Cleaning your guitar strings is effortless and can prolong their life as well as feel comfier to play. Still, there is one specific question that intrigues many of us! Can you use isopropyl to clean guitars? Can it dry the wood? Stick to this article to find out more information about this topic!

It is not apt to use isopropyl to cleanse the guitar. Alcohol might dry out the whole wood of the fingerboard, tarnish some plastic materials on the guitar, and in some events, even harm the guitar’s finish. It can even make your strings creak more! Your best chance is to utilize a tried-and-tested string cleaner and oil.

Table of Contents

The Steps of Cleaning a Guitar

Later in the writing, we’ll talk in detail about the matters below. Yet, if you want to get on with it, then follow these brief steps to make your guitar glow like it’s new!

  • Clean your hands: It’s apparent, but it’s also the most essential thing!
  • Release the strings: This will make cleansing the essence and fretboard a lot more comfortable.
  • Scrub the fretboard: Utilize fine steel wool to clear persistent leftovers from Rosewood/Ebony/Pau Ferro fretboards, and apply lemon oil to rehydrate. Employ a moist fabric to clean Maple fretboards.
  • Polish the guitar’s essence: For poly-finished (shiny) guitars, spray guitar polish onto a smooth fabric and wipe it down. Utilize a dry part to buff out the polish. For matte/satin guitars, employ only a dry fabric.
  • Refresh the hardware: If you want your hardware to glow, utilize a smooth cloth and a tiny portion of guitar polish to clear dirt or dried sweat. WD-40 is good for the removal of thicker dirt or rust.

Tip: You can absolutely notice if your guitar is plywood by locating a smudged part. If you can see the small piles of wood, that is a layer.

How Can a Guitar Get Dirty?

The quantity of soil that your guitar builds up will rely a lot on the conditions that you play in, and for how long you play. For instance, are you somebody who gigs most weekends?

If that is a yes, you’re likely more than used to 1000-degree stages and standing under sufficient lights to guide a plane in for a landing. Playing an hour set under drastic stage lighting makes you sweat, which is the most alarming thing for your guitar for sure!

Playing like this pushes you to sweat buckets, which is like an Achilles heel for your guitar. Sweat and oil on your guitar’s shell not only look pretty nasty, but also they can wear away the paint and cause uncorrectable harm to the fretboard in particular.

It can also get to and damage your guitar’s electronic parts and hardware, rendering rust and even more issues.

If you rehearse between 1-2 hours a day at home in a chilly and well-ventilated room, then your guitar will likely not require cleansing very often. It’s all about the situation and the conditions.

How to Keep My Guitar Clean?

Before we get into the basics of how to clean specific parts of your guitar, it’s worth noting some ways that you can try to stop your guitar from building up dirt in the beginning. It’ll save you time and struggle in the hereafter. Be mindful of this matter! Let’s dive into these steps below!

Note: For your own sake, do not play the guitar in a thunderstorm. Keep in mind all the safety measures.

#1 Clean Your Hands

Before you pick up the guitar, try to always wash your hands. That’s essential, by all means! Truthfully, tons of players already do this!

Nonetheless, you’d be very shocked by the number of players who have picked up their guitars after eating greasy meals and then pondered why their axe is covered thickly in dirty fingerprints. Not to say that the strings sound like elastic loops!

It’s such an easy thing to do, not only maintaining your guitar but also letting you get more life out of your strings. This saves you both time and cash. Notably, you won’t have to keep purchasing new strings and spend ages modifying them. Just wait approximately 5-10 minutes for your hands to completely dry, then play away.

Note: Do you play violin too? Did you know that violin strings are not as sharp as guitar strings?

#2 Wipe Down Guitar’s Strings

Outcomes like GHS’ Fast Fret or Jim Dunlop’s Ultraglide 65 are excellent for prolonging the life of guitar strings. Simply use these cleaning oils on the strings after a playing session to release any grime.

Notably, you will fetch sparkly-sounding freshness, by all means. Also, you will get quicker playing, and feel ready for the following time you pick up your guitar. These outcomes also help to clear fingertip-induced dust and filth from the fretboard. 

Tip: Did you know that tuning up a guitar does not have to be bad if you truly know what you are doing?

