How To Clean A Water Damaged Acoustic Guitar? 7 Easy Steps

Have you unintentionally ruined your precious musical instrument and are now wondering how to clean a water damaged acoustic guitar and restore it to its former glory?

No need to worry because you’re on the right track. We’ve put together a list of helpful tips and guidelines to help you through this stressful period.

how to clean a water damaged acoustic guitar


Gather The Materials Listed Below:

  • Microfiber or soft cloth
  • Superfine steel wool
  • Cotton swab
  • Paintbrush
  • Oil
  • Warm water




Step #1. Inspection before cleaning

Strings should be slackened before playing. Release the tension by loosening wet screws on the strings.

Now that the situation is under control, it’s time to start thinking about getting back on track. We face the following difficulties:

Wooden acoustic instruments can withstand a small amount of water without being damaged. The glue bonds will be stressed or broken if the wood is exposed to a lot of water.


Step # 2. Dry out

The sooner we remove the liquid water from the wood, the sooner we can begin the drying process. Inside and out, use a dry towel to wipe it down.



Wooden acoustic instruments can be damaged if they are over-dried. As a result of shrinkage, the wood can pull away from glue bonds and crack.

Our acoustic instruments will suffer the least harm if they are allowed to dry out in the open air for the next few weeks. Refrain from reaching for the blow dryer.


Step # 3. Detach the strings (optional)

String removal is an issue that has sparked discourse about whether to remove all the strings at once or divide them into equal parts. When all the strings are removed, some experts claim that this will cause a decrease in string tension.

In the opinion of many, it won’t cause any harm. We recommend removing half of the strings and replacing them with new ones before repeating the process when it comes to string tension. 


Step # 4. Actual cleaning 

Soak a soft flannel or microfiber cloth in warm water. Get all the air out of it you can.

It’s fine to use an old T-shirt instead of a cloth for this cleaning process step because it’s soft and won’t scratch the guitar.  When cleaning, it’s best to work your way down from the highest point to the lowest point.

The cloth will be able to remove any dirt that has accumulated on its surface as a result. Stains and sticky substances will not be removed by this method.

Clean the guitar with a dry cloth before the water dries and leaves marks.


Step # 5. Use a super fine steel wool

We recommend wiping your fingers across the fretboard to see if any dirt has remained after the water wipes down. These are the places where steel wool is most beneficial.

Only 0000-grade superfine steel wool should be used. The guitar’s wood will get scratched if you apply force too hard.

In addition to the wool, you may want to apply mineral oil or a fretboard conditioner to protect the wood as you clean. Make a tiny sliver of wool the size of the tip of your finger.

Gently wipe away any stubborn stains with the steel wool’s finer bristles. Rubbing or scrubbing the guitar will lead to wear and tear.

Stop cleaning when the dirt has been removed so that you don’t damage the wood on your guitar. A soft paint brush can be used to remove any remaining wool fibers.


Step # 6. Cotton swab as an alternative

Dip a piece of a cotton swab in warm water. To reach places like the saddle and along the frets, you can use it to clean any remaining dirt.

After cleaning, always use a dry cloth to remove any remaining moisture. Microfiber cloths are the best, as they’re both absorbent and lint-free.

Grab your paintbrush once more and brush away any fibers they leave behind.


Step # 7. Oil for essential wood care

Some of the wood’s natural oils are removed when a guitar is cleaned. This case can cause the wood to dry out, causing it to crack and be easily damaged.

Some of the essential oils will be removed even if you only wipe the instrument down with a damp cloth. Allow your guitar to dry completely before applying a small amount of oil to the wood to nourish it.

Linseed oil is the best option. Additionally, mineral oil and almond oil can be used.

Your guitar’s wood can be cleaned and nourished with just a few drops of oil if there is no buildup of dirt. A few hours or even days are required for the oil to penetrate the wood before you can put the strings back on. 

If you use too much oil, you’ll have a greasy fretboard. Using too much oil will cause it to not soak into the wood. 

Using a clean, dry cloth, wipe away as much oil as possible. You may need to repeat this procedure several times before the fretboard is entirely free of oil.

Since the guitar’s neck and fingerboard are made of fiber wood, you might also need to understand how to fix water damaged fiberboard.


What’s The Deal With Guitar’s Material?

To avoid further damage and for best results, it is critical to know what materials your guitar is made of before using any cleaning products. It’s important to know what kind of wood the guitar’s body is made of before you get to cleaning it.

Find out more about the brand and model if it’s not evident from their appearance. A better understanding of your needs and preferences can help you choose better household items.



It is time to restore the playability now that you know how to clean a water damaged acoustic guitar with just common household items.

Besides that, it’s preferable if you keep your guitar in a place where the temperature and humidity are always the same. The guitar is susceptible to cracking and damage if either of these two variables changes.

Before implementing any of the suggestions in this article, consider this one. If you don’t know how do companies reimburse water damaged furniture, you might as well take the time to check the warranty on your purchased guitar.

Leave a Comment