We round up a selection of the best guitar cleaner and guitar polish options that’ll help you clean your guitar and bass whilst protecting it from every day wear
You need to get hold of the best guitar polish and best guitar cleaner products if you want to give your guitar a little TLC - there's no point cutting corners as you'll just damage your guitar. However, there’s a massive range of guitar cleaning kits and guitar care kits out there, so you really need to know exactly what you need and more importantly WHY you need it before you go ahead and purchase a bunch of stuff you may or may not use.
So today, we’re going to discuss some of the best guitar polish options, why you need it, why you need lemon oil and fretboard cleaner and how a guitar cleaning kit can really bring your guitar back to life!
If you want to find out HOW to clean your guitar, read our handy guide, but first here’s a few tips.
Why should I clean my guitar?
When we play our guitar we transfer sweat and oil from our skin to the wood on our guitar or bass. Our skin and sweat is really bad for our guitar as it eventually starts to destroy the protective lacquer and eventually work its way into the wood, breaking it down. It happens slowly, but it does happen! You’ve seen those old, vintage guitars covered in dirt right? Chances are they could look and play LOT better if they were looked after a bit better!
Cleaning your guitar is essential. But it comes down to more than just making it look “pretty” or for aesthetics. Cleaning your guitar helps maintain a solid working instrument and even helps protect the wood from filling up with gunk and hardware functioning correctly.
Sweat and dirt such as dust can get into the pores of the wood and start to reduce the quality of the tonewood, it can also get into the electronics of your instrument, messing about with the pickups and inner workings. That's not good.
In addition, the hardware can start to rust and cease to operate correctly if left covered in dirt – so it’s best to protect your investment!
Ok, so what stuff do I need to clean my guitar?
Again, we’ve covered how to clean your guitar and bass in another blog, but we’ll explain the main things you need here.
You will need the following products:
- Microfibre or lint free cloth
- Guitar polish/cleaner
- Lemon oil (depending on the neck of your guitar)
- String cleaner
- A complete guitar cleaning kit / guitar cleaning wipes
You need the microfibre cloth or lint free cloth to clean your guitar. You need lint free because any other cloth will leave behind little pieces of cloth on your guitar and within the imperfections and cracks (if any) in the finish. Tissue or dish cloths are the worst possible option as they’ll leave lint on your guitar and basically start to clog your guitar up with bits.
You need specialised guitar polish or guitar cleaner as it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals that will destroy or harm your finish or start to break down the tonewood. You can’t use regular furniture polish on guitars as they contain things like ammonia, abrasives and alcohol – all of which will damage your guitar. Specialised guitar polish removes any of these chemicals and utilises specialised ingredients that will help remove dirt and protect your guitar from the elements.
Lemon Oil helps preserve and condition your fretboard. The fretboard is the most used part of your guitar, so you need to protect it. Lemon Oil protects your fretboard by conditioning the wood and helping to keep it hydrated so it doesn’t dry out and crack. It also helps to minimise the transition of gunk and acid from your skin to the fretboard.
Guitar string cleaner is an optional maintenance product that is great for those who like the feel of ‘played in’ strings. This helps clean and rejuvenate strings as well as your fretboard. Some guitarists will simply change strings as soon as they start to feel a little played in, sound a little flat or become dirty from gunk from your hands. However, this stuff helps keep your strings in good working order for longer.
Guitar cleaning kits have all these things rolled into one convenient package. So, if you want to just clean your guitar once a month or so, then these are perfect. Some contain a selection of wipes that encompass polish for your guitar, string wipes and wipes to clean your guitar fretboard. Others have everything you need in one package.
5 Best Guitar Polish & Guitar Cleaner Options
Here’s a range of our favourite guitar cleaners and guitar polish that will keep your guitar in good working order and help protect the finish and tonewood. These are ideally applied via a microfibre cloth and we recommend the following:
- BOSS BDC-01 Microfibre Cloth
- Planet Waves Untreated Polish Cloth
- Platinum 65 Suede Microfiber Cloth
- Dunlop 5400 Polish Cloth
- Planet Waves Micro-Fiber Polish Cloth
- Dunlop 5430 Guitar Cleaning Cloth
1. BOSS BGD-01 Guitar Detailer (bottle)
The BOSS BGD-01 Guitar Detailer is a safe, alcohol and ammonia free guitar cleaner that will remove the dirt and build of gunk from your guitar and help make it shiny again! This is a non-streaking formula that is safe for all finishes and can even be used on hardware and pickups safely.
2. Dunlop Formula 65 Guitar Polish & Cleaner, 1oz
This guitar polish is perfect for those players out there who really want to look after their guitar and want to protect it without adding a layer of wax. The Dunlop Formula 65 Guitar Polish & Cleaner, 1oz doesn’t use any harmful chemicals in the ingredients so you can buff out any dirt and smudges safely. It also leaves a micro-thin, stain-resistant protective layer over your guitar that doesn’t build up, but still helps to reduce scratches and stop dust from getting in the microscopic cracks of the tonewood.
