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April 27, 2020

In a shared setting, where instruments tend to be used by several patrons, it can be helpful to sanitize instruments between classes, or after they’ve been checked out in the library.  We hope you find this information helpful in making your shared instruments clean between players.


We DO NOT recommend disinfecting your instrument on a regular basis unless it is being shared -- or has come in contact with a zombie, a robust gang of toddlers, or during times of serious communicative illness like Covid-19. 
It is typically not necessary unless your instrument is exposed -- really!

Proper and regular cleaning, however, is something we should all become committed to!  It will prolong the life of your ukulele, and ensure the wood it is made from is nourished and protected.  Check out our Care Tips blog for more info on how to treat your ukulele like the incredible and dynamic instrument it is!


Suggested Materials

 Ohana Cleaning Supplies

Ohana PC-01 Microfiber Polishing Cloth Case (preferably hardshell)
Isopropyl Alcohol 70% (ISO70) Humidifier
Spray Bottle Nourishing Wood Cleaner
Gloves Mineral Oil

 

The Process

Start by washing your hands thoroughly -- make sure to get under your nails and up to your elbows.  There are certain organisms that live on your skin all the time, and we want to avoid transferring them to our soon-to-be disinfected instrument.


Once you’ve washed your hands, you can also put on a pair of gloves.  To sanitize the gloves, spray the exterior with ISO70 and rub them together until the alcohol has evaporated.  No need to soak them, a light spritz should do the trick!


Now let’s get to the fun part -- wiping down the ukulele!  We’ll start at the top of the instrument, and work our way to the bottom bout.

It's important to wipe down all the parts of the ukulele -- especially those touched often!

Spray ISO70 onto your PC-01 microfiber cloth and fold the cloth into quarters.  The cloth should be damp, but not dripping wet.  Starting at the top of your ukulele, wipe around the headstock and all parts of the tuning pegs. Then run the cloth over the back of the neck, and go ahead and snag the back and sides of the uke before flipping it over.  


Now we’ll be tackling arguably the most difficult yet most important part of the process!  Fold your PC-01 cloth so that a fresh surface will touch the ukulele next. If it is no longer damp, re-moisten with ISO70.  Use the cloth to cleanse each fret wire of any dirt and skin that has accumulated due to play. (eww!) 


Removing ALL the dirt and bacteria from the fretboard and wires


Once you’ve completed the process for all of the frets, fold your polish cloth once more to another clean side -- it’s time to clean the strings.  We’ll be grasping the string from the nut, and sliding the polish cloth to the saddle, repeat for each string and then wipe the bit of string above the nut that connects to the tuning pegs. 

 

Fold your cloth once more to a clean side, and wipe down the top of the body and bottom bout.  Your ukulele is disinfected and ready for the next player!


Click the photo above to go to Sarah Maisel's and Craig Chee’s Virtual Uke Festival video, where Steph explains when and why you might want to take this precaution.


Post-Wipe-Down Care

One of the most important parts of this process is the post-operative care!  Most disinfectants have a desiccant property -- in fact, that’s a part of how they can kill bacteria and viruses -- but, as fans of solid wood instruments know, improper humidity can cause big problems for a stringed instrument.

Crack in CK-28 from exposure

A sad CK-28 that was over-exposed and cracked as a result

To ensure your ukulele isn’t over-exposed or the wood that it’s made of doesn’t become too dry, we highly recommend using a nourishing product on the surface and using some mineral oil on the fretboard.  It would also be a great idea to store the ukulele in a hardshell case with a humidifier for 24 hours, to help it rehydrate if needed.

Ohana CK-450SMP with UOT-24

Country Roads.....are not where you should keep your ukulele!

Notes

Some folks prefer a dilute vinegar or bleach solution, and those have also been shown to kill bacteria and viruses quite well.  I prefer ISO70 as it tends to evaporate quickly.


We recommend the Ohana PC-01 for this endeavor, but any microfiber cloth should do just fine!


It's important to do a quick test area with your solution to make sure it won’t affect the finish of your instrument.  Skipping this step could result in a big sad -- it's worth the time to test!


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