How To Clean a Guitar: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to clean a guitar

Are you tired of your guitar looking dirty? Are you sick of it looking terrible? Don’t worry, this guide will show you how to clean a guitar in the easiest way possible. 

If you’re like most guitar players, you’re probably tired of your guitar looking dirty and terrible. Don’t worry, this guide will show you how to clean and protect your guitar in just a few simple steps. 

How guitars can get dirty

It’s not unusual for a guitar to get dirty. In fact, it’s bound to happen at some point, especially if the guitar is being played often. There are a few different ways that guitars can get dirty, and each one needs to be cleaned in a different way. 

The body of the guitar can get dirty from sweat, which can cause the guitar to rust. The strings can also get dirty from sweat and oils from your hands. 

This can make them sound dull and affect their performance. Finally, the fretboard can get dirty from hand oils and food or drink spills. This can make the guitar difficult to play properly. 

What You’ll Need To Clean Your Guitar

Guitars should be cleaned with a soft cloth, such as an old t-shirt, or rag, and a non-abrasive cleaner. 

A few things to remember before starting cleaning your guitar:

  • Be sure to avoid getting any liquid inside the soundhole or onto the strings, as this can cause corrosion.
  • Avoid using any liquid on the strings.
  • Only use products that are specific for guitars.
  • Keep a soft cloth handy at all times.

What can I use to clean my guitars?

There are many different ways to clean guitars. Some people use a damp cloth, some use a dry cloth, and others use a guitar cleaner. 

Guitar cleaners come in many different varieties, but they all have the same goal: to clean the guitar and remove any dirt or grime that may have built up. 

One of the most popular guitar cleaners is Fender’s Custom Shop Polisher. It comes in a spray bottle and is easy to use. You just spray it on and wipe it off with a cloth. 

Another popular cleaner is Dunlop’s 65 Spray Cleaner. It also comes in a spray bottle and is designed to clean electric guitars quickly and easily. 

If you’re looking for something more environmentally friendly, you can try using organic guitar wipes like Lemon Oil Wipes or Orange Oil Wipes. 

What do you need to clean a guitar?

A guitar is an instrument that is commonly used in many different styles of music. It is important to keep a guitar clean, as it will help the instrument sound its best. There are a few different things that you will need to clean a guitar: 

  • Soft cloth
  • Guitar polish
  • Water
  • Fretboard oil cleaner
  • Brush
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Steel Wool (Optional)

Soft cloth

A soft cloth is needed to clean the body and strings of your guitar. First, wipe down the body of the guitar with a cloth to remove any dust or dirt. 

Guitar polish

Not only does guitar polish keep your instrument looking nice, but it can also help to protect it from scratches and other damage. In addition, guitar polish can make your guitar finish last longer.

There are a number of different types of guitar polish available on the market, so you’ll need to do some research to find the one that is best for you. 

Some polishes are designed specifically for acoustic guitars, while others are made for electric guitars. You’ll also need to decide whether you want a liquid or a paste polish.

Once you’ve chosen a polish, be sure to read the instructions carefully before using it. Most polishes require that you apply a thin layer and then buff it dry with a soft cloth. 


During the cleaning process of a guitar, you should always have some water handy, in case you want to put it in a cloth to remove some dirt and grime from the guitar body, neck, or hardware.

Fretboard oil cleaner

Cleaning your fretboard is an important part of guitar maintenance. Not only does it make your guitar look and feel better, but it also helps to preserve the life of your instrument. There are a number of ways to clean a fretboard, but one of the easiest and most effective is to use fretboard oil. 

Fretboard oil is a specially formulated product that helps to protect and condition the wood on your fretboard. It can help to keep your fretboard looking new, prevent it from drying out and cracking, and makes it last longer.

There are a number of different brands of fretboard oil available on the market, but not all of them are created equal. Dunlop formula 65 is one of the most popular.

Just remember that some fretboard oils are better for maple fretboards, while others are more appropriate for rosewood. So, make sure you research before you buy fretboard oil.


It is also important to keep a brush nearby during the entire process. Since you might need to use it to reach some more difficult places to clean, it is always important to have it with you while cleaning your guitar.

Isopropyl alcohol

When you play your guitar, the strings vibrate and create sound. Over time, these vibrations will cause the strings to become dirty and corroded. 

