How To Clean Your Clarinet

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If you’re a clarinet player, you’ll know the importance of cleaning your clarinet. You should be cleaning it every day after you finish practising. This will keep it sanitary and in good shape (which will help maintain the quality of its tone!).

If you weren’t aware of this, not to worry! We’ve compiled a 7 step guide that will help keep your instrument squeaky-clean and will ensure the quality of your clarinet sound.

Step 1 – Disassemble the clarinet

Carefully dismantle your clarinet. While doing so, it’s important to avoid over-handling the clarinet (particularly with your finger-tips) to avoid transferring oils from your hands onto the clarinet’s wood, which could cause damage.

Ensure you don’t bend the keys while you take the clarinet apart. It’s quite delicate and should be treated with caution!

Place each piece of the clarinet in a safe place where they won’t be damaged, that means out of reach of children and pets!

Step 2 –  Remove the reed

Remove the reed from the mouthpiece and store it in a reed holder. Be very careful as you do this to avoid damaging the read. Make sure you pick it up by its base, rather than the delicate top end.

Put the rest of the clarinet in a safe place, which isn’t too hot or cold. It helps if you have a clarinet stand.

Helpful hint – Your clarinet reeds will last a lot longer if you play a few on rotation, rather than one constantly.

Step 3 – Polish the clarinet

With a polishing cloth, polish the body of the clarinet, playing close attention to the ligature and keywork to remove any fingerprints. Be gentle!

Don’t use any kind of metal polish on your instrument, except for key oil and cork grease.

Make sure you inspect the tone holes that your finger cover as they can often collect grime from your fingers!

Step 4 – Clean the mouthpiece

A clarinet mouthpiece can become very unhygienic if not regularly cleaned. It may also shrink, which will affect the clarinet’s tone.

Get an unused toothbrush and some warm water (not too hot or it may discolour) and gently remove any build-up formed around the mouthpiece. When you’ve finished, dry it on a (clean) tea towel.

Step 5 – Clean the inside of the clarinet

First, reassemble the clarinet.

Then, take your clarinet cleaner and pull it through the inside of the instrument to remove any moisture.  You should pull it through the whole instrument (from the mouthpiece to the bell) to ensure you’ve cleaned everything.

Don’t worry if the cloth gets stuck, just pull harder until it eventually comes out.

Try and remember to wash these clothes regularly, otherwise they’ll just end up getting the clarinet even dirtier.

In the mood for a jam session? Download our huge range of clarinet sheet music at! Check out our sheet music for Hallelujah, the Game of Thrones theme tune and Happy Birthday!

Step 6 – Place the clarinet back in the case

If you’re not playing or cleaning your clarinet, it should be kept stored in the clarinet case to avoid any damage.

Avoid keeping sheet music or pencils in your clarinet case as it can damage the wood once the case is closed.

Tip: if your clarinet case is too large and the clarinet moves each time you transport it, place a thin layer of foam over the clarinet to keep it in place.

Step 7 – General maintenance

Here are a few things to remember to keep your clarinet in good shape:

  1. Regularly use cork grease on the corks to facilitate the assembling of the instrument.
  2. Look after your reeds! They’re very fragile and if they’re even a tiny bit damaged, you won’t be able to play your clarinet!
  3. Wash your hands and brush your teeth before you practise each day.

Now, go forth and clean that clarinet! Squidward would be so proud!

Looking for clarinet songs to play? All our sheet music is available to download at Whether you’re a clarinet beginner or the next Benny Goodman, we’ve got you covered.

Happy cleaning!

The Jellynote Team x

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