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Hand Sanitiser and Your Instrument

Hand Sanitiser and Your Instrument

For almost a year now we've all been told to wash our hands more and use sanitiser at every opportunity. Of course these are good things to do, some of us even washed our hands in our regular pre-Covid lives! But what hand sanitiser and your instrument? Many manufacturers have highlighted concerns over the effects of various products on the finish and even base metals of their instruments.

Studies by Yamaha and Yanagisawa have found that although ethanol itself has virtually no effect, the various other ingredients can cause changes from discolouration of lacquer to the lacquer coming off and the changes to the base metal occurring. Chlorine products are particularly damaging. Although if you carry your own ethanol based sanitiser you've got a good chance of knowing what's in it, much of the time we have to use what's provided to us with no way of knowing the exact contents.

So, for those of us handling instruments on a regular basis hand washing, rather than sanitising, is the way forward. When sanitiser is the only option it's definitely worth giving your instrument a thorough wipe with a soft cloth to remove any traces after playing. This is the approach I'll be taking both in the shop and with my own gear.


For those interested in the technical stuff here are the results:

  1. Light change on the surface
  2. Lacquer starts to loosen
  3. Lacquer starts to come off
  4. Lacquer comes off and the color of the base metal starts to change
  5. Major color change on the base metal

However, since the content rate and/or components in chemicals differ depending on manufacturers to a certain degree, these results are not showing everything. It should be taken as a guideline.

【Ethanol for disinfection】Showed Result 1 after 24 hours from adherence
【Approx 70%of ethanol + Glycerin-fatty acid ester 0.1%+ Glycine 0.1%+ Sodium emulsfied 00.24% + others】Showed result 5 after 25 days
【Chlorine dioxide】The lacquer remarkably tarnished 15 hours after adherence. Reacted the most compared to other chemicals.
【Chlorine bleach】Showed result 3 on the 21st day from adherence

From this test, there was almost no change by 100% ethanol, but even though the main ingredient is ethanol, depending on the other contained chemicals, result 1 or 3 appeared approximately after 3 weeks. On the other hand, most of the chlorine based chemicals caused remarkable tarnishing in the result

Update 24/04/21

For the latest on this study please see http://www.prima-gakki.co.jp/column/yanagisawasax_en.html