Sanitizing Reeds

This method works for any double reed (or single reed for that matter):

Dilute a disinfectant such as Sterisol as directed. We make up about a pint at a time for dozens of reeds. Place your reed in the solution for up to 10 minutes. We do it for three minutes. Allow the reed to dry thoroughly. We recommend 4 hours or more. 

The main agent in Sterisol is “Hyamine 1622” which is USDA approved for this use. Sterisol is safe for humans and when diluted, does not turn reeds colors, or affect the flavor.

If you don’t have Sterisol or an equivalent, consider using something that kills viruses. Mouthwash is not strong enough. Isopropyl alcohol at 91% is strong enough, but will possibly dry out the fibers of your reed. Do not use anything with a higher than 91% alcohol base. Do not use bleach or anything that is not safe for human consumption.

Our strong recommendation is to not share reeds. Most teachers test and share reeds with students. Consider this an excellent time to have your students start making, testing, and adjusting their own reeds.

from Brian Charles

Please add your ideas, comments, and concerns below.   


2 thoughts on “Sanitizing Reeds

  1. Good article, it is very instructive. Where I live this product does not exist, can I use bleach? Thanks!! Enzo.-

    1. NO BLEACH!!

      Hi Enzo,

      Bleach is pretty toxic if it gets in your system. Don’t use it.

      Do you have rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol available? It may have a different name in Argentina. It may be called “alcohol para frotar”. You can dip reeds in this and then rinse them with water. Alcohol will dry out the cane, which is why it is good to rinse them after. Better to be dried out than dangerous.

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