Posted on: August 12, 2022 Posted by: Aaron_George Comments: 0

Although playing the saxophone is fun and relaxing, you should always keep it clean. Proper sax maintenance keeps the instrument healthy and helps you avoid expensive repairs for your equipment.

Cleaning your saxophone with the appropriate cleaning kit is relatively easy, provided it has a half bell shape. However, you need to know the best practices when polishing your sax to avoid damaging its parts or affecting its performance.

Here is a step-to-step guide on how to polish a saxophone.

Why Cleaning Your Saxophone Is Important

A saxophone is a delicate instrument. After paying your sax, it is advisable to clean it properly before storing it in its case. This is because the warm, moist air breath from your mouth condenses inside your instrument. If this moisture remains in the instrument, it can cause decay and leak. It is advisable to consult a professional repair agency for regular checks or service, but cleaning your saxophone regularly will save you high costs. Sometimes, people have reported getting ill after playing poorly-maintained wind instruments.

How to Clean the Inner Part of the Saxophone

You can use a brush or a cloth with a weighted end and a long string on the other end. Pass the weighted end through the body and pull through the narrow end. This helps in removing foreign particles from the neck of your sax. Pull through the cloth several times to remove all unwanted particles that may have built up in the instrument.

Cleaning a Mouthpiece and Neck of Your Saxophone

Remove the reed and mouthpiece from your sax. Use a cleaning swab to wipe the mouthpiece gently not to damage it. Next, pull through the cleaning swab to wipe out the neck.

Drop the weighted end through one neck opening, turn the instrument upside down and allow the weighted end to fall to the other opening. Then gently pull the still to ensure the cloth thoroughly wipes the neck.

You can also use a bottle brush to clean the mouthpiece and neck of your saxophone. Its bristles are soft and effectively remove dirt without harming the parts of your instrument.

How to Clean a Tarnished Saxophone

Although maintaining a saxophone is easy, you can easily have an issue with tarnishing if you don’t have a saxophone cleaning routine.

You can follow the following simple steps to clean a tarnished saxophone.

  1. If you possess an unlacquered silver saxophone, apply a thin coat of metal polish to the tarnished areas.
  2. Use a cotton swab to rub a balanced water-alcohol solution over the tarnished areas for a lacquered saxophone. Then wipe dry and use a lacquer polishing cloth to buff the surfaces.

How to Remove Corrosion From Your Sax

The approach you use to remove corrosion depends on the type of saxophone and the level of corrosion.

Cleaning tarnish from a lacquered saxophone:

  1. Take the cotton swab and dip it in the water-alcohol solution.
  2. Using the Swab, rub over the tarnished parts of your instrument.
  3. Using soft cloths, wipe and dry the treated areas.
  4. Using a lacquer polishing cloth, buff the surface of your sax.

Cleaning tarnish from an unlacquered silver saxophone:

 Apply a thin coat of metal polish to the tarnished areas.

  1. Give it some time to dry on the surface.
  2. Use a polishing cloth to buff the surface.

Cleaning rust from your sax:

  1. You will need a moistened piece of sandpaper with water.
  2. Using the sandpaper, gently rub the rusted areas until all rust is removed.
  3. You can use metal polish or a lacquer polishing cloth to remove the remaining rust.

Maintaining Your Saxophone Keys

Applying small amounts of key oil is essential in protecting sax keypads from corrosions. However, avoid using excess oil as it will build up more dirt on your saxophone.

Cleaning the Body of Your Saxophone

You don’t have to worry much about bacteria building up on the body of your saxophone. However, you should regularly rub and polish your saxophone. Ensure that you pay much attention to the area around the keys since they can be clogged and make it hard to play as dirt accumulates in the holes.

You can wipe the body of your instrument using a soft cloth. Cotton swabs or regular polishing cloth are recommended. However, some experts discourage using polish to prevent extra build-up on your instrument.

Removing Moisture From the Pads

You can use cleaning papers or a pad saver to remove moisture from your instrument’s pads. Although the process is tedious, it can help extend the lifespan of your pads.

Place a paper between the pad and the tone hole and press gently to remove the moisture. You may have to repeat the process severally to absorb the moisture completely.


Cleaning and polishing your saxophone is essential in ensuring that it functions effectively. You can get a cleaning kit from a music shop. They are not so expensive. The steps shared in this article are applicable in maintaining both alto and tenor sax.

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