How do you clean an oboe?

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How do you clean an oboe? It is one of life’s biggest mysteries. No, not really. But it seems like it must be because I see so many dirty oboes coming through our shop! The most important thing to understand when cleaning an oboe is that the upper joint is tapered and is very small near the oboe receiver. Not all swabs are created equal and will not fit through that opening. Stuck swabs are a scary thing but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean out your oboe. Here is a helpful video to give you an idea of where to start:

Swabbing your oboe

What about a feather? I have seen many feathers in cases. What do they do? Well, much like the action on a bird, the feathers repel moisture. If you are using it to clean out your oboe, it is really just moving the moisture around on the inside of the bore. This even distribution of water will help it to evaporate quicker but a better idea would be to remove the moisture completely with a cloth.

Moisture can be dangerous to the health of an oboe because it can destroy pads, rust key mechanisms, and cause a general stink to the instrument. It potentially will even lead to a mold infestation. Take time after every practice session to clean out your oboe and it will be healthy for a lifetime!