How To Clean A Recorder

how to clean a recorder

The recorder is an instrument that is often overshadowed by other instruments, such as the flute and clarinet. However, this does not take away from the fact that it is such a great instrument to play. 

Once you get to grips with how to hold the recorder and how to read music, it is a fantastic instrument. It is great for those looking to learn a musical instrument for the first time. 

It is also a fairly small instrument, making it easy to carry. Recorders tend to be a popular choice to purchase for children. 

Recorders are classed as a woodwind instrument. This means that they require air to be blown into them to create the desired sound.

Given this, it is only natural for the recorder to gain moisture after use. This moisture needs to be removed before the recorder is put away to keep it sanitary and clean.

If you are unsure of how to clean a recorder, this is the perfect article for you. 

We will be teaching you the easy cleaning steps and talking you through the best items to clean your recorder with! 

Cleaning A Recorder - All The Notes You Need

Recorders can be made from wood or plastic, depending on the brand and the option you choose. Regardless of the material your recorder is made from, it still needs to be thoroughly cleaned after every use. 

Cleaning will keep the recorder sanitary. In addition to this, it will remove any dirt and help to keep the airways nice and clear. If there is a build-up of dirt and dust, your recorder will not sound as crisp and clear as it should.

In this section of the article, we will be splitting up the cleaning process into plastic and wooden recorder sections. This is because plastic and wooden recorders need to be cleaned slightly differently.

How To Clean A Plastic Recorder

Cleaning a plastic recorder is a slightly easier process. While you can use pipe cleaners to clean them after use, we would recommend giving them a deep clean regularly. 

Step One - Take The Recorder Apart

First, you will want to take the recorder apart. This is fairly easy to do and it will come apart in two sections - the mouthpiece, and the main body of the recorder.

To separate them, you simply need to twist and pull the joints.

Step Two - Soaking

Firstly you should rinse the recorder under warm water. Once it has been rinsed, place it into a container containing one part mild detergent and four parts water. Dish detergent can be used.

You will need to soak the plastic recorder for around 10 to 15 minutes to ensure it is thoroughly cleaned.

Step Three - Bottle Brush

After the recorder has finished soaking, next you will need to use a small cleaning brush or recorder specific brush to clean inside the recorder. 

This is an important step. If you do not have a brush, you can use a wooden or metal rod with a piece of cloth attached instead.

Step Four - Rinsing And Drying

Next, you should rinse the recorder to remove any detergent suds. The recorder is then ready to be air-dried. You can wrap a cloth around it to speed up the drying process if you wish. 

Cleaning A Wooden Recorder

If you own a wooden recorder, they are more delicate in comparison to plastic recorders. Unlike plastic ones, they cannot be soaked in water.

While they are cleaned similarly, we will talk you through this process.

Step One - Cleaning

As you would with a plastic recorder, use one part mild soap detergent and four parts warm water to clean your recorder.

Instead of soaking it, take a cloth and run it over the recorder. Ensure that you clean it thoroughly. 

Step Two - Rinsing

As soon as you are satisfied with how clean the recorder is, you will need to rinse off the detergent. You should do this as soon as possible to help protect the wood.

Step Three - Drying

You should always dry off a wooden recorder with a cloth to help it dry as quickly as possible. Once you have made it as dry as possible, allow it to air dry. 

If the recorder stays wet for too long the wood will likely become damaged.

In addition to this, you should always keep the inside of the recorder clean after each use. To do so, use a cloth and rod. The cloth should be lint-free to stop the lint from potentially blocking the recorder. 

Storing Your Recorder

You should always store your recorder in a good quality case. This will help to keep it safe and clean when it is not in use. It will prolong the life of the recorder significantly. 

Try to keep your recorder and case away from direct sunlight and heat sources as this can cause damage over time. In addition to this, you should clean your recorder case regularly. This will help to remove any build-up of dirt and dust.

The recorder case should close securely and be kept in low humidity. Prolonged exposure to moisture will affect wooden recorders.


We hope that this article helped to teach you how to clean a recorder.

As you can see, it is a fairly easy thing to do and does not require too much time. Plastic recorders are easy to clean and can be soaked to ensure thorough cleaning. They are particularly durable. 

However, more care does need to be taken if your recorder is wooden. As it cannot be soaked in water, it will need to be cleaned, rinsed, and dried fairly quickly. Always remember to dry a wooden recorder with a cloth as much as possible before you leave it out to dry.

Always remember to thoroughly clean your recorder after every use with a cloth and rod. This will help to prevent blockages. 

Storing the recorder in a secure case will help to prolong its life and keep it dirt and dust-free.