Opening/cleaning a melodica?

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    I just received my second melodica, a vintage Hohner 901 Alto, from a seller on Ebay.
    It’s in good condition, in tune and sounds really nice, I actually like the sound a lot better than my Hohner Instructor 32.
    The problem is, it has a bit of a smell to it. Not sure what it is, kind of smells like incense or something… I would like to open it up and check out the insides and clean if necessary, but I’m worried about knocking something loose or messing it up somehow. It sounds so good right now, I just don’t want to mess with it. But the smell (or taste, when you play it, ugh…)
    Any tips for safely opening up and cleaning? Or, should I just not bother with it and deal with the weird smell/taste?


    Hello Teresa and Welcome to the forum. If you do not want to open it, what I have done is leave it outside for a couple of days (out of the sun) then bring it inside and put it in a paper bag with a box of baking soda (seal bag) for a week or so. This has worked for me in the past. I have other melodicas to play so if one is out of commission, the wait does not bother me. If you decide you want to open it, just be careful with seals and reeds. Use some mild soap and water and dry it good. I think someone on here actually opened it up and put it in the dish washer.

    Monsters of Melodica


    Thank you for your reply!
    I have it in a bag with baking soda right now, I hope that will help, but I think the thing that bothers me is not knowing what’s inside. Who knows what could be lurking inside? Mold? I may still open it up and take a look.
    I will not however, be putting it in the dishwasher. 🙂




    Teresa, if you look in the construction and maintenance section on here, Alan has a good post on deodorizing your melodica, check it out
    Monsters of Melodica


    Hi Teresa,

    I have the stubby key version of your HM-901 button melodica. Many Hohner melodicas are easy to take apart and reseal, however, the stubby-key and button models are quite tricky to take apart and reseal in my opinion.

    I believe most components in melodicas are resistant to water by design because melodicas get wet inside all the time. Water leaks out of my old melodicas all over the place.

    I had a very smelly HM-26 and took a chance. I submerged it in vinegar and water and/or a bit of dish soap for about 30 minutes to an hour. Then I rinsed it by submerging it several times in clean water. I shook it all over the place at several angles and put it in the sun on a perfect drying day to dry. The melodica was dry in a few hours and the smell was gone.

    I also took a stubby key piano 26 apart (that is how I know they don’t come apart and reseal easily) and threw the individual parts in the dishwasher with dishwasher soap. The parts came out really clean and nothing was damaged. It seems the rubber gasket adhesive is waterproof as you would expect. I did not leave the parts in for the whole wash cycle. I took them out after an hour and rinsed them off. Every ten minutes I rotated them during the wash cycle

    Both the above adventures are documented in a couple of my posts. Search on relevant terms and you might find the posts.

    Caution: It worked for me under my conditions and with my specific models of melodicas. Your results could vary.

    I always ask sellers now if the melodica smells and if it leaks before bidding on a used melodica. I love it when they come in smelling like perfume. Then I know it sat in a dresser drawer for 50 years and was stored properly.

    Welcome to the forum.




    Melodica-Me: I will do that, thank you. 🙂

    Lowboy: That is exactly what I wanted to know, if certain models were harder to safely open than others. I just don’t want to do irreparable damage to it.
    I am currently waiting for the baking soda to take effect, but if that does not work, maybe it would be better just to soak and rinse?
    I will go and read all the other posts now.
    Thank you both very much! 🙂


    AvatarAlan Brinton

    In addition to earlier discussion about deodorizing, I recently posted about giving a melodica a bath:

    Give your melodica a bath!

    Since then I have done this with several vintage melodicas to reduce sticky key problems and eliminate any loose internal debris (some of which will come out with an older melodica). Vinegar (30% maybe?) won’t cause any harm, and it will deodorize. I’d suggest first submerging and soaking in plain water for an hour or two, then soaking for an hour or so with the vinegar mix, and then again for an hour or so in plain water. But I wouldn’t do this with a Hohner Professional (or Solist), a Clavietta, or with some other exotic vintage models such as early Italian ones).


    Thank you for the link Alan!

    I really want to do this now. It’s totally weird to me to think of giving an instrument a bath, but of course the only instruments I’ve ever played before have been piano and guitar…
    After googling around a little, I did find others soaking/rinsing wind instruments, I guess I just never thought about it.


    AvatarAlan Brinton

    No soap, though!

    That’s interesting to hear about other instruments. I guess it’s true, there’s nothing new under the sun.

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