This can affect the sound of your guitar and may also shorten the life of the strings. One of the best ways to clean your guitar strings is with isopropyl alcohol. 

Steel Wool (optional)

You may also need to use steel wool to clean the guitar fretboard, however, it should only be used in special situations, and if you use it use 0000.

Do not use steel wool on maple necks that have a polished finish, because it will just ruin the finish.

Steel wool should only be used if you have a lot of accumulated dirt on the fretboard that you cannot remove with the fretboard oil.

Guitar Cleaning Step-by-Step

  1. Start by removing the strings. This will make it easier to clean the fretboard and the body of the guitar.
  2. If you are not gonna replace the strings, use the isopropyl alcohol to clean your guitar strings by pouring some into a small bowl or cup. Soak the strings in the alcohol for a few minutes, then use a toothbrush or other soft brush to scrub them clean.
  3. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the fretboard. Be sure to get in between the frets and around the edges of the board. If your fretboard is very dirty, you might want to use 0000 steel wool.
  4. Next, use a dry cloth to wipe down the body of the guitar. Be sure to get in between the strings and around all of the edges.
  5. Clean all the hardware like tuning pegs, guitar bridge, and even the knobs.
  6. Apply the fretboard oil carefully, and spread it evenly among the fretboard. Let the fretboard dry so the wood can have time to soak up the oil.
  7. Polish the guitar body using a rag and apply the product in a circular motion.
  8. Remove any excess polish with a cloth and a little water.
  9. Re-string your guitar and you’re ready to play!

Guitar Aftercare

Guitar strings and finishes can last a lot longer when you take care of them. Here are a few tips on how to keep your guitar clean, and avoid getting it dirty:

  • Always wash your hands before playing guitar
  • Clean your strings before and after playing
  • Leave your guitar in its case

Always wash your hands before playing guitar

You always want to make sure you wash your hands before playing guitar. This prevents your strings and guitar body from getting dirty. 

One of the best ways to protect your instrument—and your hands!—is to always wash them before you play. This prevents oils and dirt from building up on the strings and causing them to sound dull or even break.

So the next time you’re about to pick up your guitar, make sure you take a quick trip to the sink for a good hand washing. It may seem like an extra step, but it’s well worth it in the end! 

Clean your strings before and after playing

Cleaning your guitar strings with a cloth before and after playing is extremely important. 

A guitar string is really just an extended piece of wire. That’s why it can be cleaned with a cloth. In fact, the fretboard is also made up of wood – which is also very porous, and by cleaning your strings before and after playing you keep your guitar cleaner.

Leave your guitar in its case

Whenever you have finished playing always put your guitar in its case. This prevents dust and other debris from accumulating on and around your instrument, which can lead to unnecessary damage. Additionally, keeping your guitar in its case will help to protect it from scratches and other cosmetic blemishes. 

FAQ: How to Clean a Guitar

Can I just use water to clean my guitar?

While water can certainly be used to clean a guitar, it is not the best option. In fact, depending on the type of water and the cleaning method used, it could actually damage the instrument. 

Instead, a guitar should be cleaned using a specialized cleaner or polishing cloth designed for guitars. 

This will help remove any built-up dirt or oils from the instrument while preserving its finish. Make sure you do not use water directly on the wood.

Can I use alcohol to clean my guitar?

The use of alcohol as a cleaning agent for guitars is a practice that is widely debated. 

Some argue that it is an effective method for removing built-up dirt and grime, while others claim that it can damage the instrument’s finish and internal components. 

In general, it is recommended that alcohol be used sparingly and only as a last resort, as it can be harsh on the surface of the guitar.

You can use alcohol to clean strings, and that is the best way to clean the guitar strings.

Can you clean a guitar with olive oil?

No, using olive oil to clean a guitar is not advisable. Whether you are cleaning the fretboard or the guitar body or hardware, you should not use olive oil.

Can I use dish soap on my guitar?

The use of dish soap as a cleaning agent for guitars is not recommended, as it can strip the finish and damage the wood. 

Guitarists seeking to clean their instruments should use a product specifically designed for guitars, such as a guitar cleaner or polish. 

Avoid getting any soap on the instrument’s body or fretboard.


Taking care of your guitar can prolong its life. By keeping it in a case, and by cleaning it regularly, you can ensure that your guitar will last for years to come. 

So keep your guitar close by and take care of it- it’s worth the investment!

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