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How to look after and clean your tin whistle

Whistles easily collect moisture on the inside of them when played and in order to keep a whistle in good order, it is imperative that this unwanted moisture is removed after each session of playing.

Without cleaning a wooden or metal whistle, any accumulated moisture will affect both the playing and sound of the whistle, as the moisture will seep into the wood and distort the internal dimensions. Residual moisture left inside a metal whistle will act as a corrosive and gradually eat away the metal and cause rust to form.

Cleaning either a wooden or metal whistle can be achieved by shaking the whistle sharply in a downwards movement two or three times. The moisture will come out from the bottom, however, there will still be a residue of moisture which also needs to be removed.

The most effective way to clean the inside of a wooden whistle is to use a piece of soft, lint-free cloth which is wrapped around a piece of wooden doweling. Draw the cloth through the whistle several times to remove any moisture and debris, it is imperative to ensure that the doweling remains covered by the cloth at all times otherwise there is a potential risk of damaging the inside of the whistle.

It is not advisable to use a piece of wire covered with cloth, because if the wire becomes uncovered it will scratch or gouge the whistle, scratches and gouges can have an adverse effect on the pitch of the whistle.

The outside of the whistle can be gently cleaned and buffed using another piece of lint-free cloth, gently cleaning the air holes by running a finger wrapped in the cloth gently on top and inside the hole.

Whistles made from wood can also have an occasional light application of almond oil rubbed gently into it. A minimal amount of almond oil should be used, just enough to allow slight penetration into the wood without over saturating it. Other oils such as olive or peanut oil should not be used as their density is far too thick and they have a tendency to leave a sticky residue.

Plastic whistles should also be cleaned after each session of playing. They can be washed in warm soapy water to wash away unwanted moisture and dried thoroughly with a soft cloth. The mouthpiece of a whistle can be wiped with an anti bacterial solution or alcohol wipe, but any excess should be removed and prevented from spilling down into the body of the whistle.