How to Clean Your Ukulele so It Stays Just Like New

Keep 'er clean.
Tayler Tayler (75)
10 minutes

Ahhh... Ukuleles. The fun, compact tiny guitar that is impossible to play without being happy. They can be easy on the wallet, easy to carry from place to place, and, let's be honest, they're cute.

They're a fun instrument to have and learn!

Whether you drop $1000 or $50 on your instrument, taking care of your uke is an important part of making sure that it's producing the best possible sound for as long as it can.

Comparatively, and thankfully, ukes are significantly easier to care for than a lot of other instruments. They don't need much TLC. The best way to take care of your uke is to proactively care for it which only really involves a few things.

Grab your uke and let's get started.

Microfiber Cleaning ClothMicrofiber Cleaning Cloth ×1
Steel Wool 0000Steel Wool 0000 ×1
Lemon OilLemon Oil ×1

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Close up of strings.

Your skin produces oil and your fingertips are no exception to this. Every time you play your uke, you transfer a bit of oil to the strings and the instrument itself.

Oil left on the strings can actually affect the longevity of the strings and cause them to wear down a lot faster. Worn down strings fall out of tune a lot quicker than newer and cared for strings. It can also corrode your frets and warp the wood of your fretboard, though it takes a long time for this to happen. Here's how to combat this.

If you can only do one thing, do this!

Wipe down your uke

  • After each play session, wipe down your strings with a soft, microfiber cloth.
  • Make sure you also wipe your tuning keys and the body of your uke as well.

If you find yourself wondering: what about my fretboard? - don't fret, my musical friend. Here's how you can take care of that fretboard and keep it playing like new.

Clean your fretboard every time you change your strings.

Clean your fretboard

  • Remove your strings carefully.
  • Using 0000-grade steel wool, very lightly scrub the wool over your fretboard, removing the grime. Do this very lightly. Unnecessary pressure can harm the frets.
  • Wipe down the fret with your microfiber cloth.

Check out my guide How to Restring Your Ukulele if you need a detailed breakdown of how to safely remove your strings.

Freshly cleaned uke.

The final recommendation that I have for all you ukulele players out there is to polish the body of your instrument from time to time.

When I first started playing the ukulele, I found a lot of different sources telling me what type of polish to use, how frequently I should polish, and what fabric I should use.

Let me tell you, none of them could agree. They all offered different information, different do's and don't's which left me to choose an option and figure out what works best for me.

Here's how I polish my instrument, as sourced from the Kala website:

Polish your uke

  • Dab a little lemon oil on your microfiber rag.
  • Carefully and gently rub down your instrument, concentrating on the main body first.
  • Drag any residue oil over your fretboard.
  • Don't oil your strings.

Once you're finished, carefully restring your instrument and enjoy your freshly cleaned ukulele! Happy strumming!

Interested in trying out a uke? Check out my guide on the best ukuleles for beginners.

Only tuned ukes allowed!
Tayler Tayler (75)

Ukuleles—fun to play, impossible to keep permanently in tune. The bottom line is this: You need to know how to tune a ukulele in order to play a ukulele.