I ran across a story on the NPR site yesterday that really grabbed my attention. The title was:
The basic gist of the story was that this trombone player was chronically ill due to mold and bacteria that were growing inside his horn. This may sound like an isolated incident, but scientists running an experiment prompted by this case found that every instrument they tested had some form of contamination.
For saxophone players, there are a few things you can do to maintain good saxophone hygiene.
1. Clean your mouthpiece.
- You can use a mouthpiece brush to get out any particles that are left behind after playing.
- You can also let your mouthpiece soak in hydrogen peroxide. This can be really gross if you haven’t cleaned out your mouthpiece for a while, but also has a fun, science fair quality to it.
- You can use soap and lukewarm water. Be careful to avoid hot water with hard rubber mouthpieces. The hot water can cause discoloration and you’ll end up with a green or brown mouthpiece.
2. Clean your neck.
- You can use a neck brush (a trumpet snake would probably also work) to remove particles. You could also put soapy water on the brush and scrub the inside of the neck.
- You can put hydrogen peroxide in the neck and let it soak for a few minutes. Be sure to put a piece of tape over the octave pip if you do this.
3. Clean your reeds.
- Wipe excess moisture off of reeds (on both sides) after playing.
- Dispose of reeds that have any mold on them.
- Soak reeds in a 50%-50% solution of water and hydrogen peroxide. This will get the reed clean, but it will play softer afterwards.
4. Clean the body
- Run a swab through the body of your saxophone after you finish playing.
- If you have a shove-it (those fuzzy things that people put in their horns), put it in the horn to remove moisture and then take it out. Storing shove-its in the horn keeps that moisture in your horn, which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid.
- Wipe down the exterior of the horn with a soft cloth.