How do you clean a carbon fiber guitar? Complete clean & polish guide

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 6, 2022

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So it’s been quite a while since you got your hands on your first carbon fiber guitar. I can imagine your joy; carbon fiber guitars are simply stunning!

But despite all the amazingness, they are also more susceptible to fingerprints and scratches, which can ruin the whole grandeur of this fantastic instrument.

How do you clean a carbon fiber guitar? Complete clean & polish guide

In this article, I will tell you how to clean your carbon fiber guitar without damaging it and recommend products (and alternatives) made explicitly for cleaning carbon fiber instruments. A simple microfiber cloth usually does the trick, but if your guitar is quite dirty, you may need some special cleaning products. 

So let’s jump in without any ado!

Cleaning your carbon fiber guitar: the basic materials

One thing you need to know? You cannot clean your guitar with just “anything” out of your kitchen cabinet.

Despite the high chemical resistance of the guitar, it’s crucial to use the right products for effective cleaning.

Keeping that in mind, the following are some of the must-have materials for cleaning a microfiber guitar.

Microfiber cloth

Wooden guitar, metal guitar (yup, it exists), or a guitar made of carbon fiber all have one thing in common; they require a microfiber cloth for cleaning.

Best strings for electric guitar x
Best strings for electric guitar

Why do you need a microfiber cloth? Brace yourself; 10th-grade nerd science is incoming!

So microfiber is basically a polyester or nylon fiber split into strands even thinner than a human hair. This makes it ideal for penetrating spaces and crevasses that cotton clothes simply cannot.

Moreover, it has four times the surface area of cotton cloth of the same size and is highly absorbent.

Plus, as microfiber materials are positively charged, it attracts the negative particles found in grease and gunk, making the cleaning much easier.

Most guitar manufacturers make instrument-specific microfiber clothes. However, if you want to go a bit cheap, you can easily find them in your nearest hardware or retail stores.

Lemon oil

Lemon oil is a widely used liquid for removing grease and adhesives and also great for sanitization.

Although it’s often recommended for wood guitars, it could also be used for most carbon fiber guitars with a wooden neck, also known as composite carbon fiber guitars.

But be informed! You cannot just use “any” lemon oil. Remember, a full-strength, pure lemon oil can be too intense for your guitar.

The best you can do here is to buy a fretboard-specific lemon oil.

It’s a combination of other mineral oils with an optimum amount of lemon oil, just enough to clean up the guitar’s fretboard without affecting the quality and finish of the wood.

There are a bunch of manufacturers who produce fretboard-safe lemon oil with the right concentration to keep your guitar nice and clean with a glossy finish.

Scratch remover

Scratch removers can help if your guitar has some harsh scratches on its surface. But as you pick your scratch remover, make sure it has polyurethane-friendly buffing compounds.

Do not buy scratch removers made explicitly for buffing car finishes as they contain silicone.

Although silicone doesn’t have any significant side effects on the carbon fiber guitar itself, I don’t recommend it because of the barrier it leaves on the body.

This barrier makes it significantly tricky for new coats to adhere to the surface.

So If you are one of those guitar players who like trying out unique coatings with their carbon fiber acoustic guitar, you might want to have a proper guitar scratch remover.

Non-abrasive automotive detailing product

After cleaning your guitar, using non-abrasive automotive detailing products is one of your best choices to give your carbon fiber guitar a shiny final finish.

But of course, that’s optional!

How to clean a carbon fiber guitar: a step-by-step guide

Gathered up all the materials already? It’s time to clean up your carbon fiber acoustic guitar!

Cleaning the body

The basic way

Is your carbon fiber guitar tip-top, has no scratches, and has no significant gunk on the surface? Try breathing out some warm, humid air on the guitar body!

As awkward as it might sound, the warmth and humidity of the air will soften the dirt down. Thus, when you rub the microfiber cloth on it afterward, the dirt will come off quickly.

The pro way

If you feel like breathing out moist air won’t be enough, it’s time to level up and get your hands on high-quality automotive wax!

Just liquid out an optimum amount of wax as you would do with a car and rub it on the guitar body in a circular motion.

Afterward, leave it for a few minutes on the body and then rub it off with a microfiber cloth.

Here, it’s important to mention that automotive wax should be used on the whole body instead of a specific part.

If you use it on just a specific patch, it will stand out against the whole body, ruining the entire aesthetic of your carbon fiber guitar.

Dealing with the scratches

Are there any scratches on your guitar body? If yes, get a good quality scratch-removing product and apply a small amount of it to the carbon fiber cloth.

Now move the cloth in a circular motion on the scratched area for about 30 seconds and then counter it with a straight back and forth movement.

Afterward, wipe the residue to see if the scratch has been removed.

