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How To Clean An Electric Guitar: Best Ultimate Guide You Need To Know 2023

How To Clean An Electric Guitar Best Ultimate Guide You Need To Know 2023
  • Max Kuehn

Looking to keep your electric guitar clean and pristine condition? Check out this quick and easy guide on how to clean an electric guitar! First and foremost, it’s important to regularly wipe down the body of your guitar with a soft, dry cloth. This will help remove any built-up dirt or grime that could potentially damage the finish. Additionally, you should also clean the strings on your guitar after each use. Read on for details!

What Causes A Guitar To Become Dirty?

The quantity of dirt your guitar accumulates is mainly determined by the environment you play in and for how long.

If you’re someone who goes out and gigs every weekend, you’re undoubtedly used to standing in 1000-degree sets and standing under enough lights to guide a plane in for a landing. Sweating for an hour under harsh stage lighting is the worst thing for your guitar!

Sweating buckets while playing in this environment is like kryptonite for your instrument. Sweat and grease on your guitar’s finish look horrible, but it may also wear away the lacquer and ruin the fretboard irreversibly. It can also get to your guitar’s electronic components and hardware, producing corrosion and causing even more issues.

If you practice for 1-2 hours a day at home in a cool, well-ventilated area, your guitar won’t need to be cleaned very often. It’s all about the situation and the circumstances.

What Causes A Guitar To Become Dirty

What You’ll Need To Clean Your Guitar

While cleaning your guitar, you may require a variety of tools. Some will be different based on the type of guitar, model or steps you’ll take, so you might not need them all. One of the most fundamental will be mentioned here, and further tools will be discussed in the next steps.

  • A polishing cloth of some sort. There are numerous brands, varieties, and sizes available on the market. You can buy one made specifically for cleaning guitars or use any softer cloth you already have. You will always require a polishing cloth, no matter what you choose.
  • Lubrication or cleanser for strings This is an excellent solution to ensure that your strings are functional for a longer period.
  • Winder with pegs or strings. This isn’t necessary for the cleaning process. When you re-string your guitar, it will undoubtedly speed up the winding process.
  • Clean your fingerboard or fretboard. Some fretboard cleaning or wood oil
  • For the guitar body, use a wood cleaning or polish. For polishing the wooden elements of the guitar neck and body. There are numerous sorts and brands, which are mainly
  • Determined by the type of wood and guitar finish.
  • Metal elements of the instrument should be polished. Except for strings, you’ll use this to polish tuning machines, bridges, screws, and other guitar gear.
  • Allen’s screwdriver. For the truss rod and the bridge. The size of the guitar depends on the model.
  • Screwdriver. If you want to make sure your guitar is properly set up after cleaning, you could require one.

What You'll Need To Clean Your Guitar

How To Clean An Electric Guitar

How To Clean An Electric Guitar Body

How To Clean An Electric Guitar Body

Step 1: If you wish to deep clean the instrument, remove the strings.

You don’t have to remove the strings to clean the guitar’s body, but doing so will make things much easier and reduce the risk of damaging the strings. Turn the tuning keys counterclockwise to loosen all of the strings at the head of the instrument.

Then, if your guitar has them, remove the bridge pins from the bottom. Extend the strings out the rear of the instrument.

To get to the strings, you may need to remove a plate on the back of the instrument.

Step 2: Wipe clean the surface with a moist cloth or paper towel.

  • Place the face of the instrument on a thick, clean towel. Warm a clean cloth or paper towel for 1-2 seconds before wringing away the excess water. Then wipe clean the guitar’s main body, including the saddle. Wipe away any loose dirt or debris for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Do not do this with the fretboard’s wood part that reaches into the body. This wood piece will be cleaned differently.
  • This should be done after each playing session to prevent fingerprints, skin oils, and sweat accumulating on the guitar’s body.

If it’s a vintage guitar, clean the body with a non-abrasive polish.

