How to sterilize reeds?

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Home Forums Health and Wellness Health and Wellness How to sterilize reeds?

  • This topic has 17 replies, 17 voices, and was last updated 13 years ago by Nikkit.
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    Lisa A. Klatka

    Is there a way to sanitize/sterilize reeds that does not damage the reed? I’ve seen a few solutions you can buy- do they work?


    I’ve used a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water for many years, with no ill effects to the reeds or players.

    Tanner Holst

    I’ve found that Sterisol works fine. You can usually find it at any music store, or you can order it online. The only problem with it is that if you leave it in there too long, it will turn red. When I was in junior high, I accidentally left a reed in Sterisol overnight, and the next day it was stained for life. It continued to play well, however. I’ve never had a problem getting sick from other’s germs with sterisol, but I’ve never really tested that aspect…

    Anne Christensen

    My bassoon professor has “connections” with his dentist, in which he can get this prescription-only mouthwash which is strictly prescribed after a major oral surgery.
    Luckily, I got the same prescription mouthwash after my wisdom tooth extraction in summer of 2007. Unfortunately, the oral surgeon was VERY anal when I requested a second bottle.

    The mouthwash is called Peridex. (it’s a blue transparent color)
    If you can get more than one refill, I applaud you in advance.

    Good Luck.


    A cheap and workable “solution” is one part bleach mixed with nine parts water. It will kill just about anything and if you rinse the reed well it doesn’t taste too bad.

    Happy Bassooning!

    Jon Beebe

    Jonathan Marzluf

    This may be a little on the “old school” side, but I dip my reeds in a shot of vodka before I send them out. No complaints/problems so far! (This method may be inappropriate for our younger members, of course.)

    Trent Jacobs

    You can get some bland, non-flavored Listerine or generic version of Listerine and mix that with your water. Won’t taste quite as bad as the bleach!

    I used bleach to kill off some mold on some gouged cane once. Got some splashed on my shirt…. Word of warning to anyone cleaning cane with bleach – Wear a shirt you DON”T care about!

    Dr. William Dawson

    Mint-flavored Listerine or equivalent is perhaps a bit more palatable — but all these antiseptics should be rinsed under running cool water for at least one minute to minimize any residual ‘flavors. Makes teaching outside one’s studio (as in high schools or students’ homes) a bit unwieldy) — anyone have any sugestions for the teacher on the go?


    A mild solution of hydrogen peroxide will do the trick but like the bleach method rinse Rinse RINSE afterwards. In England we have a product as old as the hills called T.C.P which is antiseptic and used by mothers across the land to treat sore throats or maybe a mouth ulcer or a grazed knee, its a one product treats all type deal, a real standard household medicine cabinet stock item. Truth…it whiffs a bit and you do make the room smell like an ER but there are worse things to contend with, simply dip, give it a minute and and rinse, you’ll have clean or at least hygenic reeds and any sore throats will be soothed at the same time…ok the last parts an advertising dream but you never know. I have heard of ultrasonic baths/reed cleaners but know nothing about them maybe somone could shed some light on this option…



    Kevin Harris

    I own an ultrasonic cleaner that I bought specifically for my reeds from the eBay store “Crispin’s Creations” and it really does work well. It comes with a recipe for a cleaning solution that sterilizes and helps to loosen food particles from the cane fibres.

    David Crispin

    Thanks for the plug, Kevin! My eBay store is found at http://www.CrispinsCreations.com .


    I must second Mr. Marzluf here. I too soak up the reed in vodka, and I began doing that under the instruction of my previous teacher. It won’t effect you in the quantity that you might ingest (and if you’re worried about it with younger students, just dip in vodka and then dip in again in water to rinse it off), it’s much cheaper than many of the things I’ve seen/tried, but a mild word of caution: if you have chapped or cracked lips in the winter, it should go without saying that this sterilization technique will burn a bit :P A studio-mate of mine uses hydrogen peroxide when sharing reeds in lesson, and while I don’t think that will provide a thorough “sterilization”, she has yet to give any illness to her teacher, and he has yet to give anything to her in her past three years of study with him. Just a thought.

    John Towle

    A ten second or so flush in hot tap water (water at about 115 degrees Fahrenheit) will get rid of most of the bad stuff. Cork end up. Then rinse the outsides of the reed. Leave the case open so the reed can dry completely. Isopropyl alcohol (70%) will do as well as vodka & is quite a bit cheaper. Dip, shake off excess & rinse.



    Jonathan A

    Hydrogen Peroxide should work OK. I actually use that to clean out my oboe reeds and make them last longer. Just soak them in that for 30 seconds or so, and then in water…

    Matthew Holzinger

    Actually considering that Ultrasonic cleaning method, anyone else tried it?, The two IDRS articles on it are almost convincing, but i need more convincing before throwing my reeds in a somewhat scary machine.

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