How to Clean Guitar

How to Clean Guitar: The Complete Guide

Playing the guitar is one of the most popular hobbies among music lovers. As this instrument can be expensive and delicate, it is essential to take proper care of it to maintain its condition and keep it sounding its best. Knowing how to clean guitar is essential for all musicians, from beginner-level players to experienced professionals.

To ensure that your guitar lasts a lifetime, you must clean it properly. The accumulation of dirt and grime can cause damage to the finish of the guitar’s finish and clog up essential components such as tuning pegs and frets. This leads to poor intonation and can ultimately affect the tone of your instrument.

We’ll give you the full rundown on effectively cleaning a guitar, including the body, neck, fretboard, pickups, and strings.

How to Prepare Your Guitar For Cleaning

Before you start cleaning your guitar, some essential steps must be taken to ensure that the process goes smoothly and doesn’t cause any damage to your beloved instrument.

The first step is to gather all the necessary tools and supplies. You will need a soft cloth or microfiber towel, guitar polish, string cleaner, fretboard conditioner, and other essential items. Once everything is ready, remove accessories from your guitars, such as straps or picks. This will make accessing all parts of the instrument easier during the cleaning process.

When working on your guitar, it’s best to have the neck propped up at an angle at the nut. This makes accessing the tuning pegs and other guitar parts much more accessible. It just makes the guitar a lot easier to handle.

How to Clean Guitar

Organize Your Workspace

Organizing your workspace for cleaning your guitar is to clear away any clutter or debris. This includes any loose papers, books, or other items that may be scattered around your desk or work area. Once you’ve cleared away the clutter, take some time to dust off any surfaces where you will be working with your guitar- this could include a tabletop or music stand. Arrange all other supplies right next to it.

What you will need:

  • White distilled vinegar (for heavy-duty cleaning)
  • Water
  • A soft cloth
  • Guitar polish that contains pure carnauba wax
  • Glass cleaner

Ensure the area is clean by dusting it. After that, wash your hands before handling your guitar.

Remove the strings

One part of maintenance that often gets overlooked is cleaning the strings. Cleaning the strings can help prolong their life and improve the tone of your guitar.

The first step in cleaning your guitar strings is to remove them from the instrument. This may seem daunting, but it’s simple if you have the right tools. You’ll need a pair of pliers and a string winder to make this process easier. Once you have these items on hand, loosen each string using the tuning pegs until there’s enough slack to work with.

Next, use the pliers to carefully pull out one end of each string from its bridge pin or tailpiece anchor.

How to Clean Guitar

How to Clean The Guitar Fretboard

The guitar fretboard is an essential component of the instrument that deserves utmost attention in terms of maintenance. It is where the strings rest and where chords are played, making it prone to build up dirt, sweat, and grime over time. Cleaning your guitar fretboard regularly enhances its appearance and extends its lifespan, ensuring excellent tone quality for years.

Before cleaning your guitar fretboard:

  • Remove all strings to avoid any mishaps.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush or microfiber cloth to remove loose debris on the surface.
  • Apply a small amount of lemon oil onto the fretboard using a clean cloth and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

Lemon oil helps clean off any stubborn dirt while naturally conditioning the wood.

Ebony or Rosewood Fretboards

It’s important to understand that these materials have different porosity levels. Ebony is a dense wood that doesn’t absorb moisture quickly, while rosewood is more porous and can soak up oils and grime quickly. To clean an ebony fretboard, use a soft cloth or microfiber towel with warm water and mild soap. Rub gently in circular motions until all dirt is removed.

You’ll need extra care for a rosewood fretboard because it tends to absorb oils from your fingers over time.

Cleaning Your Guitar with Steel Wool

Steel wool is an abrasive material made up of tiny steel fibers that can gently remove dirt or rust without damaging the finish on your guitar. When using steel wool for cleaning, it’s essential to choose a satisfactory grade (#0000), as this will be gentle enough not to scratch the surface of your instrument.

To begin cleaning with steel wool, remove debris from your guitar’s surface with a soft-bristled brush or cloth. Rub small areas in circular motions with light pressure with a small piece of steel wool until you see dirt and grime lifting off.

How to Clean Guitar

Maple Fretboards

Maple fretboards are popular among guitar players because of their bright tones and durability. They can get dirty over time and require proper cleaning to maintain shine.

  • Remove the strings from your guitar to avoid damage or tangling. Next, gently remove debris or dirt from the fretboard using a soft-bristled brush or cloth. Be sure not to press too hard, as this may cause scratches on the wood.
  • For stubborn stains or grime buildup, use a small amount of lemon oil on a clean cloth and rub it onto the fretboard in circular motions—lemon oil cleans and conditions the wood, keeping it healthy and hydrated.

How to Clean Guitar Body

Learning clean a guitar body is essential for any musician. Not only does it ensure that your instrument looks pristine, but it also helps to maintain the quality of the materials used in its construction.