Get a non-abrasive instrument polish if you have an antique or vintage guitar. Using a microfiber cloth, lightly wipe down the body with a coin-sized drop of polish. Wrap the cloth around the knobs, bridge, and fretboard’s base. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or powerful chemicals if you want to save the finish on a vintage guitar.

Any guitar polish will suffice if it doesn’t contain a cutting compound. It’s safe for your guitar if the label says it’s safe for any instrument or non-abrasive.
An antique instrument that appears to be older is part of its charm!

You can continue with the rest of these processes if you choose, but it may remove or wear down earlier finishes. On the other hand, most collectors and musicians prefer to keep their old guitars looking vintage.

Step 4: If your guitar has a satin finish, use a wet cloth.

A satin guitar finish will become patchy and uneven with any polish or cleaning. Dip a microfiber towel in warm water and wipe off the body of a guitar with a satin finish. Work your damp cloth across the bridge, knobs, and fretboard, covering each place 2-3 times.

Satin finishes are exclusively found on wood guitars. Satin finish means your guitar’s body is made of wood and has a rough feel.

Step 5: To soften grime, spritz the surface with an automobile detailing spray.

Purchase an auto-detailing spray from your local auto parts store or online. Angle the spray away from the fretboard and bridge by holding the nozzle 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) away from the body. To lubricate the instrument’s surface, spray it 1-2 times on each section.

This material doesn’t have to cover your entire body. To lubricate the surface, only a few sprays are required. The main purpose is to get the guitar wet in preparation for the detailed clay.

You can use a little water instead of detailing spray if you like. It won’t clean as well, but it’s easier and doesn’t require the purchase of another cleaning product!

Step 6: Scrub the surface with a detailing clay to remove impurities.

Get some detailing clay made for cleaning automobiles. This substance is essentially a putty that can be moulded and molded in the same way that modeling clay can. Roll a palm-sized ball of clay into a ball and massage it back and forth over the guitar’s body.

To remove impurities, press the clay against your body and rub it around in your palm. Using a dry microfiber cloth, wipe away any remaining residue.

The body should already be dry because the clay absorbs everything it comes into contact with, but a quick wipe will remove any clay particles.

If your guitar has a glossy finish, you can use a microfiber cloth dipped in a water and vinegar solution to wipe it clean. For a more natural cleaning solution, combine 2 parts water and 1 part white vinegar.

Step 7: To eliminate oily residue, scrub the body with lighter fluid or degreaser.

It may seem strange, but lighter fluid is the preferred guitar cleaner. Pour 12–1 teaspoon (2.5–4.9 mL) lighter fluid or degreaser into a clean towel. Scrub the entire body with your cloth after that.

Wipe the major parts of the body with smooth circular motions and the knobs and bridge with straight strokes. The lighter fluid will not harm your guitar’s polish. If you’re truly worried about it, you can use a degreaser instead.

Step 8: Using a guitar polish and a microfiber cloth, polish the body.

Grab a fresh microfiber towel and a guitar polish. Repeat the wiping operation with 1–2 teaspoons (4.9–9.9 mL) of polish in the towel when the cloth starts to dry out, clean around the metal components and replenish them as needed. This will buff the body’s surface to make it look clean and complete.

You can stop here if you choose, although the shiny appearance will fade after a few weeks.

There are numerous guitar polishes available for various finishes. If your guitar’s body doesn’t have a glossy lacquer, use a matte polish.

Never clean the body of your guitar with furniture polishes like Pledge. These polishes can damage your guitar’s finish and affect the color of the paint over time. Glass cleaners will do the same thing to your guitar.

Step 9: Apply carnauba wax to your body and let it dry naturally.

Using a new microfiber cloth, scoop up a thick bead of carnauba wax. Using smooth circular motions, rub the wax into the guitar’s body. Wipe the surface of the instrument until no wax is visible. Allow 6-12 hours for air drying after repeating this method on each body part.

After you’ve completed cleaning the front of the instrument, repeat these instructions on the back.

