How To Clean Acoustic Guitar Fretboard: Restore Shine in 5 Easy-to-follow Steps

Since fretboards are the busiest part of a guitar, sweat, dirt, and oil from your fingers build up over time. If not taken care of, this build-up dirt can lead to corrosion of the frets and strings, affecting the overall sound and playability of your guitar. On top of it, cleaning your guitar fretboard regularly helps maintain the guitar’s longevity and tonal quality. If you want to know ‘how to clean acoustic guitar fretboard,’ this post helps you with 5 easy-to-follow steps.  

See Also: How To Clean A Guitar Fretboard in 10 Easy Steps

So, without further ado, let’s get to know all the details about cleaning an acoustic guitar fretboard with cleaning solutions and using household items. 

Essential Items Required To Clean Acoustic Guitar Fretboard 

Here are the essential items that you’ll need while processing how to clean acoustic guitar fretboard: 

  • A soft cloth or microfiber cloth  
  • Masking tape 
  • Small brush 

How To Clean Acoustic Guitar Fretboard: Step-by-step Guide 

Follow these 5 easy-to-follow steps on how to clean acoustic guitar fretboard to ensure that your guitar’s fretboard stays clean and well-maintained: 

Step 1: Loosen The Strings 

Before cleaning the fretboard, loosen the strings to avoid any potential damage. You don’t want to scratch the fretboard while cleaning it accidentally; loosening the strings will help prevent this. 

removing the string

Step 2: Cover The Soundhole 

Use masking tape to protect the guitar’s upper part adjacent to the fretboard. Also, cover the soundhole, preventing steel wool particles from steel wool entering the guitar.  

Step 3: Remove Any Dirt  

It’s best to use the 0000-grade steel wool to remove dirt from the fretboard. Otherwise, you can use a toothbrush or a small brush. Remove the dirt properly in all the nooks and crannies around the frets. Dirt or grime build-up can cause the strings to buzz or damage the fretboard. 

remove any dirt

Step 4: Apply Guitar Polish or Lemon Oil 

Once you’ve removed debris, apply a small amount of guitar polish or lemon oil onto the soft cloth and rub it into the fretboard in a circular motion. Wipe down the entire fretboard, including the sides and back of the neck. Be careful so you don’t get any polish or oil on the strings, as it can damage them. 

Step 5: Wipe Away Excess Oil 

After applying the polish or oil, wait a few minutes to let the oil sit on the fretboard. Then, take a clean cloth or microfiber cloth and wipe off any excess oil from the fretboard. 

Wipe Away Excess Oil 

Couple of Tips: 

  • It’s best to clean the fretboard every few months, depending on how often you play. 
  • Avoid using any harsh chemicals or products that may damage the fretboard or the guitar. 

How To Clean An Acoustic Guitar Fretboard With Household Items: Step-by-step 

If you can’t find any guitar polish or other cleaning solutions, you can clean it with easily accessible household items. Before cleaning, loosen the strings and then use any of the following solutions: 


Water is a natural and chemical-free option that won’t harm your fretboard. Two things to remember while cleaning the fretboard with water; 

  • Use water sparingly, don’t pour it directly onto the fretboard.  
  • While water can be a great option for light cleaning, it may not be enough for a heavily greased fretboard. 

How to apply; 

To clean your fretboard with water, first, dampen a microfiber cloth with a small amount of water. Then, gently clean the fretboard, fret by fret, using the dampened cloth. Lastly, use a dry cloth to wipe away any remaining moisture on the fretboard. 

Distilled Vinegar: 

For deep cleaning, you can replace water with distilled vinegar. Remember to use distilled vinegar only and in a small amount. Never use full-strength vinegar for cleaning fretboards, as it can cause damage. Also, be sure to avoid pouring the vinegar directly onto the frets.

How to apply; 

Add a small amount of distilled vinegar onto a soft cloth. Then, use the dampened cloth to clean the fretboard gently,  being careful not to damage any of the frets or the finish. After cleaning, wipe the fretboard with a dry cloth to remove any residue and ensure it is completely dry. 

Vegetable Oil Soap: 

Vegetable oil soap has a unique blend of natural cleaning ingredients, coconut oil, and a few synthetic ingredients. With 98% of its ingredients being all-natural and pure vegetable oil, this soap is safe for almost any type of wood.

How to apply;

Start by dabbing a small amount of vegetable oil soap onto a microfiber cloth. Next, gently rub the cloth onto the fretboard for a few minutes; be careful not to apply too much pressure or scrub too hard. After you’ve thoroughly cleaned the fretboard, soak a soft cloth in water and use it to wipe away the soap residue. Finally, use a dry cloth to remove any remaining moisture from the fretboard. 

How To Clean Acoustic Guitar Body? 

How To Clean Acoustic Guitar Body_ 

Cleaning an acoustic guitar body is a simple and straightforward process. Follow the below tips on how to clean your acoustic guitar body properly. 

Firstly, remove the strings from your guitar to avoid getting cleaning solutions on them.  

Then, take a soft cloth or microfiber cloth and gently wipe down the guitar’s body to remove any dust, dirt, or grime. Use a separate cloth to clean the fretboard and bridge. 

Next, use a cleaning solution, such as Dunlop 65 , MusicNomad Guitar Detailer , or Martin Guitar Polish to remove any stubborn grime or sticky residue. Apply the cleaning solution to a clean cloth and rub it in a circular motion over the guitar’s body. While applying the solution, be careful, so you don’t get it on any hardware, such as the bridge. 

After cleaning, use a separate cloth to wipe off any excess cleaner and dry the guitar thoroughly. You can also apply a small amount of guitar polish to the body and let it sit. Care to use polish sparingly, as too much can build up and affect the guitars adversely. 

Finally, restring your guitar and give it a play. 

Note: Take extra care when cleaning the guitar’s soundhole and rosette. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any dirt or dust from these areas gently. 

Final Words 

Keeping your acoustic guitar fretboard clean is a simple yet crucial step in maintaining the longevity and sound of your instrument. To keep your instrument pristine, you need to clean your fretboard more or less frequently. In addition to regular cleaning, you can, i.e., wiping down your strings after each use can, help prevent build-up and corrosion. Consider using the best humidifier for guitar room to prevent warping and cracking in extremely humid conditions. 

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