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Hello all,

I've been learning up some repair chops on old garage sale clarinets. I've got about half a dozen full repads under my belt now on old Signets and the like.

Well now I'm doing a repad for someone, but it's an old hard rubber Pedler. Before I get to cleaning the body of this I figured out would put the question before the serious techs out there before I mess anything up.

Now when I clean HR mouthpieces, I just use cold water and maybe a little detergent. If they're clogged up with deposits, I'll soak them in white vinegar and that usually does the trick. Only problem is if the mpc had been exposed to light for a long time. Sometimes as soon as i dry it off it goes straight to green.

My inclination is to play it safe and not use *any* liquid when cleaning this horn... just patience and a lot of q-tips. But if anyone's had experience with hard rubber clarinets I'd love to hear it.

So I guess I have two questions:
1. How do you clean a HR clarinet body without risking oxidation?
2. If you do come across a mouthpiece or horn that is oxidized, how do you restore it? Can you? Should you?
 

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Boy, I'll be watching this thread close for new ideas!!! Some of those old clarinets play pretty good with a little tlc. When I get one in for a repad, if it isn't too dirty I brush it with a nylon bristled brush after I've removed the keys and pivot screws. If it's really dirty or already oxidized, I also remove the springs. Then I hand rag in between the posts first with tripoli and then with yellow rouge. After that is done I machine buff the exposed body sections with tripoli and then yellow rouge. For mouthpieces I dress out the teeth marks then machine buff/polish the same way. Very labor intensive, but they turn out looking very good. If you decide to machine buff and polish the keys be careful. Those old Pedlers had pewter keys. If you try to buff them, the heat you create with friction can actually melt the key.
 

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No matter what you do, what's green remains green. It's a chemical process that's difficult if not impossible to reverse.
 

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On some, but not all mouthpieces, a soak in weak bleach can reverse the green into black. The greening is from oxidisation, and bleach is a reducing agent. Apart from that, I don't know the chemistry, nor why it sometimes works and sometimes not.

"Only problem is if the mpc had been exposed to light for a long time. Sometimes as soon as i dry it off it goes straight to green. "

I think it was more than likely green on the surface before you washed it, but that green had been made translucent by greasiness on the surface, which you washed off. Much the same as an oil application makes the epidermis more translucent, enabling the deeper, brown pigment to show through a suntan-conscious person's skin.

Buffing away the green works, but the I suspect the newly-exposed, about-to-oxidise-to-green black surface probably changes to green quite quickly. After all, it typically has that sulphur smell that newly made mouthpieces don't have.
 

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Dont wash in dishwashing liquid and dont use hot water, maybe a small little brush under some running cold water is your safest cleaning option
 

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I use some stuff called T-Cut which is meant for polishing cars. It will improve things a fair amount.
The issue of ebonite breaking down is something that there is no real solution for.
 

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I have an old hard rubber albert system clarinet that I refurbed.
I did wash it in a mild solution of ammonia and cool/leukwarm water. It did not turn green.

Pewter keys? All of my old timers have either 'German Brass' or 'Pot Metal' keys.
I thought pot metal and pewter were completely different animals.
 

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AFAIK pewter is mainly tin.
Pot metal is a more general term. It used to be mainly copper with lead, but now is more commonly mainly zinc
 

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On some, but not all mouthpieces, a soak in weak bleach can reverse the green into black. The greening is from oxidisation, and bleach is a reducing agent.
So is it safe to soak a hard rubber mouthpiece in a 10% bleach solution for a few hours to sterilize it? I believe bleach is the best sanitizer, but I though that soaking a hard rubber mouthpiece in bleach could damage the rubber. To prevent bleach from damaging printed mouthpiece logos, I've read that one should cover the logos with Vaseline. But can bleach damage the hard rubber itself?

Dont wash in dishwashing liquid...
Is dishwashing liquid (e.g. Dawn) actually harmful? I thought that the most common way to clean a mouthpiece was dishwashing liquid, luke warm water, and a toothbrush.
 

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I prefer good old fashioned isopropyl alcohol for sanitizing mouthpieces.
Dip or wipe them down with it and allow to air dry.
 

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So is it safe to soak a hard rubber mouthpiece in a 10% bleach solution for a few hours to sterilize it?
Sterilise? A microbiologist told me that if you think you can sterilise stuff with household products you are dreaming. I guess that stands to reason, otherwise, why would hospitals use autoclaves.

But yes, dilute bleach kills some bacteria, and in my experience no harm is done to the mouthpiece. As soon as you tough it or put it in your mouth, it will again be covered in bacteria. We have evolved to live with and deal with bacteria, on the whole very well, without bleach.

I don't know what you mean by 10%. My container says "4% w/v available chlorine... contains 0.4% sodium hypochlorite." I usually dilute that about 4 to 1.

I believe bleach is the best sanitiser, but I though that soaking a hard rubber mouthpiece in bleach could damage the rubber... But can bleach damage the hard rubber itself?
Not in my experience. And rubber based paints are used for their chlorine resistance. I've seen natural rubber used as seals in swimming pool filtration equipment.

To prevent bleach from damaging printed mouthpiece logos, I've read that one should cover the logos with Vaseline.
I have not noticed that. I just tried it full strength from my container on my Selmer C* logo for 5 minutes. No effect. But I suppose some logo colour may be unstable. Indeed, some comes off pretty fast even without exposure to bleach.

I would think that by the time hard rubber has turned green, the colour of the log is pretty immaterial. And it certainly does not make my sax play better.

