How to Clean Your Guitar Strings like a Pro!

Looking for the best ways to clean your guitar strings?

Well, you have landed on the correct page. In this guide, we have discussed how to clean the guitar strings in detail. 

If you want to maintain the same tone without the need for installing a new set of strings, then you need to follow the steps mentioned below. Let's get started.


Why do you need to clean your guitar strings?

​As a guitarist, you might know that the sound of a guitar starts from its strings. The way the strings vibrate will determine the sound that is produced by the pickups.

The clarity and attack of the new strings are the most recognizable characteristics. This is because the high frequencies of new strings will not be dampened by the present oil and debris.

For suppose, if the string is dampened, then the string will reproduce the same dampened characteristic.

To avoid this dampened sound and get it back to normal, you need to clean the residue off of each string. 

How to clean your guitar strings?

Cleaning your guitar strings is not a difficult task for any guitarist. Even though you change the strings often, you can still not produce perfect sound if they are not clean.

Strings that are clean and oil-free will only perform much better and will last longer compared to the dirty ones.

Certainly, it is also a good idea to clean the strings with a dry cloth or rag every time you play the guitar. If any strings of your guitar are rusted, damaged, or kinked, then they should be replaced.

It might be annoying when you have to stop a song in the middle due to a broken string or rusted sound. To avoid these situations, you should clean your guitar strings frequently.

How often should you clean your guitar strings?

If you want to get the most out of your guitar strings, then it is recommended to clean your guitar strings after every playing session.

It would help if you wiped the guitar strings after you finish playing your guitar.

Another thing which you should remember to keep your guitar strings in perfect condition is to wash your hands with soap water before you start playing.

Though it might be challenging to wash your hands, it will help to remove a lot of dirt and oil from your hands that would immediately transfer to your strings.

Giving them a good cleaning for every two to four hours is also a good practice as it will ensure that they remain in top-notch condition.

Things you will need to clean your guitar string:

​Even though you can find countless products that are of high-quality for cleaning the guitar strings, it is not necessary to invest in those since you can clean them with a minimum of tools.

You don't have to purchase any specialty tools to clean the guitar strings. Below mentioned are the tools to clean the stings that you can find in any general store.

  • A small bowl
  • Oil
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Q-tips
  • A clean lint-free cloth
  • Fine steel wool

1) Assemble the strings:

When you are preparing to clean your guitar, it is important to make sure that it has a steady surface so that you can place the neck of the guitar while you work on the strings.

You can place a towel or any cloth under the back of the neck near to the headstock where the support should be sufficient.

Make sure that the string side is up when you are placing the guitar on the towel.

Loosen the strings by removing the string clamps if you have a locking nut. Remove each string from the tuning machine if possible.

Otherwise, you can remove the strings at the tailpiece from the guitar.

2. Clean the strings:

Pour alcohol into a small bowl and clean the strings with it. This will loosen and remove the oil and grime from the strings which had accumulated when you used it.

Cleaning the strings will do a more complete job than just wiping it with a cloth.

If you want to clean the individual strings, then place the corner of the cloth in the alcohol.

Make sure it is not soaked wet and squeeze any excessive amount. Hold the corner of the cloth with your thumb and forefinger and hold the base of the string near the bridge.

Draw the cloth along the string to clean off the oil, grime, and dirt. Sift through the string to ensure that you have not missed anything.

If you find any uncleaned spots, then go back and scrub those areas. Repeat the same process for each string.

3. Polishing the strings:

Once you complete cleaning all the strings, you need to rub them using fine steel wool to remove fine burrs, grooves, or kinks on the surface of the strings.

Some people might say that it is unnecessary or damaging to polish the strings. However, if you use proper technique, then it is perfectly fine.

Hold the steel wool between your thumb and forefinger and grab the base of each string. Draw the steel wool along the string till you reach the end of it.

Don't apply too much pressure since we are just only removing unnecessary material on the string. Repeat the same process for each string and complete the process.

4. Oiling the Strings:

You might be wondering what the point of oiling the strings when we are trying so hard to remove it is? Let me explain it to you.

The oil that is generated from our bodies will get deposited on the strings, and it is destructive to the metal alloys.

This will cause the rust and breakdown of the metals if you leave it for a long time.

With a non-destructive, you can repel those oils produced by our bodies and enhance the life of the string.

Use a few drops of oil to clean the string. Squeeze the oil onto a dry cloth and grab the cloth between your fingers.

Draw the cloth along the string to remove the rust. Repeat the same for each string.

5. Reassemble the strings:

​Once you complete oiling the strings, you need to reassemble them. You need to thread each string via the hole in the tuning machine and bring the string taut.

Do the same for each string. After the instrument is reassembled, tune the guitar as usual.

Initially, you can expect the guitar to fall off the tune. The strings will regain their motion once you start playing it more. 


It is an excellent decision to clean your guitar strings regularly. It will surely increase the responsiveness of the strings.

If you have any suggestions or tips for cleaning the strings, then feel free to comment below.

  • Chase
  • Updated last year

If you want find a right beginner guitar for yourself or your kid, you are in the right place. If you have shopped for your beginner guitar but can’t decide which guitar to buy, you are also in the right place. My name is Chase. I love music and guitar. I have been playing guitar for more than 10 years and I am teaching guitar lessons now. Most of my students or parents of my students feel headache when they choose the first beginner guitar for themselves or their children. Sometimes they asked me for advice and every time I was asked I told them what I know to help them. This is main reason I built this website.

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