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How To Clean A Violin

A violin’s lifetime can span hundreds of years if you look after it well. All violins need to be cleaned regularly, but most people forget to do it or aren’t taught how to do it in the first place.

That’s why we’ve written this article covering the ins and outs of how to clean your violin.


First of all, it’s best to ensure your hands are clean before playing your violin – which we hope goes without saying! Having clean hands will go a long way towards protecting your violin and preventing it from getting dirty.

It’s also a good idea to wipe any dust or dirt off your violin after use before placing it safely back in its case. Violins are subject to dirt, dust, sweat, and rosin when they’re played, so i you need to clean all this off before you next play.

Inside a case is the safest place to store your instrument when it’s not in use, so it’s worth investing in a good quality violin case to prevent it from getting dirty. Choose a case made from durable and high-performing materials with plenty of padding to ensure your violin is secure.

How to clean the body of your violin

Use a dry and lint-free – or microfibre – cloth to gently wipe your violin clean. Do this regularly to avoid the build-up of rosin and dust, which can damage your violin over time.

Don’t go against the grain of the wood – wipe the front of your violin up and down rather than in a sideways motion. Doing this ensures that any marks go with the grain of the wood (the video below shows you what we mean if you’re unsure).

If there are any stubborn marks on your violin, try slightly dampening a different cloth with water. Many violins tend to have a thick layer of varnish, which will handle a little elbow grease if needed. Still, if you see any varnish colour coming off onto your cloth, you should stop straight away.

However, some string instruments have a softer varnish finish, which is less hardwearing than violins with a thick varnish layer. You’ll know your violin doesn’t have a thick varnish layer if scratches, chips, and dents often show up on it. In that case, you’ll need to adapt your cleaning and wipe the instrument gently and carefully.

Only use water on a damp cloth to clean the body of your violin – you should never use polish or other harsh chemicals, as this can damage the varnish. The varnish is there to protect the wood, so take care to keep the varnish layer safe.

If you want to clean your violin while adding some shine back to the polish, try using a very small amount of olive oil or almond oil with a little tripoli powder on your cloth. Again, you can see this process in action by watching the video above.

How to clean inside your violin

Dust that gathers inside your violin can make the sound it produces muted and muffled.

A simple trick to removing any dirt and cleaning inside your violin is to pour some rice through the F-holes (as shown in the video below). Shake the rice around so that it reaches all through the inside of your violin to collect the dust. The dust will eventually form into a ball that you’ll be able to carefully remove with some tweezers.

When you’ve removed the dust clogging up the inside of your violin, its sound should be much crisper and clearer.

How to clean a violin’s strings

If you don’t keep on top of cleaning your violin, you could end up with a heavy build-up of rosin on the strings of your violin. Rosin build-up  can prevent the strings from resonating as they should do, which is why cleaning them is so important.

You’ll also be able to tell if your strings are due a good clean if they look white – this colour is the result of rosin residue.

Clean your violin’s strings with a soft, dry cloth. You might want to cover your ears for this one, as wiping the strings produces a loud and unpleasant screeching sound!

Suppose your violin’s strings don’t come clean with just a dry cloth. In that case, you can purchase a special string cleaner from violin makers and music shops. Still, we don’t recommend this unless necessary, as these chemicals can be particularly dangerous to the varnish. If you’re choosing to use them for your strings, make sure you cover the violin’s body with a cloth to protect it.

We should also mention that some instrument cleaners use alcohol-based cleaners designed for strings. However, we would advise against using such a solution, as it can be pretty risky. Strings are not completely sealed, so using solvents to clean them means they’ll absorb a small amount of alcohol which can have a damaging impact on your strings’ sound quality over time.

How to clean the fingerboard

Grime and rosin can easily build up on your violin’s fingerboard. Keeping the fingerboard clean can be quite difficult due to the obvious obstruction of the strings, so it’s worth putting time aside every so often to give the fingerboard a little TLC.

You can clean the violin’s fingerboard by loosening the tension of the strings, one at a time. Use the pegs to loosen tension and gently rest the string on top of the one next to it. You can then clean this exposed section of the fingerboard thoroughly using a dry cloth. Repeat this process until the fingerboard is properly clean.

It’s important to take it slow here, although loosening all the strings at once can be tempting. Taking some tension off the strings one at a time keeps the bridge and soundpost in place, with the other strings keeping them in place.

How to clean the chinrest

The chinrest often gets overlooked when a violinist is cleaning their instrument. However, it can become quite dirty over time, so it needs the same amount of attention and care as other parts of your violin.

Since the chinrest is the part of the violin that your face touches, you should wipe it clean before and after playing.

If you want to clean the chinrest thoroughly, remove it from the violin. When you’ve done this, you can clean the chinrest with a damp cloth with a little warm, soapy water.

Dry the chinrest with a towel, then leave it to air out until it’s completely dried. You’ll know when the chinrest fully dry if the cork on the underside is free of moisture.

After you’ve left the chinrest to dry, check again for any remaining moisture before reattaching it to your violin.

Specialist musical instrument insurance from Insure4Music

As we know, the best way to prolong the life and performance quality of your violin is by giving it a thorough and regular clean.

Another fundamental aspect of looking after your instrument is covering it with a specialist insurance policy. With specialist musical instrument insurance from Insure4Music, your instrument is protected from theft, loss and damage no matter where you’re playing.

Thanks to our cover, you can practice your passion knowing that your instrument is covered.

Get an instant online quote with us today to make sure your violin is protected.

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