How do you remove rust from guitar strings?

How do you remove rust from guitar strings?

How do you remove rust from guitar strings? You may be asking yourself this question. Well, we are going to go over how you can do this on this post. If there’s rust on your guitar strings, it is probably a sign that you need to replace them. Guitar strings are not that expensive and range anywhere from $5 to $18 a set. The biggest hassle you may face is just actually replacing your guitar strings. If that’s a problem a guitar tech at a guitar shop can replace them relatively inexpensively. We also have a free guide on how to change acoustic guitar strings yourself here.

There are a few methods that you can use to remove rust from guitar strings; such as using aluminum foil, steel wool or very fine sandpaper. We typically don’t recommend as you could scratch your fretboard or do other damage to your guitar. Here are a few methods you can consider to remove rust from your guitar strings:

Microfiber Cloth and Rubbing Alcohol


 A cheap method you may be thinking about to remove rust from your guitar is using isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Typically this alcohol comes in 70% to 80% solution. What you can do here is lightly douse a microfiber cloth in rubbing alcohol. Stick 1/2 the microfiber cloth underneath the guitar strings and the other half over the top of the guitar strings. Slide the microfiber cloth back and forth down the neck until you remove the bad rusty coating.  This may not remove all the rust and you might have to go back and forth multiple times.

After using the isopropyl rubbing alcohol to remove any rust or other debris off of your guitar strings you may notice a squeaking high pitch sound when you slide and move across your guitar strings this will be there for a while as that alcohol  has a drying effect on your guitar Street.

Other methods, such as using sandpaper will be really aggressive on your guitar strings it may remove the rust off your guitar strings but it can also remove other beneficial coatings on your guitar strings. 

Microfiber Cloth and Guitar String Cleaner


The second method is using a microfiber cloth and dousing them with a guitar string cleaner. These guitar string cleaners typically come as conditioners to help get longer life out of your guitar strings. We mentioned earlier about isopropyl rubbing alcohol. The disadvantage with rubbing alcohol is that has a drying effect and it can get on your guitar neck and cause your guitar neck to dry out.

Guitar string cleaners won’t have this effect. Your guitar neck typically needs fretboard oil or some sort of conditioner to keep the fretboard well conditioned.  With a guitar string cleaner, you can use the same method as the rubbing alcohol and go back and forth across your strings. You will not have to worry as much about getting the guitar string cleaner on the fretboard but it is still wise to remove the excess with a different clean microfiber cloth across the fretboard. 

Classical Guitar Nylon String Cleaning



If you have a classical guitar, it will have nylon guitar strings. This may not require a guitar cleaner as the strings are just made out of nylon and water and a microfiber cloth will in most cases suffice. Acoustic and electric guitars are made from steel stings. Some strings come with coatings on them so be aware you may be taking off some of that coating when you clean them aggressively.

Take off your guitar strings and clean them by hand


Another method is to completely take off your guitar strings and clean each one by hand. This is at higher risk if your guitar strings are older because they’ve been under tension for a while and you may have difficulty getting them to keep in tune and you may also face more difficulty when you reinstall the guitar strings.  The tuning peg section where you guitar strings wind around will have bends in them and you will have to reinstall them in the same fashion as before.

It may be time to replace your guitar strings

If you get to this point we suggest you just replace the guitar strings as you are already going through a lot of hassle to take off the guitar strings and strings are relatively inexpensive to replace. guitar strings need to be replaced every six months or so. It may be sooner though. It completely depends on how dirty they get, how cheap the strings were, and how often you play the guitar.  Since the guitar strings are off and it is a good time to use fretboard oil or even mineral oil to condition your fretboard and clean off any gunk. 


If you really desire to remove rust off your guitar strings and save some money to get some extra life out of your guitar strings then try these methods to keep your guitar strings cleaner, We hope you found this article to be helpful and keep on playing. Enjoy. Have a good day!