How to Clean Guitar Pedals | Maintenance to Save Money

man holding mop like a guitar and girl singing to show How to Clean Guitar Pedals

How to Clean Guitar Pedals | Maintenance to Save Money

How to Clean Guitar Pedals


  • Cleaning pedals is a crucial guitar maintenance step, as failing to do so results in a shortened lifespan and the disruption of a clean sound or clean tone.
  • Use a dry microfiber cloth to clean pedals and any associated power supplies, avoiding liquids unless absolutely necessary.
  • Pay special attention to the pots on your pedal, even when using clean boost pedals for a transparent boost, effects loop pedals, or overdrive pedals. 

If you are new to guitar effects, you may wonder how to clean guitar pedals. Many of the best guitars, after all, integrate with a vast array of effects pedals, though these pedals do get dirty over time. So why keep the best guitar pedals clean, and what are some tips to get you there? Keep reading to find out.

Why Keep Pedals Clean?

If you are wondering how many guitar pedals is too many, the answer is just one if you don’t keep it clean. When learning how to power a pedal board, you also learn the importance of keeping your effects pedals as clean as a whistle. Dirty pedals malfunction over time, leading to audio artifacts and players frantically Googling how to eliminate hum from guitar pedals.

In other words, cleaning your pedals is a crucial part of guitar maintenance. This holds true even if you are plugging the best acoustic guitar under $500 into an audio interface or guitar amplifier.

Pedal Cleaning Tips

The actual cleaning process likely differs according to any unique design quirks of your pedal, but there are some universal tips to help you get started.

Use a Microfiber Cloth

Nothing beats a dry and clean microfiber cloth to assist with keeping your pedals in tip-top shape. The microfibers assist with removing debris from the various nooks and crannies that exist within every pedal, particularly if there are plenty of knobs and dials to fool around with. Make a habit of keeping a microfiber cloth or two in your gig bag, along with guitar picks, guitar cables, and other necessary items.

Avoid Liquids

Electronics and liquids do not mix, and this holds true of guitar pedals. After all, pedals are basically just small electric boxes, so avoid using liquids to clean them. This includes water. Of course, defer to the instructions here, as some pedals allow for the use of a dedicated cleaning solution.

Pay Attention to the Pots

The pots, in this context, refer to the area underneath any knobs or dials you use to adjust the various parameters of the pedal. Make sure to give them special attention when cleaning the pedal, as these pots attract gunk, and an abundance of gunk on or around the pots leads to hum and other unwanted audio artifacts. A can of compressed air can do wonders here.

Cleaning Pedals FAQs

What’s the best clean boost guitar pedal?

If you are looking to avoid noise issues or random increases in volume issues, a good choice for guitarists is a clean buffer or clean tone pedal. 

Could I do some maintenance myself? 

You can do plenty of guitar pedal maintenance all by yourself to ensure you great a clean sound or clean tone from your overdrive pedals and the like. Inspect each pedal for issues, looking for unwanted noise, proper gain control, extra volume, and more. 

How do you choose the best clean amp for you? 

When shopping for a clean amp, use your ears to suss out a preferred clean sound or clean tone and check any integrated clean boost controls. Beyond that, try out overdrive pedals to see how they integrate. 



“Remember to check that any cables used for testing are working correctly, the same goes for the guitar and the amplifier.” (source)

TIP: Make a habit of cleaning your pedals whenever you clean your primary instrument.






Lawrence Bonk
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