How many times have you been oiling your valves when — splat — a big drop lands right in the middle of your khakis; or you hold your horn under your arm for a moment, and end up rubbing dirty slide grease all over your favorite white shirt? If you’re anywhere near as clumsy as I am, it happens to you on a weekly basis.
A few days ago, I was reading one of my favorite sites and came across an article that offers the tip of using shaving cream to remove tough, greasy stains. A few people had commented on its effectiveness. I immediately wondered if it would work on valve oil and slide grease. I decided to find out.
I selected three articles of clothing on which to test the technique: a pair of khakis, a red cotton t-shirt, and a white cotton t-shirt. On each item of clothing, I put a few drops of Al Cass Fast Valve Oil, and a smear of Superslick Slide Grease. In addition, I wiped one of my valves and one of my slides on the white t-shirt, to get a little grime in there. I let the stains set in for twenty-four hours. (Because really, who has time to deal with these things immediately?)
The next day, I sprayed a glob of foam shaving cream on each stain, lightly rubbed it in, and let it set for thirty minutes. I then gently scrubbed each spot with a clean cloth.
The experiment yielded mixed results. After wiping away the foam, the Al Cass valve oil splotches were gone, but the Superslick slide grease stains were barely touched (though the slide grease seemed to be less noticeable on the red shirt than on the khakis). Of the two “grime” spots on the white t-shirt, neither appeared to be diminished.
In order to see if the shaving cream is effective as a pre-wash treatment, I then washed and dried all three items. Laundering seemed to help with the grime. A bit of it came away, mostly on the valve oil grime spot, but a bit of the slide grease grime, too. The plain slide grease spots remained untouched.
My conclusion: If (when, really) I spill valve oil on myself, I will definitely use this trick to get it out of my clothing. It’s simple, and I already have everything needed for it. However, if I get slide grease or any grime on myself, I’ll go with a more powerful cleaner to get it out.
Do you have any tips for dealing with valve oil drips, goopy slides, and other brass musicians’ occupational hazards? Leave them in the comments!