If you were to browse the internet for the best guitar cleaning tips out there, you’d stumble upon some, well, interesting solutions. For instance, some folks, out of sheer ignorance or evil-mindedness, even suggest you use WD-40 on wooden parts of your guitar, which is a definite NO-NO. We’ve written about it right here. Anyway, what about using Murphy’s Oil Soap on guitars?

Heard about the solution in question yet? If your answer’s a simple NO, we’ll try to point out the argument of (not) using Murphy’s Oil Soap on guitars. Also, we’ll expand our talk a bit to cover some basic info concerning both the type of soap in question and the best methods to clean your favorite instrument. As always, stay tuned!

That’s right, you can use Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean your guitar’s unfinished fretboard. Simply drop a bit of the solution onto the fretboard and rub it in with a #0000 steel wool. If you’ve got a rosewood guitar, chances are small that something will go awry. Otherwise, use another fretboard clean-up solution. 

Reading just the preview makes you one step closer to using harmful solutions in the process of guitar clean-up. Therefore, you know what you gotta do!

Table of Contents

What is Murphy’s Oil Soap?

Before we tell you whether it’s alright to use Murphy’s Oil Soap on guitars, it’s best that we consider the very product itself. That being said, let’s find out what kind of cleaning solution is Murphy’s Oil Soap!

Okay, so Murphy’s Oil Soap represents a cleaner meant to be used on both finished wood and non-wood surfaces. It helps them keep their phenomenal shine at all times. The best thing about Murphy’s Oil Soap is that the product achieves this in a gentle & natural way. In other words, it has only 2% of synthetic ingredients, which you’ll agree is great, right? Also, you’ll want to know that it doesn’t possess any ammonia or bleach or whatever; it’s biodegradable and completely free of phosphate.

When do people use Murphy’s Oil Soap?

Here’s another thing: folks use Murphy’s Oil Soap mostly to clean & polish horse bridles, saddles, and other parts of horse riding equipment. Also, the product is typically used to clean black-powder weapons after usage. That’s because the absence of petroleum-based oil (and presence of vegetable oil) helps you avoid all the sludge that comes as a result of cleaning black powder residue from weaponry. Here are some other Murphy’s Oil Soap applications:

  • It helps to remove the residue on automobile wheels. Also, speaking of vehicles, it deals with hubcaps from the disc brakes. 
  • Folks who make pottery find it very useful, too. Murphy’s Oil Soap acts as a fantastic lubricant to use with water once you’re molding clay on a potter’s wheel. 
  • Additionally, Murphy’s Oil Soap is known to easily dissolve water-based inks. For instance, without much effort, it can help you deal with Crayola marker ink. 
  • Not only pottery enthusiasts, but painters love this cleaning solution too. Murphy’s Oil Soap acts as a decent brush cleaner. 
  • Lastly, folks use diluted Murphy’s Oil Soap (2-4%) as an insecticidal soap spray; we’ve heard it does wonders. 

No guitars here, eh? Whether that was intentional doesn’t really matter. We wouldn’t spoil the following chapter for anything. Without further ado, let’s see whether you’re able to use Murphy’s Oil Soap on guitars! Oh, and here’s a little extra something for you: an article about whether you can oil your fretboard with baby oil.

A bunch of guitars hung on a wall, without Murphy's Oil Soap.

Can you use Murphy’s Oil Soap on guitars?

So, yeah, a lot of folks are asking about this issue online. They’re very interested in discovering whether you’re able to use Murphy’s Oil Soap on guitars. Needless to say, you’re only seconds away from finding out!

Okay, so you’ll want to know that you’re able to use Murphy’s Oil Soap on guitars. To be more precise, you’ll want to clean your unfinished fretboard with it. Murphy’s Oil Soap will not only clean your fretboard, but it will also help moisturize it, preventing your fretboard from going dry and eventually – cracking. Also, Murphy’s Oil Soap will provide your fretboard with a fresh, clean shine.

So, how do you apply the solution in question to your trusty instrument’s fretboard? Here’s the guide: drip a small amount of Murphy’s Oil Soap on your fretboard. You don’t want to overdo it, since saturating your fretboard isn’t really the ideal scenario. The solution has a high amount of water in it, so be moderate. Next up, take some #0000 steel wool and rub the solution into the fretboard, removing the dirt buildup.

