How to Clean a Flute at Home

By Woodwind | Flute Advice

Apr 19
How to Clean a Flute at Home

Cleaning and maintaining your flute is important in prolonging it's life and keeping it looking beautiful. Get in a habit of cleaning after each use now. It doesn't take long, can be done at home, and you only need a few things to get the job done.

Cleaning the Inside of a Flute

There may not be as much spit involved with playing the flute, but the moisture inside still needs to be wiped away.


To clean the inside of a flute, all you need is a cleaning rod and a cloth.

A wooden or plastic cleaning rod is preferable to eliminate the possibility of scratching your instrument. However, it is possible to clean with a metal rod. You will just need to be extra careful.

The cloth can be a soft cotton or flannel, or it can be one specifically made for cleaning flutes.


  1. Pull the cloth a little ways through the opening at the top of the cleaning rod.
  2. Wrap the cloth around the rod, making sure to also cover the top of the rod (especially if you're using a metal rod).
  3. Take apart your flute so you have the 3 individual pieces.
  4. Move your rod and cloth all of the way through the footjoint.
  5. Move your rod and cloth all of the way through the body.
  6. Put the cleaning rod and cloth into the headjoint as far as you can. Swish or rotate the rod a few times.

And now you're done cleaning the inside of your flute.

Cleaning the Outside of a Flute

Cleaning the outside does not need to happen as often as the inside, but it's good to get in the habit. Dirt, moisture, and fingerprints may need to be wiped away. Polishing with a cloth will remove/prevent tarnishing.


All you need is a cloth to wipe down the outside. You can use a soft cotton or flannel, a silver polishing cloth, or whatever cloth your flute cleaning kit comes with.


Simply wipe down the flute, but make sure you don't rub the key pads.

Other Notes about Cleaning a Flute

  • It is recommended to get your flute serviced/cleaned once a year by a trained flute technician. If you method of cleaning the outside is not working, a technician will be able to safely clean and fix your flute.
  • Never put your flute under running water. The key pads will swell and can become damaged.
  • Cleaners and polishers are not recommended. Prolonged use of silver polish will cause signs of wear. If you think your flute needs an extra cleaning, see a flute technician.

Flute Cleaning Supplies

Flutes often come with cleaning supplies, but if yours did not, here are some options:

Cleaning Rod

A plastic or wood cleaning rod is recommended.

Inside Cleaning Cloth

This Hodge Flute Silk Swab was created to clean the inside of the flute.

Outside Polishing Cloth

The Beaumont Microfiber Flute Cleaning Cloth is for cleaning and polishing the outside of the flute. It comes in 5 different colors/designs.

Pad-Saver Flute Set

The Pad-Saver Flute Set has micro fibers that pull away saliva. They can be stored inside the flute. They are designed to be used after you've cleaned the inside of the flute with the cleaning rod and cloth. These are just an extra step for taking any extra moisture that was left and are not supposed to be used instead of the cleaning rod and cloth.

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