Having your guitar well-kept and maintained does not only preserve the value of your guitar but enhances its performance and playability. Especially the fretboard, which requires careful handling. The strings can be delicate and tugging on them with a lot of pressure can cause your fretboard to get damaged.
While there are professional toolkits in the market that can be used to clean a guitar fretboard, they may be heavy on the wallet. And, if you are a beginner who is looking for an alternate way to clean the guitar fretboard, then you need not worry. This is because it is possible to clean a guitar fretboard using household items. If you wish to learn what these are and how you can use them, then read ahead for more.
Cleaning A Guitar Fretboard Using Household Items
Here are some of the professionally approved ways of cleaning a guitar fretboard using regular household items.
1. Cleaning With A Dry Cloth
You can use a damp or wet cloth to clean a guitar fretboard. You want to opt for a clean and soft cloth in particular. If you have a microfiber cloth at home, then that is the best option you can go for. Lightly clean your fretboard with the cloth to prevent the accumulation of dust and debris. Having trapped dirt under your guitar strings can make it difficult for you to get the right notes while playing the guitar.
Some other options you can go for are flannel, or an old t-shirt that is not in use anymore.
2. Using Q-Tips
The next step after having gently wiped your fretboard is using a q-tip. This needs to be done in a careful manner. Cleaning under each string without tugging on them too much is what you want to focus on. You can even scrape off any accumulated dirt using your guitar pick or a credit card before using the q-tip to remove the excess dirt. This can help expedite the cleaning process and save you time in case you are in a hurry.
3. Mineral Oil
Commercial fretboard oil can be costly. However, there is an alternative to it. You can go for mineral oil to condition your guitar fretboard. Avoid using olive oil as it can damage your fretboard in the long run. You can go for lemon oil, rosewood oil, or even ebony oil if you have that lying around. Also, keep in mind that less is more. Overdoing it on the oil can make your fretboard greasy. Remember this as a rule of thumb and share it with your friends who are looking for ways to clean their guitar fretboard as well.
4. Vegetable Oil Soap
Another great household item that can be used to clean a guitar fretboard is vegetable oil-based soap. This is quite different from the vegetable oil that is used for cooking. It is a plant-derived soap that is safe to use on any type of wood. Your parents may use it to clean their wooden crockery or cheese boards often.
You can hence, use this vegetable oil soap along with a cotton pad or microfiber cloth to remove the hard dirt on the fretboard. This will not strip away the natural shine of your guitar, leaving it spotless and feeling smooth when you play it the next time.
What Not To Use To Clean A Guitar Fretboard
There are a few items you want to keep your guitar fretboard away from. Here are some of them.
- Furniture polish
- Dishwashing detergent
- Coconut oil
- Acetone or rubbing alcohol
- Toothpaste or mouthwash
- Fresh lemon juice
- Baking soda
While you may have heard of using vinegar or steel wool to clean a guitar fretboard from your friends, it’s best to stay away from these items and elements. There is a lot of ongoing debate about the long-term impact of vinegar and a few of the items mentioned above on the guitar fretboards’ durability. You want to avoid taking any risks here, thus, to keep things on the safe side, mineral oil should do for now.
Additional Tips For Guitar Maintenance:
Apart from cleaning a guitar fretboard, there are other ways in which you can have your guitar working in an optimal manner. For this, following the right techniques and procedures towards overall guitar maintenance matters.
Here are some ways in which you can bring your guitar up to par and have a durable fretboard going forward.
5. Checking Humidity
Humidity plays an important factor in ensuring your guitar doesn’t develop cracks. For wooden guitars, in particular, humidity can cause the bridge to get damaged. In addition, lack of moisture can cause shrinkage. Thus, monitoring humidity levels is important. If you are unable to find a guitar humidifier or invest in one, then there are two ways in which you can ensure adequate humidity levels are exposed to your guitar.
If you already live in a humid area, then keeping your guitar in a guitar case can help keep moisture from settling down onto your guitar. However, if you live in an environment prone to having dry weather, then a normal humidifier at home can help bring your guitar to life as well. Just be careful about how much humidity you are providing to the guitar, you don’t want to overdo it.
6. Restringing Is Important
While restringing helps prevent breakages, this is one of the most overlooked aspects of guitar maintenance. If you have just started with your journey towards learning how to play the guitar, then you can get in touch with your instructor or friends to help you restring your guitar.
7. Regular Inspections
For this, there is a checklist that can help you in making the inspection of your guitar easy. This includes having a good look at your guitars, neck, truss rod, nuts, and bridge. You can watch several videos online for this as well – where a detailed breakdown of the inspection procedure is shown. By doing this on a regular basis you can ensure your guitar produces the desired tunes without any issues.
Watch how to tune your guitar without a tuner by clicking here.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know how cleaning a guitar fretboard at home can be done using household items, you can get started right away. Just remember to be gentle, and to not use any harsh chemicals that may damage your guitar when done frequently.
If you wish to learn some easy guitar songs for beginners, then you can check out our website. We have a wide range of lessons and tutorials that you can access from the comfort of your own home. They are designed to help you pick up the pace in a structured and systematic manner.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.