Do Not Clean Your Flute Pads with a Dollar Bill


I have heard so many interesting flute maintenance over the years, but this one keeps recurring.

I think it’s high-time I help the world put a stop to spreading this “poor” flute cleaning information. Do NOT clean your flute pads with a dollar bill!

Band teachers in certain areas seem to think that a dirty old dollar bill is the best thing to clean a sticky pad with.

Um.  Does this seem strange to you?  It does me for sure.  Let me explain.

We can’t clean our flute pads with something that is probably going to leave more dirt than remove.


The best thing to “blot” your sticky pads with is some sort of a paper that doesn’t give off fibers.

It’s true that money bills are made to last, so they are constructed so the fibers won’t “fluff” off so much.  This makes it last longer.

BUT, here’s the problem.  Money bills are passed from person to person, fall on the ground, stuffed in pockets, spilled on, coughed on, etc. etc.  They are DIRTY.

We can’t expect to clean our flute pads with something that is probably going to leave more dirt than remove.



Get yourself some cigarette papers from your local Walmart (the checkout with cigarettes) or smoke shop.  Just do NOT use the glue side on your pads.  This is a cheap solution that works fabulous! And one pack will last a lot of years.cigarette papers for cleaning flute pads

  1. Place a new cigarette sheet of paper between the pad and tone hole.
  2. Press the key down on top of the paper.
  3. Slightly and gently “pull” on the paper a tiny bit so the dirt or sticky stuff transfers from the pad to the paper.
  4. Open the key and remove the paper
  5. Blot a few more times on different parts of the paper and then throw away. Do not reuse.

**Be careful not to push down the key and then rip the paper out from under there.. this will fray your pads [read: bad problem]


Just so you know, sometimes we have phantom stickies.  Somedays they are there, and then somedays they are not.

Best way to prevent them is to wash your hands and brush your teeth before playing your flute.

Happy Fluting!!

Any Questions? Leave a comment below.

Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller
Get Flutie with us! Learn and enjoy every musical minute.

12 thoughts on “Do NOT Clean Your Flute Pads With a Dollar Bill”

  1. So glad you read this then, Kathy. I’m always surprised at how many band teachers tell their students to use dollar bills. ~Rebecca

  2. That so much for this information, Rebecca! As a newbie, I had never even contemplated such a problem. Very good to know.

  3. Pingback: Flute Misconceptions - Learn Flute Online: Flute Lessons for Learning Beautifully and Fast.

  4. RebeccaFuller

    Hi Ron, this is a great question. If you have to push really hard on any certain key to get a particular note out, then you have a pad leaking. (you shouldn’t have to press hard at all) Even if there is a pad leaking it doesn’t mean it needs to be replaced though- it’s possible that it’s just sitting on the hole ‘crooked’ and needs to be reseated. If your pads are inflated and peeling then you probably should have them looked at. It’s the more expensive part of a flute repair (time consuming), but if done well it’ll last a long time. I do have other trainings on this in the membership areas. Keep following the Gold Level lessons. ~Rebecca

  5. When would it be time to change your pads or just change one or two what is the signs that we’re looking for

  6. Thanks a lot for the info! I never knew that there was such an inexpensive alternative. Will try it right away!

  7. baby powder? That’s a new one. I think the best thing to do with your pads is nothing if at all possible. Keep your flute clean by having a clean mouth and fingers when you play. It seems like common sense to me. 🙂 Rebecca

  8. Thank you for this information. I have used the dollar bill technique to unstick pads on my clarinet and sax as well as the flute. Won’t do that anymore. I even admit to holding the pad down and pulling the dollar bill thru the closed key pad. Oops. Also, I have had some people recommend baby powder and I would assume that we have the same problem with contamination. What do you think about the sheets of paper that you can purchase at music stores for sticky pads? I also like the idea of the hairdresser perm papers. Thanks, Rebecca.

  9. RebeccaFuller

    LOVE IT. I actually have used those before as well. I just wasn’t quite sure if they let fibers off or not. But, you’ve sparked me to the idea that I need to get a little package and find out. 🙂 Thanks!!

  10. Ronnie O'Neill

    Hi Rebecca, another great paper to use for cleaning sticky pads is the perm papers that hairdressers use , they don’t have the sticky edge of cigarette papers and if you have a friendly hairdresser they will give you all you need . I’m a UK flute repair specialist.

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