Modly flute

Modly flute

I just took my flute out of its bag and I guess I haven’t looked at it in the daylight in a long time, but I see now that it’s got mold on it on the lower part. My flute is made of boxwood with threaded joints. The mold is on the threaded bottom join and inside above and below. How do I kill this mold without killing my flute?

Re: Modly flute

I never tried this but I would probably clean it with water and soap and some vinegar (vinegar is natural and kills most mold). And then dry.

Maybe someone has experience with cleaning mold from wooden instruments, or the shop/luthier where you got your flute knows a way.

Re: Modly flute

That might be less drying to the wood than alcohol so maybe I will give that a try. Would be a shame to miss the session tonight because of mold.

Re: Modly flute

Feel free to do any of these. We tend to hyperventilate about our flutes, but we have to remember that we are forever pouring water into them in the form of breath condensate. You can perfectly safely take a flute section and wash it inside and out in warm water with washing up liquid from the kitchen, as long as you dry it, inside and out and let it air. Moisture doesn’t bother wood if it doesn’t have time to soak in.

You do have to be a bit careful with outside finishes - alcohol might affect some old finishes but is less likely to affect modern flutes. And if the treatment you give it is likely to remove protective oils, then dry the flute thoroughly, and then oil it in the usual way before subjecting it to much playing.

I’m reminded of playing in the Favourite, in London, in 1974. I was playing a metal Boehm flute at the time. Afterwards old Tommy Healey came up to me and asked to see my flute. He tried to finger it, but got nowhere. He reckoned "you probably needed to be very smart to play a flute like that".

He was on soon after, so I got to see the "watering the flute" ceremony. He had a dreadful old flute with lots of cracks. He carefully poured Guinness into the embouchure hole, put a thumb across the bore at the bottom, and swilled the Guinness up and down the flute. He then poured the Guinness back into his glass and took a big drink. I looked up the bore of the flute and saw green and white mould spores enjoying the fresh injection of moisture and nutrition…..

Re: Modly flute

Oh god that is a horrible story! It’s about time for dinner and I think I’ve lost my appetite. Thanks for sharing it, Terry McGee!