How To Clean A Trombone

How To Clean A Trombone

Not only are trombones great fun to play, but they are an integral part of an orchestra and brass band. 

To get a sound from a trombone requires the use of a mouthpiece. The person using the instrument then vibrates their lips to create the sound that you are familiar with. 

As you can imagine, using a trombone does generate moisture and spit within the trombone itself. While it is not the nicest subject to discuss, you do need to know how to deep clean your trombone effectively.

If you do not clean your trombone regularly, not only will it become unsanitary to use, but it can cause blockages too. The more thoroughly your trombone has been cleaned, the better sound it will produce overall.

In this article, we will be talking you through how to deep clean your trombone and the best products to use!

Deep Cleaning Your Trombone

The trombone is a big instrument and cleaning it can be quite the task, to begin with. However, when you get the hang of it, it is fairly easy to do.

To keep the slide moving with ease, and to remove spit and dirt, regular deep cleaning is essential. Here are the steps you will need to follow:

Step One - Preparation

Before you start cleaning, you should gather everything that you need. This not only makes the cleaning process easier, but it will make it quicker too!

Here is everything you will need:

  • Cleaning brush
  • 2 large towels
  • 1 Small towel
  • Spray bottle
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Your Trombone
  • Trombone slide grease

We would recommend cleaning your trombone in the bathtub. If you do not have a bathtub, you can use the kitchen sink. It will be a little trickier, however.

Step Two - Filling The Bathtub

Before you fill the bathtub, you will need to take the largest towel you own and place it on the bottom of the bathtub. This will protect your trombone from gaining any scratches.

When the bottom of the bath is covered, you can then fill the bathtub. You will want to use lukewarm water. If the water is too warm this can damage the trombone. Water that is too warm has the potential to strip the instrument of its lacquer.

You do not need to fill the bathtub up completely. You just need enough water to completely cover the trombone. Around 3 to 5 inches of water is ideal. 

Step Three - Adding Detergent

Before the water stops running, you will need to add a small amount of mild dish detergent.

You should ensure that the detergent is bleach-free and this can be dangerous to you and can damage the trombone. 

Step Four - Taking the Trombone Apart

Before you place the trombone in the water, you will need to disassemble it fully. This will allow all of the different components to be cleaned thoroughly. 

Here are all the parts you should have once separated:

  • Horn
  • Mouthpiece
  • Bell
  • Outer position slide
  • Inner position slide
  • Turning slide

Once the trombone has been disassembled, place the pieces on the other large towel to protect them. You can now begin the cleaning process.

Step Five - Cleaning

When you are ready to clean the pieces, place them into the bathtub to soak. While the pieces are soaking, take a small amount of detergent and place it on the brush. 

You will then need to use the brush to clean inside the horn. The brush will need to be able to fit inside the trombone parts so ensure that it is the correct size.

When you are cleaning the horn ensure that you reach all areas of it. Once you have finished cleaning it, rinse the horn and place it on the clean large towel out of the bathtub. 

Next, you will need to repeat the same process for all of the trombone parts, ensuring to clean inside the tubes as well as the outside. 

When it comes to cleaning the slides, these will be slightly greasy. You will want to try and remove as much grease as possible. It is good to get rid of old grease and cream.

If you notice any smudges on the outside of the trombone you can run them with a towel slightly and this will lift them.

Step Six - Cleaning The Mouthpiece

As the mouthpiece can become particularly dirty, we would recommend leaving this until last. Take your small hand towel and place a small amount of detergent on it.

You will then need to use a hand towel to clean the mouthpiece thoroughly. Once cleaned leave the mouthpiece on the dry large towel to air dry along with the other pieces.

Step Seven - Drying

Your trombone should take around 30 minutes to an hour to dry.

We would recommend patting them down slightly with a dry towel to speed up this process. 

Step Eight - Reassembling

Once the trombone has dried completely you will need to assemble it again, which is fairly easy to do.

Always remember to add slide cream to the ends of the inner position slide before reassembling. You will need to reattach the outer slide with caution, ensuring that it is placed on the inner slide correctly to avoid any damage. 

Once the inner and outer slides are attached, move them back and forth to evenly spread the slide cream. You will also need to spray the slide with water slightly. 

Once the trombone is fully reassembled it should move and play with ease.


As you can see, cleaning a trombone is a fairly easy task. While care must be taken, it is easy to disassemble, clean, and reassemble. It is important to place the pieces on towels to ensure that they do not become damaged or scratched. 

Remember to keep on top of regular cleaning after every use to help prevent a build-up of spit and dirt. This will not only make your deep cleaning easier, but it is more sanitary and will prevent blockages from occurring too.