Clean a saxophone neckstrap the easy way. Simple guide

How to Clean a Saxophone Neck Strap

A saxophone neck strap is an essential accessory that helps distribute the weight of the instrument while playing. Over time, neck straps can accumulate sweat and dirt which may cause some discomfort.

But there's a really easy fix for it which I'll cover here below. You will need access to water and soap in order to complete this guide.

The benefit of cleaning your saxophone neck strap is mainly the look and feel of the strap when you use it with your saxophone. There's really no other big benefits as long as the strap is functioning the way it should, so this is more of a “feel good”

Is it important to clean the Neck Strap?

Well, not really. It doesn't affect the function if the neck strap is dirty or not. You can still use it with your saxophone. However, it's no fun playing saxophone with a dirty and smelly neck strap.

And since it's really easy to clean it you will be enjoying every practice session and performance more.

Different neck strap material for saxophones

It's good to note that saxophone neck straps come in different materials. Most neck straps are just a band that you put around your neck which has a plastic hook that you attach to your saxophone.

However, there are some variations to that with leather neck straps and metal hooks instead. If you have a leather neck strap for your saxophone you need to be careful not to use to much water going through the steps below.

When to clean the neck strap

You should be cleaning the saxophone regularly to keep it in mint playing condition. However, that does not include the neck strap. I only clean my saxophone straps when they are or feel dirty.

3 Cleaning Techniques for Neck Straps

1. Clean with Soap and Water

To clean your saxophone neck strap using soap and water, start by filling your sink with warm water and adding a dish soap. Agitate the soap with your hand to create foam.

If you have a standard neck strap with a plastic hook and no leather parts you will get the best result by letting it soak in the soapy water for about 15-20 minutes.

However, if your neck strap has leather parts you should not soak those parts in water as they can become damaged. You can still use a damp cloth and wipe down the leather parts to clean them up, but avoid putting it into water for a long period of time.

After soaking, gently scrub the strap with a soft cloth to remove any dirt or sweat buildup. I use a brush to be able to clean out all the dirt more efficiently. This is my own preferred method of cleaning the neck strap on my saxophone.

Rinse the strap thoroughly with lukewarm water, ensuring all soap residue is removed. Finally, use a clean towel to pat the strap dry, and leave it to air dry completely.

2. Washing in a Washing Machine

While I personally prefer the first method of cleaning the neck strap, you can also put it into the washing machine IF it's a strap that can be machine washed.

Be sure to check the manufacturer's instructions before attempting this method. If approved, place your neck strap in a laundry bag or pillowcase to protect it during the wash cycle.

Do not skip this step! If you do not put the strap in a laundry bag it can break both the strap and the washing machine.

Use cold water and a gentle cycle, along with a mild detergent. After the wash, remove the strap from the laundry bag or pillowcase and let it air dry completely.

3. Spot Cleaning with Antiseptic Mouthwash

If you are in a hurry and just want to freshen up the strap you could do a quick spot cleaning on your saxophone neck strap using an antiseptic mouthwash.

I've personally done this a couple of times just to make it feel more fresh and smell good. But for the long term it's better to properly clean the neck strap with soap and water, as I explained in the first method above.

All you have to do is to dampen a soft cloth with a mixture of equal parts water and antiseptic mouthwash.

Then you just gently rub the spots on the strap where dirt or sweat is visible. Rinse the cleaned area with a cloth dampened in cold water, and then pat dry with a clean towel.

Cleaning Materials for Neck Strap

Saxophone neck straps come in various materials such as leather, felt, fabric, plastic, and rubber. Maintaining your neck strap regularly helps prevent unpleasant odors and ensures a longer lifespan. Here's a breakdown of how to clean different types of neck straps:

Leather Neck Strap

Leather neck straps require gentle care. For this, you'll need a soft microfiber cloth and mild soap.

  1. Dampen the microfiber cloth slightly with water.
  2. Apply a small amount of mild soap to the cloth.
  3. Gently clean the leather surface, avoiding excessive rubbing or scrubbing.
  4. Use a clean and slightly damp microfiber cloth to remove any soap residue.
  5. Allow the strap to air dry completely before using it again.

