How To Clean Your Bagpipes The Right Way: A Quick Guide

woman and man playing bagpipes on march

After you’ve gladly skirled your bagpipes, don’t just put them away. Like any finely tuned instrument, bagpipes need some tender loving care. You want to make sure you’re cleaning your bagpipes the right way.

Parts of a bagpipeKeeping your bagpipes clean and sanitary is important to keep you healthy and help your bagpipes last a long time. Here’s a quick guide on how to clean your bagpipes the right way.

  • How you clean a bagpipe chanter
  • How you polish bagpipes
  • How you clean a mouthpiece and blowpipe
  • How you clean bagpipe drones
  • How you clean a bagpipe bag
  • The supplies you need to clean your bagpipes

How Do You Clean a Bagpipe Chanter?

Knowing how to clean your chanter is a key part of your regular bagpipe maintenance routine.
To do this, you need to

  1. Have a flat, clean surface to work on.
  2. Remove any tape from the chanter.
  3. Using mineral oil on paper towels, remove any adhesive residue left from the tape from the surface of the chanter.
  4. Clean the oil off using a bagpipe cleaning solution.
  5. Use a cloth pipe cleaner to clean the interior of the reed seat and gently run it back and forth to dislodge any debris.
  6. Clean out the finger holes as well using the same method.
  7. If you plan on replacing the reed, now is the right time.

Keep your chanter stored separately from your bagpipes so that it doesn’t develop any bacteria or retain moisture.

How Do You Polish Bagpipes?

bagpipe drones and pipes

It’s good to know how to polish the bagpipes, to keep them clean and presentable. As well as caring for the wood surface. You might have unvarnished or varnished wood.

To polish your unvarnished wood bagpipes, you need to

  1. Start with a clean flat surface.
  2. Lay your bagpipe out on it.
  3. Remove and separate your drones and any other wood pieces.
  4. Using a natural wood oil or beeswax, scoop out a little onto your fingers.
  5. Gently work it into the wood until it’s been rubbed in completely.
  6. Wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.

Oiling your pipes protects the wood so that it will last a long time.

How Do You Clean a Mouthpiece and Blowpipe?

older scottish man blowing into bagpipe mouthpieceIt’s important you know how to clean a bagpipe mouthpiece and the blowpipe because this is where you put your mouth, and it can accumulate bacteria over time.

What you need to do is

  1. Pour about a cup of hydrogen peroxide into a glass.
  2. Separate the mouthpiece from the blowpipe.
  3. Place the plastic mouthpiece in the hydrogen peroxide.
  4. You can also sanitize the mouthpiece on your practice chanter at the same time.
  5. If you use a moose valve in your blowpipe stock, this is a good time to take it apart completely and clean it as well.
  6. Let it sit for at least a few hours or overnight to properly disinfect.
  7. Spray bagpipe cleaning solution on a cotton swab and gently clean off the valve at the top of your blowpipe. This can be used on wood without harm.
  8. Use a cloth cleaning brush to clean out and dry the inside of the blowpipe. You can spray bagpipe cleaning solution on it or use liquid dish detergent. But it needs to be sanitized.
  9. After you clean the blowpipe and mouthpiece, let them completely air dry before reassembling them.

Make sure to wipe the outside surfaces down after practicing or if you’ve played a gig by using the cleaning spray or sanitary wipes. Do this process as least once a week, if you are using them on a regular basis. Or, at a minimum, once a month. This keeps everything sanitary and clean.

How Do You Clean Bagpipe Drones?

You need to clean and oil the interior of your bagpipe drones on a regular basis to keep the wood in good condition.

To clean the interior of your drones:

  1. Gently pry the drones apart and break them down into their component pieces.
  2. Keep the drones pieces together, so you don’t accidentally get them mixed up. You can do this by laying each drone out in a straight line. Or you can wrap different colored threads to know the difference.
  3. Use the clean gun rod with a hole at the top and thread cotton squares through them.
  4. Drip about 4 to 6 drops of bore oil on the squares.
  5. Then gently twist the rod and push it through the bore, back and forth, until you’ve oiled the interior.
  6. Look through the interior of the drone to make sure it is clean and well oiled.
  7. Let the drones air dry until they are free from moisture.
  8. Wipe the outside down with a clean microfiber cloth to remove any dust or debris.

Cleaning your bagpipe drones on a regular basis is key. Your drones can accumulate a little moisture after you use them, and you need to keep them dry and in good working order.

How Do You Clean a Bagpipe Bag?

woman playing bagpipes, focus on bag and pipeKnowing how to keep your bagpipe bag clean and dry is crucial for any serious bagpiper. Not only does it keep your bagpipe free of bacteria, but it’s easy to do.

You can do this by:

  1. Removing the outer cloth cover by peeling it back like a banana.
  2. Zip open the interior synthetic bag and turn it inside out.
  3. Spray a little isopropyl alcohol inside the interior with a traveling spritz bottle.
  4. Reach as far in as you can and spray a little of the alcohol into the bottom of your stocks.
  5. Do the same with the tops of the stocks. Especially if they’re plastic, as they can handle it.
  6. Go back through and dry off the bottom of the stocks with a clean paper towel. Especially if they are made of wood, so the alcohol doesn’t dry the wood out.
  7. Let it air dry thoroughly for at least 5 to 10 minutes before putting it back in the cloth bagpipe bag.
  8. If it takes longer than that to dry, depending on the humidity levels where you live, then you put in too much alcohol.

Make sure to keep your outer cloth bagpipe bag clean of dirt and debris by storing in a dust free case. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe it down occasionally.

What Supplies Do You Need to Clean Your Bagpipes?

You need to have supplies on hand to clean your bagpipes properly. Here is a list of supplies you will need:

Cleaning Your Bagpipes the Right Way

It’s important to know how to clean your bagpipes the right way. Make sure you keep all these supplies on hand. Clean your bagpipes thoroughly at least once a month, depending on how often you use them. Keep the interior of your bagpipe clean and free of moisture.

Proper care of your bagpipes will help keep them presentable and last for a lifetime.


An ardant fan of acoustic music, I played the clarinet in high school band and even competed in Disneyland. As the son of a music teacher, I know firsthand the importance of keeping instruments clean and maintained. I now enjoy sharing information with others and providing answers where I can.

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