Skip to main content

How to Clean Your French Horn

Small brush is half inserted into French horn mouthpiece with running tap on the left.

Cleaning your horn regularly will keep it playing well and will be better for your health. French horn is one of the more difficult brass instruments to clean and there are some aspects that should be left to a technician. But, there are a few basics steps that you can do yourself to keep your horn in good condition between instrument services. 

French horn cleaning kit with 3 brushes.


The equipment you will need for cleaning your French horn is a flexible snake brush, a mouthpiece brush, and some dish soap. You can buy everything you need in a kit, such as this one from Reka. 

The Process

There's a blue towel in the bottom of a large sink. The water is running and dish washing detergent is being being poured in.

1. Lay a soft towel in your bath or large tub, and fill it with warm water and a small amount of dish soap. It is important to not use hot water, as this can damage the lacquer. 

Grease is being removed with paper towel from a valve slide that has been removed.

2. As you remove each part, clean off the old slide grease with some paper towel.

Slides of French horn are being placed into the sink.

3. Place all of the slides and your mouthpiece in the soapy water and leave them to soak for about 10 minutes. We don’t recommend putting your whole instrument in the water as this can result in dirt getting into your valves, which will be difficult to remove. Leave this step for your instrument service.

A cleaning brush has been inserted into the lead pipe of the French horn and is coming out the other end.

4. Pour some water through the lead pipe of the horn and feed the snake brush through until it comes out the other end. 

Two images side by side. On the left, a brush is being pushed through one of the slides. On the right, the slide is being rinsed under running water.

5. When everything is done soaking, you can run your snake brush through everything except for the mouthpiece and wash the soapy water off all of these parts. Only push the brush as far as you can without force. 

Small brush is half inserted into French horn mouthpiece with water running over it.

6. Scrub out the mouthpiece with a mouthpiece brush. If you don’t have time for a full clean of your horn, it is good to at least clean your mouthpiece and leadpipe regularly, as this is where you will have the most build up. Especially, if you tend to eat between practice sessions.

French horn slides are being wiped with a blue towel.

7. Use a soft cloth to dry the parts of your French horn. 

Greece is being applied to one of the French horn slides.

8. When putting your French horn back together, follow our guides on how to oil your valves and lubricate your slides.

Enjoy your clean your French horn and happy practising!

Read More 'How To' Blogs