You can use a leather cleaner to bring back the shine into the leather on your neckstrap

Felt and Fabric Neck Strap

Felt and fabric neck straps can typically be cleaned with mild detergent and warm water.

  1. Fill a basin or sink with warm water and mix in a small amount of mild detergent.
  2. Submerge the neck strap, gently swishing it around to remove dirt and sweat.
  3. After a few minutes of soaking, rinse the strap thoroughly with clean water to remove any detergent residue.
  4. Gently wring out any excess water and allow the strap to air dry completely.

Plastic and Rubber Neck Strap

Cleaning plastic and rubber neck straps is quite straightforward and requires a cloth, mild soap, and water.

  1. Mix a little mild soap in water.
  2. Dampen a cloth with the soapy water.
  3. Thoroughly wipe down the entire surface of the neck strap.
  4. Rinse the cloth with clean water and then use it to remove any soap residue.
  5. Allow the strap to air dry.

By using the appropriate cleaning techniques for your specific neck strap material, you can ensure it remains clean and comfortable throughout its life.

Caring for the Saxophone and Its Parts

Cleaning the Body of Saxophone

To keep your saxophone in top condition, you should clean the body regularly. Use a saxophone cleaning swab to swab the inside of the instrument. Insert the weighted end of the swab into the bell and turn the sax upside down, pulling the swab through the body to the narrow end. For the exterior, use a soft cloth to wipe away any fingerprints, dirt, or residue from the keys and body.

Taking Care of the Mouthpiece and Reed

Proper maintenance of the saxophone mouthpiece is crucial for the instrument's performance. Remove the reed after each use and use a cleaning swab to remove any dirt from the mouthpiece. Be careful not to damage the delicate tip while cleaning. Similarly, wipe the reed with a clean cloth, and store it in a reed case to protect it from damage.

To remove any limescale or deposits, you can use a mouthpiece brush for gentle scrubbing, ensuring not to scratch the surface. If necessary, you can use a soft toothbrush and warm water to clean the mouthpiece more thoroughly.

Maintaining the Corks and Pads

Keep the saxophone's corks and pads in good condition to ensure a proper seal when playing. Use a powder paper to remove any moisture or stickiness from the pads. To maintain the corks, apply a small amount of cork grease, which will help prevent the cork from drying or cracking.

Occasionally, it is essential to check if any repairs or replacements are needed for the saxophone's pads. If you notice that the pads are worn, damaged, or not sealing correctly, consult a professional technician to remedy the problem. Additionally, oil the key mechanisms and hinges of the saxophone with key oil, ensuring smooth operation and preventing wear.

By following these steps, you can confidently maintain your saxophone and ensure optimal performance. Remember to clean and care for your instrument regularly, and consult a professional technician for any repairs or adjustments needed.

Cleaning Precautions and Safety

Avoiding Caustic and Abrasive Products

When cleaning your saxophone neck strap, it is essential to avoid using caustic or abrasive products, such as bleach or hydrogen peroxide, which can damage the strap's material. Instead, opt for gentle cleansers that won't harm the strap. Ensure that you don't use any abrasive polishing cloth that could cause scratches.

Proper Use of Cleaning Supplies and Tools

It is crucial to use the appropriate cleaning supplies and tools when maintaining your saxophone neck strap. Use a soft, lint-free cloth or a specialized polishing cloth to clean delicate parts. Keep alcohol wipes for sterilizing your reed holder to prevent the growth of bacteria.

To prevent the accumulation of condensation and protect the pads, invest in a pad saver designed specifically for saxophones. Ensure that your reeds are properly stored in a suitable reed holder, away from extreme changes in temperature and humidity. This will help extend the lifespan of your reeds.

Following proper saxophone care can prevent issues such as saxophone lung, which may result from the buildup of bacteria and mold in the instrument. Taking cleaning precautions will ensure both a hygienic playing experience and a well-maintained saxophone neck strap.

