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cleaning the cleaning cloth


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Hi everybody!

  It has been ages since I
dropped in here!  My daughter is hopping up and down because
her cleaning cloth has too much rosin in it.  Can I just throw
it in the washing machine?  It doesn't seem like that would
take the rosin out of it, but I don't know what to do short of
buying a new cloth. 


  We are finally settled in
our new home and even found a great new teacher from the Virginia
Symphony.  He is a wonderful compliment to her previous
teacher because he has different areas of emphasis so she is
growing as a violinist and really enjoys him as a teacher. 
The new teacher wants her to work on her timing a little more
before she auditions for the Bay Youth Orchestra so we haven't done
that yet, but it is on the schedule.


Thanks, Wendy
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I was wondering what I was going to do when my microfiber towel had finally had enough. I figured lots of hot water and a good soapy trip through the washing machine should remove the rosin. If that won't work I thought I'd try the alcohol prewash trick. Good to know somebody is having good results cleaning these handy little wipers.

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Hi Kitykayjaz,

  I will toss it in the wash
first to get all the loose stuff off and then use Steve's idea for
whatever doesn't come out.


Hi Steve,

  Yes, it is a microfiber
cloth, I should have mentioned that :-)  The alcohol idea is
great! 9 year olds can be a little heavy handed with
rosin so I'm sure it will need the alcohol soak to get it all


Thanks!! Wendy
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I just heard something about microfiber cloths on the radio

yesterday. It was a house hold cleaning segment.

They said that for these cloths, the most effective way to clean

them is to boil them in a old pot on the stove,with a bit of salt.

Apparently this opens up the fibers so that the old dirt can be

released.Don't know if this will help with rosin, but, I thought

I'd share any way.

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I'll admit to not knowing what microfiber is, confirming my teen age daughter's conviction that I'm totally out of it.

What has worked for decades for me is a piece of 100% cotton from old t-shirts, ones that have been washed so often that they have holes in them.

I've found that if one piece of cloth serves for string cleaning and another piece serves for wiping the top and back of the fiddle, I avoid rubbing rosin taken from the strings onto and into the varnish. I used to wipe strings and varnish with the same cloth until I started using a dark cloth that showed all the rosin accumulating, as white, powdery streaks, on the rag from string cleaning. That's a rag I didn't want to use on the varnish. The solution was two rags.

Anyway, pieces of old cotton can be discarded when dirty. I don't even try washing the string cleaning rag; just throw it away, but might wash the varnish wiping rag with the rest of the laundry if it doesn't look too dirty.

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I use cotton and wash often, pitching and replacing periodically. A very good luthier that I know still swears by 100% silk. This matches what I was taught in my youth.

Wondering why silk might still be the best, I did a little online reading about it. One thing I hadn't known before is that silk fibers are prism-like: that is, cross-sectionally triangular. This accounts for their luminous appearance. Would this also enhance their value in cleaning and polishing fine finishes? As a child I was told that silk heats up a bit when it rubs on something, which enables it to lift rosin better.

One question remains: if silk is so great, why don't I see silk cloths for sale in every violin shop? Do luthiers assume that every string player can recognize a good piece of silk when they see one at a garage sale? If I ever figure out how to go junkin' for silk without dragging home a bunch of detritus from other people's houses, I'll put it in a book to sell at church rummage sales.

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I don't know if it's true or just a old tale, but I've heard that the advantage of 100% natural silk is that it won't adhere to or leave a pattern in the varnish, even if the varnish gets warm. This advantage for silk may have been part of the advertisement for silk interiors for up-scale violin cases.

Silk seems to have less lint than cotton, so you might get a cleaner wipe-off of the varnish with silk.

I keep my best fiddle in an old silk violin bag in the violin case.

100% natural silk violin bags seem pretty expensive. The ones I've seen were priced at about $80. On the other hand I've been able to buy new 100% natural silk scarves, large enough to wrap a violin up in, for about $10. In one Heifetz video, you see him unwrapping what looks like a typical 1950's woman's silk scarf from his fiddle.

It might make sense to have two different textures of material in dusting off a fiddle, one slightly rough, slightly abrasive texture for the strings, and one softer one for the varnish. I don't think I'd clean strings with silk because of the material's expense and because it might not be abrasive enough.

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