I cleaned my violin with baby wipes... Please Help.
Yesterday, I realized that my violin was very dirty, because it was covered in a lot of powder and dust from the rosin. I thought that the best solution would be to use baby wipes to clean my violin, so I did... 10 minutes after doing the actual process, I finally considered whether it was actually ok to use baby wipes on my violin. After googling for about 5 minutes, I came to a conclusion that baby wipes should never be used for cleaning the violin. This is because the baby wipes may erode the varnish off of the violin. I panicked and tried to get as much "baby wipe liquid" off of my violin, by using a slightly wet cloth and drying it afterwards with a dry tissue. I don't know if that did anything, but I still regretted using baby wipes to clean my violin. The next day (Today), I looked at my violin to see if the varnish actually eroded. I could definitely tell that some parts of the violin were really light, in odd patterns, and I could even tell the difference in texture/feeling between the spots that were significantly lighter and the places which still had a lot of varnish (darker spots). Even when shining light upon the violin, the places which still had varnish reflected light backwards, while the lighter spots reflected very little. I realized that the varnish in some parts of the violin did indeed melt off. I was very horrified, to look at my 2,000 $ dollar with large, ugly, white circular shapes on some places, while the rest remained pretty normal. It absolutely disturbed me, and I am wondering if it is possible to go to a local luthier to cover up the white spots. Is it possible for a local luthier to cover up the white spots by applying extra varnish? If it is possible, then do I have to go to the luthier I originally bought my violin from, or can I go to any local luthier? Please answer ASAP, as I am extremely terrified that there may be no solution to recover my violin to it's original stance when I first ever laid my hands on it.
First, I will repeat it: the best violin cleaner/polish is that one the player NEVER USES.
Yep, time for a trip to the luthier.
It has been many, many years since I last used baby wipes, and that was for the purpose for which they were intended. However, it is useful to have a post that points out that they are not a good idea for cleaning violins.
Wow, I don't know how you own a $2000 violin and dared to use something like that to clean it. Seriously.
Its not the end of the world and it also might not be as bad as you think. Lesson learnt, dont make yourself feel too bad. Going to see a luthier might set your mind at ease. And if it sounds ok, this is what matters most at the end of the day. Its not an expensive antique or an expensive professional instrument, so you wouldnt have lost your money (since you bought it to play on, not as an investment).
Try a clean soft cloth and see if you can buff out the spots. I can't see baby wipes having a harsh cleaner in it, specially since it is for the sensitive parts of a baby. Also, the luthier can sell you a violin cleaner or wax which most likely will take out the white circles(similar to rings on a wood table). Lastly, don't do that again, but you know that already.
Don't try do anything yourself; you will most likely only make things worse. Take it to a luthier.
Baby Wipes leaves an oily residue, it contains something to moisture the skin. if I am not wrong.
Lol I suspect the OP is just gonna keep getting more flak for this.
about the violin cleaner or wax - I'm sure his luthier will take care to use the proper products and use them properly and sparingly.
What about the polishes wich just contain water and
I don't think water and violins mix well.
Your violin may be your "baby", but it is not "a" baby.
Jim, when we sweat, we're putting water on the violin, all the time. I guess the sentence "violins and water don't mix well" is incomplete. I would add "high concentrations of water". When we breath out we're giving the violin fresh vaporized water, exactly 3% of what we exhale is water vapor.
and the violins pay for that sweating... it really doesn't take much moisture to work into the wood and weaken it or the glue that holds it, even a slightly moist towel can kill a table, even quicker than oils; even a humid day is not a good thing... best to avoid it where you can, no sense adding to it
Poor babies. Just imagine the impact on skin if it damages varnish!
I was actually surprised that baby wipes don't have any alcohol in them, actually.
I'm almost afraid to ask... what did you use on your baby?
I used to use DAP and other chemicals to get grease off my hands after working on my bike. Then I discovered baby wipes such as Wet Ones. They're fantastic for removing oil and grease.
