Guitar forums and blogs are crowded with various cleaning tips. If you were to take a closer look at all those posts, you’d notice many folks suggest you use this or that solution to clean your guitar. However, one name kinda sticks out: WD-40. Now, what exactly is WD-40, and is it good for your guitar?

Of course, we can’t answer that last question right away since we’ve written a whole article about it. If you’re wondering whether or not a person can clean their guitar (or, at least, certain parts of it) with WD-40, you’ll want to read it. Also, we’ll introduce you to some additional guitar maintenance tips, so… Yeah, you’ll find them pretty useful!

Using WD-40 to clean your guitar (or lubricate your guitar strings) isn’t recommended. The thing is: some of it might end up on your guitar’s fretboard and cause a mess. It will most likely ruin the finish on your fretboard. WD-40 can easily harm a paint job on a car, imagine what it might do to your guitar. 

There’s a lot more from where that came from! Scroll down and see for yourself!

Table of Contents

What is WD-40? (and related info)

First things first, let’s see what’s so special about the cleaning solution brand called WD-40. It’s a company that started manufacturing cleaning products way back in 1961 (while the formula for WD-40 was written 8 years earlier). The company is originally from San Diego, California. WD-40 can act like a lot of things: as a lubricant, rust preventative product, penetrant, and even – moisture displacer.

What’s the most common form of WD-40 use? It’s mostly used to protect metal surfaces and objects from the devilish duo called rust & corrosion. Also, folks use it to penetrate stuck parts and lubricate just about anything. Lastly, we should mention that it’s one of the most recognized household products in the USA.

Does WD-40 destroy plastic?

The thing is: there are solvents in WD-40 that can easily break down and melt some plastics. Additionally, as if things couldn’t get any worse, the low viscosity (meaning: low flow resistance) of WD-40 will guarantee that the solution penetrates deep into the material. That, of course, ain’t a good thing.

What is a good substitute for WD-40?

Now, there isn’t an ideal substitute for the product in question. However, there are many “close enough” lubrication substitutes (we didn’t count the cleaners). Here we’ll show you some:

  • Petroleum jelly. The biggest advantage of using this as a WD-40 substitute is that it doesn’t drip or cause massive spilling on the surface you’ve applied it to. Also, it really does a great job of acting as a lubricant.
  • Plumber’s grease. This one’s a common product used in the plumbing industry. Plumber’s grease is usually made from silicone oil and grease. Needless to say, they both act as top-notch lubricants.
  • Dry film lubricant. It’s the least messy option of the three. If you don’t like things getting all gooey and sticky, dry film lube’s the ideal product for you!

Alright, now that we’ve covered some basic WD-40 knowledge, it’s time to see whether or not can one use it clean a guitar. In other words: let’s see if WD-40 is good for guitar! 

Is WD-40 good for guitar?

Okay, so one may get the idea that WD-40 might be good for lubricating and cleaning guitar strings (since WD-40 does a good job in both cases). Also,  Let’s first consider WD-40 as a string cleaner!

Is WD-40 good for cleaning guitar strings?

Now, so we’ve said that WD-40 is good for cleaning metal. One could assume that’s it, therefore, good for cleaning guitar strings since they’re mostly made out of metal. Here’s the answer: try not to use WD-40 to clean guitar strings. Because? Because it can damage your fretboard.

The main issue is that WD-40 can come into contact with your fretboard via your metal strings. Even if you’re too darn careful not to let any of the substance end up there, it’s not like you wanna risk it. WD-40 will most likely ruin the finish of your trusty fretboard. The thing is: it can ruin the paint job on a car, imagine what can it do to your guitar. All in all: street clear of using any petroleum-based oils (such as WD-40) with your guitar.

PS. Some folks suggest you should still try this option out by putting a towel between your fretboard and strings. However, we wouldn’t recommend it. Also, we’ll show you some good solutions for cleaning your guitar strings in a bit.

Is WD-40 good for lubricating guitar strings?

Now, there was this one article saying that WD-40 is used to prevent guitar strings from rusting. However, here’s our opinion on the subject: nope, you still shouldn’t use WD-40 or any similar, petroleum-based product with your guitar strings. Period.

Is WD-40 good for cleaning metal parts of your guitar?

While guitar enthusiasts are certain about not using WD-40 with guitar strings, you’ll find some ambivalence in their answers to this question. Some say that it’s possible to use WD-40 to clean metal parts of your guitar after you’ve removed them from your guitar body. Also, you should use Q-tips or cloth to apply WD-40 onto the metal parts instead of spraying it directly onto them.

Okay, now that we’ve made this clear (whether or not should you use WD-40 to clean this or that part of your guitar), it’s time to see some useful guitar maintenance tips! There are many alternatives to WD-40 here that one should absolutely forget the product exists (when it comes to guitar cleaning, though).

Guitar maintenance tips

Let’s see some of the things you can do to keep your guitar in top shape!

#1: Change your strings (regularly)

Do you want your guitar to produce a sound that’s crisp and full? If that’s so, you’ll want to change your strings regularly. They wear out over time and lose quality. The more you play your instrument, the faster the strings will “decline”.

Now, of course, how often should you change your guitar strings depends on how often you play the instrument. For instance, if you’re playing your favorite instrument for an hour a day, you’ll want to change the strings at least once every four to six weeks.

#2: Use lemon oil to clean the strings (if you’re not sporting a maple fretboard)

Here’s a fantastic WD-40 alternative: lemon oil. As we’ve said cleaners that contain a petroleum base ain’t no good for your guitar. They can damage it over time. That’s why you’ll want to use lemon oil to clean your guitar strings. Some folks note that you can also use olive or baby oil if you’re looking for the cheapest solution.

So, how should you apply lemon oil to your guitar strings? First of all, don’t apply it directly onto the strings since you’ll get all the excess grease on the guitar fretboard. It’s a bit difficult to clean it up later. Anyway, apply some oil to the cloth and use it to clean your strings. You’ll want to run the cloth all the way from the bridge to the nut of your guitar.

#3: Clean your fretboard

Needless to say, clean your fretboard each time you’re replacing the strings. First things first, remove the old strings and scrape your fretboard with care by using a credit card. Next up, you’ll want to remove all the dirt and grim you find on your fretboard gently, using a soft toothbrush. Lastly, use a soft cloth to handle any extra dirt you might’ve missed.

#4: Store your guitar in good conditions

You might already know this, but wood expands and contracts when stored in extreme conditions (whether they’re too hot or too cold). That’s right, that won’t do your instrument any good. Also, keeping your guitar exposed to direct sunlight should be avoided, too. It’ll make your guitar look less physically appealing. Keep your instrument at a stable room temperature and out of the path of direct sunlight.

For more tips on guitar storage, click right here.

#5: Clean and polish your guitar

Want to make your guitar look top-notch all of the time? If so, keep in mind that you’ll have to clean and polish it every once in a while (every two weeks or so). By using a guitar polisher, you’ll make sure that your guitar shines since it increases the appeal of the wood. Also, if you want to sell it sometime in the future, this will keep its value in place.

Final thoughts

Alright, folks, now you’re well aware of the consequences that using WD-40 to clean your guitar might have. If you were wondering whether or not using WD-40 is any good for your guitar, now you know that it’s not. You should treat your instrument with great care, and using WD-40 to clean it doesn’t really count as care. Quite the contrary!

For more useful information and tips that are somehow related to your favorite instrument, pay a visit to this section of our blog.