Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My flute is tarnished and needs to be cleaned... I was afraid if I polished it, I would break something on it. I read online that it's a bad idea to remove tarnish on a flute yourself as you can ruin the pads. I have some questions regarding cleaning a tarnished flute:

My flute is one of those cheapy, mass-produced $200 ones. From what I've read online, it costs about $50 to have your flute tuned and cleaned. Is this worth it if I have a cheap flute, or is this something that those with really nice instruments have done (leaving people with student instruments to clean their instrument themselves.) Basically, what I'm saying is, is this worthwhile?

Also, the inside of my flute is clean (I had the sense to clean that part) and the pads work great. Is there any downfall, besides ugliness, to playing a tarnished flute? Does it corrode after a while? Even though it's tarnished, should I continue to polish the flute to prevent it from getting worse -- or does it not matter at this point?

share|improve this question
I found just wiping my flute with a micro fiber cloth works wonders. – user6943 Aug 27 '13 at 20:53
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Wiping your instrument down when you put it away will prevent tarnish caused by the oils from your skin. For other tarnish, a silver polishing cloth can work wonders (mine cost about $12), if you have a silver-plated flute. Keep in mind that using the cloth does wear a bit of the plating off, so using one too much will leave you with a rather dull nickel tube. Don't use any liquid or cream polishes, as they will get into the key mechanisms and cause problems.

There will be no sound change from a tarnished flute. If it is corroded, you may have a problem. It is more likely that corrosion in the key mechanisms would impede your playing. My beginner flute doesn't have a lot of silver left (it flaked off after a while) but it still plays ok for its quality.

Cleaning - you may be thinking of a COA (Cleaning, Oiling, Adjustment). Basically, they take the flute completely apart, clean and lubricate everything, and put it back together. Then they adjust all the mechanisms so that the keys are level and activate correctly. They will also often replace worn pads, although this usually costs more. Some of that you can do yourself; for instance, if your flute has adjustment screws, you can adjust the key movements so that the keys activated by other keys seal their holes correctly. Other things, like pad leveling, are better left to experts unless you are willing to possibly sacrifice the flute (or pay a lot more to fix your damage).

In all likelyhood there will not be any problems playing a tarnished flute. Chances are that you will have a hard time restoring it to the original condition, but you can prevent it from getting worse, and maybe make it look a bit better than now.

share|improve this answer

I'd recommend something like this , a flute polishing cloth

They have a very small amount of a silver polish in them, and are fine material so they're really gentle on the metal even of a plated flute. They also leave zero residue.

I had a buffet crampon for years and a yamaha 211 for few years too, both student model silver plated flutes. Every now and again (probably not more than once or twice a year) I'd polish my flute with this. Really couldn't recommend it enough.

Side note: DON'T use commercial silver polish or polishing cloths for silverware, these will be far far far to harsh and abrasive.

I find that the flute does actually play better after a good clean&polish with one of these cloths, some people might say it won't make a difference, but that's my personal experience

share|improve this answer

Take a tooth brush and tooth paste and scrub your flute down with it. Make sure you use lukewarm water before and after to rinse it off. I tarnished my flute by accidentally soaking it in 3% hydrogen peroxide for too long so it got all tarnished but the toothpaste helped it a lot. To disinfect it I use mouthwash. Just put a little on a washcloth or spray on flute, wipe down with a washcloth, and wash off with water. Be careful not to get the top of it soaked because that is where the cork is and you don't want to mess with the cork too much or it could effect your flute in a bad way. I hope this helps you and if it does (which I'm sure it will!) have fun with your newly shined flute!!!

share|improve this answer

baking soda, toothbrush, boiling water, do not get pads wet, aluminum foil pan, allow to soak or sit in its baking soda for at least 3 minutes, scrub off making sure that you do not get pads wet!- very hepful- it is acidic- baking soda is pure base will def help!

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.