I am not sure if this question is a valid question as far as the Help Centre rules go.

I have recently purchased a used flute (Trevor James Cantabile) which comes with a hard case and a soft case. The instrument itself is fine, and so is the hard case, but the soft case suffered some "damage" in the form of mould (I can see some white spots on the outside, and I can smell it on the internal "fluffy" material, but it's white, so I can't really see it).

I am not sure what the material is exactly, and there is no label with washing symbols or instructions, so I was wondering what the proper way of cleaning such a case (including mould) would be. The instrument was stored properly, it's just the particularities of the climate here that really affect fabrics (and leathers) if they are not ventilated properly.

This question is not for this specific problem only, I would generally like to know how soft/demisoft cases for brass/woodwind instruments (possibly other instruments too?) should be maintained and washed, so that the materials are not ruined and the instrument is not ruined either.

I am pretty certain the industry uses some standard materials that would help identify a one-fit-all algorithm, more or less, but I do not know how to clarify my query well enough or where to look.

Would the instructions for cleaning the "fluffy" material be similar to those of cleaning carpets? What about the velvet-like internal material used in some demisoft cases (it's usually covering something similar to foam rubber, which could be damaged by improper treatment)?

2 Answers 2


Most of the fabric used for cases (that I see in the US) is Nylon or Nylon based fabric. For a slip cover that goes over a hard case such as you find on Flute and sometimes Clarinet cases, you should be able to hand wash the slip cover with washing soap.

For soft covered hard cases, such as covered plywood or covered Styrofoam, you can't really wash them as water will affect the internal construction, glue etc.

I have used spray carpet cleaner (the kind that foams, you rub it in and let it dry then vacuum), furniture spot remover, and pet stain remover on my rental instrument cases without any problems.

Do not use aerosol sprays directly on anything with Styrofoam or other soft foam padding under it as it can melt the foam. For spot treatments you spray a cloth and then apply to the case.

For general cleaning a lightly dampened rag is often enough.


For regular cleaning I would just use mild soap and water. Anything more powerful could damage metall or pads of the instrument.

Since mould actually cries for something else, e.g. vinegar, I would dispose that soft case.

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