View Full Version : What soap to use? Cleaning a guitar often OK?

03-18-2008, 09:22 PM
Are there any soaps that could damage the strings and fretboard of a guitar that are commonly used to wash hands? I also like to clean the back of my guitar neck every time I play with Dunlop 65 Polisher and Cleaner. Is it ok to use it this often because I play 1 to 2 times a day every day of the week.

03-18-2008, 10:26 PM
I usually just use a damp, clean cloth(no soap) once or twice a year to periodically clean my guitar. If my guitar ever got dirty enough, I guess I'd use a couple of drops of mild dish soap in the water,but I've never needed to. I would never apply a wet cloth to my strings.And that's an aweful lot of polish on the back of the neck, IMHO. I wipe my guitar down with a clean, dry cotton cloth after every use, including the back of the neck. That's all I've ever needed to keep mine nice and clean. I don't see why anyone would need to wash or polish their guitar everytime they play it. I wouldn't want all that soap all over my guitars, nor that much polish on the back of my guitar's neck. Put the soapy cloth and the polish bottle down and step away from the guitar:D.(just funnin') Really, it'll be o.k. If you're worried about soap residue left on your hands from washing them, don't. If you wash your hands, rinse and dry them, you'll be fine.

03-18-2008, 10:55 PM
What oldgeezer said. A good wiping of the hands before playing and just a wipedown with a terrycloth (or other 100% cotton) rag after each session is all your guitar should need--maybe a little extra attention to the neck if your hand gets sweaty. Maybe once a month I'll wipe it down with a semi-wet rag, followed immediately with a dry rag.

Pearse string cleaner swipes do a good job of removing finger gunk from the strings. I'll also slide a dry rag down the fretboard and under the strings to clean it a little.

One last thing--Gorgomyte swipes do WONDERS for the fretboard and I use them everytime I change strings. You will not believe how dirty the fretboard gets, even when you wipe it off regularly like I do. They do a great job of taking all the grime off without using soaps or harsh cleaners.

03-19-2008, 05:06 AM
- i wash my hands everytime before playing.
- after playing i just wipe off the strings with a dry cotton rag.
- sometimes i use a bit of GHS fast fret to clean the strings
- when changing strings i wipe off the whole guitar with a clean and dry cotton rag und a bit of clayton lemon oil
- i also use lemon oil for cleaning the fret board every other time changing the strings


Acoustic Rick
03-19-2008, 07:25 AM
I wipe my guitar down along with the strings and back of the neck after each session I play. I use a regular polishing cloth. The only time I clean or polish my guitar is when I change strings (about once every two weeks or so) and then I use fret board conditioner on the fret board and Martin polish on the body and neck of the guitar.

03-19-2008, 08:53 AM
I just wipe my guitar down with a damp cloth. Doing this avoids any wax buildup.

03-19-2008, 09:46 AM
I keep my guitars clean by wiping down after each practice session but really only use polish/cleaners when they really need it which is about once a year. A nice buff with a soft cotton cloth or warm breath fogged onto a smudge usually takes care of it for me..... (maybe I have hot breath! :eek:)

03-19-2008, 10:00 AM
Hi LuisD...
Yes, too frequent ''cleaning'' if aggressive could affect the guitar finish or condition.

Like most who posted here, I only wipe down the strings after every time I play (to extend their life and usefulness). I wipe the body down occasionally too.

If there is a patch of skin oil - like where my forearm crossed the lower bout on my picking hand - and I feel inclined to clean it off (or need to shoot pics of the guitar) then I use a few drops of Naptha (otherwise known as lighter fluid), on a rag and work it off.

It will not damage most guitars (unless you have a varnished hand rubbed finish) and Naptha evaporates without leaving residue. I buy it as lighter fluid for $.99 at the drug store, and luthiers buy it by the gallon in cans. I always read the label to make sure the only ingredient in it is Naptha.

Hope this helps...

03-19-2008, 12:51 PM
I can't imagine a guitar being so dirty that you'd have to use soap. I don't think I'd ever put soap on a guitar.

I keep my guitars clean, by wiping them down with a soft cloth after each time I play. That's basically all I do. Once in a blue moon, if the top gets really smudged with fingerprints (but it doesn't, why? because I wipe it with a soft cloth after every time I play) I might use some guitar polish (which is basicly oil and water), but on glossy surfaces only.

03-19-2008, 01:55 PM
Just wash your hands after each use... keeps things clean.strings last longer too

03-19-2008, 01:59 PM
...I never in a million would have guessed that one. I will have to give it a go, it makes sense that it wouldn't leave a residue and sure does evaporate quickly. Go figure. I am currently using some stuff called Duck Soap (maybe Duck Oil). I think it's just Murphy's Oil Soap with a different name and repackaged for guitar stores. Keep the faith!

03-19-2008, 02:01 PM
i like using gibson guitar polish and buff it out real good. i only do it every couple three months. around this time, i will oil the frets.

i just dry wipe it after playing. i never wipe down the strings, i dont hve really acid oils, but my wife, God bless her, her strings tarnish in like a week. she prefers her strings dead, which is fortunate for her. i like 'em worn in, but still to have some life left(about 3 weeks for uncoateds)....:D

03-19-2008, 02:19 PM
you could buy on of those graphite jobs and throw it into a dish washer when you changed strings.

03-19-2008, 02:29 PM
Hi luisd,
My guitar plays better when its dirty. I never clean it, but then again its black... My wife complains that i never take care of my instrument, but she doesn't take care of her laptop. She spilled coffee on the keyboard last week and used a cloth to clean it... now it doesn't work. I'm not going to risk cleaning my guitar with a cloth (damp or otherwise) just in case it stops working too.

03-19-2008, 10:17 PM

< My wife complains that i never take care of my instrument>
Are you sure she's talking about your guitar? :lol:
Man if your wife tells you that you never take care of your instrument, it's time to take a bath!

03-19-2008, 10:23 PM
Cleaning it with Dunlop 65 is fine. However the (more than a dozen) suggestions to start clean and wipe down afterwards should be enough. I use the Dunlop once a month or so.