cleaning guitar strings

Can You Use Hand Sanitizer To Clean Guitar Strings?

Are your guitar strings dirty and are you looking for the right thing to clean them?  Maybe you want to try hand sanitizer?

Can you use hand sanitizer to clean guitar strings?

No. Hand sanitizer is not the best thing you can use for cleaning your guitar strings. Hand sanitizer is usually around 60% alcohol, water and other ingredients.  It is good for sanitization but not cleaning your strings.

What Can I Use To Clean My Guitar Strings?

If you are looking for a way to clean your guitar strings, the best thing that you can do is to use plain alcohol. Alcohol can disinfect AND clean dirty guitar strings.

You may have heard that standard alcohol is bad for the wood. This is because it evaporates very quickly and leaves nothing behind to protect your instrument’s finish or to condition its wood.  However, there are some specially designed alcohol products that can be used without harming your guitar.

  • Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) – Alcohol will kill many germs and disinfect the guitar strings. However, it is not recommended that you spray or wipe down your guitar with alcohol directly because it can dry out and damage the finish of your instrument.  Put it on a microfiber cloth first and rub the strings with the cloth.
  • Guitar Polish – These products are fantastic for cleaning your guitar strings. It has a soft cleanser that gets deep into the strings. The softness of the cloth doesn’t affect or damage your guitar’s finish or wood. It is made to be gentle on instruments and finishes so it leaves no residue behind when it dries at room temperature.  My favorite guitar polish is Dunlop 654C Formula 65 Polish.
  • Dry Guitar Polishing Cloth – If you do not have any alcohol or polish available, a dry cloth will work. It is also good for making sure you do not get any polish on the wood. The cloths are made of a material that does not leave any residue or scratch marks behind when it dries at room temperature.
  • Commercial string cleaner – check out this one – The String Cleaner by ToneGear.

What Household Cleaners Are Safe For Guitar Strings

There are a few things that you may already have at home that you can use to clean your guitar strings in a pinch:

  • Boiling water – This is an effective way to clean your guitar strings. Put a cupful of boiling water in a mug, add a drop of dish washing soap, stir well and pour it over the strings. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes and then wipe them with a dry towel.
  • Vinegar – This will also work but it will not clean well. Simply soak the strings in a small bowl of vinegar for 5-10 minutes and then wipe them with a dry towel.
  • Windex – Should you have Windex handy, you can quickly wipe with a damp cloth to clean your strings. This is a very fast solution that will not scratch the strings in any way.
  • Dish Detergent – You can use dish detergent with water for this if you do not have anything else available.
  • Dry paper towel – One other thing that you can try is to use a dry paper towel. Just wipe and clean the strings and then wipe the string dust away with a dry towel to keep your guitar clean.

Can I Use Alcohol Wipes For Cleaning Guitar Strings

While I do recommend using alcohol, alcohol wipes are something I would not recommend.  They contain a higher percentage of alcohol and they can damage the finish on your guitar. For this reason, I do not recommend you use alcohol wipes on your guitar strings.

Can I Use WD40 To Clean Guitar Strings?

No.  WD40 is a lubricant and a penetrating oil that does a great job of removing dirt from knobs and switches, but is not an effective cleaner for strings. It just won’t clean the strings.  It can also damage the fretboard of the guitar.

Conclusion

Alcohol is the best thing to clean your guitar strings. This is because it will disinfect, clean and will not dry out or damage the finish of your guitar in any way. It also dries quickly at room temperature which means that your guitar won’t have to suffer any rough drying with a towel used to wipe away the alcohol.

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