Trumpet Maintenance and Cleaning Tips

How to clean a trumpet

Should you clean your trumpet? Well, there are two equally adamant schools of thought on this:

The “Yes, Clean It” Method:

  • Fill a deep sink or tub with lukewarm water to which you’ve added a very small amount of hand dishwashing soap.
  • Disassemble your trumpet in a safe, dry place where none of the parts are in danger of rolling off or being knocked over. Remove the valves first and the slides second. Don’t force anything – if it won’t come out with a modicum of effort, just take it to a professional later.
  • Be careful not to lose track of small parts.
  • Soak the slides in the water for one minute and then snake them with a snaking tube or clean them with a brass shaver brush.
  • Rinse them with fresh water, being sure to get all of the soap out and then dry them and set them on a towel.
  • Dip and fully submerge the body of the trumpet, soaking it for two minutes before withdrawing it and cleaning out the tubes and valve casings with the snake and brass saver valve cleaning brush.
  • Drain the sink and thoroughly rinse the inside and outside of the body with the spray nozzle if you have one. Dry and set aside on a towel.
  • Apply slide grease to the slides and reassemble the trumpet.
  • Do NOT get the tops of the valves or the felt valve pads wet. Run the water at a trickle and clean only the bottom part of the valves (the part with ports) and then rinse them completely.
  • Do not dry the valves – oil them by placing a few drops of oil on each valve before inserting it in its proper place. Drying the valves with a cloth can leave miniscule fibers on them that can jam them up.

The “No, Lubricate It” Method

This method depends on the theory that the trumpet doesn’t get dirty unless you aren’t keeping it properly oiled and greased.

  • Pick up your trumpet (the same way you always hold it) and tip it at a 45 degree angle downward (bell side down)
  • Unscrew the top cap (one valve at a time) of the valve and pull it out about half way – don’t remove it.
  • Drop five drops of oil onto the surface.
  • Rotate the valve and slide it in and out to spread the oil around.
  • Let the valve fall down into the casing and then turn it until you hear a click (so that you know the valve guide is in the correct position).
  • Repeat the above for each valve.
  • To get ready to grease and oil your slides, first determine if any of your slides are meant to be fast moving. Your 1st and 3rd valve slides may be fast moving, and if so, will require oil rather than grease.
  • To grease slides, understanding that you will get messy, remove the slide and smear the entire slide with the grease before replacing it.
  • If you did it right, excess grease will come out as you reinsert the slide. Wipe it with your finger and use it to grease the next slide.
  • To oil the 1st and 3rd valve slides if necessary, put a drop of oil on each and then press down on the corresponding valves and move the slides to spread the oil evenly. Do this when you oil the rest of the valves rather than when you grease the other slides.
  • If you believe that lubrication is the way to go but you still want to “clean,” you still can by wrapping the rectangular end of a chopstick in a soft cloth and inserting it into the valve casings from the top and from the bottom.