Is dishwashing liquid (e.g. Dawn) actually harmful? I thought that the most common way to clean a mouthpiece was dishwashing liquid, luke warm water, and a toothbrush
I have not found it harmful. Hot water is. I suspect that sometimes the cleaner is blamed, because as I suggested in another post, the surface may not look as black after washing because oils (etc) that make the surface translucent (and hence appear more black) may have been removed.
 

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Is dishwashing liquid (e.g. Dawn) actually harmful? I thought that the most common way to clean a mouthpiece was dishwashing liquid, luke warm water, and a toothbrush.
I do not know if its harmful to all instruments, however Ive had some of the newer rubber clarinets (cheapies) go green even when cleaning them with a mild dishwashing liquid and very tepid water, so much so that any instrument made of rubber now does not get cleaned in anything but tepid water (no additives)
 

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I prefer good old fashioned isopropyl alcohol for sanitizing mouthpieces.
Dip or wipe them down with it and allow to air dry.
That's what turned my Rousseau JDX5 Alto mp green when I didn't know better 10 years ago. Actually it dulled it then and until I recently got back into playing again 10 years later it is now a funky green color.
 

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Also I have noticed in spray bottles with bleach in it, the bleach (even diluted to 1 part bleach to 10 parts water) will eventually degrade the rubber seals to where the sprayer leaks. In another first hand experience, I have seen 2 fountain water pumps go bad due to the chlorine tablets (used to control algae) degrading the seals in the pump, mostly observed when you see an oil slick in the water. This will occur about every 2 years with a weekly tablet added to the fountain. So YMMV, but I don't think I'd let a mp soak in bleach for anything more than a minute or two at most, unless it was a plastic cheapy.
 

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That's what turned my Rousseau JDX5 Alto mp green when I didn't know better 10 years ago. Actually it dulled it then and until I recently got back into playing again 10 years later it is now a funky green color.
I've never had alcohol turn a HR mouthpiece green in the 30+ years I've been playing.
If you read the ingredients on a bottle of 'Sterisol' mouthpiece sanitizer you will find that it contains alcohol, coloring, flavoring, and some form of glycerine. This is used by nearly every school system and tech for treating mouthpieces.
Basically this stuff is Listerene in a spray bottle.

You probably washed your mouthpiece in water that was too warm before using the alcohol and that's what turned it green.
My Rousseau is still black after repeated alcohol baths and it's 6 years old.
 

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How warm is too warm? I'm guessing it was luke warm so not likely from the water temp. And ever since then I never used rubbing alcohol and none of my other HR mps ever turned green. I'm also guessing the rubbing alcohol removed the painted lettering as it was white before I used the rubbing alcohol.
 

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clarnibass, at the time I used the alcohol on the Rousseau mp it just dulled the finish, and I was pretty upset when that happened. At that time it still was black but just dull. Now years later it is definitely green.
 

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Gordon, thank you for your response. Just a couple of clarifications...

Sterilise? A microbiologist told me that if you think you can sterilise stuff with household products you are dreaming.
Yes, but household bleach can kill bacteria and viruses with 99.9% efficacy in a matter of minutes. See this page.

As soon as you tough it or put it in your mouth, it will again be covered in bacteria. We have evolved to live with and deal with bacteria, on the whole very well, without bleach.
Yes, but when purchasing a used mouthpiece, I'd like to clean it well before using it. I want to get rid of others' bacteria and viruses, regardless of how heavily I populate the mouthpiece with my own thereafter.

I don't know what you mean by 10%. My container says "4% w/v available chlorine... contains 0.4% sodium hypochlorite." I usually dilute that about 4 to 1.
I should have been more specific regarding concentration. I meant a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part household bleach. Ordinary Clorox® bleach is labeled "6.0% Sodium Hypochlorite, 5.7% available chlorine." These are both weight percentages, so Clorox® is about 6.2% w/v available chlorine (i.e. the so-called "trade %" of available chlorine is 6.2%). I'm unsure of why your label states "4% w/v available chlorine... contains 0.4% sodium hypochlorite." The two numbers are usually pretty close, not scaled by a factor of 10.

Clorox® recommends using a 5 minute soak in 19 parts water with 1 part regular bleach for sanitizing childrens' plastic toys. I might try soaking in a mouthpiece in 9 parts water with 1 part regular bleach for 15 minutes for additional efficacy. This page is pretty clear that a bleach solution is more effective than alcohol for disinfecting.

I have not noticed that. I just tried it full strength from my container on my Selmer C* logo for 5 minutes. No effect.
Thank you for actually testing this.

I prefer good old fashioned isopropyl alcohol for sanitizing mouthpieces.
I have heard that alcohol can be quite harmful to a mouthpiece (although I know it's quite popular for this purpose). I expect that extended soaks in alcohol (rather than quick dips) are damaging to mouthpieces:

Here is an ugly duckling Jody Jazz 7 tenor mpc ... Except for the discoloration ... When I decided to sell, I put it in a glass of alcohol to clean and sterilize it. I forgot, it stayed in the alcohol too long....whoops.
Sodium hypochlorite is an oxidizing agent, so I expect that an extended soak in bleach solution could potentially harm a mouthpiece, perhaps even accelerate the process that turns ebonite green. (Note, I have no doubt that Gordon has experienced the opposite effect as well -- i.e. using bleach to restore a green mouthpiece.)
 

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[Isopropyl alcohol is] what turned my Rousseau JDX5 Alto mp green when I didn't know better 10 years ago. Actually it dulled it then and until I recently got back into playing again 10 years later it is now a funky green color.
fusion1, I'm curious how long your Rousseau JDX5 was soaked in alcohol. What percentage isopropyl alcohol was the soaking solution?
 
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