Can I use water to clean my guitar?

If you want to maintain your guitar but you don’t want to get some heavy duty products to do so, you may ask the question: Can I use water to clean my guitar?

In short, yes! You can use water to clean your guitar. You must be very careful though. Putting too much water can potentially ruin your guitar in a couple of ways which we will get to later in this article.

So, in this article we will go through how you can use water to clean your guitar and what you would need to be careful when doing so.

How to clean your guitar with water

Here is the safe way to clean your guitar with water:

Step 1: Dampen a Soft Cloth

First, you are gonna want to put some water onto a soft cloth. Now, when I say soft cloth I mean it! Even something like a paper towel is hard enough to cause scratches in your guitar. The best soft cloth for this job is a microfiber cloth.

Your also gonna want to use a clean soft cloth. If its dirty you are just gonna rub dirt back into the guitar. It just doesnt make sense, does it?

Once you’ve got your clean soft cloth wet make sure to twist all the water out so the cloth is just slightly damp.

Step 2: Start Rubbing Your Guitar 

Now that your cloth is clean, soft, and damp, you can start rubbing your guitar to get the dirt and grime off.

Being honest, water isnt the best way to remove dirt and grime. The better way to clean your guitar is to get a specific guitar cleaner or polish your guitar. You can see our article on how to polish your guitar at home (for satin guitars see here). The materials used don’t cost too much. I would definitely recommend doing that. If you still want to stick to water you can just keep reading.

Step 3: Dry your guitar

Once you’ve cleaned your guitar its crucial that you dry it after. Even though water is so basic it can be deadly to wood. Water can seep into the wood and warp, swell, and waterlog the wood. This can even deaden the guitar’s tone. Water can also ruin the guitar’s finish.

Yes, I know, its a nightmare. Just dry your guitar! It shouldnt take so long.

Just make sure it’s a dry cloth so you don’t scratch the guitar. If you do see how to remove scratches off your guitar. (I don’t wish it though, but if you do scratch it, the article is there for you).

Things to look out for

We already mentioned a couple of things you need to look out for. I just felt the need to highlight and list the things that everyone should be aware of when cleaning your guitar with water.

Dont use a soaked cloth

Like we said before, too much water can kill your guitar. It can warp and sweel the wood and potentially deaden the tone (even on an electric guitar).

Clean cloth/clean water

Basically everything you use to clean your guitar needs to alos be clean. Other wise you would be rubbing dirt back into your guitar.

Don’t use hard cloth

You need to use the softest cloth you can find when cleaning your guitar. Otherwise your guitar can easily get scratched.

Don’t rub too hard

Rubbing your guitar too hard with water can burn through your guitar’s finish. What you want to do is simply move the dust and dirt over. You shouldn’t need too much effort. If it’s still not as clean as you thought it would be still, dont rub hard. I mean, there is only so much you can clean with just water. 

So if your not happy with the way it look after cleaning it with water you may want to get into polishing or getting a guitar cleaner.

Keep it away from electronics

Like we already know, water can damage electronics so dont let the water get near the guitar’s electronics. That simple. 

Also, if you do wipe down any metal (non electronic) you really should dry it after. This is because metal can corrode and it will look disgusting after some time.

Don’t use water on the inside of your guitar

The inside of a guitar doesn’t have a finish, it’s just raw wood. That means its much easier for the wood to absorb the water which can cause warping and swelling. check out how to clean the inside of a guitar.


So there you have it. You CAN clean your guitar with water. Just make sure you are doing it in a safe matter. If your still not happy with the way it looks I would look into polishing your guitar.

To safely proceed with this method of cleaning you can refer back to this page so you don’t ruin your guitar. I think I can save a couple of guitar with this article. What do you think?

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 enjoyed!

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