Repair Technician, Rachel Baker, tells us that cloths can be rather "big and bulky." If you have the cloth bunched up, and/or you are wiping too close to the tone holes, you can wind up tearing the pads. This is also quite common if you try to clean the areas between the tone holes. Rachel says that those areas really shouldn't get that dirty since you are not touching them, so it is best to leave those areas untouched when you are wiping your flute. Really, all you need to do is wipe the keys since you are touching them, and wipe the back of the body (where there are no tone holes).
We know technique is important when we play, but it's also important when you clean the flute. You'll want to use a very small area of the cloth and clean small areas at a time. Make sure to stay far away from the tone holes (and pads). We've included a few photos below to give you an idea of what you want to do -- and what you want to avoid doing -- with the cloth. And if you do get a bit of tarnish in a spot that you can't clean, it's okay. As Rachel says, "A little bit of tarnish is better than replacing all your pads!"
*Note -- the flute in the photos was in the repair shop, so you'll see blue tape. We realize you will be cleaning the actual metal, but we used these mainly to focus on the cloth.
|Too much cloth, too close to tone hole and pad.|
|Even with it folded, this is still too close to the tone hole and pad.|
|This is what you want to do -- just a small bit of cloth.|
|Try to stay far away from the tone holes -- like in this photo.|