Skip to main content

Guitar strings do get dirty when used and it is very common. You can easily clean your guitar using a brush or a cloth and it will work just as new after cleaning.  Guitars can get dirty due to dust smoke, or simply dirty hands. 

I, personally, never use my guitar without washing my hands because I have seen that whenever I use my guitar right after eating something, I get those strings dirty. 

The strings also catch dirt much quicker and this also affects their sound quality. However, I have observed some ways by which guitars don’t get dirty that quickly and they can be used forever.

This is why in this article, I am going to go into detail on the following topics:

  1. Why do my guitar strings get dirty so fast?
  2. How do I stop my guitar strings from getting dirty?
  3. Why is there black stuff on my guitar strings?
  4. What is the gunk on guitar strings?
  5. Why do my guitar strings look dirty?
  6. Why do my guitar strings rust so quickly?
  7. How to clean my guitar strings?

Why do my guitar strings get dirty so fast?

Guitar strings get dirty because of using the guitar with dirty hands or they can also catch dirt if you play your guitar outside. Guitar strings can get dirty much quicker if they are used right after eating something with oily or greasy hands. 

Guitar strings are made in a way that they catch dirt way quicker than any other thing. The dirt on them often gets ignored because the inner part of the strings is not much noticed, but it can affect your sound quality. Apart from sound quality, it can also get your hands dirty every time you use your guitar.

Guitar strings can also get rusty when they are not taken care of properly. The dirty strings can be cleaned off properly, but rusty strings can be a big problem which can lead you to replace your strings. We are going to discuss rusty strings further in this article.  

Guitar strings get dirty mainly due to dirty fingers, sweat and dust from the air

5 Reasons Why Guitar Strings Get Dirty

1. Dirty hands

Guitar strings get dirty when the hands are not properly washed. Guitar strings are used in a way that they catch dirt very quicker, so, try to clean your hands before using the guitar. 

We often use guitar without looking at our hands and this results in the dirt on the strings. Try to wash your hands or at least clean your hands with a cloth or some handkerchief.


2. Using Guitar Right After Eating Something

Using your guitar right after eating something will get it dirty much more quickly. Try to wash your hands properly and wash off that grease from your hands, and then use your guitar. 

Many people play their guitar after eating something because that feels good, but it is also a big hygiene problem. Many of us don’t wash our hands properly or dry our hands properly and then use the guitar.

This gets our guitar so much dirty and it can lead to many other problems like rust. Furthermore, that oil can also rest there for quite a while time and this will get yours gets dirty every time you use your guitar.


3. Not kept properly

The guitar can also get dirty when it is not kept in a proper place and it leads to strings catching the dirt. 

Many people don’t keep their guitars in a bag or in a clean place. This leads their guitar strings to catch outside dirt or some things can also get spilled on the guitar.

This is why I always advise everyone to buy a bag if they don’t have one or if you have one, then always place your guitar in them. This will elongate your guitar strings life and will also improve your guitar’s sound quality.


4. Corrosion

Guitar strings can also catch rust which is a serious problem and can damage your guitar strings. 

Corrosion on guitar strings is a common issue among guitarists because most of us use steel strings instead of nylon strings. Steel strings produce crisp and good sound, but they can also catch rust.

Guitar strings catch rust when there is moisture in the air or if you have sweaty hands which leads to sweat rest on the inner part of strings which catch rust much quicker.

You can avoid this by drying your hands properly before playing guitar. Also, try to play guitar inside where there isn’t much moisture in the air.


5. Outside dust

Guitar strings can get dirty by dust, but they can be cleaned off easily with a cloth or a blow-dryer. 

Another reason for the dirt on the guitar strings is that the dust in the air can also rest on the strings. This dust can affect your sound quality and can also get your strings heavier than usual.

This will make your play your guitar much harder which can lead to breaking the strings. Dust can be cleaned off properly with a dry cloth, but if not cleaned at right time, this can lead to mixing with sweat on your hands and make a hard substance on the strings.

How do I stop my guitar strings from getting dirty?

You can stop your guitar strings from getting dirty by regularly cleaning your strings, and washing and then drying your hands before using guitar strings. 

There are many different reasons by which guitar strings get dirty and we can prevent them. We have discussed above the reasons why guitar strings, so, we can easily prevent those circumstances and we would be able to stop our guitar strings from getting dirty.

Why is there black stuff on my guitar strings?

The black stuff on your guitar strings is gunk – made of sweat or oil from hands mixed with dust. You should clean your hands before playing and also clean your strings and fretboard regularly. 

Some people may have some black substance on their guitar strings which can be pretty disgusting and is also sticky. This substance can also result in bad sound quality and affect your performance.

All you need to do is to wash your hands and dry your hands properly every time you play guitar and also clean it regularly. Replace the strings if the gunk is hardened. Also, don’t forget the famous advice of replacing the strings after playing them for 100 hours or for 3 months.

What is the gunk on guitar strings?

Gunk on guitars is a sticky substance made up of sweat, dead cells, and dust combined and it feels disgusting to touch. You should clean it as soon as possible because it can affect your strings’ life and sound quality. 

If you have gunk on your guitar strings, then please clean it off properly because it is just disgusting to look at. Some players do not keep their hygiene properly, due to which, this gunk develops on the guitar strings.

Try to wash and dry your hands before playing and clean the strings regularly with replacing them after playing them for 100 hours or for 3 months.

Why do my guitar strings rust so quickly?

Guitar strings catch rust often easily because of the moisture in the air and sweat from your hands. Try to dry your hands before playing and clean your guitar string off any moisture regularly to avoid rust. 

Most of the guitarists use steel strings because they are the best ones to use in acoustic and electric guitars. The nylon strings are used in classic guitars but they don’t produce the same sound that steel strings produce.

However, the biggest downfall of using the steel strings is getting rust from the environment. To easily prevent rust, don’t play with sweaty or wet hands. Furthermore, try to play your guitar is not so much moisture atmosphere to elongate its life.

How to clean my guitar strings?

You can clean your guitar strings using a cloth or a brush. Cleaning your guitar strings would definitely elongate your guitar strings’ life and produce a much better sound.

1. Microfiber Cloth

You can use a microfiber cloth to clean your guitar strings and it will not leave any fibers on the strings. 

The cloth will dry any of the moisture from the strings and it will also prevent the strings from any rust in the near future. It can also clean any of the dead skin cells and oily substances from the strings.

2. Guitar strings cleaner

You can also buy a guitar strings cleaner to clean your guitar strings. Spray or put the cleaner on your strings and it will clean the strings like never before. 

The guitar strings cleaners are the best things to clean your strings. They can also clean out any of the gunk or any other hard substance. Just put the cleaner on your strings and clean off any of the excess cleaners with a cloth.

Many guitarists do the mistake of cleaning their guitar strings with a normal household cleaner. This is a big mistake and please stop that. The bleach or soap in those cleaners can damage your strings and will affect your tone and sound quality.

Regularly cleaning guitar strings will keep the blank gunk away.

Ifandi S.

About Ifandi S.

Ifandi started Strumming Bars to answer all the questions of a guitarist. As a self-learned guitarist, he remembered how frustrating it was to not find answers to his many questions in the journey. With Strumming Bars, that's no longer the case!

Close Menu

Strumming Bars

Best Resources Online To Understand Guitar