Cleaning your trombone is a necessity if you want to avoid expensive repairs later in the instrument's life. There are many different aspects to cleaning a trombone, from the easiest daily rituals to a less frequent deep cleaning. This article covers these different methods and when to use each one.
Daily Trombone Cleaning and Maintenance:
Each day before you play your trombone you should take the mouthpiece over to a sink and scrub it out using an inexpensive mouthpiece brush. A clean mouthpiece feels better and plays better than one with dried saliva and half-chewed food pieces sticking to it. Clean the mouthpiece with the brush and warm water then either dry with a paper towel or allow it to air dry.
After you are done rehearsing for the day you can clean out your slide with a trombone cleaning rod and an old thin piece of flannel. Intermediate and professional trombones often come with these cleaning rods included. Beginner model trombones usually do not. Again, ask your local music store to see if you can order one and then have them show you how to use it properly.
Weekly Trombone Cleaning and Maintenance:
Once each week you may wish to pour some warm water through the slides to flush out any acidic liquids and saliva that can literally eat through the metal of your trombone. Another great and fun alternative is the use of a “Spitball,” a commercial product that is blown through the slide and attempts to clean the worst of the residue.
Bi-Weekly Trombone Cleaning and Maintenance:
Every few weeks it is a good idea to give your new trombone a good thorough cleaning by totally submersing it in water and scrubbing the inside of the tubes with a trombone cleaning snake. Fill your bathtub with luke-warm soapy water (use a mild dish soap like Dawn) and let the trombone soak in the tub for about ten minutes. Make sure the water is NOT HOT! Hot water in some cases can literally melt the lacquer finish off of a brass instrument. After the horn has soaked briefly take the cleaning snake and scrub the inside of the instrument all the way through the curves in the slides. Remove the outer slide and scrub it seperately from the inner slide. Rinse the entire horn in clean cool water and towel dry the outside of the trombone. Do not put the trombone in its case until the inside of the slides have had a chance to air dry.
With a little easy cleaning and preventative maintenance your trombone will play great and look great for years to come!