Halli Bentley
Product Expert

Video Highlights

0:08 Always good to give your ukulele a clean once in a while
0:24 Best way can be with a lint free damp cloth
0:33 Worse thing you can do is overtreat it
0:42 Can use polish for gloss or painted ukuleles
0:50 Stay away from your fretboard with polish
1:02 You can use oils
1:15 If you have a natural wood uke, stay away from polish
1:24 Strings need to be cleaned often
1:45 Tuning pegs should be cleaned once in a while
2:00 How to clean the frets with either a qtip or toothpick
2:15 Overall its pretty easy

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Article - How To Clean Your Ukulele

Firstly, congratulations on your ukulele purchase!

By now you have been playing for a while and your ukulele may be ready for cleaning. If your ukulele has been sitting around for too long without being played it will collect dust. For this, there is a simple solution… get your ukulele out and play it more often! That’s why you bought it, isn’t it!?

On the other side of the spectrum, if you play vigorously each day your ukulele is probably collecting lots of sweat and oil from your hands. Regardless of the reason, every ukulele deserves a cleaning every once in a while! There are different cleaning techniques and styles for ukuleles and their parts. We will go over a few of them.

Cleaning the Body

The way you clean the body of your ukulele is really going to depend on what kind of ukulele you have and what you’re trying to clean off. If you have taken your uke out and spilled something on it, for example, a damp lint-free cloth will work best. This also works fine for a typical routine cleaning.

If you have a gloss or painted ukulele, a small amount of guitar or ukulele polish will work nicely to give it a clean, shiny appearance!

If you have a matte-finish uke (or natural), it is okay to use the polish but be sure to use it very sparingly. It is easy to leave a spotty appearance on a matte-finish uke with polish.

WARNING: Be sure to stay away from the fret board and the strings while applying polish to your uke!

Cleaning the Fret board

The most important thing to remember about cleaning your ukulele’s fret board is that the most dangerous thing you can do is OVER treat it! Oils are commonly used to clean fret boards and there are many different types out there to be experimented with! It’s all up to the uke player which oil he/she chooses to use. Though, fret boards should never be treated (with oil) more than 2 times a year.

Avoid using "polish" on your fret board all together. Polish can increase the chance of the frets rising or expanding. If your ukulele has a lot of dirt and grime built up on the frets (as mine does from being played so often), you can GENTLY use wire wool to remove it. Be remember, especially if you have a natural ukulele, that you must be gentle as not to damage the wood.

Cleaning the Strings
Being nylon, ukulele strings can get coated with your skin's oil pretty easily. Although this can be a bit of a nuisance, when compared to guitar strings that wear down rather quickly compared to the ukuleles nylon, it’s not that big of a deal. An easy fix to remove the oil is to remember to wipe down the strings often (some even recommend doing it after every session).

Constantly keeping your ukulele maintained is a great habit and will ultimately allow your uke to live a long and happy life!

Video Transcript

Hey guys. It's Halli with UkuleleMate. I heard that you wanted to clean your ukulele. Well, for whatever reason, it's always a good idea to give your ukulele a little cleaning every once in a while.

So, for the sake of this video, let's just say that we took our ukulele on the road on a trip, and we got dirt all over it. For things like this, the best way to do it is just to take a lint free cloth, damp it, wet it down a little bit with some water, and just wipe it off simply. You don't want to try and overdo. The worst thing you can do to your ukulele is over-treat it.

If we have a gloss finish or a painted ukulele, you can use polish on your body right here to clean it. But stay away from your fretboard with polish. Always stay away, because polish on your fretboard can raise the frets, and it can also damage the wood. So don't ever use polish on your fretboard.

You can use oils. A lot of people use lemon oil on their fretboards. But even with that, you need to be sparing with it for the same reason as the polish.

If you have a natural ukulele, if you have a wood ukulele, stay away from polish altogether, because it can ruin your wood, and you just don't want to get into that.

Your strings need to be cleaned often. They need to be cleaned more than anything else, because, especially being nylon, they're going to absorb a lot of the oils from your fingertips. It's always good to just keep them wiped down after every session. It's a good habit to have.

Your tuning pegs, it's nice to just wipe those down every once in a while. They shouldn't get too dirty, but while you're wiping down the body with the cloth, you can just go over your tuning pegs and your keys.

If you get some grime up in here on the frets and stuff, just dirt and stuff from your fingers, the easiest way is to take a Q-tip or a toothpick and just kind of clean it out there. You could wet the Q-tip down with a little bit of water and just get in there and clean it out. You can use a little bit of oil, but then again be careful with the oil, because you don't want to ruin the wood.

So yeah, it's pretty simple to clean a ukulele. I hope you guys are enjoying them. Thanks. See you.