How to Clean an Acoustic Guitar Fretboard, Body & Strings

Guitarists are advised to keep their instruments in the best playable condition they can. The Fretboard, Body, & Strings are susceptible to debris accumulation because of their proximity to the ground.

The fretboard is where you will see most of your dirt accumulate due to it’s location on the guitar neck and also due to people rubbing against it when they play. Also, fretboards are made from unfinished wood which should not be exposed to any moisture for risk of warping and cracking.

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Why Cleaning is Important?

There is a need for guitarists to properly clean and preserve their guitar’s fretboard. Another thing that makes the fretboard dirty is the constant heavy use that guitars get from playing, especially if it’s an electric guitar!

When your strings are dirty, they produce dead noises when being plucked. This means that there are more chances of you suffering from “dead notes” during your performance.

Cleaning an Acoustic Guitar Fretboard, Body & Strings with Household Items:


The toothpaste is a good alternative to the usual guitar cleaning products that you can find from any guitar shop. Most of those products usually comprise of chemicals that will alter your instrument’s natural coating and will also cause dents on your fretboards.

So, if you want to keep your fretboard as clean as possible, here is a list of the best household items to use for cleaning an acoustic guitar:

Wiping out slivers on the frets is going to feel a lot more difficult without a good quality cloth provided by a good quality company. You could also use this if you want to polish your guitar because you will not be able to do it with the toothpaste.

White Vinegar:

As stated earlier, the fretboard is made from wood that still needs to be hardworking. To achieve this, the frets will need to be cleaned regularly even after playing.

White vinegars are great for cleaning the fretboard because they are good at removing dirt and contaminants off your fretboard without altering its natural smell. It can also help you polish your guitar’s neck if it is dirty!

Ensure that you clean all visible stains first with a brush then wipe off any residual residue with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Lemon Juice:

The lemon juice, being a natural fruit acid, is a great cleaning agent for the fretboard because it is a good solvent for organic materials. The natural smell of lemon can also be a benefit when you use it to clean your fretboard.

This will ensure that there is no alcohol odor on your instrument’s woodsy smell after the cleaning process.

To use this, simply get yourself some lemon juice and rub it into the fretboard with a cotton cloth or paper towel then wipe off any residue that is left over with clean water and dry it off.

Nail Polish Remover:

The nail polish remover is one of the most common household items used to clean the fretboard. This is because it can easily remove all layers of dirt and grime on your fretboard including oil residue from fingerprints, sweat, and dust.

It works by dissolving all this oil and pigment stains resulting in a clean surface that can be cleaned further with vinegar.

However, the polish remover should only be used sparingly since it contains chemicals that can damage your instrument’s fretboard over time.


The toothbrush is a well-known cleansing tool that can remove dirt and grime off any surface. You can clean out debris from your fretboard easily if you use a soft toothbrush. This one is particularly useful if you have been using the nail polish remover to clean your fretboard.

Make sure that you only use it when it’s dry because wet areas can contaminate the wood or else, it may leave toothpaste stains on the fretboard.

Dryer Sheets:

The dryer sheets work on the fretboard just like the cleaning cloths provided by most guitar manufacturers. They are made of synthetic fibers that will also help absorb moisture on your fretboard. However, they will not remove dirt on your fretboard if it is too dirty.

It is advised to use this with the toothpaste so you can easily wipe off any residue left by the toothpaste or polish remover. You should also ensure that you dry your fretboard completely before using it so there are no traces of water left on it.


As you can see, not all of these household items will be the best choice for the guitar fretboard. The toothpaste is a little harsher compared to other products that can be used on your fretboard since it is a detergent.

On the other hand, the dryer sheets are great at absorbing moisture and cleaning it completely. However, this will not remove dirt from your fretboard so you need to use other products from this list to do so.

If your instrument’s frets have been stained by ink or if it has been oiled, you should go for special guitar cleaning products available from any good guitar manufacturers.


Q: How do I refinish an acoustic guitar?

A: Sand the bare wood to 150 grit Wet the wood to raise the grain Wait overnight Sand the bare wood with 150 grit,and then with 220 Within a few hours,spray a coat of vinyl sealer (the vinyl helps to prevent weather checking Fill the pours with a paste pour filler (on porous woods such as rosewood or mahogany)

Q: How often should you clean a guitar?

A: Take off the strings. Remove string tree (s),if any. … Remove all tuning keys,clean up the same way as the string tree (s),set aside. Wipe down headstock dry with polish cloth,front and back. If there’s gunk on the headstock,wash off with water and non-abrasive microfiber cleaning cloth. Clean nut slots using dental floss. … Inspect fretboard. …

Q: How can you repair a crack in an acoustic guitar?

A: Assess the Damage. The first step of performing a repair on your cracked guitar is to assess the extent of the damage. … Prepare the Guitar. Before you start the actual repair,you must prepare the guitar. … Apply the Adhesive. Most acoustic guitar cracks can be sealed with good adhesive or glue. … Secure the Repair. … Finish the Surface. … Causes of Guitar Cracks. …

Q: How to clean a guitar like a boss?

A: You’ll never be a master. Andy Summers. … Know when to put down the guitar. George Lynch. … Practice in bursts. Glenn Tipton. … Play with a metronome. Tommy Emmanuel. … Record yourself. Here’s another gem from Emmanuel: Always record your practice sessions,then listen back to identify the areas you need to work on. Learn the sounds of scales,not the scale itself. …