Heh you're all lucky. I had once upon a time used Clorox wipes to get dirty oil grime from my hand. I had to bring it to a luthier to get the varnish redone because I kept wiping and I should've realized something was wrong when the Clorox white became the color of the violin.
It is interesting remembering that newborns are covered with a protective layer on their skin that is called "vernix" in Latin, this word became "vernice" in Italian and "varnish" in English.
I don't see any problem wiping a violin with a slightly damp cloth, cleaning by luthiers usually involves either water, or polishing with powder and oil. Oil is dangerous as it can ruin open cracks or seams, not so with a damp cloth, I checked on this with an expert and he agreed.
Unless you think the original post is some kind of hoax, I don't understand the need for all the petty jeers and chuckling. Everyone makes mistakes. I just don't see the point of the relentless scolding and general meanness.
Once all cracks and seams have been properly repaired I use a cloth with a teaspoon of linseed oil on the cloth dipped in a box of rotten stone, start on the back to mix the linseed oil on the cloth with the rottenstone, until its all picked up on the cloth, then polish thoroughly and all the linseed oil wiped off with a clean cloth. This gives a slightly satin gloss to the finish, and won't dissolve varnishes. Dirt should be cleaned off before polishing, though. I charge $10-20 for the process, it takes about 10 min.
Lyndon you might want to consider a different natural triglyceride other than linseed oil. Linseed contains around 50% alpha linoleic structures which are the origin of its characteristic reactivity with oxygen, which is a type of polymerization that could lead to the formation of an insoluble residue. That's what happens when linseed oil "dries." With a little googling I discovered that sunflower oil contains far less (almost none) of this reactive alpha-linoleic component. Just a thought.
If you are going to leave a very very thin coat of oil on your violin, it damn well better be something that dries!! Besides we know Stradivari's undercoat and varnish included linseed oil, so its an authentic adulterant!!
Brian, boiling hot water, used to clean up glue will often discolour the varnish so it looks whiteish, this can be polished out with the linseed oil and rottenstone, I can only hope (and pray) that this is the kind of thing you are dealing with and that you didn't actually remove large sections of varnish but rather whitened (discoloured) the surface of the varnish, I think I vote for the luthier, not home remedy, you don't have a very good track record in this case.
The things I know of that could quickly remove varnish would be alcohol or acetone, since I'm pretty sure you baby wipes contain neither, I think there's a good chance that you haven't stripped off large sections of varnish, but rather discoloured the surface of the varnish.
Lyndon wrote, "If you are going to leave a very very thin coat of oil on your violin, it damn well better be something that dries!!"
"It is interesting remembering that newborns are covered with a protective layer on their skin that is called "vernix" in Latin, this word became "vernice" in Italian and "varnish" in English."
Paul, I use multiple clean rags to clean up the linseed oil so that there is negligible residue, polishing powders work with oils, a non drying oil is not an option. You had the audacity to want to know what your luthier does when he polishes your violin, so I tell you, now your trying to tell me I'm doing it wrong, sorry, not going to work with me!!
Just throwing this into the mix:
Lyndon as usual you're overreacting. Take your finger off your exclam key and relax. Perhaps consider popping a Valium.
Actually my embarrassing secret is that I don't use cloths at all, I use toilet paper, works great for polishing and cleaning up any residue of the polish. I use linseed oil because that is what I was taught in my apprenticeships and is used by many luthiers.
Toilet paper is very absorbent. And conveniently disposable. I'm sure your clients are happy with their shiny violins!
Rottenstone does not get a high gloss finish, you get high gloss with tripoli, and satin with pumice and rottenstone is between those two extremes.
I don't know the differences among those abrasives. I thought tripoli and rottenstone were the same thing.
Ah, well, there it is, we humans are fallible. Not a mistake you'll make twice, huh? (The answer is "no!!!")
Tripoli is finer particles than rottenstone, I think it may actually be the same substance, though. Pumice is larger particles.
