Flute Care & Maintenance Guide


Close-up of a Yamaha Student Flute

An Easy Guide to Flute Care & Maintenance

Most musical instruments require and benefit from regular care maintenance; look after your instrument and you'll be rewarded with optimal response and performance each time you practise or perform.

The flute is no exception. Carefully formed either from metals or crafted from select tonewoods, the flute has an array of keys to precisely control the air moving within the body. Here's an easy guide to looking after your flute, followed by some recommended essentials to help you.


  1. The different parts of a flute
  2. Before you play...
  3. After practising & performing - moisture removal
  4. Monthly maintenance
  5. Yearly Servicing

The Different Parts of a Flute

The different sections of a metal flute

Flutes are usually made from 3 main sections:

  • The headjoint, which includes the lip plate surrounding the air hole ('embouchure') which you blow across to make the air within the flute vibrate and thus create sound; some headjoints curve back on themselves to bring the lip plate closer to the keys controls - ideal for shorter arms
  • The body, which includes the majority of the tone holes and key controls which let you change the pitch of the sound
  • The footjoint, which includes a few key controls; slightly longer footjoints allow the flute to create slightly lower notes (and so many of our flutes can be bought with a longer, lower 'B' footjoint instead of the standard 'C' footjoint

Most flutes are made of metal (usually silver-plated); others are crafted from tonewoods (such as our wooden YFL-800 Series Flutes).

Before you play...

Hand & Mouth Hygiene

Before playing, it's important to make sure your hands, face and teeth are clean; any residue on your skin can be detrimental to the flute's keys and body whilst any food debris present in the mouth could find its way into the flute itself - which could block the airway and risk mould developing.

Close-up of a toothbrush with toothpaste

Conditioning a Brand New Wooden Flute

Wooden flutes can give a beautifully mellow and warm tone. Unlike metal flutes, wooden flutes require conditioning when brand new in order to regulate the moisture absorption of the tonewood.

As tempting as it may be, if you immediately play a brand new wooden flute for a long period of time, the newly crafted wooden body will quickly absorb any moisture making its way from your breath through the lip plate. As a result, the body can begin to swell - potentially deforming the flute and, in severe cases, causing it to split and break.

To protect against this, you can 'condition' wooden flutes by playing for a maximum of 15 minutes each day for the first week, so that the body can only absorb a limited amount of moisture - and which, to a point, decreases its absorption factor. If at any point the flute's tone changes and it seems as though the flute has become blocked, stop playing immediately to remove moisture from the body.

After the first week of conditioning, gradually increase the amount of time each day that you play the flute.

Two wooden flutes

Room Temperature & Humidity

Generally, if the flute has been stored at normal room temperature (19ºC - 21ºC) with a normal level of humidity, you should be able play it without concern. However, a flute's tone and pitch can be susceptible to more extreme temperatures whilst condensation can often occur when playing in cold environments (which can disrupt the air channel in the flute). And, more seriously, wooden flute bodies can split and crack when exposed to extreme temperatures and sudden temperature & humidity changes.

To protect against complications from temperature and humidity:

  • Blow air through the flute prior to playing to warm it
  • Use the palm of your hand to warm the flute's body
  • Warm it gently and indirectly with a hand warmer or similar heat source, avoiding direct contact
  • In warmer climates and environments, keep your flute away from sources of cold air (such as air conditioning and cooling fans)


Assembling the Flute

For ease of storage and cleaning, flutes usually disassemble into three parts - the head joint, main body and foot joint. Unlike some other woodwind instruments (which use cork to make an airtight join), the three parts of both metal and wooden flutes are designed to fit together perfectly, with only microns of clearance at the metal joins.

No grease or oil should ever be used on the joins - if it feel that the joints are getting stiff when you assemble or disassemble the flute, wipe both the visble outer surface and hidden inner surface of the join with a dry, lint-free cloth to remove any dust or dirt. If the flute is very dirty, wiping it with a silver cloth can help remove any fine dirt.

