How to clean guitar fretboard?

You might think that fretboard is a small part and it is hard to get dirty, so you do not need to clean it. For example, you have just bought a new guitar which is the best acoustic-electric guitar with the best electric guitar strings.

However, you do not care about the fretboard; it will get dirty and easy to be broken over time. Thus, we will provide you how to clean and condition the fretboard of your guitar in this page. I hope that this article will help you answer some questions about maintaining your guitar fretboard, conditioning and cleaning them as well.

You have to make sure that your fretboard is dry because it will be easily fixed with the cleaning and conditioning just need a small amount of fretboard conditioner oil.

How to clean guitar fretboard?

How to clean guitar fretboard?

The reason for cleaning fretboard

As we know that the dried fretboard is easy to split and crack, so it leads to the fret wire and blinding to get loose. Additionally, when you run your hand up and down the neck of the guitar, the fret wire can start to feel jagged.

The fretboard works as the face of your guitar, so if it is clean and conditioned, it looks better instead of being an old, dirty, cracked and broken look.

Moreover, the good fretboard support extending the lifetime of your guitar and also reduces the requirement of preparing and raise the value of your guitar.

If you are a beginner, it may be hard for you to know when you have to clean and condition them.

You should not think that just when it gets so dirty, then you have to clean it. You just need to see its color is dark like rosewood. Then the result is that it will start to fade in color around the fretboard. Besides, it is not necessary to condition the maple fretboard because it has a harder fretboard than the rosewood one.

Especially, the maple fretboards have the finish like polyurethane or lacquer, so it does not require the conditioner. You just need to use the towel for cleaning.

How to condition and clean the fretboard of your guitar?

Recently, have you recognized that the tone of your guitar is not good? And you have no idea the reason why? If yes, your guitar probably needs to be clean especially the Rosewood Fretboard.

How to clean your guitar in a few minutes! The question is not if you know our tips in the following article.

How To Clean Your Guitar

How To Clean Your Guitar?

How to clean your guitar: 8 Steps

Over time as you play your guitar, it’s likely going to build up dirt, sweat, grime, and dust and will need proper cleaning. Cleaning your guitar is a simple process, involving only a few things that you probably have lying around your home and using a bit of elbow grease.

Step 1: Get rid of all strings first (Clean the guitar strings)

In fact, you should keep clean your guitar each time whenever you change all strings. You will have a much better sound when the strings removed dirt and dust.

Additionally, you could not want your strings to get damaged because these can contact oils, polishes, and damp cloths during your cleaning process.

Remove two or three strings at a certain time to prevent neck tension when going out of whack.

Take all the strings off the guitar

Take all the strings off the guitar

Step 2: How to Clean the guitar strings?

The best way to remove the grimy-buildup menace is to clean the strings after playing. Chamois is a good material to use for wiping down the strings as a double polishing cloth.

You should wipe down all strings. Then, you pinch each string between your thumb and your index finger.

Do not forget to use the cloth in between. After that, you turn your hand up and down the string length.

How to Clean the guitar strings

How to Clean the guitar strings

Step 3: Sponge the fretboard

Even you play guitar on a regular basis or not, the fretboard still needs to be wiped down once or twice a year.

It is quite important to prevent all messes with the natural moisture that choose from oils on your fingers. Take a soft and damp cloth to clean your fretboard.

You can pick an old T-shirt or socks that will also work well. Then, you should wring out as much as you can because drops of water probably add to your fretboard.

Please keep in mind that you should use different portions of the cloth as you do not transfer dirt from one fret to another.

If your fretboard has assembled a lot of dust, then you ought to follow your rag cleaning with a light brushing and use some extra fine #000 or #0000 steel wool.

Tiny steel wool particles probably stick to the magnets in your pickups. So, you should cover up your pickups when wiping down the steel wool.

If you have to get rid of hard spots, then you enable to use the edge of a card, a damp cotton swab, a small toothbrush, and a pipe cleaner.

When you see your fretboard has dried out or developed hairline cracks, you enable to finish the cleaning process with  MusicNomad F-ONE Fretboard Oil Cleaner. Or you ought to rub one more two drops of oil into the fretboard to condition it.

Mineral, almond, or linseed oil is the best to choose from. Please be sure to use excess oil with a soft and dry rag, to begin with, your cleaning process.

It is not complicated to identify how to clean a Rosewood Fretboard, is it right?

Step 4. Clean the tuning keys and bridge

To clean your tuning keys, you should spray a dry cloth with a glass cleaner first. Then, you need to polish each tuning key to make them gleam.

