A trombone slide must be properly cared if it is to be kept in good playing condition. Being one of the largest and longest instruments the trombone requires a special degree of attention during daily use. This care and daily maintenance routine will help you keep your trombone slide in tip-top shape without needing a trip to the repair shop.
When the trombone is not being played put it on a properly made trombone stand or place it in a safe position on the floor. Beginning trombonists love to put the bell of the trombone on their chairs and walk away, leaving the trombone standing upright with the bottom of the slide resting on the floor. This position is incredibly unstable and the trombone can easily be knocked off and its slide bent or dented during the fall. When the trombone is placed on the floor it should be placed with the slide pointing up into the air with the mouthpiece and tuning slide touching the floor. This way it is easier to see the trombone and it is less likely that someone will step on it. A trombone stand is the ideal solution and such stands sell for around twenty five dollars at reputable music stores and on line.
Keep the slide clean and well lubricated. Beginners often use slide oil to lubricate the trombone slide. At higher levels slide cream or other name brand options such as “Slide-O-Mix” are used. These higher end lubricants usually require the use of a separate spray bottle filled with water which is used to mist tiny droplets of water onto the slide. The slide cream or Slide-O-Mix causes the water to stay as droplets and act as tiny little ball bearings to allow the slide to move extremely easy. If you use cream on your trombone slide make sure to clean off the residue each time you reapply it. Otherwise the cream will eventually dry out and cake up near the stocking (bottom) of the inner slide.
Clean the inside of the slide tubes using a flexible cleaning snake and warm soapy water. Human saliva has enzymes and acids that, if not cleaned out regularly, will literally eat away at the soft metal of the slide. If you see small bubbles forming in the metal of the inner slide or if you see red spots forming on the outer slide near the bottom bumper then you may already be too late. This “red rot,”and the bubbles are evidence of corrosion eating through from the inside out. In the absence of a good soapy bath every few weeks you should consider other alternatives such as a cleaning rod or a commercial product called “Spitballs.”