Maintaining a Regular Cleaning Routine

To keep your saxophone neck strap in top condition, it's essential to maintain a regular cleaning routine. This not only ensures cleanliness but also helps prevent premature wear and tear. A consistent regimen includes cleaning the exterior, removing any grime, and using a high-quality product like the Neotech neck strap.

Begin by wiping down the exterior of the neck strap with a soft, damp cloth to remove any dust and dirt. Be sure to use a gentle cleaning solution, like a mild soap or detergent, to avoid damaging the strap materials. On a weekly basis, inspect the strap for any grime build-up, particularly in areas where you frequently have skin contact.

If you find any grime, dampen a cloth or sponge with warm water and a small amount of mild soap. Gently scrub the affected area to loosen, lift, and remove the grime. Be cautious not to soak or submerge the strap, as excessive water can cause damage, especially to any metal parts.

Neotech neck straps are renowned for their high-quality materials and construction, as well as their comfort and durability. To prolong the life of your Neotech neck strap and maintain its appearance and performance, it's crucial to follow the cleaning and inspection routine mentioned above.

Additionally, storing your neck strap in a well-ventilated area after use ensures it remains dry and prevents any unpleasant odors from developing. Following these simple and easy steps will keep your saxophone neck strap looking like new and feeling comfortable, allowing you to focus on your music.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean a leather saxophone neck strap?

To clean a leather saxophone neck strap, use a damp cloth to gently wipe the surface of the strap. Avoid soaking the leather, as this can cause it to become stiff and discolored. If needed, use a mild leather cleaner, specifically designed for such material. After cleaning, allow the strap to air dry completely.

Is it safe to put a neck strap in the washing machine?

For fabric or nylon neck straps, it is generally safe to put them in the washing machine. However, it's best to use a gentle cycle with cold water, and place the strap in a laundry bag or pillowcase to prevent damage. Leather neck straps should not be put in the washing machine, as it will damage the material.

How to maintain a Neotech saxophone neck strap?

To maintain a Neotech saxophone neck strap, regularly clean it following the manufacturer's guidelines, which can be found on their website. For day-to-day care, wipe the strap with a cloth after each use to remove sweat and dirt. Store the strap in a cool, dry place when not in use to prevent damage.

What household items can be used to clean a saxophone neck strap?

Mild dish soap and warm water can be used to clean most types of saxophone neck straps. For fabric and nylon straps, a soft brush or cloth can be used to gently scrub the strap. For leather straps, a damp cloth without soap can be used for a gentle cleaning. Avoid using any strong cleaning agents or solvents, as they may cause damage to the strap material.

Can you handwash a sax neck strap?

Yes, you can handwash most saxophone neck straps, regardless of the material. For fabric and nylon straps, use warm water and a mild detergent, such as dish soap. Gently scrub the strap and rinse it thoroughly, then hang it up to air dry. For leather straps, use a damp cloth to gently clean the surface, as mentioned earlier.

What is the best method for cleaning fabric or nylon neck straps?

The best method for cleaning fabric or nylon neck straps is to handwash them using warm water and a mild detergent, as outlined above. Alternatively, you can place them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle using cold water. Be sure to place the strap in a laundry bag or pillowcase for added protection during the wash. After washing, hang the strap up to air dry completely.


Taking care of and cleaning your saxophone neck strap is critical to your comfort, hygiene, and the overall function of your instrument. Cleaning your neck strap regularly prevents unpleasant odors, extends its lifespan, and keeps it looking good.

The cleaning methods differ based on the material of your strap – some are safe for machine washing, while others need gentle hand washing with warm water and mild soap. Leather straps require specialized cleaning with suitable products.

You should avoid harsh or abrasive cleaners that could damage the strap's material. Properly caring for your saxophone and its various parts, including the neck strap, is crucial to maintain the instrument's performance.

Establishing a routine cleaning schedule can help prevent premature wear and tear. Importantly, storing your neck strap in a well-ventilated area after use can prevent the development of unpleasant odors, keeping the strap fresh and comfortable for you to use.