How about your bridge? Use a pipe cleaner or a small toothbrush to wipe down instead of taking a damp cloth to remove all grime positions.

Step 5: Polish the pickups to make a new look at your guitar

In case your pickups look reddish, this is the time to unscrew their faceplates with an Allen wrench.

Be careful to polish all pickups because you probably disturb the wiring. Also, wipe down the rust with a rust-dissolving agent.

If the pickups do not have any rust, then you just polish these with a soft cloth.

Step 6: Do not miss out the hardware

Though dirty buildup cannot impact the hardware, it always looks bad whenever you see the guitar.

Rubbing with a cloth is everything you need to do to clean the hardware of your guitar. However, you should also use mild jewelry or chrome polish to start the cleaning process in this part.

Well, polish does not only help you remove all greasy residue but also can bring the hardware to be a cluster. Many inexpensive hardware elements have a thin coating of shiny metal do not need to run through the coating and liquid to polish in the moving parts of a tuning machine.

How to fix fret buzz on electric guitar?

Step 7: Keep the finish of your guitar

Your guitar may have a lacquer finish or other coatings in order to protect the wood’s surface and make it shine. So, you should also prevent dust in this area to help it stays shiny and clear for a while.

Please note that you should cover your guitar and get out of sunlight for long periods of time and also avoid sudden changes in the temperature or weather conditions as well.

When following these guidelines, the finish of your guitar will swell and shrink along with the wood.

Step 8: Clean the body of your guitar

Moving down the length of your guitar, clean the body of your guitar — the front, back, and sides — with the same damp cloth. Make sure you rinse out the cloth so that you don’t just spread the dirt to other areas of your guitar. Move the cloth in circular motions across the body of your guitar.[5]

As you clean your guitar you may notice some spots that don’t come off just by wiping them with the cloth. Fingerprints, smudges, or dirtier spots may need a little bit of moisture, so “huff” warm breath on your guitar, just as you would if you were cleaning a window.

Then, wipe with the damp cloth. If this still isn’t enough you can use a small amount of mild detergent with water. After you have cleaned these spots, buff with a dry cloth to remove streaks.

How to protect your guitar (in general)

After finishing the cleaning process, you probably feel proud of your effort pretty much. Take your guitar on the wall or leave it resting on a stand is your habit to keep the guitar.

However, you should put your guitar back into its case where it belongs to prevent any outside condition and protect it completely.

How to protect your guitar

5 Tips for Cleaning Your Guitar

  1. Wipe the strings, neck, body and bridge often with a soft cloth, like an old t-shirt or a sock.
  2. Wipe metal parts clean with a lint-free cloth, dry polishing cloth.
  3. Clean finished wood surfaces—the body of your guitar, that is—with cleaning agents made specifically for guitars (guitar polishing tool)

Dunlop 6501 Formula 65 Guitar Polish Kit

Polish guitar >> Click HERE

  1. Do not use anything other than what we just told you about to clean finished wood surfaces. Instead of using glass cleaner (or anything with ammonia in it) or products containing abrasives or silicon (as some paste cleaners do) you can play it safe by sticking to Fretboard Oil Cleaner and polishes made specifically for guitars.
  2. Do not expose lacquer finishes for very long to plastics, synthetics and surgical rubber tubing, all of which react adversely with lacquer.

Maple fretboard conditioner

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How to clean maple fretboard: a Finished maple fretboard?

Finished maple fretboards can be cleaned and polished with any standard guitar cleaner intended for finished woods. Use a soft cloth, preferably a microfiber cloth, to wipe away dirt and mold from around the strings.

You can prevent buildup by cleaning the neck and fretboard after every single use, making sure to collect any debris and moisture. The intensive cleaning is to remove all the strings or just loosen them for easier access to the entire maple fretboard.

How to clean maple fretboard: Unfinished or raw maple fretboard

The unfinished maple neck is basically raw wood so it needs to be treated properly. Guitar manufacturers often finish raw maple necks with oil, so non-abrasive fretboard treatments work well.

The way you should do it is to clean and maintain them with an oil-based neck cleaner.

The way to do it is very simple, you just need to remove all the strings for convenient cleaning of the maple neck. Then, use a dry, dirt-free, lint-free microfiber cloth to absorb oil, then wipe off the dirt and moisture on your guitar.

You need to remove the strings prior to cleaning the maple fretboard

You need to remove the strings prior to cleaning the maple fretboard

Should you oil your maple neck?

The answer is not necessary. You can remedy this by rubbing vigorously with a clean soft cloth and possibly moisture from your hot breath, that should be enough.

Can I use furniture polish on my guitar?