How To Clean A Fretboard On An Electric Guitar

This is the most vital portion of your guitar to clean regularly. The fretboard is the portion of your guitar that takes the most abuse, and if you’re not careful, an excessive build-up of perspiration and dust can cause lasting damage.

When perspiration dries and evaporates, it dehydrates the wood, which can cause cracks to form or permanent stains to appear. Below are instructions for cleaning the most common fretboard materials used on most guitars.

Fretboards in Rosewood, Ebony, and Pau Ferro

A number of Jim Dunlop products are ideal for cleaning Rosewood/Ebony fretboards. On the other hand, steel wool may be necessary if you’ve been sluggish and a lot of crud has built up on your guitar’s fretboard.

If you do, make sure to use just 0000 steel wool. Its fine steel fibers will remove undesirable debris from the frets without causing damage or wear. It will even polish them to some degree.

Cover your guitar’s pickups using masking tape before using steel wool to prevent the little metal particles from clinging to their magnets. After that, don some latex gloves and carefully work the wool into the fingerboard in a circular motion for maximum efficiency. Wipe away any debris and make sure the surface is clean when you’ve finished.

You can now proceed to treat the fretboard, which rehydrates and washes the wood to make it look brand new. Cleaning and conditioning products like Jim Dunlop‘s Guitar Fingerboard Kit or Lemon Oil are ideal.

You can use a damp cloth or a toothbrush to apply it, or you can combine it with the previous step and use steel wool to rub it into the board. However, don’t skimp on the amount you use. You don’t want to entirely submerge the fretboard in water since this could result in warping. A small amount goes a long way!

Fretboards in Maple

Due to their softer wood tone, maple fingerboards are more likely to exhibit dirt and blemishes than Rosewood or Ebony boards. To make matters worse, conditioners are not allowed to be used on Maple. So, how do you clean a Maple board properly?

Using ultra-fine 0000 steel wool is one of the best ways to clean an untreated Maple fretboard. This cleans the frets without causing any damage. A little moist towel can also be used, particularly on satin-finished wood, but anything else should be avoided.

Only a wet (or dry) cloth should be used to clean a lacquered Maple fingerboard. Steel wool removes the shine and leaves a matte-like surface, while lemon oil also dulls the polish and removes the sheen. Use a dry or gently wet cloth only. If the lacquer is particularly thick, you could also apply a small amount of Jim Dunlop Formula 65 Guitar Polish.

Detailing the Guitar

Detailing the Guitar

Step 1: Wipe the buttons, bridge, and knobs with a cotton swab.

Most people ignore the region surrounding the bridge, knobs, and buttons when applying carnauba wax, lemon oil, oil soap, or lighter fluid to the guitar. Scrub these areas with a cotton swab dipped in whatever cleaner you’re using at the time and running it around all of the buttons, knobs, and components protruding out of your guitar.

This is also the only way to clean the area around the tuning keys at the guitar’s head.

Step 2: To make metal components shine, soak them in white vinegar for 24 hours.

Unscrew the bridge, remove the tuning knobs, and remove any metal knobs or parts from the guitar to make the metal components shine like new. Soak them for 24 hours in white vinegar before removing them and rinsing them with water. Before reassembling your instrument, please give them a brief wipe with a furniture pad or ultra-fine steel wool.

Most people don’t clean these components beyond a gentle wipe because you continuously touch the knobs, and the bridge doesn’t become very dirty. You’ll also have to remove them to get them very clean, making this a chore.

Step 3: After cleaning your guitar, replace the strings to make it sound better.

Pull the strings up through the bridge after sliding each string through a hole on the back of the guitar’s body. Start with the bottom string and tighten each one. Tighten the tuning knob after sliding the string through the opening on the peg. Continue to pull the strings by tying the knob. This should be done for each string.

With wire cutters, remove any surplus string.


A clean guitar looks and feels nicer than one that is dusty and grungy. If you want your guitar to last and avoid replacing any of its parts in a few years, you must keep it clean. Keep in mind that if you take care of your instrument, it will take care of you. Fidlar hope you found this article beneficial, and let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below!

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