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Guitar Tech

Don’t Buy Polishing Cloths!

Updated: February 16, 2020
Fender Factory Polishing Cloth
Don’t waste your money!

There are a lot of rackets in the music equipment industry, and one of the biggest is the branded polishing cloth. You could buy a one of these Fender Factory Cloths for almost $7, or you could buy a couple yards of flannel in bulk and have enough material for at least a couple years.

Standard cloths are typically $4 to $10, and this flannel from Amazon is under $10 a yard, or about $0.75 a square foot. Given that most polishing cloths are a foot square, that’s a savings of 82% over the cheapest cloth!

While some polishing cloths offer different types of material, like plush or ultra-plush microfiber, flannel is a microfiber cloth that works just as well (if not better) than the plush versions.

When using a polishing cloth, be very careful of little bits of debris getting embedded into the cloth. One strong swirl and you can quickly leave a deep gouge which can be very difficult to remove.

I like using white flannel for this reason, it’s easier to spot little bits that can do damage to your guitar’s finish.

If you’re doing a deep cleaning of your guitar, these cloths can get pretty gnarly with dirt, grime, and any polishing compound that you are using. Don’t keep using them! Throw them in the wash, or just toss them if they’re too far gone. And at $0.75 per cloth, you won’t feel bad about burning through a couple of them.

Paul Bunyon's shirt makes for bad polishing cloths
Please don’t use an old flannel shirt. Especially if you’ve been running a chainsaw.

Be extra careful when doing any sort of soldering or fret work. This is typically when small flecks of metal can get lodged in your cloths. Better yet, keep any polishing cloths in a sealed ziplock to insure they stay as clean as possible.

There you go, a tip to save you a bunch of money and keep all of your instruments clean. Now stop cleaning the dang thing and play it!