Flute Cleaning and Care

Elvis Elvis

Flute cleaning here will be divided into seven section so that it is easier for you to know what to do and don’t each section. The 7 sections are shown above. There will other tips too.

1, Flute Assembly and disassembly
2, Flute Cleaning or swabbing
3, Head Joint Cork
4, Sticky Pads
5, Flute Polishing
6, Flute Oiling
7, Professional Maintenance and flute repair

1, Assembly and disassembly


A, DO Wash your hands and rinse your mouth before playing your flute. I brush my teeth before playing.
B, DO Set your flute case on a hard immovable surface like table or on the floor when opening it.
C, DO Make sure that the flute case has the right side up when you open it. Normally the brand sign is up.
D, DO Wipe down the contact point when you twist them together.
E, DO Swab your flute before putting it away.
F, DO remember the joints’ position in the flute case.
G, DO know how to hold the joints – tenon, bottom of the joints.
H, DO check broken or weak case latches every time place the flute in the flute case.
I, DO avoid extreme humidity and temperature. Flute case or cover with insulator would be better. It’s cheaper than you have it repaired.


A, DON’T Put your flute case on the music stand.
B, DON’T force a stuck or hard to twist your flute joints. It will damage your flute and affect your flute tone.
C, DON’T Grasp the flute around the mechanism. It will bend the keys.
D, DON’T use Vaseline or other lubricant on the joints – even cork grease. It attracts dust and wear down tenon.
E, DON’T touch the keys as it may bent the keys.
F, DON’T drop, bang the flute against the furniture, hit people or sit on it.
G, DON’T place any extra item in the flute case except flute and the tuning rod.

2, Flute Cleaning or swabbing

Flute cleaning is very important every time done playing to make your flute lasts longer.


A, DO clean all three joints. Don’t miss any.
B, DO wipe off the surface with a clean and soft cloth.
C, DO keep your flute clean inside and outside every time done playing.
D, DO clean excess moisture and wipe fingerprints before you place it in the flute case.


A, DON’T use pad saver as a swab and place it in the flute case. It creates humidity and it’s bad for your flute.
B, DON’T just leave your flute. Hold it, have it held or in the flute case only.
C, DON’T hold the lip plate and the key pads. Take the tenon, bottom of body and bottom of the foot joint.
D, DON’T overdo cleaning.

3, Head Joint Cork

As a standard, the head joint should 17mm from the center of the blow hole. There is a mark on the swab rod. It must be corrected otherwise the octave will be out of tune. You may consider o-ring, no cork and does mean make no influence by humidity and temperature.

Flute Cleaning and Care


A, DO adjust the cork with guidance but if you are a flute beginner, it’s advisable to ask flute experts to do it if you don’t want to hurt your flute.B, DO ask professional to adjust the cork for you.


A, DON’T mess with the head joint cork.
B, DON’T remove the cork as it may loose and affect your flute playing.
C, DON’T twist the head joint cork yourself without guidance.

4, Sticky Pads


A, DO consider Yamaha powder paper to get rid of sticky pads. Put the paper between the flute and the pads and gently push it to absorb the excess moisture.


A, DON’T use cigarette paper and dollar bill as substitutes to powder paper.

B, DON’T use acetone or nail polish remover on your flute.

5, Flute Polishing


DO wipe off fingerprints with a clean, untreated, cotton cloth only.


DON’T polish your flute, no even silver polishing cloth. It’s like sandpaper and will tear down the silver plate even quicker.

You can have it de-tarnished only by a flute repair technician when the pads have to replaced every 5 to 10 years. Just don’t do it yourself.

6, Flute Oiling

Don’t use key oil on your flute. It only does harm on your flute. The only time your flute is oiled is only in the repair shop when the flute is disassembled. Just don’t do it yourself.

7, Professional Maintenance and Flute Repair

Don’t go to check up your flute regularly. They just want to be as rich as doctors. It’s unnecessary. You just have to send your flute for flute cleaning or flute care when there’s problems like broken or don’t sound right. Determine first by third opinion before you go. Go to large and well-known music shop. Don’t wait too long. Longer the time, more damage.

Most Common Flute Repair Problems:

1, Loose head joint
2, Bb thumb out of adjustment.
3, Lost hinge rod on top “c” key.

Other Tips

Everyday Flute Cleaning Maintenance

1, Make sure that your flute is not water-soaked.
2, Never place your flute on the music stand, chair, bed or any place that your flute may fall. Falling cause serious damage.
3, Hold your flute, have it held or in the flute case.4, Glance your flute whether there are

- loose or missing screws,
- last finger C key hinge rod,
- top key stack pivot screw and
- bottom key stack pivot screw.

Basic Material that every Flute Player should have:

1, Flute
2, Flute Case
3, Absorbent cleaning cloth (periodically cleaned in the washer)
4, Tuning rod (cleaning bore). A wooden rod would be better than a metal rod but do keep the original one as it has the correct marking.