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Tools for Taking Care of Your Acoustic Guitar

Taking proper care of an acoustic guitar is the key to making it play better and last longer. All guitars – whether they’re high-end models that upwards of $3000 or affordable acoustics under $500 – are subject to normal wear and tear especially if they’re played on a regular basis. Cleaning your guitar is definitely a must if you don’t want the gunk and grime to affect the guitar’s aesthetic appeal, playability, and tone.

To keep your guitar looking, playing and sounding good, use the following items for taking the best care of it.

Soft cloth

The most basic tool you need to clean and polish your acoustic guitar is a clean, soft cloth. It’s best to have two, one for cleaning or taking the grime off and one for wiping or polishing. There are polishing cloths specially made for cleaning guitars, but any clean piece of cotton cloth will do. An old shirt you don’t use anymore – one that’s made from 100 percent cotton and has been laundered hundreds of times already – is a great option because it would already be lint-free.

Avoid using paper towels to clean your guitar because these may scratch the finish, especially if your guitar sports a lacquer finish or shellac polish.

Mild detergent

For dirt, fingerprints, and gunk that won’t come off with a wipe and a huff, you’ll need mild detergent. Put some mild detergent in a dish of water and moisten the cloth with it. Avoid using too much moisture; use as little as possible. Once the smudges are removed, buff the area immediately with a clean, dry cloth.

There are also products designed for cleaning and polishing guitars. There are water-based cleaners that you can spray on the cloth, creamy polishes that are more suited to gloss finishes and cleaning oils for removing smudges. If you’re unsure which one would be safe for your guitar, ask the guitar tech in the music store so you don’t accidentally damage your guitar’s finish by using the wrong cleaning solution.

String cleaner

To keep your steel strings in top shape, use a specially formulated string cleaner to remove the dirt and grime. Avoid using furniture polish because it’s not good for the strings. Some string cleaners have oil such as eucalyptus oil added, they not only help in cleaning the strings but they smell nice too.

Fretboard conditioner

If your fretboard is unfinished or unsealed, you need to make sure it doesn’t go dry. There are conditioners made specifically for guitars that not only keep the wood hydrated but also remove the grime and dirt as well as polish the frets.


Being exposed to low humidity is dangerous for acoustic guitars as it may cause damage such as cracks and splitting on the body. Keep a digital hygrometer handy especially on hot summer days so you can monitor humidity levels and do what needs to be done to make sure your guitar doesn’t get dehydrated. You can buy guitar humidifiers from music stores or you can make your own using a small plastic container and a moistened sponge.

Those are the basic tools you need to keep your acoustic guitar in tip-top shape. If you notice something amiss, such as cracks or some really awful fret buzz, don’t hesitate to consult a professional guitar technician so the issues can be addressed properly.


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