How To Clean Guitar Fretboard With Household Items? Top Tips

Are you one of those who own super impressive guitars? If yes, you are the one who can feel how hard it is to clean a guitar’s fretboard. Having a guitar and keeping its fretboard clean is one of the hardest things that I have faced as a guitar owner. Most of us fear cleaning it with market products due to the various chemicals used in the cleaner. But do you know how to clean a guitar fretboard with household items?

The best way to clean the guitar fretboard with household items is the use of lemon oil, vinegar, vegetable oil, and water. You can dip a cotton swab into these household items and gently clean the fretboard.

So, for a neat and clean fretboard, follow this article religiously.


Primary Etiquettes: How to Finely Clean a Guitar’s Fretboard?

Before starting to clean a guitar with household items, one needs to know the basic etiquette of cleaning a fretboard. Unlike other parts of a guitar, the fretboard is considered the hardest one to clean. So, below we have listed some common etiquettes that you will have to follow for properly cleaning a fretboard with household items.

1- Removing Strings

 If you are going to clean a guitar fretboard, one of the very first things that you will have to do is remove the strings. It is one of the hardest parts as no one would like to damage their strings. And, this is why it’s always recommended that you should clean a fretboard every time you change your string set.

However, if you have to go to a concert or a shoot and your string set is fine, but not the fretboard, then you will have to finely remove the strings and keep them securely. Make sure that no string is damaged or bent during removal. Because even if a single string is broken, you will have to get a new string set.

2- Choose a Soft Medium for Placing Your Guitar

Guitars are meant to be kept with love, affection, and care. I bet that no guitar owner would like even a single scratch on their guitar’s body.

So, if you want to keep your guitar safe while cleaning the fretboard, ensure to place it over a soft woolen cloth. It will provide a smooth surface and allow you to retain the guitar from any kind of scratches.

3- Remove all the Dirt with Soft Woolen clothes.

One of the most important things before cleaning a guitar’s fretboard is the removal of dirt and oil from it. We understand your shock that how can we put oil on the fretboard.

But, believe me, while playing, the moisture, dirt, and oil from your fingers are transferred to the fretboard. So, it’d help if you cleaned your fretboard with a dry woolen cloth before putting any polish or cleaning substance onto it.

4- Polish Your Fretboard with Cleaning Substances

After following all of the doable, you now need to polish your fretboard with a cleaning substance. Rub the polish or the cleaner on your fretboard with the help of a soft clean cloth and let it dry. After it, rub a clean, soft cloth onto the fretboard and then install the strings again.

4 Ways to Clean a Guitar’s Fretboard Using Household Items

Are you one of us who does not trust guitar polish made up of harmful chemicals? If yes, here we go. We have something special for you. Below we’ve listed four of the most useful yet lesser-known ways to clean your guitar’s fretboard by using household items

1- Use Lemon Oil: The Best Fretboard Cleaner

Usually, we have to take good account of the type of wood used for our guitar’s fretboard before getting any fretboard cleaner. But, with lemon oil, the universe is completely different.

It never matters what type of wood is used for manufacturing your fretboard; lemon oil can do justice to cleaning it. However, if you have Martin’s guitar, you need to check its manual because Martin does not prefer lemon oil.

But, with other types of guitars, lemon oil is perfect.

First, due to the acidic nature of lemon, it will remove all the dirt and bad oil from your fretboard.

Second, lemon oil is a natural shiner. It not only cleans your fretboard but also allows you to add an extra shine to your fretboard. But, make sure not to use lemon oil more than twice a year. We are only allowed to oil our guitar’s fretboard twice a year.

Now, if you are worried about the method, then there is no hard and fast rule. You can either use fabric, or even your finger can do the job. The only thing that you need to remember is never put lemon oil in excess quantities onto your guitar’s fretboard.

2- Cleaning guitar With Water And Vegetable Oil Soap.

You must have been thinking that how on earth is it feasible to put vegetable oil on a guitar’s fretboard. This is exactly the same as what I thought when I first heard about it. But, this is not the pure vegetable oil that we are using. We are using vegetable oil soap.

Vegetable oil soap is made up of vegetable oil, water, and soap which is usually used for cleaning wooden furniture, crockery, and other household items. However, if you want to clean your fretboard with it, go ahead.

As a guitarist, I myself have tried it on my Yamaha Fx310. It worked perfectly, cleaned the fretboard, and above all, I was able to retrieve the original shine of the fretboard after cleaning.

So what you need to do is rub some vegetable oil soap onto the fretboard, rub it with your finger gently for a minute or two and then wash it out with a soft cloth soaked in water.

And, soon after wiping the vegetable oil soap with a wet cloth, rub the dry cloth on your fretboard to avoid it catching moisture.

3- Clean A Fretboard Using Vinegar

Certainly, we can. Whether you know it or not, vinegar is a natural cleaner. So, if you are left with no options to clean your guitar, and you do not even want to put harmful material on the fretboard, then we suggest you try cleaning it with vinegar.

For this, you need to take some full-strength vinegar in a small cup, soak a clean and soft cloth into it and gently rub it on your guitar’s fretboard.

We bet that you will be surprised to witness the magic vinegar will do to your fretboard. It has the capability of cleaning your guitar’s fretboard like nothing else.

Hence, if you are considering using some natural cleaning products for cleaning your guitar’s fretboard, try vinegar.

4- Clean the Fretboard With Water

It may sound weird, but it is completely possible to clean your guitar’s fretboard with water. Most companies suggest timely cleaning your guitar’s fretboard with a wet cloth soaked in clean water.

For this, you need to do nothing, just soak a clean cloth in clean water and rub it onto the fretboard. But, it must be kept in mind that the fretboard must not be so dirty that water cannot do justice to it.

Along with it, before cleaning your fretboard with water, check what your guitar manufacturers say. Some companies prevent using water on the fretboard.

So, if you’re using one of those guitars, we will suggest you use the above-given method and not water. But, if your manufacturer allows, there is nothing better and safer than water for cleaning a fretboard.

How Can We Keep A Fretboard Clean for Longer Duration

Keeping a fretboard clean is the hardest nut to crack for any guitarist. But, it is possible. You need to do some extra care, and you will not have to worry about a dirty fretboard.

First, when you are not playing your instrument, you need to always keep your guitar in a solid guitar case where dust cannot enter. It will help you keep your guitar neat and clean.

Second, keep a brush with extremely soft bristles for regularly cleaning the fretboard. For this, you can get a makeup brush. They are highly soft and will not damage the fretboard.

Lastly, always clean your guitar with a soft cloth every single week. Doing this will secure you from cleaning after every month.

Video Credit: Guitar Feed


Cleaning a guitar fretboard is no easy task to do. It can cost you some hours, and even then, you will not be able to clean it properly. And, doing it with harmful chemicals is another headache.

But, if you read the above-given article, all of your issues will fade away. In this article, we have only told you about how to clean your guitar’s fretboard properly, but we have also talked about some household items to clean a fretboard.

This draft provides detailed insight into the basic etiquettes that you need to follow if you are going to clean your guitar’s fretboard. And with these etiquettes, you can clean the guitar with no issues.

Along with it above, we have listed four of the household items that may help you clean the guitar with no harmful chemicals involved.

If you’ve not yet read the article properly and want to clean a guitar fretboard, there is no better place than this article. Give this a good read, and all of your concerns and issues about a dirty fretboard will stay no longer.

Lastly, if you are still left with any confusion, let us know, and we will resort to it to protect you and your guitar from embarrassment. 

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