Donate to This Project

Your donations help us continue to add new and exciting features. Please consider making a donation

HarmonicaSpace is a subsidiary of Brady Mills Graphics

My God, What Have I Done?

Back to the Maintenance, Repair and Customization Room

May 26, 2009 4:38 AM GMT

I tried to clean all my harps by putting them in the dishwasher, and now it seems they just don't play the same. What could have happened to them? The temperature shouldn't have been enough to affect the brass reeds, and the combs are all plastic, and didn't seem to warp. Any suggestions or theories, or have my new lessons just made me pickier about my harps?

Share |

Comments (20)

Login or Register to Post Comments

Order by Date

May 26, 2009 8:55 AM GMT
Raśl M Replied:

In the dishwasher?? I can't imagine it. Temperature it's the only thing I think it could damage them. Maybe too much temperature and too much time with this temperature modified reeds at microscopic level.

But, I'm not an expert and maybe I'm telling silly things.. :)

May 26, 2009 10:29 AM GMT
Sjoeberg D Replied:

The temperature in your dishwasher does not affect the microstructure on your reeds, thats for sure. But what i can think of has happen is that you may still have some micro "residues" left in between the reed and reed slots, and i would suggest that you check up the alignment of your reeds compared to the reed slots. They might have moved slightly towards left or right in the slot. I hope this will help you decreasing your swetting for the moment ...

The grammar may not be 100% but i have done my very best.

Best regards


May 26, 2009 6:53 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Consider yourself VERY lucky on the comb front because plastic combs start out as a liquid poured into an injection mold and from intense heat can warp and under extreme cold can also crack, andso the idea of plastic being a totally perfect comb material is far from the truth.

If you're gonna clean out your harps, what I recommend doing is totally taking the instrument apart and then get a lint free paper towel (NEVER use cheap stuff because they lint like hell and you don't need that stuff clogging the instrument), and get some isoporopyl alcohol, preferably 91% by volume, and then soak the towel with it and GENTLY apply it to the reed plates and then finally pat it dry GENTLY. The idela paper towel would be the so called "Shp Towels" which are very heavy duty and strong enough to handle automotive greas eand grime without falling apart easily, and automotive parts stores are the first places to look for them. Isoporopyl Alcohol can be found at most any drug store for cheap money.

If you want to keep harps cleaner, use less breath force because when you use too much breath force, you will usually wind up playing with a very wet mouth, and when that stuff dries along with layers of dead skin, it can alter the pitch, depending where it lands on the reed, it can either lower or sharpen the pitch.

Even worse than putting a harmonica in a dishwasher is boiling them, and that's 100% an absolute NO-NO because of the extreme heat, the first thing that'll get BADLY warped is the comb and the structure of the metal can get seriously comprimised.

May 26, 2009 9:34 PM GMT
Sjoeberg D Replied:

Bob you are right but i dont agree with you when you claim that the metal gets "compromised" at a normal temperature in a dishwashing machine, hopefully no ones runs a dishwasher on 100 degree celsius, i dont think that they can come to more than 60-70 degrees celsius. Personally i dont use any dishwasher for cleaning harps, i use a ultrasonic cleaner which can be bought for fairly low cost. I use a process in my customizing process to destress the brass metal that its roughly 275 degrees celcius (annealing i think its called in english). That temperature does not have any impact on the elasticy module or else. I do it all the time to my custom harmonicas, and until now i have not get anyone in return where a customer claims that they have any problem. On the contrary, the tuning remains more stable over time.

I may not have understood every sentence wrote in its deepest meaning and therefore i may have answered wrongly. If so please accept my apologies


Jul 06, 2009 11:36 AM GMT
Civet Cat Replied:

I have heard from a few customizers that the heat in a dishwater could comprimise the reeds spring!

Jul 07, 2009 3:11 PM GMT
walterharp Replied:

dishwashing detergent is pretty harsh, it could have corroded the reeds

Jul 07, 2009 4:53 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

I have not seen a note saying anything on the package saying the this harmonica is dishwasher safe or Microwavable.

Take each one apart one at a time and look.

Check out Barbeque Bob MReplied:

Im hoping all will be well, and tune out right

abner (BluEyes,

Jul 08, 2009 12:16 AM GMT
eric h Replied:

i have put many harps in the dishwasher. i separate plates from comb first. each silverware section gets it's own harp. i dont run it with dishes that havent been rinsed off first. i dont use the "heat dry" option.

perhaps you mixed up the plates?

Jul 08, 2009 7:09 AM GMT
Kingley Replied:

Well even with plastic combs putting harps in a dishwasher ain't really recommended. There are far better ways to keep your harps clean.

Jul 26, 2009 4:58 AM GMT
harveyharp Replied:

I work on a lot of really dirty Harps for some local players, and I mean black and crusty. What I use is Barkeepers friend. I wet the plates, and cover plates too, and sprinkle the powder on them. Let them sit for a minute, and use the toothbrush to scrub it. They normally come out looking better than new. Sometimes it takes a lot of scrubbing though. I then wash the playes with handsoap, and so far no one has died.

Jul 29, 2009 6:43 PM GMT
Joe Replied:

I never use hotter water than I'd want to bathe a baby in. I've experienced gapping changes merely from hot tap water. Some reeds are more at risk than others.

Nov 19, 2009 3:49 PM GMT
Builderofstuff Replied:

I use antibactierial dish soap and a toothbrush to clean my reed plates and combs, then I put them in an ultrasonic cleaner for a while to get the really tiny gunk off of them.

Nov 23, 2009 11:29 AM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

I made the mistake of asking my wife to clean my harmonica for me. It was my Chromatica.

I asked here to just run it under some hot water while pushing the slide in and out. Well what we say and what other hear can often get messed up. Because my wife first heard "Clean" then heard "Rinse". Which resulted in her using dish detergent for "Cleaning". Then she gave it the kind of "Rinse" that she gives any other dish which meant a quick run under the running water.

The result was a harmonica that tasted like dish detergent. If I had added a little more spit, I could of blown bubbles. The taste was nasty to say the least.

Nov 23, 2009 4:55 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Man, you gotta remember, do that yourself.

Nov 23, 2009 10:57 PM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

I don't think she would even touch my harmonica any more. I had to take the whole harmonica apart and clean every nook and cranny before I could play it again. It took a few times before the taste completely disappeared.

It would be a fun trick at a party if you could get a harmonica to blow bubbles at the same time you played. You could play the bubble blues, which is what I wasexperiencing.

Nov 24, 2009 8:53 PM GMT
Elk River Replied:

Bob beat me to saying something about combs warping in heat... something somebody who has ever boiled a plastic comb harp learned the hard way.

The 1847Silverwas made to be dishwasher safe, for that they used adifferent comb, different rivets, different reedplates... The two biggest problems I imagine your harps would have would be corrosion on the rivets and comb warpage. Myopinion, you have comb warpage.If you've saved you're blown out harps, you can swap the combs and they should be OK. I'mfairly certain that there is nothing wrong with thereeds.


Dec 03, 2009 7:11 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:


What's actually wrong with harps? Are they out of tune or leaks air? If it's a bit out of tune, you can retune them, if they leak air try to disassemble and reassemble them.

© 2009 HarmonicaSpace

Advertise with Us | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy | Anti-Spam Policy | Report Abuse | Report Problem | Contact Us

Harmonica Space offers free social networking, harmonica forums and harmonica chat for harmonica players.
Join today and meet other harmonica players from all over the world!

Web Development and Web Design by Brady Mills Graphics