I have a plastic soprano recorder that is about ten years old. Over the years, it's accumulated some dirt or something in the windway. It has a straight windway.

What is the best way to clean it out? Could any damage be done to it during the cleaning process that I should be aware of? It also has some stuff in the bore. Would I clean that out the same way?

4 Answers 4


I approach cleaning my recorders the same way a flutist cleans their instrument because both have a stopped head joint. My recorders all came with a cleaning rod. I use a small piece of fabric, usually silk, and run this through the instrument after each time I play.

You should be careful when cleaning the windway because any nicks to the ramp (the angled section that creates the sound) can lessen the strength of the instrument's tone. Using a soft cloth, or as others have mentioned soapy water for a plastic instrument, does the trick nicely.

Because the windway itself does not effect the quality of tone production, I do not suspect it should be cleaned as often as the rest of the instrument. However, when needed, running a small piece of silk through it should do the job.

  • Are there certain soaps to avoid? Do you recommend certain ones?
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 21:38
  • @Luke, your question makes me laugh as I think of my answer. I always clean my clarinet mouthpieces with Efferdent (the dentures cleaner). Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 3:02

Some plastic recorders have separate blocks but most of those are glued in so removing them is not really possible. Warm/hot dishwater in the sink will do the trick. Later, a piece of card stock cut appropriately can be used to dislodge particles of food or lint that get caught in windway afterwards, or just wash it again. A clean pipe cleaner will work also, but it can leave more lint than it removes after multiple uses.

  • How do I dry it after I wash it?
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 3:01
  • @Luke, air and time. :-) Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 15:38
  • Should I use a soap or detergent with the dishwater? If so, are there certain ones to avoid?
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 19:11

I would try a pipe-cleaner, or perhaps a cheap brass mouthpiece brush. Some mouthpiece brushes have a plastic cap on the wire though; those won't work. A pipe cleaner would probably be your best bet.

  • Do you recommend a detergent? The gunk might be a mold (the recorder sat around unused for the first seven years). I've read that you also need to remove the block in a wooden recorder to clean the windway. Is this the same for a plastic recorder?
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 1:42
  • 2
    Dishwashing soap (hand) should be fine. Anything you'd use on your tupperware. I don't know if most plastic recorders can be pulled apart enough for what you describe. I would use the pipe cleaner wherever it can go, soak it in warm soapy water, pipe cleaner again, repeat if necessary. Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 2:56
  • 1
    I agree with what is said here. However, be careful when using a pipe cleaner because the metal can scratch the instrument and damage it. Brass can handle brushes, but plastic especially is prone to scratching. Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 7:00

A pipe cleaner works very well. If you fold it in half it won't scratch your flute.

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