3. Dunlop P65CP1 Platinum 65 Guitar Cleaner And Polish
The Dunlop P65CP1 Platinum 65 Guitar Cleaner and Polish includes a silicone free mix of ingredients that will help clean and add a healthy shine to your guitar. This also includes Montan Wax which leaves a slight, but long-lasting shine that adds a protective barrier against fingerprints and scratches. This is ideally not recommended for older guitars with checking or slight age cracks in the finish which are found on vintage guitars.
4. Gibson AIGG-910 Pump Polish
This Gibson Pump Polish is another very well known guitar polish and guitar cleaner that also works on mandolins, banjos and other stringed instruments. This has been designed to be used on nitrocellulose lacquer finishes found on Gibson guitars. So if you have a Gibson, this is a great choice.
5. Kyser KDS500 Guitar Polish
The Kyser KDS500 Guitar Polish is another budget friendly and widely used option to clean your guitar. This helps to bring the shine back to your guitar and remove any dirt build ups that will eventually start to erode the finish of your guitar.
Best Lemon Oil & Best Guitar Fretboard Cleaners
We’ve discussed what type of guitar necks and tonewoods benefit from Lemon Oil in our guitar cleaning blog, but the basic idea is that only darker tonewoods need Lemon Oil. If you have a Maple or lacquered fretboard – don’t use any.
1. Planet Waves Lemon Oil
The Planet Waves Lemon Oil is one of the industry standard fretboard conditioners. This helps to protect your guitar fretboard from cracking and long term dryness. It also stops gunk from building up too!
2. Dunlop Fretboard 65 Ultimate Lemon Oil 1oz
This Dunlop Fretboard 65 Ultimate Lemon Oil 1oz utilises a spray bottle to disperse the lemon oil across the fretboard. This takes a lot of the guess work out of application.
Also available in a 4oz bottle.
3. Kyser KDS800 Lem-Oil Fretboard Conditioner
The Kyser KDS800 Lem-Oil Fretboard Conditioner is one of the best fretboard conditioners out there, designed to bring your fretboard back to life and reduce the risk of it drying out. For just £5, you’re helping protect your guitar.
Best Guitar Cleaning Kits
If you can’t be bothered getting all the different ingredients separately then there are a few amazing guitar cleaning kits available that’ll do the job quickly. These are some of the best guitar cleaning kits that we recommend for people who need something to clean and protect their guitar.
1. Ernie Ball Instrument Polish with Cloth
The Ernie Ball Instrument Polish with Cloth is a great way to get a purpose made polish and microfibre cloth in one convenient package. This oil and streak free formula leaves your guitar looking great and the included microfibre cloth will last a long time, ensuring lint-free cleaning.
2. Jim Dunlop Platinum 65 Cleaner Polish with Microfibre Cloth
Next up we have the Jim Dunlop Platinum 65 Cleaner Polish with Microfibre Cloth. With this option you get a larger 4oz bottle of the 65 cleaner polish and a microfibre cloth. This stuff really adds shine to your guitar thanks to the added wax. A great gift too!
3. Gibson Vintage Reissue Guitar Restoration Kit
This is a complete guitar cleaning kit, specially designed for vintage guitars that need some TLC. We love the Gibson Vintage Reissue Guitar Restoration Kit as it includes everything you need to bring your guitar back to life including polish, metal cleaner, finish cream, polish cloths and application brush. All this stuff has been designed for vintage guitars, but it works just as well on new ones too!
4. Dunlop 6504 Guitar Tech Care Kit
The Dunlop 6504 Guitar Tech Care Kit is also one of the best guitar cleaning kits as it contains everything a guitar tech needs to keep an instrument in working order. You have body polish and cleaner, fingerboard cleaner and conditioner, as well as string cleaner. Essentially all you need to keep your guitar looking good and in good working order.
5. D’Addario Guitar Maintenance Kit
If you want to make modifications and keep your guitar in tip top condition, we recommend the D’Addario Guitar Maintenance Kit. This is what you need when your guitar is screaming for some attention as you have a full range of tools including a fret polishing system that’ll help bring your guitar back from the brink of death. There’s a Capo lite, headstock stand, body mat and more. A great gift for the guitarists in your life.
6. Ernie Ball Wonder Wipes Combo Instrument Care Kit
If you want a complete guitar cleaning kit that is minimal fuss, then the Ernie Ball Wonder Wipes Combo Instrument Care Kit is perfect. This contains everything you need to keep your guitar clean for at least 2 months. You have 1 fretboard conditioner wipe (you don't need to do this very often), 2 instrument polish wipes and 3 string cleaner wipes. This will help you maintain your guitar quickly and easily.