This is a helpful guide for those who don’t know how to clean a trumpet the correct way. It can save the player from wasted time or potential damage.
Every trumpet player should be prepared to maintain their instruments to get the best performance and results when playing. Maintaining a trumpet requires regular oiling as well as cleaning, so players should know how to clean the instruments properly.
The process is easy to do, but it may take a while to accomplish with the first few tries if you don’t know how to clean a silver trumpet. Over time it will become a much quicker process (15 to 20 minutes) with practice. Cleaning your trumpet is very easy as it basically requires simple washing of the trumpet’s components.
Only a few tools are needed to keep trumpets clean, and some of these can be omitted or substituted when necessary:
- Small Cleaning Snake/Pipe Cleaner
- Valve Casing Brush
- Mouthpiece Brush
- Dish Soap
- Valve Oil
- Slide Grease
- Polishing Cloth
- Sink, Small Tub or Other Container
You can actually purchase kits online that contain all of the trumpet cleaning supplies you would need to clean your instrument. Yamaha makes a trumpet cleaning kit that is highly recommended.
Trumpet Cleaning Steps
Step 1: Take the Trumpet Apart
- Remove the valves, and place them somewhere safe where they cannot be knocked by kids or pets. Be careful when moving them so as not to drop them, and make sure not to separate the valves.
- Remove the slides by starting with the first, then the second and move on to third. You will eventually also remove the main tuning slide.
- It only requires small force to remove the valves and slides, so don’t apply too much to do so. If you come across a stuck valve, do not force it out. If you cannot remove the part, seek the help of a trumpet professional to continue disassembling the instrument.
Step 2: Cleaning the Tubing and Slides
- Fill the sink/container with enough warm water to completely immerse the trumpet. Mix a few drops of the dish soap with the water.
- Place the trumpet’s slides in the soapy water and allow them to soak for a few minutes, then use the cleaning snake to clean the insides of the slides. Rinse and dry them before placing them on a thick towel.
- Immerse the entire trumpet into the water, and let it soak slightly. Gently run the snake through all of the tubing without forcing it into tight areas.
- Run the valve casing brush through the valve casings several times.
Rinse the trumpet before allowing it to dry.Image: Source
Step 3: Clean the Valves
- Do NOT completely immerse the valves in water as the felt pads can will get wet and lose their shock-absorbing ability. If these parts do get wet or compressed you will have to change them.
- Use the cleaning snake to clean the ports of the valves, and rinse them with soap and water.
- Make sure to avoid making contact with the metal point of the cleaning snake as it can damage the insides of the valve ports.
Step 4: Reassemble the Trumpet
- Oil the valves, first slide and third slide before putting the trumpet back together.
- Grease the main tuning slide and second valve slide, and make sure to NOT grease the third valve slide as it will become too slow.
- Use warm water only, as water that is too hot can damage the trumpet’s finish.
- Do not remove the water keys or any triggers using a spring as a special tool is needed to put them back on. If can be extremely difficult to get them back in place without the right equipment.
- Use silver polish to remove grime or tarnish from silver-plated trumpets.
- Never use polish for a brass or silver trumpet on one with a lacquer finish as the polish may remove the finish.