Connecting the headjoint, body and footjoint

After Practising & Performing - Moisture Removal

Regardless of whether your flute is made from wood or metal, it's essential to remove excess moisture from all parts of the flute - including the main air way and from the pads on the underside of the keys.

Removing Moisture from the Flute's Body


The main airway that passes through the flute's joints and body is where most moisture collects - it's important to remove it.

You'll need:

  • Inner Cleaning Cloth for Flute or Polishing Gauze
  • Flute Cleaning Rod

Follow these easy steps:

Diagrams showing the use of inner cleaning cloth or gauze to remove moisture from the flute's bore

  1. Pass the end of the inner cleaning cloth or polishing gauze through the hole in the tip of the cleaning rod
  2. Wrap the cloth or gauze around the cleaning rod so that the cleaning rod's tip is covered
  3. Push the rod into the main body of the flute until the rod's tip comes out the other end of the body
  4. Rotate the rod within the body (in the same direction that the cloth or gauze is wrapped) to pickup and absorb moisture from the inner surface
  5. Repeat for the footjoint
  6. Carefully push the cleaning rod a short way into the headjoint taking care not to move the cork tone reflector which sits between the tone hole and crown
  7. When finished, unwrap the cloth or gauze from the rod and allow both to dry before using them again


Removing Moisture from the Flute's Key Pads

Moisture can also collect on the pads underneath the keys - particularly covered keys (those which are a single flat surface without a hole. It's important to remove this moisture to stop the pads from deteriorating.

You'll need:

  • Cleaning Paper
  • Powder Paper

Follow these easy steps:

  1. Place cleaning paper between the pad and the tone hole
  2. Hold the paper firmly in position
  3. Lightly and slowly press down the key so that the pad under the key makes contact with the paper
  4. Keep the key pressed for a few seconds so the paper can absorb moisture from the pad
  5. Repeat 2 to 3 times, using different areas of the paper
  6. If the pads seem to be at all sticky (after moisture has been removed):
    • Take a clean sheet of powder paper from the packet
    • Dab the surface of the pad several times with the powder paper

Using Cleaning Paper and Powder Paper to remove moisture and stickiness from a flute

Monthly Maintenance

Whilst there's no need for a full service every day, we recommend giving your flute some extra attention at least once a month:

Cleaning the Body of a Silver-Plated Metal Flute


What you'll need:

  • Polishing Cloth
  • Silver Cloth
  • Silver Polish

Follow these easy steps:

  1. Hold the flute by its body, taking care not to hold it by any of the keys
  2. Using the polishing cloth, gently wipe the length of the body of the flute with a polishing cloth
  3. Look for any dark spots on the surface of the flute which won't wipe off with the polishing cloth (these can be signs of silver oxidation)
  4. If there are any dark spots, firmly polish the area with a silver cloth
  5. If the dark spots persist, apply a small amount of silver polish using the silver cloth

Removing dirt and residue from a flute's outer body using a polishing cloth

Cleaning the Flute's Keys


The keys on the flute have been precisely designed and engineered to allow control over pitch and tone when you play. But as with any mechanism, it's important to check they're in good working order.

What you'll need:

  • Small electrical screwdriver set
  • Instrument key oil
  • Clean, lint-free cloth

Follow these easy steps:

  1. Using an appropriate small screwdriver, gently check the screws are tight for each key lever and arm
  2. Look out for any which show signs of discolouration or disfigurement and replace if possible
  3. Apply a small amount of key oil to the moving parts of the keys
  4. Be careful not to use too much oil
  5. After applying, press down each keys to allow the oil to spread into the lever mechanism
  6. Wipe off any excess oil from the surface of the body, joints or keys

Using Key Oil on a Flute

Yearly Servicing

During a full service, a flute is completely disassembled and thoroughly cleaned - giving the opportunity for any damage or wear to be discovered and addressed.

Assuming normal daily and monthly care is given to your flute, we'd recommend having your flute serviced by a qualified flute technician once every year.



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