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playing flute while having a cold

edited August 2013 in General discussions
I've got a bit of a cold right now, but I need to keep practicing for an upcoming performance... I'm having second thoughts about germs getting all over my flute... Can I just clean it out with rubbing alcohol or something? Or is this going to be bad for the flute in some way?


  • It depends what material the flute is made out of. Oxidation may be a concern. A good flute-tech would know!
  • My flute is solid silver and alcohol pads work fine. Never use bleach, bad experience. Also, jewelry cleaning cloths work great but be sure of what your flute is made of.
  • Just thinking on the physics of flute playing, but it shouldn't make any difference at all. Well, not unless you lick your mouthpiece or something. 

    First off, you aren't really in contact with any part that would be gathering the germs. Second, germs won't survive all that long on metal. Third and mainly, you won't catch the same cold again, at least according to my dr and a couple articles I've read.

    Just wash your hands real well before playing, and wipe off the mouthpiece (including the inside) once you're feeling better.

    And good luck, on both kicking that cold and with the upcoming performance!

  • I've had to play with a cold multiple times. It's really not that bad unless I have a cough (dry throat). (try playing with the hiccups) ;)

    As @SylvreKat mentioned above, you most likely won't catch the same cold twice because your immune system has found a way to defeat it. So cleaning it with alcohol or anything like that would be totally pointless unless you felt like cleaning your flute just because. (also if your sharing your flute with others, I would recommend it.)

    However, you should at least clean your flute with the basic wipe-down. After playing for a while there will be a lot of spit in the mouth piece and it builds up and messes with the sound.

  • Germs will survive. Clean with alcohol or a safe cleaner for your instrument. Anything that o
    touches your mouth and hands as intimately as a flute will harbor germs. I have seen student model flutes full of bacteria and mold.
  • try mouth wash get some bathroom cups and pour mothwash half way then dilute it with water poor it on mouth piece of flute rinse with water that should do and you should do that a few times a week any way that helps with germs oh and hears a tip for keys take a dollar bill put it in between the holes and the pads and put out gently this clears away anything that dont belong
  • edited October 2015
    I have had to play my flute sick many many times! Don't stress! It feels horrible, I know, but you are doing no more damage to the instrument than when you play it normally. I would not mess around with too many chemicals. Seriously. A nice trick for cleaning out the head joint (regardless of the cold!) is to take the cleaning cloth and push a some of it into the head joint in front of the cleaning stick so it bunches up at the top of the head joint. Then twist it and remove. You can also use a Q tip to gently clean out the tone hole. 

    In terms of playing and feeling better. If your throat is hurting use a good antibacterial and numbing mouth wash or spray before you play to take away (unintentional rhyming there sorry!) the irritation. If you have a cough, the deep breathing will actually help you get better faster! 

    BUT if you are feeling too sick then rather let yourself recover first. I had a huge exam last week and I was sick for nearly 3 weeks before it! I put myself to bed instead of practice and was glad that I did. When I could practice again it was good beneficial practice and I could play the exam healthy. Get well
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