How To Clean A Guitars Fretboard Using Household Items

Guitar, one of the most incredible instruments to grace our lives. A tool that can be used to play both rock and acoustic music. In this post, we have included a guide on how to clean a guitars fretboard using household items.

An instrument that can be used in a jam session for friends & family. However, despite taking immense care of it, over time, it gets dirty.

The strings and the fretboard mainly always end up getting dusty or with some stain.

Although it might seem to be the most insignificant part of the guitar, it is one of the most crucial parts of the guitar.

It is the Liaoning agent between the strings and the body and hence, ends up getting stained.

Have you ever wondered how to clean your guitars fretboard without using the creams, lotions, gels they sell you at the instrument shops?


If you have, do not worry. You have come to the right place.

This article will talk about ways you can clean your guitar’s fretboard using inexpensive and cheap alternatives that you can find in your home.

6 Steps on How To Clean A Guitars Fretboard Using Household Items

  • 1. Carefully remove the strings
  • 2. Protection of the fretboard
  • 3. Cleaning up
  • 4. Using Steel wool
  • 5. Removing the tape and getting rid of minute dust
  • 6. Polishing the fretboard

First, let us start with things you must not use to clean your guitar’s fretboard.

As the fretboard is built with wood, it cannot be exposed to chemicals as it can disintegrate.

Please do not use any wood polish as it may eventually lead to a build-up of that chemical on the wood.

Another no-go is abrasive cleaners like bleach or cleaning agents. The toxic chemicals in them quickly erode the wood and eliminate the natural oils in the wood.

Citric liquids like lemon juice and vinegar must not be used either as they are very acidic or can destroy the fretboard.

Now that we have developed an understanding of what not to use, let us get to how to clean it.

For the guitar to be cleaned in a very smooth and effortless manner without harming or damaging the components of the guitar, the following steps must be followed

1. Carefully Remove The Strings

This step can be quite hard if you have not done it earlier.

Some believe that cutting all strings at once affects the tension, although others believe it is harmless.

If you are concerned about the tension, start by removing half of the strings, replacing them, and repeating the process.

If you ultimately want to avoid this step try getting your guitar’s fretboard cleaned only when you are replacing your strings.

2. Protection Of The Fretboard

To achieve this, you can use any cheap tape, preferably masking tape. All you need to do is cover the exposed steel parts with this tape on an electric guitar.

If you are cleaning an acoustic guitar, you may only need to cover the soundhole.

This step is entirely optional; however, I recommend this as it ensures a very effective cleanup of the fretboard without leaving any residue or dirt.

3. Cleaning Up

Using a soft flannel cloth, immersed in warm water in an upward to downward motion.

If you do not have any flannel, you could use an old t-shirt for this job because they usually have a refined feel that will not stain it.

When sweeping, it is best to start at the top and work your way down.

The wetted fabric can dissolve a little surface dust, but it will not remove deep-seated dirt or grime.

Once cleaned, the fretboard should be wiped with a dry cloth to dry it completely.

4. Using Steel Wool

Steel wool works like how it is used to get rid of black, hard, grimy, and oily stains on our pots and pans.

Once you have completed step 3 you might be left with some oily, grimy stains to get rid of using this steel wool.

However, extreme care must be taken when cleaning with steel wool.

You must use a specific grade (0000grade) of steel wool and a fretboard conditioner so it can smoothen the surface and avoid creating any scratches.

The steel wool must be used only, and if any oily or grimy stains refuse to leave with a wet cloth.

5. Removing The Tape

Be careful when removing the tape, as if pulled aggressively in one go, it might harm the fretboard.

Newer guitars can resist this sort of harm, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Finally, once the tape is removed, you can use q tips to get rid of dust that has encroached tiny grooves and crevices.

Once this is done, you can vacuum the fretboard on low power.

6. Polishing The Fretboard

Cleaning the fretboard removes some of the wood’s natural oils, leaving it dry and susceptible to cracking and distress.

You will be extracting the essential oils even though you clean them off with a dry or moist towel.

Wait until the fretboard is thoroughly dried before adding a small amount of oil to feed the wood.

The oil should be adequate to clean and feed the wood on the guitar fretboard.

In some cases where there is little or no built-up grime, leave it for some time for the oil to soak into the wood before removing the strings.

If you use far more oil, the fretboard can get greasy.

To extract as much of the remaining oil as possible, rub it off with a clean, dry towel.

You will likely have to repeat the procedure a few times before the fretboard is no longer oily to the touch. Replace the strings with new ones.

To conclude, it is essential to have a clean fretboard to optimize your guitar’s ability and quality.

But, at what cost and lengths you must go to achieve, you should wonder before getting it cleaned.

Let us know your views on how to clean a guitars fretboard using household items.

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