A Beginner’s Guide to How to Clean Acoustic Guitar

How to Clean Your Acoustic Guitar

Your acoustic guitar is more than just a musical instrument; it’s a cherished companion that can create beautiful melodies and unforgettable memories. Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to ensure your guitar continues to sound and look its best. This user-friendly direction will walk you through the essential steps to clean an acoustic guitar. We’ll cover everything from cleaning the fretboard to polishing the body so your beloved instrument remains in top-notch condition for years.

Preparing Your Workstation

Before diving into the cleaning process, let’s set up your workstation to make the task smoother and more organized. Gather the following items:

  1. Soft lint-free cloths or microfiber towels
  2. Acoustic guitar cleaning kit (optional but recommended)
  3. Guitar polish or suitable alternatives
  4. A small brush (toothbrush works well)
  5. A small bowl of lukewarm water
  6. Guitar strings cleaner (optional but helpful)
  7. A comfortable and clean workspace

Now that your tools are ready, move on to the next chapter.

How To Clean An Acoustic Guitar Fretboard

The fretboard is essential to your guitar and requires special attention during cleaning. Follow these steps to clean your fretboard:

  1. Begin by loosening the strings slightly to provide better access to the fretboard.
  2. Use a soft cloth or a toothbrush to terminate loose dust and dirt between the frets.
  3. If stubborn stains or grime are on the fretboard, dampen a cloth with lukewarm water and gently rub the affected areas.
  4. Be cautious to keep the fretboard manageable, as excessive moisture can damage it.
  5. For fretboards made of rosewood or ebony, you can apply a short amount of lemon oil to condition and maintain their luster.
  6. Wipe the fretboard clean with a dry cloth and retune your guitar.

Transitioning to the next chapter, let’s discuss cleaning the body of your acoustic guitar.

How To Clean An Acoustic Guitar Body

The body of your guitar is where most of the dust, sweat, and fingerprints accumulate. To keep it looking pristine, follow these steps:

  1. Using a dry, lint-free cloth, gently brush the entire body of your guitar to remove surface dust and dirt.
  2. For tougher stains or grime, dampen the cloth slightly with lukewarm water and repeat the process.
  3. If you’re dealing with stubborn stains that won’t budge, consider using a specialized acoustic guitar cleaning solution from your cleaning kit.
  4. Avoid using household cleaners or chemicals, as they can harm your guitar’s finish.
  5. After cleaning, dry the body thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth.
  6. Add some guitar polish or an appropriate alternative to a separate cloth to return the shine.
  7. Buff the guitar body gently with the cloth until it gleams.

Now that your guitar body is shining move on to the strings in the next chapter.

How To Clean Acoustic Guitar Strings

Clean strings are essential for maintaining the sound quality of your guitar. Here’s how to clean your acoustic guitar strings effectively:

  1. Loosen the tension on the strings by turning the tuning pegs slightly. This will make it easier to clean between the strings.
  2. Take a soft cloth or a dedicated guitar string cleaner and run it along the length of each string.
  3. This will remove built-up grime, sweat, and oils from your fingers.
  4. Be sure to clean both the top and bottom sides of each string.
  5. Once you’ve cleaned all the strings, re-tighten them to their original tuning.

Transitioning to the next chapter, let’s explore alternatives to traditional guitar polish.

How To Polish Acoustic Guitar

Polishing your acoustic guitar is a crucial part of its maintenance, helping to preserve its finish and enhance its appearance. Here’s a brief guide on how to polish your acoustic guitar:

Gather Your Supplies: Start by gathering the necessary supplies, including a clean, soft cloth and a suitable guitar polish or an alternative, like specialized guitar polish alternatives, baby oil, or vinegar-water solution.

Clean the Surface: Make sure the guitar’s surface is clean before polishing. Use a dry cloth to clear any dust or dirt.

Apply Polish: Apply a small amount of guitar polish onto a clean cloth. Avoid applying polish directly to the guitar.

Polish Gently: Gently rub the cloth with polish in small circular motions over the guitar’s body, avoiding the fretboard and strings.

Buff to Shine: After polishing, use another clean, dry cloth to buff the guitar until it shines.

Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on your chosen polish or alternative, and avoid excessive polishing, as it can damage the guitar’s finish. Regular polishing will keep your acoustic guitar polish looking stunning for years.

