How to Clean Brass InstrumentsWhether they are serving as bold attention-getters or as a smooth backdrop, brass instruments are undeniable powerhouses of sound. You can’t ignore their music, nor should you ignore their upkeep and maintenance! Read these tips to find out how to get clean brass instruments that let themselves be heard.

Clean Brass Instruments


Place a towel on the bottom of your bathtub (this protects the trombone from nicks and scratches). Then fill the bottom few inches of the bathtub with lukewarm water. Add a few drops of a gentle dish soap to the running water.

  • Do not use hot water. It can damage the trombone by stripping the lacquer.
  • Do not use a soap or cleaner containing bleach.

Place the disassembled pieces of the trombone (tuning slide, bell, outer and inner position slides, and mouthpiece) on the towel in the bathtub. Use a soft cloth and a cleaning “snake” to wash the inside and outside of all the pieces.

Once the pieces are thoroughly washed, place them on a towel outside the bathtub to dry. Once the pieces have completely air dried, apply a little grease to the tuning slides. Then reassemble the pieces and you’re done!


This is pretty similar to the trombone-cleaning process. Lay a towel on the bathtub floor, fill the tub with lukewarm water, and add a little mild soap. Disassemble the tuba.

Clean the body of the tuba first. Place this piece in the tub and gently rub it with a washcloth. If needed, have a friend help you rotate this piece to dump the water out when you’re ready to remove it. Rinse and place it on a towel to dry.

While the body dries, clean the other pieces in the tub. You may need a cleaning snake that will help you clean the interiors of long tubes. For the valves, clean with warm water, but do not get any cork or felt pieces wet.

Rinse the pieces with warm water and set aside to dry. Once the pieces are dry, apply slide and valve lubricants, then reassemble.


The cleaning method is pretty similar for all brass instruments. Trumpets, French horns, mellophones, euphoniums, and almost any other brass instrument can be cleaned in the bathtub using this process. Just be careful to remove valve felts so they don’t get wet.

Big (Clean!) Brass Band

Now that it’s clean, your brass instrument is brighter, shinier, and louder than ever! Brass instruments should be cleaned in this way about once a month to flush out dirt accumulation and prevent corrosion.