Oh, there’s a chance you’ll want to cover the pickups (speaking of which, here’s whether it’s worth winding your own pickups), just so the pieces of the steel wool don’t get magnetically stuck to the pole pieces. Also, you can use the soaked steel wool to clean your frets, too. Once you’re done, use some paper towels to do away with the excess soap. It’s crucial you do this, since, as we’ve said, oversaturation isn’t a tiny bit recommended.

A couple of things that you should know

We get it, rubbing steel wool onto your fretboard sounds like a somewhat bad idea. After all, some say that you should only use it if your fretboard’s made out of rosewood. Also, if your instrument’s finished in Nitro as most Gibsons and Fenders are (speaking of the latter, here’s how you make a Squier sounds like a Fender), you’ll want to think about using Murphy’s Oil Soap, too. It might provoke a reaction and melt your instrument’s finish.

Also, some guitar experts note that, regardless of the finish of your guitar, using Murphy’s Oil Soap shouldn’t be an option. Supposedly, it will, along with other wood conditioners, soften the wood of your guitar and allow your frets to become loose. Instead, they add, you could use boiled linseed oil on your guitar since it will give your instrument a fresh look and bring out the coloring of your fretboard. A little disclaimer: only use boiled linseed oil for this.

All in all: while it’s possible to use Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean your fretboard, we’ll take a “wild guess” and say there are less risky ways you can clean your instrument. That being said, shall we see what they are?

How to clean your guitar’s fretboard?

Before you continue to gather the items you’re going to need for this, it’s recommended that you first read your owner’s manual. In it, you’ll probably find some suggestions on what to use and what to avoid.

The second thing you’ll want to do is obtain the necessary items/ingredients/however-you-wanna-call-them. So, what are you going to need for this ordeal? Our suggestion is that you gather a stash of good old Q-tips, unperfumed baby wipes, some cotton balls, and some microfiber cloths. Needless to say, keep these items handy.

Gathered the necessary equipment? Let’s see what kind of household cleaners you’re able to use with it!

#1 Water, plain old water

That’s right! You can actually use your water to clean your instrument’s fretboard. Water’s great since it has no chemicals that could in any way, damage your precious guitar. Of course, you don’t want to use a lot of it and soak your guitar.

Here’s the thing: don’t use too much of it, and don’t put it directly onto your fretboard. You’ll just need to use a lightly dampened cloth to get this done. Use a dry cloth to do away with extra moisture once you’re done.

Lastly, keep in mind that water is great for the occasional, light clean-up. If your fretboard’s got some stubborn dirt, there’s a good chance that water won’t be enough to clean it in a thorough manner.

#2 Distilled vinegar to the rescue

Alright, we know that this doesn’t sound so attractive, but it gets the job done. Just make sure that you don’t use full-strength vinegar, only the distilled version. Also, you’ll need to use it in small quantities.

Basically, what you’ll need to do is repeat the process from method #1, just with distilled vinegar instead of water. Therefore, you should lightly drip a bit of it onto the cloth or dip a Q-tip into the liquid and start cleaning the fretboard. As was the case with water, don’t pour distilled vinegar directly onto the fretboard.

#3 What about lemon oil?

Last but not least, let’s talk about using lemon oil to treat your fretboard. You’ll be happy to know that lemon oil is completely safe to use on unfinished fretboards (finished fretboards don’t require you to oil them). Actually, it restores their natural oils, while, simultaneously, cleaning them. There’s no reason to oil your fretboard more than once or twice a year. It seems like we’re repeating ourselves for the hundredth time, but try not to overoil your fretboard.

Before you do anything, as we’ve said, check your owner’s manual. Certain manufacturers like Martin Guitars don’t recommend you use lemon oil on their products. Lastly, know that we’re not talking about lemon juice, but a specially formulated oil with low concentration.

Final thoughts

Okay, folks, that’s about all there’s to say on the topic of whether you’re able to use Murphy’s Oil Soap on guitars. Now you’re well aware of some options you can choose from before you get to clean your favorite instrument. Anyway, if you’re on the lookout for more interesting info and tips concerning guitars, don’t hesitate to click on this link.