Hello, and welcome to this week’s harmonica lesson where I will show you how to clean your harmonica without using any chemicals using an ultrasonic cleaner.
How often do you clean your harmonica?
There is no rule for how often you should clean your harmonica. It all depends on how often you play and how much gunk gets into the instrument. Personally I clean mine every 2 – 3 months. I should probably do it more than that because they get pretty gross!
Some people can get away with cleaning every 6 months if they don’t play so much or are less dribbly than me.
What do you need to clean your harmonica?
To clean your harmonica the way I do in the video you need;
• An ultrasonic cleaner
• Some tap water
• A screwdriver to take your harmonica apart
• A pot for screws
• A soft clean rag/towel to dry your harmonica
There are a couple of things to be careful about when you are cleaning you harmonica.
Firstly, if you have a wooden combed harmonica, make sure that the comb is sealed. If it is not sealed then it will absorb water and this will affect airtightness. Instead, you will need to brush off any gunk with your fingers or an old toothbrush.
Secondly, reeds are fragile. If you rub them the wrong way they will go out of alignment so make sure that you always dry gently using strokes along the length of the reed rather than from side to side.
Clean your harmonica without an ultrasonic cleaner
You don’t have to use one of these gadgets. You can use vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Just click here to find out how.
Where to buy your ultrasonic cleaner
You can get the same ultrasonic cleaner I am using by clicking here
***this is an affiliate link so I earn a commission if you buy using this link; please don’t feel obliged to do so***
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do you have to disassemble plastic reed harps? seems like the water wouldn’t bother them…
Wish I’d seen that ultrasonic cleaner before ordering a pricier one! Love your style and instruction Tomlin, but keep in mind… everything in the world is literally made up of chemicals, even water and air… so, I would love to see the message say “clean your harp without TOXIC chemicals”…
Owen Evans says
Hi Tomlin, Thanks for the lesson in cleaning the harmonicas in the ultrasonic cleaner. Having cleaned my harps manually & differently, I would like to offer a couple of points for improvement. One, on the Crossover, the revolutionary laminated bamboo comb (patented) is completely sealed, making it water repellent and exceptionally stable. Secondly, you will strip the screws in the Crossover plates as well as the cover plates it you use a Philips screwdriver. You must use a Posidrive #0 x 50 made by Wiha in Germany so as to prevent messing up these brass and stainless screws. Third, spit & gunk are all over the screws; clean them also or else it’s akin to bathing with your socks on. LOL Lastly, when putting the plates back on the comb, tap the plates with the comb tines facing down so that the tines of the comb are parallel to the plates otherwise the tines will rub your tongue abrasively if you are a tongue blocker. I only play Crossovers and these are lessons I found out the hard way. Hope these tips are useful. Cheers & happy harping!
Gary Simms says
You might say a few words about what not to eat or drink before you play or how to clean the mouth before playing.
That’s an inexpensive ultrasonic cleaner for sure. Used dental ultrasonic cleaners are inexpensive though not that cheap and more powerful.
I use an ultrasonic cleaner but I don’t bother taking it all apart. I use distilled water and pat dry off the outside and air dry the rest. I just started cleaning it this way so I can’t swear it’s the best or only way to do it. I’m using the Special 20 Hohoner with a plastic comb.
Dan Morgan says
Thanks Pal,It was great how you played while the ultra sound did its job
Bob Stewart says
Another instructive lesson; thanks! What are your thoughts on these two ideas:
1. To improve the efficacy of the cleaning, how about using a 40% alcohol/60% water mix (i.e., the wife’s vodka) in the cleaner? That would both be a more potent solvent as well as have some antibacterial properties.
2. To reduce the risk of messing up the reeds’ alignment while drying, why not use the wife’s hair dryer instead of a towel? Nothing touches the reeds to harm them. (Full disclosure: as with the vodka, I’d be using the wife’s hair dryer as my need for one disappeared 40 years ago.)
John aitken says
Excellent information and well presented.
I must say though that the best part was your tune in the middle.
I’m sure that I’m speaking for most of my harmonica colleagues to say that my goal is to be able to play just one piece like that. Blow our friends away who have laughed at our early efforts at –
blawin the moothie!
Hi Bob – These are some excellent ideas to try out – let me know how you get on.
The downside to not taking it apart is that you can’t remove detritus that collects around the reeds…
Don’t eat or drink anything but water before playing. I’d be interested in trying out the dental ultrasonic cleaners.
Thanks Owen these are awesome tips – I will try them out. Thank you for sharing 🙂
Disassembling means you can get rid of all the gunk otherwise it will just collect in the harmonica.
True True Xeno – water is a chemical you are right 🙂