How To Clean Your Ukulele

You roll out of the car dealer’s lot. That new car smell wafting through the air. If you could bottle this smell, as well as the smell of a newborn baby, you‘d be a gazillionaire!

Sadly as we know that new car smell lasts just a few weeks. Everyday getting less and less noticeable until it smells like you (or McDonalds...haha). And just as the scent of that new car smell is waning away, so is the cleanliness of both interior and exterior of your new car. So we all know that we have to wash and vacuum our cars to maintain them. Hopefully every week, but for some, at least once a year! As we have to maintain our vehicles to keep them in tip top shape, so too must we clean and maintain our ukulele—and not once a year either!

Learning how to clean a ukulele is an essential skill every ukulele player should know how to do. Cleaning your ukulele is one of the most important aspects of proper ukulele maintenance other than your typical strings changes and weekly wipe downs (full gloss ukulele are major finger print magnets).

Over time, with regular practice, your ukulele will naturally accumulate dust, sweat, grime, and corrosion. If not properly cleaned, your ukuleles overall performance may suffer. And if you want your ukulele to last a lifetime, then it is crucial that you clean it properly to ensure longevity. You remember seeing that old man down the street wiping and waxing his car under his garage. That car was probably at least 25 years old and still running like a dream! Your ukulele can play like a dream in 25 years with the right amount of commitment and care.

How to Prepare Your Ukulele For Cleaning

Before you start cleaning your ukulele, there are few things you’ll need to do in preparation. Start by choosing an area where you will work on your ukulele. Choose a well-lit area to do the “examination”. When we play and practice we are sometimes unaware of things happening to the ukulele. Corrosion on the frets, gunk build up on the fret board, and dust blanketing the on the headstock and gears. So finding a place with good lighting will help you find the areas that need the cleaning.

You can choose to place the ukulele on a desk, workbench, or even your lap. When working on your ukulele it’s best to have the neck propped up at an angle at the nut. This makes it much easier to access the tuning pegs and other parts of the ukulele. It just makes the ukulele a lot easier to handle.

I would also recommend resting your ukulele on a padded work mat to ensure that you don’t damage the finish. When you’re working with a ukulele, you’ll be lifting up, flipping over, and handling it a lot, so it’s important to make sure you don’t create any scuffs or scratches. And in the case you accidentally drop your ukulele, it will fall onto something soft. Ukulele dents are pretty impossible to fix, so this is important.

Organize Your Workspace

When cleaning the ukulele, it helps to have ample room to move and neatly organize your tools and cleaning supplies. You do not want to worry about your ukulele sliding, falling or banging into anything. So, clear your work desk or bench, clean off all the dust and gunk and then place your ukulele on the table. Arrange all other supplies right next to it.

What you will need:

  • A micro fiber towel

  • Music Nomad’s premium ukulele care kit

  • 0000 Super fine steel wool (for super corroded frets)

  • Painters tape (once again for super corroded frets)

  • Damp paper towel or vacuum.

Wash your hands before handling your ukulele. Just in case you been snacking right before.

Remove the strings

Once you have your station and all the necessary tools and products for cleaning set up, remove the ukulele strings. Removing the st