No, do not use furniture polish on any of your guitar parts. It will dry all exposed wood and can completely stain some finishes while doing nothing for others.

How Does a Guitar Get Dirty?

The dirt on your guitar depends a lot on where you use your guitar. How much intensity? how long?

If you are a professional player and guitar is not only your fun but also your job, the amount of dirt accumulated will be more than a person who only practices guitar for a few hours a day to satisfy his hobby.

Sweat, grease, dirt, and grime on your guitar’s finish not only deteriorate but also corrode the lacquer finish, and worse, can cause irreparable damage to the neck.

How Does a Guitar Get Dirty?

How Does a Guitar Get Dirty?

Do maple fretboards get dirty?

A maple board is easy to clean as long as the finish is not worn off. However, one the finish is worn off in areas, it gets dirty quickly, and is not that easy to clean the raw wood.

How to clean guitar strings?

This is a touchy subject with guitarists as some people (like me) think that as soon as your guitar strings start to become gunky you need to change them! However, some people like the feel and sound of “played-in” strings.

In fact, the biggest harm of dirty strings is the fact that the dirt will then transfer to the frets and then we go back to square one with cleaning. So the solution to this problem is that you should clean your guitar strings with a dry microfiber cloth or a lint-free cloth after use.

Slide your whole hand covered in the cloth up and down the fretboard and then pinch each string between your thumb and index finger, sliding up and down again. This will help remove 95% dirt and make your guitar much more durable.

You can also use Fast Fret or Planet Waves XLR8 to clean the strings and ensure a shiny new feel. This stuff also helps condition your fretboard so it’s win-win.

Use as much or as little as you want. Simply glide the stick across the string and you’re good to go!


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When you make the decision for removing the strings, you need to make the fretboard by using some several alcohol swabs. You can clean each section of the fretboard thoroughly once at a time to get any oil or grime off the fretboard.

After that, you can use the lemon oil and clean dry rag like clean the bath hand towel or kitchen. Then you need to apply to the fretboard generously and let it sit at least sixty seconds.

Next, you have to use the dry part of the rag to rub the oil in and wipe clean until the oil can disappear. I remember that I used to the rig, I put a piece of white two gaff tape in the corner and write lemon oil on it.

Then I rolled the towel up so that the writing was on the outside of the roll, for the next time I put it away, so the towel stays clean and is only used for rubbing lemon oil into fretboards.

One thing to remember is that it is easy for the electric guitar. However, if you own the vintage or the acoustic guitar, you should only remove three strings at a time.

With three strings, you can clean and condition the half of the fret and then replace the string and the same way on the bottom half.

How to Clean Gloss Maple fretboard?

Step 1

For my gloss maple board or Satin back strat, I’ve always just used a microfiber, best is a lint-free microfiber cloth to wipe grime and moisture from in between and around the strings.

Step 2

Remove or loosen strings for deep cleaning or light guitar polishing. Allow the polish to sit for a few minutes before wiping dry with another microfiber cloth.

Step 3

Lightly soapy water to take any finger oils off the back of the neck. Damp microfiber cloth to clean the fretboard. If there’s the gunk that won’t come off the cause could be lightly damp.

What would you use to clean the fretboard?

To answer this question, I have to try a lot of different types of conditioners. I see that lemon oil is the best conditioner to make your fretboard clean and healthy.

It helps to make the rosewood and mahogany fretboard look newer. You just need to apply it on the fretboard; it also has a nice smell.

I use to try the Planet Waves Lemon Oil and Dunlop system 65 kits. Especially, I have to tell you that you should not use any furniture lemon oil if it contains unwanted additives.

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How does the fretboard get dry?

As we know, the rosewood guitar is in the porous state because its fretboard is not sealed with polyurethane and lacquer.

Normally, to avoid getting dry, the guitar has to be in 40 to 70% relative humidity. Thus, in some area with the dry climate and low humidity, your guitar fretboard can be dry out easily. You can use some humidifiers that will support you to keep the right humidity.

Should we clean the fretboard frequently?

You do not need to clean and condition it frequently. It just needs to clean when you see a small amount of dirt or discoloration around it, or it gets dry out.

If you are the traveler and your guitar is always outside, you should condition it once every 3 to 4 months.


How to clean your guitar? It looks like a tiny wonder on your mind when you have already known how to tackle this issue. Follow our guide with the above tips and your guitar will be durable for many years.

In other words, you will cost less when playing a musical instrument like a guitar. If you have any questions, feel free to comment on them in the box.

Or if you have a great experience with cleaning your guitar, please share with us.