Bathing Your Brass


Make sure you have the following items before beginning: Polishing Cloth, Drying rag, Valve/Slide Oil, Slide Grease, Mouthpiece Brush, Snake Brush, Valve Brush – trumpet only, and Cloth Towels

Bathing the Instrument
       Disassemble your instrument – first remove all valves, and pull all slides and remove valve cap bottoms. (Trumpet/baritone valves must be set aside and cleaned by hand. These valves are not interchangeable so we suggest using a sheet of paper to label each valve (1st/2nd/3rd) Do not disassemble trumpet valves.) *French horn slides must be divided into two groups (top and bottom slides). Use a sheet of a paper to label each slide and keep these slides separate while cleaning. If these slides are not placed back in the correct order the French horn will not produce the correct pitches*

2.       Fill a bathtub with lukewarm water and add ¼ cup of mild hand soap. Place the disassembled parts in the water on top of towels or rags so the instrument does not get scratched.


3.       Allow your instrument to soak for 20-30 minutes. Trumpet/baritone valves should be cleaned by hand at this time. Use the valve or mouthpiece brush with a small amount of water and a squirt of tub and tile cleanser (such as Kaboom). Valves should be inspected for corrosion or damage. Once clean, set them aside. Remember: the valve number is stamped on the brass near the spring. Valves must be put back in their valve casings in order.  

4.       Using the snake brush and valve brush, scrub the inside of all tubing. Run water through tubing and repeat until it comes out clean.

5.       Rinse the instrument clean of soapy/dirty water. If possible attach a hose to your sink and run water at high pressure through each open slide receiver and the bell. Remove the instrument from the bath and dry off everything with a clean towel. Be sure to spin the instrument several times to ensure that all water has been emptied from the tubing (especially French horns and baritones).

6.       Apply a thin layer of slide grease (petroleum jelly) to slides and reassemble them into the body of the instrument. Wipe off any excess grease. Apply oil to piston valves and reassemble them in order.


7.       Polish your instrument with the polishing cloth once it is dry. This will remove any water stains you might have missed.

8.       Play test your instrument and empty any excess water with the water keys. Trumpets will not be playable if the valves were reassembled in the wrong order, or not aligned in the valve casings.

Check out our other post about cleaning your instruments here.

For all of your every day care needs, in store and online we have an assortment of Brass Care Kits available starting at $14.99.


For more information on Care Kits and other products visit our website here:

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