How to Clean Guitar Strings?

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Last updatedLast updated: March 03, 2024
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Things will get dirty eventually after using them for a long time, and guitars are no exception. Your guitar strings play a vital role in delivering sound, and you just have to care for it. It isn’t a difficult task cleaning your guitar. You should know how to take care of it, and the right things to do. You don’t want to end up in the store looking for a replacement.

In this guide, we will show you how to care for  guitar Trusted Source Why do guitar strings look so wibbly-wobbly in smartphone videos? - The Washington Post They look just like oscillating sound waves, but these guitar strings are actually just evidence of a cheap camera.  strings, why you should clean a bit regularly, and everything you need to about how to clean guitar strings. There are many benefits you get from cleaning them regularly. You need to if you want to keep using them for a long time. The fragile strings do get dirty, and you can’t use them comfortably if it isn’t cleaned.

Why You Should Clean Your Guitar Strings

How to Clean Guitar Strings?

Before we go on to the cleaning part, the first thing you need to know is why you need to clean your guitar. We already established the fact that guitar strings do get dirty. There is an apparent difference between a sparkling new guitar  string Trusted Source Music / Science KS2: How string instruments make sound - BBC Teach In their musical House of Sound Fran Scott and Greg Foot explore string instruments and how they work. This clip will be relevant for teaching Science or Music at Key Stage Two or Second Level.  and one that has been used over time. When you bring these two together, you will notice the dirt or grime that has built up in the strings of the dirty guitar.

Here are some of the reasons you need to clean your guitar strings regularly:
  1. You use your hands on the instrument when playing, and you need to keep good hygiene. Touching a dirty string isn’t very healthy.
  1. Apart from your health, if your guitar strings are dirty, they won’t sound right. It will change the tone of the strings and how it vibrates.
  1. Cleaning helps you get rid of the grime stuck on the strings. You will notice a lot of dirt coming out of the strings.
  1. You should clean your guitar strings regularly if you want to keep using the strings on your guitar for a long time. The first time you clean the strings, you will notice a lot of grime, but if you keep cleaning regularly, the strings won’t allow grime to build up. It is also crucial that you keep your hands clean before touching the strings to reduce the amount of dirt that sticks to the strings.

How Often Should You Clean Guitar Strings

If you want long-lasting guitar strings, the secret is to have good maintenance culture. You will need to develop a habit of cleaning your guitar strings after each session. Cleaning your guitar strings regularly won’t degrade your instrument. It would feel comfortable on your hands anytime you want to play your guitar. Besides, when the grime is off the strings, it will have better contact with the feet.

How to Clean Guitar Strings

If you have a good acoustic guitar like the Taylor BT2 or even the Yamaha FG-TA, you wouldn’t want it to go to waste for lack of care. Guitars are quite expensive, and they last for years if taken care of properly. The guitar strings are the part that produces the sound, and you can’t get your notes right with dirty strings.

There are many ways to clean your guitar strings. You can clean them without using any select products, and you can also use cleaning agents to get the desired results. It is always good to have a towel or rag around to clean your guitar. This is to avoid lint from getting into the grooves of the guitar strings. It is important that you choose the right method, so you don’t have problems with your guitar strings.

Cleaning with Rag or Cloth

How to Clean Guitar Strings?

Using a cloth to clean the strings is one of the best ways to clean your guitar strings. It is an excellent choice for regular cleaning and if you don’t want your hands touching the grime directly. Though this method guarantees cleaning of the surface of the string, it does not address the back of the guitar strings. There is usually a lot of dirt and oil behind the strings you shouldn’t forget to clean. To use the cloth effectively, you will need to wrap the cloth around each string carefully. You should start with the first string. Gradually, working the cloth up and down the length of the guitar string. You need to add pressure on the cloth so that it feels like it’s holding firmly to the string. If your grip isn’t tight enough, you won’t get the grime build up off.

After you are done with the first string, you move on to the next string. You also wrap the cloth on the string and slide it up. Remember not to work too fast. It won’t get the dirt out; instead, you will end up hurting your fingers. You will repeat this cleaning for each string until you get to the last. All the grime has to come off – if not, you will have to repeat the cleaning from the first to the last string. You need to clean the guitar strings regularly to avoid buildup. If you clean them once in a while, you won’t notice any dirt coming out because your strings will always be clean.

Special Cleaning Materials

Cleaning your guitar strings with cloth is good, but you can do an even better job when using other cleaning tools. The cloth method is excellent if you are cleaning every time after use. Using special cleaners, however, make the work easier. We will look at the other cleaning materials you can use.

Guitar String Cleaning Tool

How to Clean Guitar Strings?

