To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
7 messages

harmonica hygeine

23 Sep 01 - 09:12 PM (#557367)
Subject: harmonica hygeine

Do any of you serious or even part-time harmonica players (like me) have problems with keeping your harps clean? I've managed to get the odd throat/nasal infection from time-to-time, when I dislodge a bit of old "stuff' from the reeds while drawing in. That is, an old bit of dust and saliva soaked slim that had been stuck (small as it may be) can be sucked hard against the back of my throat while playing - and IF that happens, the next few days I will usually end up fighting some sort of low level infection.

Am I just being a hypocondriac, or does this sort of thing happen to any of y'all, too?

23 Sep 01 - 09:40 PM (#557382)
Subject: RE: harmonica hygeine
From: raredance

I always thought harmonica hygeine was an oxymoron. I always thought soaking in something (soapy water, bleach, alcohol) was probably bad for the musical part of the instrument. Perhaps putting it in a UV light box. It would have to be stood on end so the UV could penetrate the holes. Or maybe if you didn't suck so much (sorry I couldn't resist)

rich r

24 Sep 01 - 12:03 AM (#557439)
Subject: RE: harmonica hygeine
From: GUEST,Andrew

I once read an article in Blues Revue(I think) which spoke on this exact subject. I can't remember much, but here is what I know. To get the "caked on slime" off the harp, use a toothpick, toothbruch or any other such samll utensil and do as best as you can. Don't soak the harp in anything because soaking the reeds may cause them to warp. However, your saliva moistens the reeds anyway so I'm not really sure on that tip. However, harps are relatively cheep. If you mess one up trying to clean it, it is not that big of a deal. Also, if you can help it, bruch your teeth before you play. It may become anying to do every time you play a riff but it will certainly help. Something to keep in mind is that a lot of professional musicians are quick to throw away a harp when its goes out of tune. We amateurs keep the same harp for a lot longer.


24 Sep 01 - 12:18 AM (#557450)
Subject: RE: harmonica hygeine
From: Bob Bolton

G'day GUEST (?),

In my days as a specialist harmonica player, I always washed them ... even when they had wooden bodies that swell and cut your lips in long sessions. When plastic bodies became the norm, it was much easier to give them a good rinse in medium warm water - even rinse them under a hot tap (not too hot to hold, is safe for the harmonica). A few smart taps to shake out loose water, a quick run up and down the whole instrument, hole by hole, to get every note sounding, and I was back in business.

If I washed them often enough to stop build-up of crud from flattening the tuning ... there would be nothing to come loose in playing and no more infection risk than breathing what we laughingly call air, nowadays.


Bob Bolton

25 Sep 01 - 10:01 AM (#558214)
Subject: RE: harmonica hygeine

Thnks. Sounds like cleanning them would be the best thing. Thanks for the advice.

25 Sep 01 - 04:52 PM (#558600)
Subject: RE: harmonica hygeine
From: Geoff the Duck

Isn't Harmonica Hygiene something like Safe Sex?
Have you tried a condom? They work wonders for Kazoos!;@)

25 Sep 01 - 05:44 PM (#558644)
Subject: RE: harmonica hygeine
From: Liz the Squeak

I've always believed in the "flush 'em" method. Just flush 'em like you would any other bit of crap... (sorry, joking!)....

Washing them out with something that will kill germs but not you .... tried gin? Works with penny whistles.. You could use malt whiskey, but after Manitas soaked all of his whistles in the stuff, I can still taste it, 8 years later!! I'd rather drink the Detol!