I found a good old flute (Armstrong) from the 1960's. As a hobby and ministry, I like to find old band instruments, clean them, repair and take/send them to places where kids learn and enjoy playing them. A problem I come across is the problem of old flutes and tarnish... even some flaking of the silver finish.

Of course, you can remove the keys and polish the body with silver polish or/and buff it to a shine. However, it tarnishes almost immediately even using a 3M anti tarnish strip.

Has anyone ever tried to polish a flute to a great shine and spray clear lacquer over it to keep it from tarnishing? Any other suggestions or ideas would be welcome. I cannot afford to give away new flutes but also do not want to give them black tarnished flutes.


1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, tarnish is a naturally occurring fact of life when you play a musical instrument. You don't want to use silver polish though. Silver polish actually strips away the silver plating a little bit at a time. What you want to do is use baking soda (washing soda is even better), hot water, and a sheet of aluminum foil. Here is a video that shows the process.

I was in drum and bugle corps for years, and this was how we cleaned our instruments.

  • 1
    Don't ever do that with a flute, you'll ruin the pads.
    – PiedPiper
    Jan 9 at 20:40

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