A scrubber, like the SCOBUTY Guitar Fretboard Cleaner, is a handy tool for guitar strings. It comes with a microfiber cloth attached to a flat stick, which you can use to clean all the strings of your guitar at a go. It takes away the hassle of sliding a cloth repeatedly on each string. There are strong cleaners that have two microfiber cloths you can get. It will clean both sides of the guitar strings with e.

String Cleaning Products

What most guitarists use for cleaning their strings is the GHS Fast Fret cleaner. Cleaning agents like this clean fast and are safe for wooden guitars. While sliding a cloth down the strings of your guitar will get at least 80% of the strings clean, the Fast Fret will get it clean 100% perfectly at half the time. That 20% difference counts, and besides, it will save your energy. It is better to try it and see the results yourself. There are many other guitar string cleaners in the market, but it is important you get the right type for your guitar. There are cleaners that go with wooden guitars, while some are strictly meant for metal. If you use the wrong cleaner, you will damage your guitar.

Cleaning with Alcohol

Another method of cleaning your guitar strings is with alcohol. Some people use isopropyl alcohol, but is it always a great idea? If you would be using it, alcohol isn’t an agent you would want to use regularly on your guitar. Rubbing it on the strings will undoubtedly get the grime out fast, but at the same time, it could damage your guitar. The fretboard will be damaged because alcohol doesn’t react well to lacquer. It is a solvent, and if your fretboard is lacquered, it will damage it. Even if you have a coated guitar, it won’t stop the alcohol from eating up the coating. Eventually, you would need to replace your guitar. If you can avoid using alcohol, it would be better. It won’t affect the string or its vibration, as most people think, but it would shorten the lifespan of your guitar.

Some people think the alcohol makes the guitar make a squeaky sound after cleaning. This is not true because alcohol evaporates almost immediately after application. The squeaky sound is the same as any type of cleaning method you use for your guitar strings. You should instead go for a good guitar cleaning product that is safe for your guitar.

The strings are expensive, and it would cost a lot more to replace the entire guitar. Cleaners are cheap and affordable. At least they cost less than the damaging effects of alcohol.


Another method of cleaning guitar strings is using lubricants. The purpose of the lubricant is to get rid of the squeaky sound from your guitar strings whenever your fingers make contact with the strings. Not many guitarists see the need for it, but if you feel uncomfortable hearing the squeaky noises, only lubricants can get rid of it. There are several lubricants you can get for it.

You can lubricate the strings by rubbing the product on the strings directly and then clean it off with a cloth. Using lubricants is a personal choice – if you don’t want to use them, you don’t have to get them. However, you shouldn’t use household oil or anything else that isn’t made for guitars as a lubricant.

What You Should Know When Cleaning Guitar Strings

How to Clean Guitar Strings?

Now that you know the different ways you can clean your guitar strings, there are, however, some things you should know about cleaning your guitar strings.

Use Microfiber Cloth

You can use any cloth to clean your guitar, but if you want the best results, microfiber cloths should be your choice. This type of cloth prevents lint from getting inside the grooves of your guitar.

Don’t Use Vinegar

You don’t need to apply any item when using the cloth to clean. You shouldn’t use vinegar or any household oil on your strings. Just cleaning with a plain cloth will get the job done. You can get the right lubricants designed for guitars instead.

Boiling Springs Isn’t Necessary

Some guitarists would prefer to boil guitar strings because they want them to last longer. The truth is, this method is not necessary and a complete waste of time. Besides, getting the strings out carefully after boiling them is tasking. You’ll need to carefully replace the strings, and the time spent won’t be worth it.

Remove Corrosion with Cloth

When you don’t use your guitar regularly, it can begin to rust. You can also clean it by sliding a cloth on the strings like the way you clean the guitar strings with a cloth. Your other option will be to use a guitar cleaning agent to get the corrosion out. If you want to prevent corrosion, always wash your hands before you touch the strings.

Cleaning it regularly will prevent the strings from getting moist or trapping grime. These things can easily cause them to corrode.

Final Thoughts

It is easy cleaning guitar strings, and now that you have learned how to clean guitar strings, you should go clean yours. Guitar strings are costly, and replacing them won’t be easy. However, you can maintain them, so they stay with you for a long time. The only thing it needs is your care. You can get cleaning agents if you don’t want to go through the tedious cloth sliding method. At least that way, you can get the cleaning done fast. Only use products meant for your guitar strings and nothing else that will damage your equipment. On a final note, avoid using the WD-40 on your guitar strings. It was designed only for metal guitars. It will damage your guitar if it is made of wood.


Why do guitar strings look so wibbly-wobbly in smartphone videos? - The Washington Post
They look just like oscillating sound waves, but these guitar strings are actually just evidence of a cheap camera.
Music / Science KS2: How string instruments make sound - BBC Teach
In their musical House of Sound Fran Scott and Greg Foot explore string instruments and how they work. This clip will be relevant for teaching Science or Music at Key Stage Two or Second Level.
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