whistles making the trumpet look extra-ordinary, then the quality may not be up to the mark. So, whether you are buying from a cheap brand or an expensive one, just take a careful look at the materials and the finish. That will tell you if the trumpet will rust or not.

Does this work for silver trumpets as well?

Yes, it does. With a trumpet of any material and finish, you do not have to wash the trumpet every time you touch it. Too much of anything is bad, and too much of washing is bad too. With silver trumpets, you can polish the trumpet after every use with a polishing cloth after you wipe the moisture off to prevent stains.

Is it okay to bath the trumpet if it is an ancient trumpet?

Old or new, a trumpet needs to be clean. If you find the old trumpet in a very dirty state, it is best if you give it a bath. Then, you can focus on fixing its parts or give it a new look.

If I have a stuck slide, will washing it be a good idea?

If you have learned correctly how to wash a trumpet, you know that you have to take out the slides to wash a trumpet. So, how in the world are you going to wash a trumpet with a stuck slide? Put the whole trumpet in? That won’t get the trumpet clean.

One of the most common repairs that trumpets need is that of a stuck slide. Therefore, you have to careful not to cause any permanent damage. There are mainly two reasons why slides may get stuck: lack of lubrication and a dent or bend.

And, the solution to it is lubrication, heat and time. So, first, fix the slide then wash the trumpet.

How long does it take to dry?

The time depends on how you dry it. First, you have to wipe the moisture off, and then you have to let the trumpet dry by itself. If you blow dry it, it will dry faster. Again, you can leave it on a dry piece of the towel for the night after wiping the moisture off.

Final Words

The parts of a trumpet are delicate. Some parts can handle water well; there are some parts that cannot. You have to know which part is which. Based on that, you have to proceed with the overall washing.

There are certain things you need to give the trumpet a proper wash like the cleaning snake. The sooner you buy it, the better. Afterward, you have to dry the trumpet and polish it well. Follow all the required steps well, and you won’t be able to take your eyes off the trumpet.

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