If you’re like me then you love your handpan, so keeping it clean and rust-free is essential.
If you’re unsure how to clean your handpan then this quick two-step guide is for you!
[*Please Remember* Every handpan is unique, each with its own individual metal and finish types. Because of this there is not one universally perfect method for cleaning and protecting your handpan, so always consult with the builder of your instrument for instructions on how to best maintain it. The method provided below will generally work for most handpans and is gentle enough to not be concerned about damaging your instrument.]
Step #1 - Clean
The first step in maintenancing your handpan is to remove any dust, dirt, and oils from the surface of your instrument that can accumulate over time. To do this we’ll start by spraying down the handpan surface with some isopropyl rubbing alcohol. (I prefer 70% but other percentages can work as well.) Immediately after spraying the instrument surface, wipe off the alcohol with either paper towels or a clean cotton cloth. This will disinfect your instrument and remove any build-up from its surface. Repeat this step for both the top and bottom shells. (If you don’t have a spray bottle for your alcohol you can always just dab the alcohol onto your cleaning cloth.)
Tip: If your handpan has a non-glued flange trim or port plug, make sure to remove these before cleaning, as dust and debris can accumulate underneath them.
Step #2 - Protect
Now that the surface is nice and clean, your handpan is ready for step #2... rust protection! To protect your handpan from rust, we’ll need to apply a small amount of corrosion inhibitor to its surface. There are many different products that can make your handpan less susceptible to corrosion. Most of these are either oils or waxes which will create a protective layer on the surface to reduce the chance of rusting. Generally, the most effective, inexpensive, and widely available option is fractionated coconut oil. Fractionated coconut oil is the liquid form of coconut oil and will typically do a great job preventing corrosion and shouldn’t tarnish or muffle your instrument.
As mentioned above you should always check with the maker of your specific handpan before you treat your handpan with any product and you may also need to experiment a bit before you find one that works well and you enjoy.
Once you have cleaned the handpan’s surface, take a small amount of your chosen corrosion inhibitor and pour it onto a soft microfiber cloth. (Remember just a little bit goes a long way, you don’t want a slippery handpan!) Gently work the product into the surface of your handpan until all of the areas have been covered. When you’re finished give the surface one last wipe to remove any excess oil from the shell.
You did it! Your handpan is now clean and protected! Read on for some helpful tips and answers to common questions.
Do I need to clean the inside?
Generally, no. The inside of your handpan isn’t exposed to the elements like the outer shell and you aren’t actively touching it either so it rarely needs to be cleaned. If the inside of your instrument ever becomes dirty you can repeat the same process above with the inside shell but make sure you are avoiding contact of your rubbing alcohol or oil with the glue connecting the two shells as this can compromise its integrity.
How often do I need to clean my handpan?
How often your instrument needs to be cleaned depends on how often you are playing and how humid it is where you live. Generally, you should aim to clean your handpan at least once per month.
Can I use Windex, Vinegar, Pledge, Bar Keepers Friend, Cymbal Cleaner, etc. to clean my handpan?
No! Any acidic or otherwise aggressive conventional cleaning products should be avoided as these can easily discolor and damage your handpan’s surface.
Can I use WD-40 or firearm lubricant to protect from rust?
No! Never use WD-40 as a corrosion inhibitor for your handpan as it is toxic and you do not want to coat an instrument you are in constant physical contact with! As for firearm lubricants, while they can be effective corrosion inhibitors, they are typically very thick and will muffle the sound of your handpan significantly.
What should I do if my handpan gets wet?
If your handpan ever becomes wet make sure to dry it immediately inside and out then clean and treat the surface if necessary.
Store your handpan in a way that helps prevent rust corrosion. Whenever possible leave your handpan outside of its case or facilitate airflow by leaving the bag unzipped. To reduce moisture build-up in your case use a desiccant pack like a Moisture Eater.
Try to wipe down the surface of your handpan with a dry microfiber cloth after each playing session. This helps the surface stay cleaner for longer.
When cleaning try to clean and oil the inner side of your porthole as it can get dirty from grabbing the inside.
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