#3 Hold Your Guitar In The Case

This may be awful to hear, particularly if you like to show your guitars on the wall. Nevertheless, the main downside of leaving your guitars out is that dust will stockpile on them.

Dust isn’t undoubtedly as big of a problem as sweat, but it can build up in the crevices of your guitar and impact its electronics and their functionalities over time.

You know that crackling bluster you’ve heard when moving your guitar’s picker or volume pot? More often than not, dust is rendering that. This can be relatively easily fixed by removing the cavity plate on the rear of your guitar and blowing the dust.

Yet, if you own a Strat or an equivalent guitar where the electronics are bound to a scratch plate — this is more of a problem.

So, placing your guitar back in its case is advisable, per se. It will keep your guitar mostly dust-free and will guarantee that it stays steadfast and crackle-free.

Tip: Do you have tuners? Even if you do, you will still need to know how tight your guitar tuners should be.

Prepare Your Guitar for Cleaning

As a matter of course, your guitar will need cleansing at some point, even if you observe the above advice. You can cleanse your guitar without drawing the strings. Still, a complete clean may make this essential — not to say a lot easier! You can prepare the cleaning of your guitar when a string change is required.

In the first place, wash your hands and set up a place to put your guitar. It is highly advisable to clean it in a well-lit area so that you can readily spot all of the defects that need the most awareness. You can set up the guitar on a workbench or desk. Or you can even just hold it on your lap if you prefer.

How To Cleanse a Guitar Fretboard

This is likely the most essential part of your guitar to clean often. The fretboard is the piece of your guitar that fetches the most wear and tear. Also, it accumulates build-up of sweat and dust can induce enduring harm if you’re not cautious.

When sweat dries and vaporizes, it drains the wood, by all means. This can direct to cracks forming or the building of everlasting spots. Beneath, we have identified ways to clean the key fretboard materials that you’ll find on most guitars.

A close-up shot of electric guitar strings.

Cleaning a Guitar Body

It’s inevitable for the body of your guitar to build up some spots and oil over time, no matter how careful you are. Fortunately, the body is more manageable and less harsh to clean than the fretboard. Regardless, the ending of your guitar’s body must be evaluated too. 

So make sure to be mindful of what type of finish it has before you go along and cleanse it.

For all of the finishes, utilize a gentle cloth when wiping down the body. The Jim Dunlop Polish Cloth is a wonderful light cotton fabric that you can easily store in your guitar case.

Note: It’s a fun fact that guitar makes some people sleepy. Even if it is not expected, this occurs sometimes.

Shine & Poly-Finished Guitars

Numerous mass-produced guitars have a polyester or polyurethane finish, which provides a shiny defensive coating to your instrument.

This makes it the most effortless finish to clean as it doesn’t leave the wood spongy or absorbent. You can thus use a mixture of polishes or resins to give your guitar a look deserving of being in a room.

The usual Jim Dunlop Formula 65 Guitar Polish is a fantastic cleaner that you can utilize to wipe away any gross leftovers. It’s best to avoid spraying it directly onto the guitar, so just spray it a couple of times onto a material and then wipe down the guitar.

The fantastic thing with the wax is that it delivers a grime-resistant protecting barrier for some time, indicating that your guitar will stay neat for longer.

Matte & Satin-Finished Guitars

A matte finish should only ever be cleansed with a dry fabric. If you have ever possessed a matte-finished guitar, you’ll understand that over time the finish will unravel and glossy flecks may begin to develop where your hands have made the most touch with the instrument.
This means that utilizing a polish or wax will only worsen the issue. So, it’s best to wipe a dry fabric very gently onto the guitar’s shell and avoid cleaning solutions. Satin-finished guitars deliver more of a semi-gloss glance but have a similarly soft feel to matte-finished instruments.
Concerning cleaning guitars with a satin finish, the same procedure devotes and only a dry cloth should be used. A little moistened fabric would also be okay if a really careful clean is critical.

Can You Use Isopropyl to Clean Guitar?

It is not advisable to use isopropyl to clean the guitar. Rubbing alcohol might dry out the wood of the fingerboard, impair specific plastic materials on the guitar, and in some circumstances, even harm the guitar’s finish.

We’ve seen that it can even make your strings creak more! Your best chance is to employ a tried-and-tested string cleaner and oil.