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Cleaning Harp Covers/Cleaning Harps

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  • #105581
    B Y
    Participant

    How do you all go about cleaning the padded harp covers? I’ve the blue L&H cover and it has gotten so dirty from…well…from everything! Is putting it in the dry cleaners the best way? Are these things not built for washing machines (the big ones in the laundromat)? I say dry clean, my Mother says it’s perfectly fine to put it in the washer, lol. I’m not sure, but I’m ready for a clean!

    Also, my harp is as old as dirt and it’s dirty! Other than a damp rag, what can I use to get the nasty discoloration off, easier?

    #105582
    catherine-rogers
    Participant

    Lyon & Healy has (or had) a polish specifically for harps that cleans and polishes. You apply some to a damp cloth, wipe it on, let it dry, then polish with a dry cloth. You get best results with a real cotton cloth like an old dish cloth or cotton diaper.

    As for the covers, if it’s a (relatively modern) transport cover, you could try washing it in cold or warm water on delicate cycle in a large commercial washer; probably take a long time for it to air-dry; hang it inside-out somewhere because the lining is absorbent but the outside is water-repellent and dries quicker.

    If it’s the old, old blue cover (they called it mole-skin; looked like suede), don’t dry clean it because the padding around the neck will wad up and you’ll never get it straight again. Believe me, I tried. I wouldn’t dry clean any of the covers because the heat in the process will damage the foam padding that all the covers have inside.

    #105583
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    Have you actually done this, Catherine? Washed a transport cover, I mean.

    #105584
    catherine-rogers
    Participant

    No, I’m going on the basis of the materials it’s made of. I did have an old blue one dry cleaned and regretted it. My transport cover did get very wet in a downpour; the outside was soaked but kept the harp inside nice and dry. I would imagine it’s like washing a sleeping bag or a garment with shoulder pads. You must be gentle and help it keep its shape. Do you think the inner lining would shrink if wet?

    #105585
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    Well, shrinking is the main thing that worries me. I once washed the canvas cover for a concert grand and it was useless after it dried, since I didn’t have a 12 to use it on. 🙂

    I’ve always thought of harp covers as spot clean only, and with the transport cover, even after scrubbing the outer nylon with soap and water it can take several days for it to dry all the way through. With a washing machine on gentle cycle, you wouldn’t get a vigorous spin so it would be pretty wet afterwards, too.

    Still, if it’s a choice between throw it out and throw it in the wash, it’s worth a try. That was my situation with the brown canvas one–it had to get clean or go, so I lost nothing by the experiment.

    #105586
    Elizabeth L
    Participant

    Right.

    #105587
    Tacye
    Participant

    Personally I would spot clean covers as suggested.

    #105588
    B Y
    Participant

    Thank you ! A harpist friend of mine in Chicago said she spoke to the woman who actually makes the covers, and she didn’t recommend washing them :-/ It’s beyond needing spot cleaning, and I live in NYC so there’s lots of unseen dirt, haha. In general, it’s just a dirty place to be, so since I keep the cover in the apartment with me, I do need to get it cleaned some way. I never thought of shrinking! I thought of it molding on the inside, if i washed it. So I was hoping that someone had tried it already :-)

    The harp is not gilded! I’ll look into what L&H has to clean it.

    Thank you!!!

    #105589
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    I just regard a new cover every so many years as a necessary expense, like new strings or regulating. It bothers me that I can’t think of a useful way to recycle the old ones, though.

    #105590
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    What is it that happens to your older harp covers that you have to get rid of them? Are they torn? Just dirty? If the old covers are still useable I might be interested in buying them from you. With over 20 rental harps, I’m always scrounging for covers.

    #105591
    Tacye
    Participant

    Have you thought about vacuuming off any loose dirt and then making a large bag to store them so your flat is not so exposed to the dirty covers?

    They are expensive enough that I am in the middle of unpicking my base cover to replace the padding as it has disintegrated (and incidentally make them fit my harp better).

    #105592
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    Hi, Carl. Usually at that point they have a worn spot from inside where the pins are up near the kneeblock from sliding the harp in and out of the car (I put a pillow under the kneeblock to support it once it’s in). Those sharp ended tuning pins they use these days are heck on covers. I’ve tried patching, but that never works for very long, so I don’t know how much use they’d be to you.

    I don’t have anything that’s near replacement right now, but I’ll keep you mind if a cover like that would be of any use.

    #105593
    john-strand
    Participant

    When I first started playing at the hospital I realized right quick that I couldn’t be going in there with a really dirty smelly cover on my harp – I am on an elevator several times a day and often the cover is in close proximity to patients, staff, and doctors – it’s one of the older blue nylon type LH concert grand covers – I particularly like this one because of the fit – it’s not bulky and seems easier with the loading and unloading – there is a layer of foam rubber between the outer layer and the inner soft cloth lining – it wouldn’t fit in my washer so I took it up to the laundromat and used the commercial size washer – took two runs plus extra soap to get it clean especially along the top of the neck where I steady the harp while its on the dolly

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