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How (and why) to sanitize oboe reeds

A few years ago there was a lot of interest in sanitizing reeds to make them safe for another person to play. Reedmakers came up with a few different processes, and I’ve got the simplest one for you in this email. You can sanitize reeds at home or at school with this method!

Why sanitize reeds?

At a very basic level, one would sanitize a reed to make it safe for another person to play. This could be done during a lesson if a teacher wanted to play-test the reed and adjust it to work better, or it could be done during an instrument demo to allow multiple students to try to make a sound on one reed.

You may wonder if you need to sanitize your reeds after you’ve been sick. The good news is that in most cases, you won’t reinfect yourself with a reed you played while sick. Generally, sanitizing your reed would be something to do prior to allowing another person to play the reed.

How to sanitize reeds:

  1. Gather your supplies: 1 reed soaking cup with water, 1 reed soaking cup with sanitizing liquid, any reeds that need to be sanitized.

  2. Soak the reed in the sanitizing solution for at least 30 seconds

  3. Rinse the reed in the cup of water

Sanitizing liquid options in the order I recommend:

  • Mouthpiece sanitizing liquid

  • Alcohol-containing mouthwash

  • Hydrogen peroxide (this will bubble up a bit)

Note: If you’re running an oboe demonstration, I recommend that you pre-soak the reed you’re going to use, then you can follow steps 2 and 3 after each student plays the reed. If you have multiple reeds, it can be more efficient to have multiple cups of rinse water and sanitizing liquid.


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