How to clean a harmonica

I got a great tip from my friend Sugar Cain ( – who makes custom harmonicas) on how to clean your harmonica. The best bit is that you don’t need to use any scary chemicals.

Here is what you will need;

– Bicarbonate of soda
– White Vinegar
– An old toothbrush (one you don’t use for your teeth any more)
– Two tubs (One with clean water)
– One small pot
– Tea towel (or something to dry with)

Step one – take the harmonica apart

You can’t clean a harmonica without taking it apart first. Don’t just try dipping it in water.

Make sure that you put all of the little screws in a small pot for safe keeping. If you lose those things, they are lost forever.

Step two – mix bicarbonate of soda with vinegar

Now, put some of the bicarbonate of soda into your empty tub and then put a little bit of vinegar in with it. You want to make a paste so don’t add too much vinegar.

Step three – place a reedplate in the tub

Scrub the paste onto one of the reedplates using the toothbrush. Be careful not to a) rub too hard and b) rub from side to side on the reeds. You need to make sure that you gently brush the reeds lengthways.

Don’t leave the mixture on for too long (about 30 seconds is enough) or you will tarnish the metal.

Step four – rinse the reedplate

Now put the reedplate into the tub of water and make sure that you rinse off all of the paste.

Step five – dry thoroughly

Use the tea towel to dry fully; taking care once again not to rub the reeds the wrong way.

Step six – clean all the other metal parts

Repeat steps 3 to 5 for the other reed plate and the cover plates.

Step seven – clean the comb

I tend to just pick off any dry saliva/skin from the comb. Use your nails or cotton wool buds. You could also rinse it under water unless it is a wooden comb.

Step eight – reassembly

Now, put your harmonica back together. You may find that one or two of the reeds have got stuck in their slot. So, perform a play test before you put the cover plates on and adjust any reeds that you need to.

Thank you

Thank you so much for taking part in this lesson. I hope it was useful for you. If you enjoyed this lesson, please share it with your friends.

See you again for the next harmonica video!

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