How to Care for Cork on Woodwind Instruments

Caring for the cork on your woodwind instrument will preserve the cork for years and preserve your instrument. Cork on a woodwind instrument doesn't need very much care to keep the instrument in top condition, but preventative maintenance does exist to help avoid issues down the road. By caring for your woodwind instrument from the beginning, you can keep the instrument in excellent condition, primed and ready to play at a moment's notice.

Step 1

Disassemble your instrument so you have access to the corks. Place the instrument on a soft towel to prevent damage to the instrument.

Step 2

Apply the grease to the cork and spread it around with your hand in a twisting motion. Make sure to remove any excess grease. Apply just enough to lightly coat the cork.

Step 3

Assemble the instrument. If the parts don't fit together comfortably, you will need to apply more grease to the corks.


Grease the corks every week or as needed to keep the corks from drying out if you live in a very dry area. If you notice the corks feel dry, apply more grease.

If you live in a very dry climate, consider purchasing a case humidifier. This will help to keep the instrument from drying out and preserve it. Keep the humidity level below 45 percent if you choose to use a humidifier.


Avoid applying too much cork grease too often. Over-application can weaken the corks and cause them to fall apart.

Monitor the dryness of the corks carefully; if they get too dry, the cork may come off with the instrument when you take it apart.


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