If the scratch persists, try doing it 2 to 3 times more to see if the outcome is different. If it still doesn’t give satisfactory results, perhaps the scratch is too deep to be removed.

Give it some shine

After you are done with dirt and scratches, the last step is to give your carbon fiber guitar some shine.

There are a lot of high-quality guitar polishes and automotive shiners you could use for the purpose.

However, be careful; automotive shiners are often harsh, and using them in a high amount can damage your guitar body.

For more details about the amount of automotive shiner you can use on your guitar, simply check the backside of the package.

Cleaning the neck

The method for cleaning the neck differs from material to material.

If your guitar has a carbon fiber neck, the technique is the same as the body. But, if it’s a wooden neck, the method can differ slightly.

Here’s how:

Cleaning a carbon fiber neck on a carbon fiber guitar

Here’s the step-by-step method you can follow in cleaning a carbon fiber guitar neck:

If the gunk isn’t coming off with simple moist air, you could try rubbing some saline solution or alcohol to soften it down and then wipe it off with a microfiber cloth.

Also, I would highly recommend removing the strings before commencing the cleaning process.

Although you can clean the guitar with the strings on, it will be much easier without them.

Cleaning a wooden neck on a carbon fiber guitar

For a hybrid or composite guitar with a wooden neck, the process is the same as you would follow for a typical wooden guitar.

Here’s what you need to do:

If there’s an excess of stubborn gunk on the guitar neck, you could also try rubbing the steel wool crossways.

However, do it very gently as it could cause irremovable scratches on the neck.

How often to clean my carbon fiber guitar?

For beginner guitarists, I would recommend cleaning the carbon fiber guitar each time after playing to reduce the chances of any severe build-up.

That’s because it would require you to remove the guitar strings for proper cleaning.

For a bit experienced musicians, you should clean your carbon fiber guitar each time you change the strings.

This would allow you to access places you couldn’t reach with the strings on, allowing you to clean the guitar thoroughly.

If your guitar has a detachable neck, that’s a plus. It will make the process much more convenient as you won’t have to flip around an entire guitar during the process!

Should I clean the guitar strings?

Carbon fiber guitar or not, giving the strings a quick rub after each music session is a good practice.

Guess what! There’s no harm in it.

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How can I prevent my guitar from scratching?

The most common areas where a guitar gets scratched include its back and around the soundhole.

The scratches on the back are caused due to rubbing with a belt buckle or traveling with the guitar, and the marks around the soundholes are formed because of picking.

You can protect the soundhole by attaching a self-adhesive pickguard or using soundhole protectors.

As far as the back is concerned, try to be a bit cautious, I would say? Be sure to have a decent guitar case or gig bag for transporting it and treat it with care.

Don’t just leave it lying around either! There are handy guitar stands to keep your guitar out of harm’s way.

Why should I keep my carbon fiber guitar clean?

Apart from the usual benefits of regular guitar maintenance, here are some of the reasons why you should clean your guitar regularly and always keep it in tip-top shape.

It protects the finish

Regular cleaning and polishing of your carbon fiber guitar ensure that its finish stays all shiny and clean and remains protected from the adverse effects of different harmful compounds found in the gunk.

It also removes scratches that could bring down the instrument’s value.

It maintains the structural integrity of the instrument

Yup! Consistent dirt and grime build-up can cause irreversible damage to the instrument’s structural integrity.

It causes the fibers of the guitar to become brittle and weak, leading to structural failures later on.

By cleaning your guitar regularly, you reduce these risks and ensure that your carbon fiber guitar stays with you for long.

It extends the life of your carbon fiber guitar

This point directly correlates with the structural integrity of the carbon fiber guitar.

The cleaner it stays, the better the structural integrity, and less will be the chances of the guitar material becoming brittle and weak prematurely.

The result? A fully functional and immaculately maintained carbon fiber guitar will stay with you forever. ;)

It preserves the value of your instrument

If you plan to replace your carbon fiber guitar in the future, keeping it tip-top will ensure that it provides you with the best price value upon selling.

Any guitar with the mildest scratches or minimal body/neck damage will bring down its value by more than half of its actual price.

Conclusion

When it comes to durability, nothing beats guitars made of carbon fiber. They are less prone to damage upon impact, have a low thermal expansion, and have high-temperature resistance.

But just like other instruments, carbon fiber guitars also require scheduled maintenance to stay fully functional throughout their life span.

This maintenance could be just a simple clean-up after a music session or a full-fledged cleansing after a certain amount of time.

We went through everything you needed to know about proper carbon fiber guitar cleaning and discussed some valuable suggestions that would help along the way.

Read next: Best Microphones for Acoustic Guitar Live Performance

          Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of his passion, and together with his team, He's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

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