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COVID-19: Cleaning Unfinished Wood Instruments

Hello Everyone,  

We all have our concerns during this uneasy time and I wanted to address cleaning the natural, unfinished, wood instruments. These would include the sticks, jingles, rattles, and sand blocks.   The best way to think about these for cleaning is treating them the same way you would an unfinished wood cutting board that a lot of us use for food prep. Also, it is much like hand washing – soap and water work best!  

The basics:

  1. Hot and soapy water
  2. Do not dunk the sticks, etc into the water. Since these are unfinished, the more water they soak up or sit in the more chance they will dry out, crack and split.
  3. Get your rag wet and soapy, wipe down the item. Use another damp rag to wipe the item off immediately and then set on a towel.
  4. Drying – you want the items to air dry meaning air needs to circulate around the entire item. Once you have washed all the items, you can stand the items up angled against a wall or another hard stand to let them completely dry.  

A few notes: If you use alcohol based products, you will run the risk of drying the wood out more quickly over time. You will also need to be careful washing the rattles and sand blocks. These both have glued items – the sand block have the glued on sandpaper, so be careful to only clean the wood and the rattles have a glued in plug that the glue will breakdown over time. This is not to stop you from cleaning them but to just be aware of the normal wear and tear on products while cleaning them.  

If you Google “how to clean an unfinished cutting board” you will find a lot of information from posts to videos. Although all of the info would not be applicable to the instruments and this is not an official CDC information (please check their website for general best practices for all cleaning during this time), this article does have some good basic info on disinfecting wood: Cleaning a wood cutting board

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