how do you clean a fabric instrument case-1

How Do You Clean a Fabric Instrument Case?

An instrument case is a protective container designed to store and transport musical instruments. These cases are crucial for musicians, especially those who frequently travel for performances or rehearsals, as they safeguard the instruments from potential damage, dust, and changes in humidity and temperature.

However, they can quickly accumulate dirt, grime, and even mold if not properly maintained. Cleaning these cases requires careful attention to detail and the right cleaning methods.

Cleaning a fabric instrument case involves using cleaning solutions like vinegar and water, specialized case cleaners, or mild soap and water. These methods help remove dirt, grime, and mold, ensuring the case remains clean and safe for your instrument.

Here are the four effective methods to clean a fabric instrument case.

How Do You Clean a Fabric Instrument Case?

Instrument cases come in a variety of shapes and sizes, tailored to fit specific types of instruments. For example, there are distinct cases for guitars, violins, trumpets, flutes, and numerous other instruments.

Fabric instrument cases, in particular, are made from various types of fabric materials, such as nylon, polyester, or canvas. They often have a soft interior lining, like velvet or plush, to provide extra cushioning and protection for the instrument. Some fabric cases also feature reinforced edges, sturdy zippers, and additional pockets for storing accessories like sheet music, picks, or rosin.

Because of their nature fabric cases can get dirty or stained over time with regular use and exposure to different environments. Therefore, proper cleaning and maintenance are essential to keep them in good condition and ensure they continue to protect your instrument effectively.

Using Mild Soap and Water

This method is a gentle approach that can be used for general cleaning of your fabric instrument case. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Prepare a solution of mild soap and warm water. Avoid using harsh detergents as they can damage the fabric.
  2. Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the solution and wring out the excess water. The cloth or sponge should be damp, but not soaking wet.
  3. Gently wipe the exterior of the case with the damp cloth or sponge. Pay special attention to any stained or soiled areas.
  4. For stubborn stains, you can use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the area. Be careful not to scrub too hard as this can damage the fabric.
  5. Once you’ve cleaned the entire case, wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth to remove any soap residue.
  6. Allow the case to air dry completely before storing your instrument in it. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight as this can cause the colors to fade.

This method is simple and effective for regular maintenance of your fabric instrument case. It can help to keep the case looking clean and fresh, and prolong its lifespan.

A tip we want to share is to regularly vacuum the case with a soft brush attachment. This stops the dust building up and working in to the fabric. The case will require less cleaning.

Does It Wash Team

Using Vinegar and Water Solution

This method is particularly effective for cleaning mold off a fabric instrument case. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Prepare a solution of one cup of vinegar and one cup of water. Mix it well and pour it into a spray bottle.
  2. Before you start, ensure your case is empty and place a cloth or towel underneath to catch any drips.
  3. Spray the vinegar and water solution generously over the moldy areas of the case.
  4. Using a clean microfiber cloth, start rubbing the solution into the fabric. This will help to lift and remove the mold.
  5. Once you’ve treated all the moldy areas, leave the case to dry for about 10 minutes.
  6. After it’s dried, inspect the case for any remaining mold. If necessary, repeat the process until all the mold is gone.

This method is effective for removing mold and also helps to deodorize the case. However, it’s important to note that vinegar has a strong smell that some people may find unpleasant. If this is the case, you can use a fabric freshener to mask the smell once the case is completely dry.

Using a Specialized Case Cleaner

For this method, you’ll need a specialized case cleaner, such as MusicNomad’s Amp & Case Cleaner. This product is safe to use on various materials, including tolex, leather, plastics, and vinyl.

  1. Spray the cleaner directly onto the case or onto a clean cloth.
  2. Massage the cleaner into the fabric of the case. You should see it start to lift dirt and grime almost immediately.
  3. Buff off any excess cleaner and let the case dry.

This method not only cleans the case but also conditions it, helping to restore its natural beauty and shine.

Using OxiClean

OxiClean is a versatile stain remover that can be effective for cleaning fabric instrument cases, especially those with stubborn stains.

  1. Mix some OxiClean with warm water according to the instructions on the package.
  2. Apply the solution to the stained areas of the case using a brush.
  3. Scrub the stains gently until they start to fade.
  4. Rinse the treated areas with clean water and let the case dry.

This method can be particularly effective for cases with a textured material exterior.


How to remove stubborn stains or odors from an instrument case?

Stubborn stains can often be removed using a solution of OxiClean and warm water. For odors, a vinegar and water solution can help to deodorize the case. If the odor persists, consider using a fabric freshener or odor eliminator spray.

How do I clean the interior of an instrument case?

The interior of an instrument case can often be cleaned using a vacuum to remove dust and debris. For deeper cleaning, use a mild fabric cleaner and a soft cloth. Always ensure the interior is completely dry before placing your instrument back inside.

How often should you clean a fabric instrument case?

The frequency of cleaning depends on how often the case is used and the conditions it’s exposed to. However, as a general rule, consider cleaning your case every few months or whenever it appears dirty or smells musty.

How to prevent mold and mildew from growing in an instrument case?

To prevent mold and mildew, always ensure your instrument and the case are dry before storing. Avoid storing your case in damp or humid areas. If you live in a particularly humid climate, consider using a dehumidifier or silica gel packets to help reduce moisture in the case.

Can you wash a fabric instrument case in the washing machine?

Generally, it’s not recommended to wash a fabric instrument case in the washing machine. The agitation from the machine could potentially damage the case’s structure and protective padding. The case’s hardware (like zippers, buckles, or metal corners) could be damaged, or cause damage to the washing machine itself.
Instead, it’s best to spot clean your case using one of the methods described above. Always check the manufacturer’s care instructions if available.


Cleaning a fabric instrument case doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right tools and methods, you can effectively clean and maintain your case, ensuring it continues to protect your instrument for years to come.

Whether you’re dealing with mold, stubborn stains, or just general dirt and grime, there’s a cleaning method that can help. Remember, regular cleaning and proper storage can significantly extend the life of your case and keep it looking its best.