How to Disinfect Instruments the Quick & Easy Way With Hula Hoops

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One particular week this past winter, I caught some of my preschool kids sucking on their sit spots. Ew!! The classes were also getting smaller and smaller, from kids staying home with the flu. Then COVID-19 came. We closed mid-March, but before that, I was wondering how to sanitize instruments and manipulatives during the few minutes I have between classes?

Then, it hit me… hula hoops! I was already using hula hoops to collect materials. For example, we were doing a lesson on parades and marching bands, and each child had an instrument for marching. As we wrapped up, they walked past the hoops and put their instruments down. Collecting them this way was such a timesaver.

Break Out the Wipes & Spray!

After the class leaves, take the materials in the hoops and wipe them down with a Clorox wipe. You could also use disinfecting spray and make a sweeping motion over the instruments, flip them over, and sprayed the other side. As for scarves, I made enough for each child to have one for about $7. Beat buddies went into Ziploc bags for easy cleaning.

Wipes require only 4 minutes of contact time, rather than the 10 minutes needed for Lysol spray, so wipes would be more effective. You could set up several hula hoops for instruments that need to be wiped down so that children don’t congregate to one area. It also helps spread the items out more.

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Don’t Touch Your Face

Now for a disclaimer. It is currently the end of May 2020. The current CDC guidelines state that transmission of COVID-19 from touching objects is rather low. The risk of transmission becomes higher when people touch something with the virus and then touch their face, mouth, eyes, etc.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the primary way the virus spreads, but we are all still learning more.


This is why I had a giant pump of hand sanitizer waiting for kids at the door while they lined-up. The real issue moving forward next year is person-to-person spread via respiratory droplets. I’m waiting to see what schools will look like in the fall and how this will be addressed. In the meantime, at least I know how I will sanitize materials.

Instrument Specific Recommendations

If possible, it may be a good idea to rotate which materials are handled by which classes. If you are looking for a list of which cleaners are best for classroom instruments, check these guidelines from West Music.

  • Most instruments can be wiped down or sprayed.
  • Piano keys will crack, so use mild soap and water and microfiber cloths. Make sure the cloths are not very wet before wiping.
  • Recorders can continue to go in the dishwasher. Don’t use high heat.
  • Be mindful of residue that may be left behind with metal instruments.
  • Do not soak most classroom instruments, this even goes for egg shakers.
  • Orff bars can be wiped with disinfecting wipes, but if you don’t allow touching the bars, only mallets need cleaning.
  • Other wood instruments may not be able to withstand regular disinfectant use.
  • If you are using wipes on drum heads regularly, you will likely start to see markings (such as the Remo crown) fade and eventually disappear. It won’t affect the sound of the drum.
  • For band instruments, I have experience using Sterisol to disinfect mouthpieces and recommend it. I used to clean 30 trumpet mouthpieces a day by soaking them in a mixture of water and Sterisol for at least 10 minutes. Then, I would rinse them out in a bucket of clean water and air dry on a clean towel.
  • CDC guidelines for how long COVID-19 can last on surfaces:
    • Brass – 5 Days
    • Wood – 4 Days
    • Plastic – 3 Days
    • Strings – 3 Days
    • Cork – 2 Days

I hope these tips were helpful. Leave your tips in the comments!

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Hello Music Teachers!

I'm Jane, and I'm here to help make teaching more fun and less stressful by sharing ideas for the general music classroom! I've taught general music since 2009 and now focus on early childhood music.



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  1. Lori

    Read the directions on the disinfectant spray carefully! The chemical has to sit for a number of minutes and must stay saturated (so you may have to respray to keep it wet) in order to disinfect. After that, the chemical is supposed to be washed off. Leaving chemical residue on surfaces children will be in contact with can really be toxic to them, and to teachers as well. Also, breathing the spray in is very unhealthy and puts you at risk. Research the dangers of disinfectants. Stay safe!

    • SillyOMusic

      Thanks, Lori. You’re so right about the directions. I have a large room for the spray to air out and there will be at least 10 minutes for the materials to sit at the end or beginning of class. I think I will re-rewrite this post to include directions for wipes as a better alternative, since soaking instruments (even egg shakers) is not advised by West.


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