Flutes are delicate musical instruments that require special care. Almost all flutes are made from metal, though some flutes are made from wood. Wooden flutes require more cleaning and maintenance, as they are more susceptible to damage from moisture. Mold can grow on the body of a wooden flute, or on the cork inside the mouthpiece. Cleaning the flute and removing any mould can extend the life of a wooden flute, improve its sound and prevent the flute player from inhaling mould spores.
Examine the flute for mould or mildew. Disassemble the flute and removed the cork, then shine a flashlight into the flute body. Look for a crust on the walls of the flute.
Prepare a mixture of one part mouthwash and 50 parts witch hazel solution. The experts at the Louisiana Native American Flute Circle recommend that this will kill any mould or mildew growing in the flute. Pour the solution through the body of the flute, then let the flute dry completely.
Wipe the cork with a solution if any mould is present. If there is no mould on the cork, do not use the solution on it.
Pull an oiled cloth through the body of the flute to loosen and remove any residual mould. Terry McGee, Flute Maker recommends clarinet bore oil. This will also seal and protect the inside of the flute from damage from the alcohol.
Grease the cork before reassembling the flute. The experts at the Flute Site state that this will prevent the cork from drying out and cracking, and will also prevent mould from growing.
Use a cleaning rod and a soft cleaning cloth to remove any moisture in the flute after playing. Attach a cloth to the cleaning round then running it through the whole flute; this prevents moisture from building up in the flute and causing the mould to return.
If the cork is cracked or loose as well as mouldy, it should be replaced.
Do not reassemble the flute before it is completely dry or warping and splitting of the wood could occur. The alcohol in the mouthwash can damage the inside of the flute, so care should be taken to mix the solution properly.