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How often do you clean your mouthpiece?

How Often Do You Clean Your Mouthpiece


  • Total voters
    41

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
I was thinking about this issue today as I had to break down and clean my mouthpiece with soft soap. I like to rinse it out with water periodically but only use soap when it really needs it.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I don't generally clean my mouthpieces, as they never get that dirty, or have an odor to them. I'll use my thumbnail to remove chapstick/skin cells/saliva from the exterior. I never see the need to use soap unless I just picked up a used mouthpiece, then I give it a thorough once over.

I generally don't eat for several hours before playing - or during playing, and I drink only water. My horns stay clean and so do my mouthpieces.

Put me down for "none of the above."
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
Carl H. said:
I generally don't eat for several hours before playing - or during playing, and I drink only water. My horns stay clean and so do my mouthpieces."
I'm the same way. I don't like playing on a full stomach, so I make sure I eat early enough and brush my teeth before playing. I also don't drink anything but water while playing. I have assumed that is why my horns don't smell and I get less stickiness and wearout of the pads than most players.

Nothing is more disgusting (IMHO) than opening up a horn case and it absolutely reeks of old food and drink...Imagine you've just found your dream horn on Craig's List, and you race over to play-test it. Your fingers tremble in anticipation as you open up the case. You've waited for years to find "the one". You think "this is it". Oh the dissapointment only to find that it smells like a smokey, stinky, bar you've played for years. :( You now have to get up the courage to try to play it and give it a chance...all the while trying to figure out how much a mini overhaul is going to cost...Sound familiar to anyone :?:
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
When I find horns like that they end up getting a new case, complete overhaul, dipped in the cleaning tank. I never buy a horn on eBay or anywhere else anymore without assuming it needs an overhaul.
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
This was hard for me because I have so many horns that there is no one answer. But if the calcium builds up, I take an old toothbrush to the piece and finish it off with 'My-T-Fine' disinfectant. It then smells like peppermint for a while.

My mouthpieces end up smelling bad at pit orchestra gigs because I stuck for hours and then I'll eat and drink some without brushing. Usually after a show I throw away the reed, clean the mouthpiece and neck and hope for the best.
 

sideC

Artist in residence
Distinguished Member
I clean my mouthpiece after every use. I just keep an old handkerchief in my case, and pull it through the piece, and wipe down the outside while it's still moist.
 

Tammi

Private woodwind instructor
I don't really 'clean' any of my mouthpieces. I do make sure they're swabbed out really well after playing.

I think the only time I really wash one is if I'm testing a piece that came with a used horn.
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
I try to keep my main pieces clean after every use - at least dry it up a bit. I also don't eat before or during playing and try not to use chapstick around the time i might play.

I also clean alot of mpcs too for play testing if they are not mine or if i recently bought them from someplace.
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
If possible, rinse after each use, and once a week there's the toothbrush routine (eg around the cushion and inside the baffle), just plain water, no soap necessary.
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
When I actually clean I mpc I normally put the mpc into a vial/container of vinegar and let it soak.

I then use up to 3 nylon brushes. 1 which is about 1/2 inch circular brush which fits nicely into the shank,

another micro curcular brush used for general cleaning in the mpc

and then another small brush which looks like a thin small toothbrush - used for the edges inside the mpc to scrub things.

So I let it soak in vinegar. The length of soaking is completely dependent upon how cruddy it looks. 10-30 minutes normally

then brush any buildup clean using the various brushes

I may let it soak again if it has alot of buildup and redo the cleaning.

after a water wash then I normally put it in mouthwash to sterilize it, water, and then it should all be clean
 
Last edited:

kcp

Friends of the WF
Distinguished Member
I rinse my mpc under tap water nearly after every use, that is if I don't forget. I used not to do that often but with my Runyon I don't really have the choice since one can see the gunk build-up inside (eww!) There's also gunk that tends to get stuck on the spoiler's wedge and I don't like that. I like my spoiler to be sqweeky clean :D
 
Careful! Vinegar can discolor a hard rubber mouthpiece. I bought this stuff, it's cheap and seems to work well:
http://www.doctorsprod.com/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=19
Not exactly. Vinegar can discolour some mouthpieces, old Selmers are more known for that, but actually, IME, most mouthpieces won't be affected at all.

It matters what type of dirt you are trying to clean. Swabing and maybe cleaning with water will easily help after playing, even once in a while, as long as the dirt is still soft. A (soft) toothbrush can help, and soap too, if the dirt it tougher. If the dirt the very hard white dirt none of this would help.

I've tried the Doctor mouthpiece cleaner and did an experiment comparing all sorts of cleaners. I found that the Doctor mouthpiece cleaner really doesn't clean anything that soap and water won't clean, sometimes worse, and would take a lot longer. So I asked Omar (the Doctor) about it.

According to him the mouthpiece cleaner won't help against a lot of buildup. However there are two types of buildups, organic (for example from food, etc.) and inorganic (for example from saliva). According to Omar vinegar will clean only some of the inorganic (usually white) builups but not otehrs or the organic buildups. His mouthpiece cleaner is a formula that helps against all of those types of dirt. It is supposed to turn all types of dirt to the type which vinegar can remove, so later vinegar will remove it all.

I've tried all the above plus a kettle cleaner (stronger acid than vinegar) and even alcohol. The Doctor mouthpiece cleaner seemed to do something, but not much really. When I tried this on very dirty mouthpieces, the vinegar and then toothbrush and soap washed everything off. I can't even say if the mouthpiece cleaner made the vinegar faster. None of the mouthpieces (all hard rubber except one plastic) didn't change colour at all, except one which was already lighter from being old. It was only the alcohol that changed the colour slightly more on that mouthpiece, so I didn't try alcohol on other mouthpieces.

To remove the hard white deposits vinegar worked great, and kettle cleaner worked fastest. However it is a stronger acid and I was told from two sources it might damage hard rubber if used too much. So I am sticking with vinegar (very weak acid). If you wash your mouthpiece after playing, or at least occasionally, sometimes with soap, it will help a lot in delaying those hard buildups.

I almsot never clean my mouthpiece after playing except swabing it slightly (mostly because I leave the reed on the mouthpiece, not that I recommend doing that). I clean my mouthpieces with water every few months. I wash them with soap and toothbrush maybe once a year, and clean them with vinegar once every two or three years I would say.
 
Saliva's organic, unless you happen to be a cyborg ...

:borg:
OK, here is part of the quote from Omar:

"The reason.... is that there are two kinds of junk that get on mouthpieces - the organic food particles that lodge, dry, and are havens for smelly bacteria and mold, and then the inorganic deposits. The inorganic white deposits are calcium carbonate which percipitates out of saliva and also deposits from other minerals found in saliva."
 
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