As far as the ingredients: PEG is used to hold moisture. It should come off fairly easily with water.
I wonder what would happen if one used a Lysol wipe instead of a baby wipe.
Linseed oil can penetrate in open seams, small cracks, purfling joints, making future repairs a nightmare.
What we recommend for players is that they wipe the violin and bow stick after playing. If rosin is wiped off regularly, is usually doesn't become encrusted and attached to the varnish. Wash your cleaning cloths regularly. The idea is to remove dirt and rosin, not redistribute them. ;-) Cotton cloths can be put through the washer with your regular wash.
So David and Manfio, you are saying you don't use oil to polish the varnish on your violins???
No, they only say no oil at home/DIY. What they do in the workshop is not disclosed. You are the only luthier so far who did disclose a trick of the trade.
Well I wasn't recommending doing it at home, either.
Han, the object is not to be secretive, but to protect instruments and players. A variety of cleaners may be used, depending on the nature of the varnish, and what needs to be removed. Use the wrong cleaner, and you remove varnish. And some of them should only be used with the right type of barrier gloves, a fume hood or an organic solvents mask.
Most top shops still go way overboard on touching up varnish to make it look "perfect" almost new, I don't do that at all, I don't touch up varnish, I leave the wear as it was.
Vulpex is a detergent solution. It is one of those chemical formulations that is intentionally mysterious so as to avoid the assignment of a CAS number. It is apparently made by combining potassium hydroxide (caustic potash), oleic acid, and 2-methylcyclohexanol. My guess is that there is no chemical reaction among these substances other than conversion of oleic acid to potassium oleate, and that the 2-methylcyclohexanol is present in its original state. The trade-name given, "potassium methyl cyclohexyl oleate," sounds to me like an intentional obfuscation, on the part of the manufacturer, of what would otherwise be chemically trivial. However, I'm ordering some of this stuff so that I can confirm my suspicions by chemical analysis. (Wow -- it's expensive. You guys are getting ripped off big time.)
Paul, you should see what some people will pay for something like their favorite tiny varnish retouching brush! ;-)
Potassium oleate is essentially a form of household (soft, brown) soap. Not sure about the properties/purpose of the cyclohexanol. At least, vulpex is marketed as "liquid soap", so that's fair enough.
A little more on Vulpex:
David, thanks, that saves me a lot of work. Unfortunately they don't report how they prepared the GCMS sample or how they did that analysis, but it's better than nothing. The claim that Vulpex contains no "free methylcyclohexanol" is very suspicious to me.
I still stand by my assertion that David Burgess must use oil and polishing powder to finish the varnish on his violins, are you denying that, David??
According to experts in Hans Weisshaar's and Margaret Shipman's Violin Restoration manual, one of the shops David apprenticed at, varnish touch up concludes with "Fine Pumice, Rottenstone or Vienna Chalk used together with oil on a cotton cloth". If David has a better method to this perhaps he should state what it is???
Lyndon, I don't recall anyone actually doing it that way, when I was working at the Weisshaar shop. The usual method was to use solvent to smooth retouching varnish (non-original varnish) when smoothing or leveling was needed.
I wonder what would happen if there was a thread that was the reverse of this ... "Help, I accidentally wiped my baby's rear end with Hill Polish." Lyndon? Anything on that?
And by the way if you use too much Vienna Chalk you can get a condition called "Vienna Fingers" where you have an uncontrollable urge to nibble your digits.
LOL, Paul, since Hill polish contains a "drying oil", Baby's bottom might need to be sandblasted to remove it, if it remained there long enough. ;-)
In the 60's I had a teacher who recommended 2 drops of ammonia in a teacup of water, dampen a cloth with it and wipe the violin clean. It looked good after. It was an old Klingental fiddle I actually disliked a lot, one of those unwieldy clunkers.
