Learn How to Clean Your Guitar with 4 Simple Household Items

by | Aug 5, 2023

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The best thing you can do to get the most out of your guitar is to take care of it. After years of servicing and restoring all sorts of guitars, we’ve concluded that you don’t need expensive things to deep-clean your guitar. Don’t get us wrong, you can spend your money on expensive specialty items, but we’ve learned that you can have the same, if not better, results with basic items you probably have in your house right now.

So, we’ve prepared this guide to teach you how to clean your guitar, and you will need these four simple things to keep your guitar in pristine shape and have it serve you for a long time:

  • Cotton/Microfiber Cloth – an old T-shirt would do
  • Toothbrush – preferably used one with softened bristles
  • Regular furniture cleaner – the stuff you spray to clean your wood furniture
  • Oil – linseed oil, olive oil, etc.

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How to Clean Your Guitar?

The best time to thoroughly clean your guitar is when you change the strings. It does not matter if you have an expensive or an inexpensive guitar; the cleaning steps are the same. We’ve listed our advice on cleaning your guitar – it is how we do things in our shop, and after years of successful experience, we are confident to share our method.

Please follow these steps and use the items we’ve listed above (which you probably have at home right now), and you’ll have your guitar in spic and span condition in minutes:

  1. Remove the old strings from your guitar and spray your guitar with your furniture cleaner liquid. You can spray it on all surfaces – the fretboard and the body. It does not matter if the fretboard is varnished maple or bare ebony. An exclusion is if your guitar has an oil-based or shellac finish. Most commercial guitars have durable finishes resistant to furniture cleaners, as these are the same as regular furniture finishes (polyurethane, nitro-based, acrylic, or another type of lacquer).
  2. Take the toothbrush and scrub your guitar to remove any dirt and grime accumulated on the surfaces. Pay attention to the fretboard since most dirt accumulates here. A small toothbrush can get into all the nooks and crannies all over the guitar.
  3. When all dirt has been loosened with the toothbrush, take your cloth (cotton or microfiber) and wipe everything down. Be extra diligent on the fretboard, especially if it is a bare wood fretboard (ebony, rosewood, etc.), to remove as much of the furniture cleaner from your guitar. Don’t forget to clean your brush as well.
  4. The next step applies only to guitars with bare wood fretboards like ebony, rosewood, or maple. Carefully apply a liberal amount of oil on the fretboard, rubbing it in the wood and leaving it on for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take a clean section of your cloth, rub the fretboard, and remove any excess oil. You can’t mess this up, as the wood will absorb the oil it needs, and you can remove the excess. You can use any edible oil or pay extra for branded oils – per your choice, but the result is the same with any oil you use. The point of the oil is to penetrate as much as possible into the wood of the fretboard and create a protective barrier against moisture (in or out). The oil prevents drying or cracking, prolonging the longevity of the fretboard.
  5. Wipe the guitar with a clean cloth, and it is ready for fresh strings!

That’s it, our no-fuss cleaning technique that has been proven over and over again! Stay tuned for further updates and advice from the GS Handcraft luthier workshop, or email us your questions or inquiries.

Pro tip: always wash your hands before playing your guitar to avoid getting dirt all over it, and have a clean cloth handy to wipe the strings and body before and after every time you play!

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