top of page

How to Maintain your French Horn [5 Easy Ways]

"new french horn tips, trips, and recommendation" text sits over a photo of french horns

Have a new French horn that you want to keep playing well for years to come?

Here are 5 things we recommend you do:

  1. Regular Cleaning

  2. Slide & Rotor Maintenance

  3. Lubrication

  4. Proper Storage

  5. Regular Checkups

Want to shop for mutes, oils, cleaning supplies and more? You can find those here

Learn more about how each of these recommendations can help you extend the lifespan of your French horn below:

1. Regular Cleaning: Wiping down your French horn with a clean cloth each time you play and emptying spit from your slides are good first steps, but nothing helps keep your French horn playing quite like a thorough cleaning of the inside. We recommend our Spiffy Kit complete with a snake brush, slide grease, rotor oil, polishing cloth, and mouthpiece brush to really scrub out all the moisture, dirt, and debris.

2. Slide and Rotor Maintenance: Cleaning out your valves with a snake brush is the best way to keep the inside of your French horn clean. Give your horn a quick lookover for any signs of damage that might need addressing by a technician. Even the smallest dents or dings to a slide or rotor can make playing harder.

3. Lubrication: Your slides needs to run as smoothly as possible to ensure you can reach the right notes every time. If you start to notice your slides or rotors catching, scraping, or they just don't move as easily as usual try applying a bit of slide grease or rotor oil to get them moving freely, or try wiping some off if it seems over-applied as this can gum up slides and require a professional cleaning. We love this slide gel and this rotor oil, so do band directors.


Mary Monaghan Brass Teacher

"Make sure you are regularly cleaning your mouthpiece with a mouthpiece brush with soap and water. Regularly be cleaning the lead pipe with a lead pipe snake. Make sure to bring your horn in for professional cleaning about once a year. It's always good to have a cloth to wipe off any excess grease and oil.

This site also has a great explanation of all the oils we use! Always use your different types of rotor oil, not valve oil on a horn. The different oils do make a difference in keeping things working properly. There are different places for these, and the Yamaha website does a good job of explaining that. Neither myself or students have really had any luck using swabs in horns. I find that most of my students just get them stuck in the instrument, same with the Spitballs cleaning sponges. As long as you are taking the time to clean the mouthpiece and lead pipe, you should be fine between professional cleanings. " - Mary Monaghan, Brass Teacher


4. Proper Storage: At home or on stage you may want to want use a french horn stand like this one for easy access, but if you're thinking about traveling with or storing your French horn you want to consider if you're looking for something lightweight, something durable, or something with extra storage for mutes, mouthpieces, or even another horn. We love this one. You want to keep your instrument as safe as possible.

5. Regular Checkups: Checkups are necessary to keep your French horn playing just the way you like it. Playing your French horn often, regular wear and tear, travel, and more can cause your instrument to fall out of adjustment and result in a buildup of debris inside the horn. Brass technicians take special care to chemically clean, scrub, remove dents, and can help address any concerns you may have.

We hope your new French horn brings you joy for years to come. Taking care of your instrument can be fun, fulfilling, and allow you to spend more time playing and less time in the repair shop.

Does your French horn need a good cleaning? Schedule a chemical cleaning


bottom of page