Guitar Polish Alternatives

While traditional guitar polish works well, there are eco-friendly and cost-effective alternatives you can consider:

  1. Vinegar and Water: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a sprinkled bottle. Spray a small amount on a cloth and use it to clean your guitar. Vinegar effectively removes dirt and leaves a streak-free shine.
  2. Baby Oil: A few dots of baby oil on a cloth can give your guitar a nice shine without harmful chemicals.
  3. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil works well for conditioning the wood. Apply a small amount, buff it in, and wipe off the excess.
  4. Commercial Guitar Polish Alternatives: Look for specialized guitar polish alternatives in music stores designed to clean and protect your guitar without harsh chemicals.

Transitioning to the next chapter, let’s discuss additional tips for cleaning an old guitar.

Using a Cloth, Remove The Majority Of The Chemicals and Dirt.

To get rid of most of the chemicals and filth that have accumulated on your instrument since its previous cleaning, use a cloth that has been moistened with warm water. You should avoid using any chemical cleaner on your guitar since the chemicals in the cleaner can harm the guitar’s finish.

Ensure thoroughly wring the cloth after wetting it with water before touching your instrument. While you go through and wipe out your guitar, you’ll want to ensure you don’t notice any liquid on the instrument’s surface.

Practicing washing off your guitar after each performance is also a wonderful habit to get into. To clean your guitar, keep a microfiber cloth or shammy in its case. If you’re on a tight budget, a t-shirt or a cloth diaper will do the trick just as well.

The Proper Cleaner Should Be Used for Your Guitar

Take glass cleaner with you when you clean the metal components of your guitar. Considerably, more metal elements are likely present on an electric guitar than on an acoustic one if you’re cleaning one.

Any dirt, oil, or residue on these metal parts can be removed with a glass clean. Make sure the glass cleaner is not sprayed directly onto your guitar by getting a cloth and using it.

How to Adjust The Neck

We offer some easy steps to help you adjust the neck of your guitar if you’ve found it’s out of alignment. First, you should start at the headstock and look down at the neck of your instrument.

If you notice any bends or dips in the neck, locate the truss rod bolt—usually just beneath the guitar’s neck, on the inside of the soundhole—and use an Allen key to adjust the neck.

If a truss rod is tight, never, ever strain it. However, if there is room for adjustment, turn the key clockwise if the neck dips (when the middle of the truss rod is lower than either end). Turn the neck anticlockwise if it is over-bent or higher in the center than at either end of the instrument.

How To Clean An Old Guitar

If you’ve got an older acoustic guitar that needs some extra care, follow these steps:

  1. Check for cracks or damage in the wood. If you find any, consult a professional luthier for repair before cleaning.
  2. Clean the guitar gently to avoid further wear and tear.
  3. If the finish is flaking or peeling, avoid using any cleaning solutions and focus on dusting and polishing.


How Do I Clean My Acoustic Guitar?

Set up your workspace for cleaning. Generally speaking, whenever you replace the strings on your acoustic guitar, thoroughly clean it (for our suggestions, see our guide to the best acoustic guitar strings). Accessing difficult-to-reach nooks and places is straightforward and complete when the guitar’s strings are removed.

Can You Use Household Cleaner On A Guitar?

It’s easy to see why some people might want to use household cleaners on their guitars, but many household cleaners contain alcohol, bleach, or ammonia, which are harmful to the wood and polish on guitars. Steer clear of all cleaners, especially Windex. Before you clean your guitar, you’ll want to get a few things ready.

How Do You Polish A Guitar?

There are numerous guitar polishes on the market. There are three types: water-based cleaners, creamy cleaners with fine abrasives, and oils. Select any of these, and apply a small amount to your soft cloth. Then, gently oil your guitar’s front, sides, and back using a soft, circular motion. Use only a small amount of oil.


Congratulations! You’ve learned how to clean an acoustic guitar from fretboard to body to strings. Regular maintenance and cleaning will keep your guitar looking and sounding great and extend its lifespan. Always use the right tools and be gentle when cleaning to avoid damaging your precious instrument. With proper care, your acoustic guitar will remain your faithful companion on your musical journey for many years.

1 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to How to Clean Acoustic Guitar

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