How to Clean Guitar Strings?

Just like everything requires cleaning, guitar strings need it too. Mind you, your guitars performance depends on the string conditions. It is a basic thing to do for the best results.

In simple words, a clean microfiber cloth is all you need!

Do I Need to Clean My Guitar Strings regularly?

Young guitarists who are just starting out often have this question of whether they should be cleaning their guitar strings regularly or not. The answer is very self-explanatory because no matter how or where you play your guitar it will catch dust and dirt over time.

Hence, you will need to make sure to keep your guitar and the strings are nice and smooth. Always keep in mind that your guitar is like a motor vehicle, and cleaning your guitar regularly is like changing oil for your car.

What Happens If I Don’t Clean My Guitar Strings?

The first and most obvious answer for this is- maintain hygiene. Over the course of playing your guitar, it will attract loads of dirt from your fingers. Fingers are the primary source of dust for your guitar. Our skin releases oils and nails contribute to the mess on the instrument.

Keeping the hygiene part aside, you would want to clean your guitar strings as often as possible or else it will hamper the instrument's performance. Overtime as dust will gather on the guitar, the strings will lose its friction and eventually won't be able to generate as much sound as before. This is why a regular cleanup is very necessary for your guitar strings.

Can You Clean Your Guitar At Your Home?

A common misconception amongst new guitarists is that they think maintenance and cleaning of guitar strings is very expensive. However, that is absolutely not the case because you can maintain your guitar at home, without even taking it to a shop.

 All you will need are a few handy tools and a proper guide on how to clean guitar strings. Do not worry about the guide because over this article we will be giving you a fully detailed description on how to clean guitar strings at home.

Before we proceed it is suggested to get a guitar maintenance tool kit of some sort. They are available everywhere and are affordable. So try to get one, as it will come of great help in the long run.

How Can I Stop My Guitar From Getting Too Dirty?

Wash hands before playing:

As little as it may sound to be, washing your hands before you start playing can help in the health of your guitar.

Knowingly or unknowingly our hands are always covered in some sort of dust and our skin generates oily substances as well. Washing your hands properly, before your session will surely keep your guitar nice and clean.

Natural Oils for Cleaning:

Many new users often make the mistake of cleaning their guitar with anything they find. This is a huge mistake.

 Refrain yourself from using substances like coconut oil as it will completely ruin your fret board. We recommend using mineral oil or lemon oil. These will take good care of your wooden guitar and keep its condition in a good shape.

Carry A Case:

It is completely normal for guitarists to get lost in the feeling of it. At time when you are carrying your guitar to shows and practices, you might not want to carry it in a bag or case due to inconvenience. We completely understand that.

However, be aware of the fact that the damage you will be doing to your guitar over time due to will disastrously hamper the guitar's performance. As your guitar will be exposed out in the open, it will attract dust that even hard cleaning won't be able to help and you will need to change strings every now and then, which is obviously not a good thing for your pockets. Hence, get a good carrying case for your guitar.

Things You Will Need:

Now, there are a number of different ways through which you can clean guitar strings. Considering that you will be using the most basic cleaning method at our disposal, you will need a soft cotton cloth. Tear some part from an old t-shirt. You can use an old towel as well. We prefer using a cotton cloth because it can grab the dirt and debris better.

The Basic Method:


Take the cloth you will be using and fold it in half. You will need to fold it so that you can clear the corners better.


The next thing that you would want to do is gently rub the cloth on top of the strings. Make sure you cover the area from the nut to the bridge. You can apply a little bit of water to damp the cloth as well.

Follow the same step on the backside of the guitar as well.

Clean Guitar Strings

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And that is pretty much it. Keep in mind that this is going to be your makeshift type of procedure and will likely not bring out the cleanest of outcome.

If you want your guitar strings to be as clean as a whistle then you might want to use this method. Before you use this, a cautionary message would be that this can turn your strings a little out of tune. So make sure you are returning it later on.


Take the same cloth that you were using, only this time pinch the string a little. Try to be as subtle as possible, because increased pressure might damage the strings. Pick the strings up like you are playing the guitar, and that will take all the unnecessary dirt out of them.


That won't be enough. Next thing that you would need to do is rub the entire strings properly. Make sure to go through each and every part of the string carefully.


Just cleaning the front of the strings won't be enough. You will need to get the opposite part as well. To do this, keep the cloth that you are using flat and slip it under your strings. This process will be a bit difficult for electric guitars, so be careful.


Now to clean the other aspects of the guitar properly, slide your cloth all the way up and down the neck. Starting from the bridge to the nut, make sure you got it all covered.


The space between your guitars is very small, and it is very easy for dust to get hidden in there. So make sure you carefully get under the strings to clean the strings and the fret board properly.

Are Guitar String Cleaners Just A Gimmick?

These days as there is something available for every problem, there is a solution for cleaning your guitar strings as well. Guitar string cleaners are a quick and probably the easiest way to clean your strings.

However, for the methods that we talked about above, you do not necessarily need them to clean your guitar strings. They will be more effective in cleaning rusted and damaged strings. However, if your strings have turned out that bad then we would suggest you to get new ones instead.

Photo credit- Guitar Gear Finder

We want to clear the fact out that string cleaners are not all gimmicks. They actually work and will make your guitar strings stand out. Guitar string cleaners or lubricants can be used to clean. However, you also need to make sure that the lubricant you will be using will be appropriate for the type of strings you have or not. If you are using nylon strings for example, then there is no need for you to use any lubricants because your strings won't ever develop corrosion.

Now on the other side, if your strings are of steel, then you will get the best out of lubrication from them. This will prevent the strings from getting dirty or sticky. It is often tough to identify the build and type of material your string is made up of. So keep in mind to check the manual beforehand.

A general rule of thumb would be that acoustic guitars usually have nylon strings because of the way they are built. And, electric or bass guitars have steel strings. Regardless, these things are variable so make sure you identify your string type before lubricating them.

Final Words

Your guitar should be your heart and mind. It should be able to bring you up to life and put you death. Starting from all the basement and garage jamming sessions to finally doing your first performance on the stage, your guitar is the one thing that will constantly support you no matter what.

Hence, for you to make it you need to always take good care of your guitar and maintain it properly. Because if you take good care of it, only then will it serves you well.

You may also like to read: How to Change Your Guitar Strings?

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