At that concentration, ammonia may not be very harmful. However, ammonia happens to be what I use for removing stubborn dried varnish from my varnish cooking containers. Another hazard, at higher concentrations, is the alkalinity. Some varnish colorants are PH sensitive, and will change color if the PH of the varnish is altered. I recall one person who created a purple stripe on a violin where ammonia was used.
A purple varnish violin would be different for sure. Can greens or blues be achieved with a natural varnish, or does that require metallic additives?
Ammonia can do more than adjust pH. If there are metallic additives it could possibly mess those up. But at those concentrations probably not. I suspect that two drops of ammonia in a cup of water has primarily a placebo effect on the person applying it.
Paul, I suspect so too.
Sort of like homeopathy for the luthier.
David, just to warn you I have the same suspicion about the use of distilled water vs. tap water. It's hard to envision how the presence of a few minerals affects the "cleaning power" of water. Of course I am aware (from my own experience working in industrial labs) that certain additives are included in detergent formulations to prevent specific chemical interferences between the detergent and waterborne minerals (especially calcium and magnesium), but in the absence of a detergent I can't really imagine what kind of smudge, stain, or whatever might be on a violin that comes off better with distilled water. On the other hand distilled water is a dollar a gallon at the supermarket, so you might as well use it.
Still nobody wanting to comment on saliva?
I think you can see the results of saliva drool on the treble side of the tailpiece on many old violins. Certainly you have to wipe it off in time or it definitely does not clean the surface.
Paul, I don't know anything about the mechanism by which deionized water is supposed to clean better. I've heard descriptions like it being "hungrier" for contaminants, since it has fewer to begin with, but I'm sure that isn't at the technical level you're looking for. What I've run across in the fiddle world is just based on experience with using it.
So - has any of this helped Brian Jin clean his violin?
"Still nobody wanting to comment on saliva?"
Thank you for sharing your insights, Mr.Sora. It is good to know that it should not be left on the varnish. ThAt is the first time I am told so.
I've seen glitter embedded in oil varnish, it may be very difficult to remove.
OMG! Thanks a lot for posting it. I was about to do the same to my sons violin.
As for saliva, I think it was Heifetz who said something about using "good old-fashioned spit" on his violin.
Isn't a light coat of wax sometimes applied to fine violins and polished to a luster? Maybe yours has some and your daughter's needs some?
It never ceases to amaze me that people own antiques and yet want to make them look modern, if they want modern they should buy a modern violin.
Jason, it is not a "normal" wax, many top shops use RENAISSANCE WAX. Again, not for do it by yourself.
Lyndon it's not just appearance but the nagging fear that somehow the wood in that area is not as well protected if it doesn't have the same shiny gloss as the rest of the instrument. Also it's just harder to clean which frustrates the particular user of the instrument.
Yes as everyone noted no baby wipes or hand sanitizing wipes are to be used on a violin. Many of them contain alcohol which erodes varnish. As far as polish goes, W.E. Hill and Sons makes a good one. I only apply a very tiny amount to the area under my strings (where the rosin builds up) on my Guadagnini. I polish using a microfiber cloth, wiping with the grain of the wood for about 20-30 seconds. Then I use a dry microfiber cloth to remove the excess polish till it's completely dry. I don't use polish on any other areas of the violin - I leave that to my luthier. Before using polish, I would test it in a discreet, inconspicuous area of the violin with a small amount to make sure it does not take off any varnish. If you have cracks on your instrument, do not polish in those areas.
I was told in my youth that professionals rubbed their violin with a brazil nut.
That sounds nutty.
Not sure if it's been mentioned but for the future, just keep a dry cloth handy. Sharmusic sometimes gives one out, or you can also just keep a handkerchief handy if you sweat like a dog like I do. Rosin is pretty easy to get off as long as it hasn't been sitting there for months.
Technicon used to recommend using cyclohexanol for sealing two pieces of Tygon tubing together - it did this by softening the plastic as it was adsorbed by the plastic. Methylcyclohexanol is unlikely to be very different. Moral: Don't use Vulpex on varnish.
John are you sure that wasn't cyclohexanone?