How to Clean Guitar

Different Types of Guitar Bodies and How to Clean Them

Guitar bodies come in various shapes and sizes, each with unique characteristics. The body’s shape is vital in determining the guitar’s tone. Some guitars are designed for specific genres, such as rock or metal, while others have a more versatile sound suitable for different styles of music. Understanding the different types of guitar bodies will help you choose the right instrument that suits your playing style.

Once you’ve chosen your guitar, it’s essential to keep it clean to maintain its appearance and performance. Regular cleaning is crucial because dirt and grime can accumulate on your guitar’s surface over time, affecting its playability and sound quality. Different types of guitar bodies require different cleaning methods because not all materials can withstand harsh chemicals or abrasive tools. Knowing how to clean your guitar correctly will prolong its lifespan and ensure it sounds great every time you play.

How to Clean The Guitar Neck

This buildup can cause problems with playing, such as sticky fingers or a lack of grip on the strings. Cleaning your guitar neck regularly is crucial to maintain its quality and playability.

Remove any dirt or dust from the surface to begin cleaning your guitar neck using a soft-bristled brush or cloth. You should also remove any strings from the instrument to prevent them from getting in the way during cleaning. Next, apply a small amount of guitar cleaner or polish onto a clean cloth and gently rub it into the neck’s surface. Avoid getting cleaner on other instrument areas, as this can damage its finish.

After applying the polish, use another clean cloth to remove any residue on the neck’s surface.

How to Clean Guitar

How to Clean Guitar Pickups

To clean your guitar pickups, you will need a screwdriver, rubbing alcohol or contact cleaner spray, cotton swabs or soft cloths, and some patience. First, remove the pickguard or backplate from your guitar to access the pickups. Use the screwdriver to loosen any screws holding the pickup and carefully lift it out of its slot. Be sure not to touch any exposed wires.

Next, dampen a cotton swab or cloth with rubbing alcohol or contact cleaner spray and gently wipe down the surface of each pickup.

How to Clean Guitar Strings

Remove any excess dirt or debris from the strings by gently wiping them down with a cloth. Then apply a small cleaning solution onto the cloth and rub each string individually from top to bottom.

Avoid getting any liquid on other parts of your guitar, as this could damage it. Once each string is thoroughly cleaned, wipe off any excess solution with a dry section of the cloth before restringing.

How to Clean Guitar

Polishing the Finish of Your Guitar

Polishing your guitar’s finish is more than just making it look shiny and new. The finish on your guitar serves a purpose beyond aesthetics, as it protects the wood from moisture, dirt, and wear. Over time, the finish can become dull or scratched through regular use or exposure to elements like sunlight and temperature changes.

To restore the shine and protect your investment, there are several steps you can take to polish the finish of your guitar correctly.

  • Remove any dirt or debris from the surface using a soft cloth or brush.
  • Choose a high-quality polishing compound that is safe for guitars with nitrocellulose finishes. Avoid using abrasive polishers that can damage the finish.
  • Apply a small amount of polish onto a clean cloth and rub gently in circular motions until you achieve a uniform shine across the surface of your guitar.


Learning how to clean guitar is more manageable than it may seem. You can quickly and effectively clean your guitar with the right supplies and techniques to keep it in playing condition. Regular instrument maintenance can help extend its life and protect its value for years. Remember to always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific instructions regarding the care of your guitar.

Take the time to occasionally do a deep clean of your fretboard, strings, and body with the right products. This will ensure you get the most out of your instrument for years.


What are the best cleaning agents for a guitar?

The best cleaning agents are generally mild soap and water when cleaning a guitar. A soft cloth should be used to avoid scratching the instrument’s finish.

Depending on the type of finish on your guitar, you may also want to use a specialized cleaner specifically designed for guitars. These cleaners can help remove dirt, oil, and other residue accumulating over time.

What are the best cleaning products for guitars?

A specialized cleaner such as Fender Guitar Cleaner & Polish or Dunlop 65 Guitar Care System can remove dirt, grease, and oxidation from the instrument. These products also protect against future buildup.

If your guitar has hardware such as tuners or pickups that require extra attention, use a product specifically designed for those components, such as GHS Fast Fret Fingerboard Cleaner & Lubricant or Gibson Electronics Cleaner & Polish. These products are formulated to remove dirt and grime without damaging delicate parts.

Is ebony fretboard better than rosewood?

Ebony fretboards are known for their dark color, smooth texture, and excellent sustain. They also tend to be more durable than rosewood fretboards, making them ideal for players who want their instrument to last a long time.

Rosewood fretboards are known for their warm tone and rich look. They also tend to be less expensive than ebony fretboards and require less maintenance.

Which type of fretboard you choose should depend on your preference and budget. Both types of wood offer unique advantages that can help bring out the best in your playing style.


I am Muhammad Uzair khan, a Content Writer with over two years of experience. I received my degree from the University of Mianwali . As a content writer for various online businesses, I know many standout fields, including fashion, makeup, clothing, and the auto industry. I'm also an expert at using front-end tools like Office Word & Microsoft Excel.