How To Clean a Guitar With Household Items

How To Clean A Guitar With Household Items

I am sure you’d agree with me that the cleaning of your guitar is essential to the longevity of your guitar and quite beneficial to your hygiene as well.

Cleaning your guitar’s dirt, germs, molds, oils, sweat, etc., is necessary to keep it in optimal conditions and save you the extra maintenance cost. However, it will also save you from unnecessary health implications. 

The good news is that you don’t need some fancy product off the market to help clean and maintain your guitar because chances are you have everything you need sitting right in your house. You need to know which ones to use and how to use them in cleaning your guitar. 

So how do you clean a guitar with household items? 

Cleaning a guitar with household items involves the use of things like a piece of soft cloth, a q-tip, steel wool, and suitable solutions like water, lemon oil, or distilled vinegar to clean the fretboard and the body of your guitar. 

In this detailed guide, we explore the suitable household items to use, the ones not to use, and the process involved in using these household items to clean your guitar. 

Household Items Suitable for Cleaning Your Guitar

Household Items Suitable For Cleaning Your Guitar

To clean your guitar, you only need two sets of things, including a cleaning solution and cleaning materials to help apply and wipe off this solution. These are things you can easily find in your home. 

Cleaning Solutions

There are few cleaning solvents and solutions commonly that are relatively safe for cleaning your guitar and can easily be found in your home. They include


Water, as they say, is a universal solvent. It can dissolve any particles or substance more than any other liquid. This simple fact speaks to the usefulness of water in cleaning your guitar. You can use it to wipe away any particles accumulated on your guitar. 

However, it has to be used with caution because you don’t want to soak up your guitar in water. 

Diluted Vinegar

A white distilled vinegar is effective at stain removal. It is a suitable option when you want to remove a stubborn stain from your guitar. If you can cope with the pungent smell that comes with vinegar, which usually wears off after some minutes, you will find it beneficial.

Lemon Oil

 Lemon oil is an excellent option for cleaning your guitar. It has some acidic properties, which make it capable of removing stubborn stains from your guitar. It also gives your guitar a shiny look. 

It is suitable for guitars with no lacquer finishing. It helps to replenish the oil used in preserving the guitar wood. 

Vegetable Oil Soap

Vegetable oil soap is a natural household product made from water, coconut, and vegetable oil. It is suitable for cleaning your guitar, especially the fretboard, which is the part that harbors dirt the most. 

Cleaning Materials

Cleaning materials like a piece of cloth, q-tips, and steel wool are needed to get rid of stains on your guitar. Sometimes all you need to clean your guitar body is to wipe it with a piece of cloth. 

Q-tips are needed to get to the hard-to-reach areas on your guitar, while steel wools are excellent for getting rid of stains on your fretboard. 

Household Products Not Suitable for Cleaning a Guitar

You can’t use all household items to clean your guitar. Some household items will do more harm than good to your guitar if used for cleaning. These items include olive oil, bleach, undiluted vinegar, alcohol, ammonia, toothpaste, etc. 

For example, not all kinds of oil are suitable for your guitar. Olive oil will promote the growth and accumulation of germs and dirt, and this will, in turn, damage the body and fretboard of a guitar. 

Also, while bleach is suitable for cleaning other products, it isn’t ideal for cleaning a guitar. It can damage the color and the finishing of a guitar. 

The Process of Cleaning Your Acoustic Guitar Using Household Items

The Process Of Cleaning Your Acoustic Guitar Using Household Items

Now that we know the household items needed to clean a guitar let’s dive into the step-by-step guide on how to use these items in cleaning a guitar. Before you begin, though, wash your hands or put on a pair of gloves.  

Remove the Strings of Your Guitar

Remove The Strings Of Your Guitar

The strings need to come off for a comprehensive cleaning of your guitar, especially the fretboard. It is necessary to expose as much area on your fretboard as possible. 

Clean the Fretboard 

Clean The Fretboard

The fretboard of a guitar is most likely to be the part that accumulates dirt the most. Hence the need to focus on this part first. 

However, to clean the fretboard, cut away a little piece of steel wool and use it to scrub and scrape away dirt from the fretboard gently. After that, wipe out the dirt and ensure the surface is clear. You can make use of a q-tip to reach along each fret. 

If you have trouble getting rid of the dirt, dip the steel wool or q-tip in a little distilled vinegar and apply it to the surface.

Use a soft cloth or cotton wool to apply lemon oil on the fretboard’s surface to replenish the natural oil already present in it. This step is suitable for guitars with no lacquer finishing, such as guitars made of rosewood and ebony. It helps to replenish the natural oil already present in the guitar woods. 

Don’t apply lemon oil on the fretboard of a guitar made of maple wood because it most likely has a lacquer finish. A simple wiping of the fretboard’s surface with a cloth dampened with water after using the steel wool will do.  

Clean the Body of Your Guitar

Clean The Body Of Your Guitar

Cleaning the body of a guitar isn’t as complex as the fretboard. All you have to do is dampen a piece of soft cloth with warm water and use it to wipe the surface of the body of the guitar. 

The body of most guitars nowadays has a polyester or polyurethane finishing which makes cleaning with a damp cloth easier. 

However, some guitars have a matte finish and, in this case, only use a dry cloth to clean the body. Using a dampened cloth will make the matte finish wear off quickly. 


Nowadays, you don’t need expensive products to maintain and keep your guitar in optimal conditions. All you need are everyday household items that you most likely already have. 

The process of cleaning a guitar with household items involves using materials like a soft cloth or cotton wool and solutions like water, lemon oil, or vinegar to clean the fretboard and the body of your guitar. 

However, it is imperative to note the type of materials and finishing your guitar is made of because it does determine what kind of household items to use.