Can I clean my guitar with dawn dish soap?

Cleaning your guitar is extremely important. Doing so the wrong way can be a catastrophe. So the question you may be asking is can I clean my guitar with dawn dish soap? Will it clean my guitar or ruin it?

To answer this question in short, we don’t recommend using dawn dish soap to clean your guitar. Dawn dish soap is used to remove grease and food residue which means it contains strong and abrasive ingredients to do so. 

I recommend something else (we will talk about this later in this article). However, if you were to use dish soap the best way to do it is to mix it with some water, wipe and dry it. The harsh ingredients are still there that’s why I still don’t recommend this, but it’s diluted and not as bad without water.

There’s your answer in short, if you want more information on this, keep reading. We will explain what dish soap can do to a guitar, why it’s bad, and cleaning alternatives.

The Answer in depth

We gave you our recommendation, here is the knowledge you need to know to better understand the reason for our recommendations. Here you go:

Harsh Ingredients in dish soap

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate- this lifts the dirt
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine- this creates the foaming in dish soap
  • Fragrance- Its what gives the soap its smell
  • Methylisothiazolinone- It’s a preservative that prevents bacteria growth
  • Sodium chloride- a thickening agent
  • PPG-26- this helps the soap cling to surfaces

These are the harsh ingredients that you can find in dawn dish soap (and other dish soaps). That’s why it works so well on dishes. On guitars, however, it’s a different story. And that brings us to the next section.

Why are they so bad on guitars?

The ingredients mentioned above can do a couple of things to your guitar. Here’s why these ingredients can destroy your guitar.

Ruin the finish

Dawn dish soap or any dish soap uses strong ingredients (like mentioned above) making it great for cutting through grease. The issue is it can also cut through your guitar’s finish leaving the guitar’s body exposed. The finish for a guitar is extremely important, it’s what gives the car its protection and shine. If the gloss is ruined you can see here how to get it back.

Dry out the wood

The ingredients inside dish soap extract the natural oils and hydration from the guitar. That means it will dry out your guitar. Keeping your guitar in a hydrated place is extremely important. Failing to do so will cause cracks and warping in the wood.

Discolor your guitar

Not only can it cut through the finish, but the harsh ingredients in dish soap can also discolor the finish making it look ugly.

At the end of the day…

Dish soap is not recommended bc of all these harsh ingredients. However, if you mix it with a lot of water you may be ok. I personally don’t feel comfortable doing it knowing all of the harsh ingredients there are (even diluted). But I’ve heard people are comfortable with doing so. 

Warning: if you use this method, stay away from any electronics!

But we can all agree dish soap alone is a big no-no. As explained above, it will kill your guitar.

What part of the guitar can handle dish soap?

There are parts of the guitar that can handle dish soap. The strings and any metal parts can handle its ingredients. 

However, it’s still not the best way to clean those things. There are specific ways to do it. There could be issues using dish soap even on the parts of the guitar it can handle. One is that the soap can land on the wood and cause issues your you. 

See our ultimate guide to string cleaning.

If you still chose to do so, make sure you do not apply the soap onto the wood,  make sure to dry it after, and make sure it doesn’t get to any of the electronics.

The better/safer ways to clean your guitar

Since we don’t recommend using dish soap on your guitars here are the more preferred ways to clean your guitar.


Polishing is where you buy a certain guitar polish and rub it into your guitar with a microfiber cloth. This cleans the finish and gives it a nice shine. This method isn’t so hard to do. If you want to learn how to do this safely see here. For satin guitars see here.

Guitar cleaner

You can also buy guitar cleaners that are tough enough o get rid of dirt and grime but are also soft enough to not ruin the finish.

Homemade alternatives

You don’t always have to buy certain things to clean your guitar. Surprisingly, there are household items you can use that work well. To check that out see here.


Here are the FAQ’s on this:

What happens if dish soap falls on my guitar’s finish?

You can quickly wipe it off. Once you do that make sure you use a damp cloth to fully remove the soap so it doesn’t seep in. Then, fully dry it so nothing else can seep in.

Does this apply to just dawn dish soap or other dish soaps as well?

This applies to all dish soaps

Can I use dish soap mixed with water to clean my guitar?

I don’t feel comfortable doing so since it still has harsh ingredients, however, I know people that rely on it and are pleased with the results. If you do so make sure to dilute it a lot and dry the excess.


So there you have it. That’s our experience with dish soaps and guitars. Again, we don’t recommend it because of the harsh ingredients. If you dilute it with water it may be okay. We do recommend other options like polishing, guitar cleaners, and even some household cleaners (see above for that).

If you want to learn what generally can or cant be used on guitars see Guitar Cleaning: what you can and cant use.

Anyway, I hope you learned something.

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