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How to Clean Your Trombone

A cleaning brush is being inserted into the tuning slide of a trombone. Cleaning products are in the background.

Cleaning your trombone regularly will keep it playing well and will be better for your health. Ideally this should be done every couple of months.

What equipment do I need?

The equipment we will need for cleaning your trombone is a flexible snake brush, a mouthpiece brush, and dish soap. You can get all of these brushes in a Reka cleaning kit.

The Process

A tap is being turned on and filling a large tub that has a blue towel in the bottom of it.

1. Fill either a bath or large tub with warm water and a small amount of dish soap. It is important to not use hot water, as this can damage the lacquer.

The screw is being undone to separate the trombone bell from the slide.

2. Disassemble the trombone by removing the slide from the bell section.

Grease is being removed from the trombone inner slide with paper towel.

3. Remove the inner slide from the outer slide and remove old slide grease from the inner slide. Place them both in the soapy water. Be very careful to not dent your slide or bend the tubes as you do this.

Grease is being removed from the trombone slide with paper towel.

4. Remove the main tuning slide from the bell section, wipe the grease off the tuning slide, and place both of those parts in the water too.

The trombone mouthpiece is being placed into the tub. The other parts of the trombone are in the tub as well.

5. Place your mouthpiece in there too. 

Separated parts of the trombone in the water.

6. Leave these parts to soak for about 10 minutes.

The bell section of the trombone is being rotated in the water.

7. About halfway through, flip the bell over so that all of the tubes get to soak in the water. 

A trombone cleaning brush is being inserted into the inner slide.

8. When everything is done soaking, you can run your snake brush through everything except for the mouthpiece. When cleaning your outer slide, stop pushing the brush when you feel resistance at the bottom. Pull it out again and then do the other side. For the bell section, you only need to push the snake into the smaller tube. The brush can be pulled all the way through the main tuning slide.

The outside of the trombone tuning slide is being scrubbed with a blue sponge.

9. Use a wet soft sponge or cloth to clean the outside. Make sure you wash the soapy water off all these parts. 

A trombone mouthpiece is being scrubbed with a brush over the tub.

10. Now scrub out the mouthpiece with a mouthpiece brush.

If you don’t have time for a full clean of your trombone, it is good to at least clean your mouthpiece regularly, as this is where you will have the most build up. Especially, if you eat between practice sessions.

The trombone tuning slide is being wiped with a black cloth.

11. Use a soft cloth to dry the parts of your trombone.

Two images side by side. On the left, a thin, white cloth is being pulled through the top of the trombone cleaning rod. On the right, the cloth is being wrapped around the rod.

12. Use the long rod with cleaning gauze to wipe and dry the inside of the outer slide. To do this, insert the cleaning gauze into the eye of the cleaning rod and wrap the cloth around the length of the rod, twisting as you go.

13. Closely insert it into the outer slide until you reach the bend, and then you can pull it out. Make sure you are twisting the rod as you go in and out with the cloth.  

14. When putting your trombone back together, follow our guide on how lubricate your trombone slide.

Enjoy your clean trombone and happy practising!

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