I have seen many videos on "how to clean harmonicas", but in all of them, you have to take the harmonica apart, clean it and reassemble it.

The thing is there's no marine band harmonica in my country. I bought it from the US on Amazon and I can't afford to take it apart. If something bad happens while taking it apart and putting it back together, I can't order another one easily. Besides, when you take the harmonica apart, you might have to retune it, and I don't know how to do that. Again, I can't afford to take the risk.

So is there any way to clean the harmonica without taking it apart, and without damaging the holes or changing the tune? I used to clean my Chinese haps with alcohol or water, but I don't know if it's the right way to do it for this one.


Would putting some water or alcohol in every hole and then drying it with a hairdryer work? The hairdryer would remove the moisture from the water or alcohol.

4 Answers 4


I think it depends if you want to have it as an "active instrument" and play with it, or just keep it as a nice harmonica for memory/collection.

I play in one of my projects with Filip Jers. He was sponsored by Hering harmonicas and now Suzuki harmonicas, and he tunes his harmonicas every other show. To clean his harmonicas he opens it, cleans the reeds, scratches them to fix tuning, oils it and then puts it back together. He is a world class player and is very careful with tuning/performance of the instrument. I've seen him open/close harmonicas a lot and they don't get broken.

If you want to have the marine band harmonica as an active instrument, I would not be afraid of it, it's more complex with a chromatic harmonica. Just open it, blow on its reeds and clean what you see as dirty.

(This does not answer your question in the way that you ask "how to clean without taking them apart", still it's the experience/knowledge I would like to share with you)

  • +1 Fully agree. Harmonicas are really simple. Taking it apart to clean is easy and necessary.
    – slim
    Jul 22, 2013 at 9:14
  • the marine band is my active instrument and the thing is, i don't want to mess with the tuning, i don't know how to retunne, it's not like the guitar, you can't use a metronome right? you have to use your ear and i'm not trained enough to know the right tune for each hole, i don't know flip jers, but he seems very professional, he could retune his harp blindfolded, i can't.
    – Lynob
    Jul 22, 2013 at 13:43
  • @Fischer taking it apart, cleaning, reassembling will not affect the tuning.
    – slim
    Jul 22, 2013 at 14:02
  • @Fischer, (like slim also wrote) opening does not affect tuning. But not cleaning does actually, the reeds gets dirty with time and using and get lower in pitch, so opening and cleaning is recommendable. If you want to train tuning them then it's better to buy more common harmonicas and try on them. You can find videos on youtube with tips on that.
    – Sergio
    Jul 22, 2013 at 14:09
  • @slim see this see the end of the video
    – Lynob
    Jul 22, 2013 at 14:14

Don’t take apart a marine band. They're put together with nails, not screws. After playing take a dry soft cloth and carefully dry it then let it air dry. Don’t close it up in the box. Mine only gets closed in the box if I’m transporting it to a gig. I use the box at home to store it in always opened as sort of a cradle plus it’s easier to find. Personally I wouldn’t use any type of liquid on it. If you play enough for it to become that dirty it’s likely that it’s out of tune and time to replace it.


Take your favorite mug fill with about two thirds tepid water from the kettle and about one third vinegar - place your harp in the solution for twenty to thirty minutes - rinse thoroughly with clean tepid water - tap out both sides onto the palm of your hand - your harp will look and sound bright!

Don't use oil; it attracts dirt, dust and fluff.


Us peroxide for 3 min in a cup full of peroxide, rinse with water, tape it in your hand, to take as much water out, put it in a front of fan to dry.

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