How to Clean and Maintain Your Trumpet

Supplies for Regular Maintenance

I only use Ultra-Pure valve oil, slide grease and polishing cloths. Why? Because after 10 years my valves and horn are good as new. The owner of the company is a trustworthy guy and he will always make things right if you have any issues. Check them out here.

  • Valve oil
  • Slide grease
  • Polishing cloth
  • Cleaning snake
  • Mouthpiece brush
  • Valve casing brush

General Upkeep

Most trumpet care is common sense! Never let your slides get stuck, keep your trumpet in a protective case, when oiling the valves pull them completely out. 

  • Wipe the horn down after every use.
  • Oiling the valves a couple times a week.
  • Keep the slides moving by greasing them when needed.
  • Keep your trumpet safe from being dented or damaged in any way. 
  • Brush the inside of your mouthpiece while running it under water once a week.
  • If your valves feel really sluggish, run a valve casing brush through the casing.

The "trumpet bath"

This “bath” should be done once every 1 to 3 months depending on usage. If you use it everyday at home, once every 6 to 8 weeks is good. If you use it outside and it’s exposed to heat and rain, then once a month will be best. Why do we clean the inside of the trumpet? Well, you’re putting spit, food particles and many other damaging things in there and over time these things eat away at the inside coat of the horn. Simply gather all the supplies listed below and follow this step-by-step guide!

You will need:

Bath tub and water │ 3ft of aluminum foil (for tarnished silver only) │ Baking soda (for the bad smells) │ Mild dishwashing soap (for very dirty trumpets only) │ Big lint-free towel (aka no dog hair or debris) │ 2 polishing cloths, one for wiping off water and the other for polishing │ Valve oil and slide grease │ Cleaning snake │ Valve casing brush and mouthpiece brush │ Small kid’s soft toothbrush │ 3 Q-tips

IMPORTANT TIPS:

  • Be careful not to let any small parts fall down the tub or sink drain.
  • Any cloths or towels you use must be lint and debris free, otherwise it will scratch your trumpet.
  • If you haven’t cleaned your trumpet in over 6 months, use a little bit of mild dishwashing soap in the tub for a more thorough clean. NOT DISHWASHER DETERGENT!!
  • Handle everything carefully to avoid dropping and denting or seriously damaging your horn.

Clean your trumpet – Step by Step Instructions with Pictures:

  1. Fill the tub with just enough warm water (not hot) to cover the trumpet, about 6 inches.
  2. Take the valves out and place them in a cup with just enough warm water to cover the silver part of the valve for 5 minutes. Don’t let the water touch the spring, valve guide or pads.
  3. IF YOUR TRUMPET IS GOLD, SKIP THIS STEP – When the bath tub is ready place take the aluminum foil sheet in and sink it to the bottom.
  4. Spread 1 cup of baking soda in the tub and move your hand in the water to dilute it.
  5. Take the trumpet apart and carefully place every part of it (EXCEPT THE VALVES) in the tub on top of the aluminum foil if you are using it. If your trumpet has a third valve stopper (a very small screw looking thing) just set it aside on the counter so it doesn’t accidentally end up down the drain.
  6. While the trumpet soaks, grab each valve and run warm water through the silver part with the ports. Be sure not to let the water touch the spring, valve guide or pads. With the water running on the valve, run a mouthpiece brush in and out of each port and use the kid’s toothbrush to lightly brush the main section (the part with the ports) of the valve up and down. Be gentle. Once you’re done with all the valves, dry them with polishing cloth #1 and set them aside standing up, don’t set them down on their side to avoid scratching.
  7. Go to the bath tub and run the snake through the leadpipe and each slide, but make sure you don’t push the snake too far or you could scratch or dent the inside of the trumpet. Set the snake on top of each slide to see how much of it you will insert, then insert only that much. Use the valve casing brush to run it through each valve casing and use the mouthpiece brush to run it through the inside of the mouthpiece, from the top and bottom.
  8. Set the lint-free towel on the counter or bathroom floor. This is where you will set your trumpet.
  9. Now run the trumpet and every part of it under water to rinse it. Rinse it THOROUGHLY! THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! After you rinse each section place it on the towel. Also, DO NOT DRAIN THE TUB UNTIL AFTER YOU’VE RINSED EVERYTHING AND NOTHING IS IN THE TUB. YOU COULD LOSE A SMALL PIECE DOWN THE DRAIN!
  10. Drain the tub now, or later.
  11. Dry the outside of the trumpet and each part with polishing cloth #1. Use this to wipe off any water off the silver or gold surface, then use it to wipe off grease from the slides if there is any.
  12. Use the q-tips to clean the inside of your bottom valve caps since they tend to collect black grease.
  13. Now you can lightly grease (a little goes a long way) each slide, put them back in their respective places and slide them in and out a few times. Sometimes you will have excess grease from a slide, just use that for the next slide. Also, the third valve slide is sometimes a bit more stubborn and won’t smoothly slide with just grease, so add one drop of valve oil at the base of the slide, let it drip down to the edge and wipe off.
  14. Put the bottom valve caps back on too. Just snug, not tight.
  15. Now oil the 3rd valve thoroughly, NOT IN THE PORTS, and insert in the casing. Be sure to look in the casing and align the valve guides so the valve doesn’t end up backwards. If it does simply take it out and place it in the opposite way. Do the same with valves 2 and 1.
  16. Now press your water key and blow through the trumpet while moving the valves to let out any excess water left inside. Fix any valves that may be backwards.
  17. Use polishing cloth #2 (the dry one) to polish and shine your trumpet.