August 3, 2020

It’s the beginning of August 2020, and the second COVID-19 wave is well and truly underway in Victoria. Melbourne is, for the first time ever, under a strict curfew. No-one knows how much longer this will go on for, and no-one knows what might happen in New South Wales over the next few weeks and months. This article obviously doesn’t mean to cause concerns, but it is timely to look at some facts and to outline exactly what we are doing here at Leisure Coast Wind & Brass to mitigate risk as much as possible.

Some Facts

Sanitation ≠ Sterilisation

I hear it in my local supermarket: “we sterilise all shopping baskets before we give them to the customers”. Customers ask me how they can sterilise their instrument, and I have to tell them that this is practically impossible.

Sterilisation is limited in how long an instrument will remain sterile. Once an instrument is exposed to air or handled, it is no longer sterile. However, disinfecting an instrument to make it safe to handle will last longer and is easier to achieve.

If the cleaning process is thorough, musical instruments can be disinfected. Basic soap and water can be highly effective in reducing the number of harmful bacteria and viruses simply by carrying away the dirt and oil that they stick to.

Lifespan of COVID-19 on Instrument Surfaces

The American organisation NAMM (National Association for Music Merchants) received information from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) which suggest the COVID-19 virus can remain on the following instrument surfaces for the stated amount of time:

  • Brass: up to 5 days.
  • Wood: up to 4 days.
  • Plastic: up to 3 days.
  • Cork: up to 2 days.

The CDC recommends general cleaning techniques for instruments that have not been used or handled outside of the above timelines. Essentially if students are picking up instruments for the first time since school has been closed, those instruments will not need more than a general clean.

What we are doing

Our quarantine process

Until further notice, any instrument that comes into the store for a service and/or repair will be quarantined for 7 days before any work is commenced on it.

We are able to make exceptions for quick fixes, though these are completely at our own discretion and we reserve the right to refuse this immediate service. While this may be frustrating, we kindly ask that you respect the fact that we are only trying to look after our own health and yours.

When you book in your instrument for a service, please keep this in mind, as you will be without an instrument for a minimum of 8-10 days. Once we start the service on your instrument, the turnaround time in most circumstances is still only 24-48 hours.

It is impossible for us to know whether we or any of our customers carry the COVID-19 virus. For this reason, we recommend that you quarantine the instrument for 5-7 days after the service.

While we do what we can, we cannot guarantee the absensce or presence of the virus on your instrument after the service has been completed. As such, we cannot be held responsible should the virus be present on your instrument after the service.

Our cleaning process

Without spilling the beans about exactly how we get your instruments clean, we can assure you that we use non-harmful chemicals of the highest standards when cleaning our your precious instruments.

We disinfect benches and hard surfaces on a regular basis using an isopropyl solution.

What you can do

Wearing a Mask

We highly recommend wearing a face mask when you come and visit us in store. Please note this is not mandatory as yet, but may be implemented by the authorities at any given time.

Stay Home if Unwell

If you are feeling unwell for any reason, please do not visit us in store. You are welcome to email or call, and we’ll ship your products to you.

Mail Your Instrument to Us

Rather than visit us in person, consider mailing your instrument to us. There are plenty of couriers we use on a daily basis to send instruments all over Australia. In most cases, it’s safe, it’s affordable, and it’s quick. If you want to find out more, please contact us for details instructions on how to do this. We can even generate shipping labels for you so all you need to do is pack up your instrument and wait for it to be collected from your doorstep.

Instrument Hygiene

Use of alcohol wipes, swabs, or disinfectant solution to thoroughly clean both the outside and the inside of the mouthpiece is highly recommended. It is also essential to maintain overall cleanliness via the use of cleaning rods, swabs, mouthpiece brushes, etc., as this is necessary to prevent buildup of residue within the instrument.

Please beware: not all materials can handle every type of disinfectant. If in doubt, please contact us before you experiment. It might save your instrument! If in doubt, please know that Sterisol Germicide Solution can be safely used on plastics, hard rubbers, and metals.

Cleaning the Mouthpiece/Headjoint

Flute headjoints

  • Clean your headjoint as you would in “normal” times, using the cleaning stick and a soft cloth.
  • Using a cotton bud saturated with isopropyl alcohol, carefully clean around the embouchure hole.
  • Do not run the headjoint under water as it may saturate and eventually shrink the headjoint cork.

Clarinet and Saxophone Mouthpieces

  • Select a small container that will fit the mouthpiece vertically and place the mouthpiece, tip down, into the container.
  • Fill the container just past the window of the mouthpiece with a solution of 50% water and 50% hydrogen peroxide.
  • After the mouthpiece has soaked for fifteen minutes, use a soft toothbrush to remove any residue from inside and outside surfaces.
  • Rinse the mouthpiece thoroughly with COLD water and then saturate with disinfectant solution. Place on paper towel and wait one minute.
  • Wipe dry with paper towel.
  • Note: hard rubber mouthpieces will go green if you run them under hot water.

Saxophone Necks

  • The saxophone neck should be swabbed after each use with an appropriately sized swab.
  • Use a toothbrush or bottle brush with mild, soapy water to clean the inside of the neck.
  • Rinse under running water.
  • Disinfectant solution may be used on the inside of the neck if desired. Place on paper towel for one minute.
  • Rinse again under running water, dry, and place in the case.

Brass Instrument Mouthpieces

  • Use a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water to clean the outside of the mouthpiece.
  • Use a mouthpiece brush with warm, soapy water to clean the inside.
  • Rinse the mouthpiece and dry thoroughly.
  • Disinfectant solution may be used on the mouthpiece at this time. Place on paper towel for one minute.
  • Wipe dry with paper towel.


Let’s all work together. If we all do the right thing, we can live with this virus and eventually eradicate it – hopefully. Until then, wear your mask, take extra precautions, and self-isolate if you don’t feel well.

We can beat this virus – together!

Source: COVID-19 and Instrument Cleaning