It’s never fun being sick. This is especially true for musicians, who often have to suffer through rehearsals, lectures, and performances. After all, the show must go on!
Whatever your ailment, it’s important to take proper precautions to sterilize, disinfect, and germ-proof your instrument when you’ve been sick. With everything that comes into contact with our mouths (reeds, mouthpieces, water bottles), clarinetists must be extra careful to disinfect everything to keep the germs at bay.
If you’ve been sick, here are some steps you can take to disinfect your clarinet and other equipment:
- Sterilize your reeds. Reeds are gross. If you don’t believe, just watch Michael Lowenstern’s video on reed mold! Not to be a nag, but you should already be sterilizing your reeds periodically, regardless if you’ve been sick or not. Grab some hydrogen peroxide and sterilize those reeds! You can also use this opportunity to go through and exile the less-than-stellar reeds from your case. If you want to be extra careful, just throw out your reeds and start fresh!
- Disinfect your mouthpiece. Use sterisol or another disinfectant to clean your mouthpiece. I mix dish soap with warm water and use cotton swabs to clean my mouthpiece. Clean the interior and exterior of your mouthpiece, being careful to avoid getting the cork wet.
- Replace your mouthpiece patch. Are you beginning to see a pattern? Anything that came into contact with your mouth should be sterilized or replaced.
- Replace your teeth protectors and cushions. I’m guilty of using my beloved EZO cushions way past their prime. Make sure you replace your teeth protectors/cushions occasionally, especially if you’ve been sick.
- Get a new toothbrush. You should be changing toothbrushes at least every three months, more if you’ve been sick.
- Replace any lip products. If you use lip balm or any other lip products, replace them so you’re not spreading germs (especially after strep throat, which is stubbornly persistent). You should be replacing your lip products at least every year anyways – check the label on the package to see if your products are past their prime.
- Launder your swab (or get a new one). Add this to the list of things you should be doing occasionally but probably forgot about.
- Wipe down your case. Use an antibacterial wipe or other disinfectant to wipe down handles, latches, or any other high traffic areas to kill germs. Just be sure that the disinfectant won’t stain or affect whatever you’re using it on.
- Clean your screens. If you use your phone, iPad, or any other tech device in the practice room, wipe it down with a disinfectant wipe. Don’t forget your metronome!
- Throw out old pens and pencils. Pens and pencils harbor millions of germs, especially if they’re shared with others. Get some new writing utensils for your stand.
- Throw out old water bottles (or wash reusable ones). Hopefully you regularly wash or replace your water bottles. If not, now’s a good time to start!
- Friendly PSA: You should be washing your hands and brushing your teeth every time before you play. Not only will this prevent gunk from entering your clarinet, but it will help you stay healthy!
Happy (and healthy) practicing!