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If you have an instrument like a violin, you are responsible for maintaining it so that no damage comes to the instrument, and so that it is kept clean.

But knowing how to clean a violin doesn’t come with every violin purchase.

In fact, if you don’t investigate it on your own, you might not know what products to use or avoid, and you certainly might not realize that different products should be used on different parts of your violin.

To help you with that we’ve put together this quick guide on how to clean different parts of the violin, how to remove different substances, and more.

Regular violin maintenance

Regular maintenance will go a long way toward keeping your violin safe, secure, and free from debris that needs to be cleaned.

It’s always best to keep your violin in a violin case.

Cases can protect you or violin from damage to the gluing that holds the different pieces together, or damage to the actual wood in which case the wood used for the top, the sides, or the back can crack.

It’s also important to keep violins away from direct sunlight and to prevent them from getting knocked over.

Don’t put them in an area where someone might accidentally hit them, or against a wall that gets a lot of wind or cold temperatures.

In fact, you can add a soft blanket over your violin to prevent it from damage from sharper pointed objects that could damage the varnish.

That said, in addition to keeping your violin safe and secure, at some point or another you will need to be able to clean it.

How to clean rosin off violin

All violins have to be cleaned on a regular basis, not just violins that are on display in a music store. Even if you keep your violin in a case you’re still going to have to clean it from time to time.

The most dangerous of things to land on your fingerboard is rosin.

When you are applying rosin to the string it can get on any other part of your violin and if you don’t wipe away that dust after each playing session or each time you rosin your bow or violin, it can damage the varnish.

That said, it is best to use a soft cloth to wipe away rosin dust from the violin.

You don’t want to use the same cloth that you use to regularly clean the body of the violin because this can accidentally result in lakes of rosin sticking to your cloth and then distributing across the varnish, damaging it.

If you keep two rags or cloths in your violin case, one can be reserved for wiping away rosin and the other can be reserved for cleaning your violin.

How to clean violin strings

When trying to clean rosin off the strings, or trying to clean the strings in general, pure alcohol will work very well to get the stubborn build-up but you should be very careful to put the rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth and then rub your violin strings with the cloth, never allowing the alcohol to drip onto the body of your instrument.

Rubbing alcohol can damage the varnish to the rest of your violin.

Below is a video on how to clean your violin at home.

How to clean violin fingerboard

Most of the time the fingerboard is not varnished which means you can clean the fingerboard with the same method you would use to clean stubborn rosin off of the violin strings, by placing drops of isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol onto a clean cloth and then rubbing the fingerboard with it.

Tip: It’s always best to wash your hands before you practice or even touch your violin so that you don’t get things like dirt or grease on the instrument. This will go a long way toward keeping it clean.

When you are trying to clean the body of your violin and getting off things like fingerprints, you should gently wipe them with a soft, dry cloth.

If this isn’t enough, you can use violin cleaning products readily available in music shops.

These products are designed specifically to avoid damage to the varnish but to get rid of the most common problems like dust, dirt, and fingerprints.

Caring for the varnish

As mentioned, the varnish is very susceptible to damage and if you don’t clean it properly it will lose a lot of its shine and luster.

It’s important to carefully wipe any rosin dust off of your violin when you are playing and to only handle the violin by the neck so that the sweat from your hands won’t touch the rest of the instrument.

Even if you wash your hands before you pick up your violin you can still leave traces of sweat or compounds like acidic fatty compounds which will erode the varnish with time.

Thankfully, there are cleaning products out there that can help combat this.

Violin cleaning kits

While you can take care of most issues with simple things in your home like rubbing alcohol there might be more stubborn situations where, as mentioned, you need specific violin cleaning products.

Most violin cleaning products you can purchase in a set, complete with everything you would need for the different parts of your violin and the different purposes including the strings versus the body and cleaning things like rosin vs. fingerprints.

How to clean a violin

Now that you know how to clean a violin, maybe it’s time to invest in a new cleaning kit that you can use to take care of your violin.

There are different cleaning kits but which kit is best for your situation can vary.

To help you with that we’ve put together some information on the top violin cleaning products. 

It’s important to always consult an industry professional before using any new product on your instrument.

CIELmusic String Instrument Cleaning Kit, Violin Cleaning Kit, Violin Cleansing Oil Set + Cleaning Cloth, Violin Polish, Violin Viola Cello Cleaner

This set contained everything you would need to keep your violin clean including a cleaning cloth for regular maintenance, violin polish, cleaner, and cleansing oil.

The cleansing oil is specifically designed to remove rosin dust so if you have excess rosin on the body of your violin or on the string, the cleansing oil with a separate cleaning cloth will be able to remove this.

The glossy oil is designed to protect the varnish and bring back some of the original shine.

You might not even realize how much of your instrument is covered in old rosin dust but as soon as you use this glossy oil and get rid of that dust it will shine like new.

It will highlight the natural grains in the wood used for your instrument and keep your strings free from any dust or rosin that would inhibit sound. 

In addition to the glossy oil and the cleansing oil there is violin polish and all three of these contain natural products that are safe to use in any environment and will not damage your instrument.

View at Amazon to learn more about how this product might work for you.

Pros:

  • Has a good smell, which not all products do
  • Contains three cleansers for different parts of the violin
  • Fits in most case compartments for storage

Cons:

  • Has cleaning cloth, but only 1 and you should have 2

Alfred Music Publishing 99-1474090 Orchestral String Instrument Cleaning & Care Product

If you are a beginner and you have never used products on your violin before, this is a good kit to start with.

It’s designed with the cleaning cloths and the cleaning compounds perfect for maintaining the body of the violin.

This is an instrument cleaning and care kit. It is a kit designed and approved by music teachers so all of the products in it are likely things that you can use in a music class ordering private lessons.

With the American-made products you can care for each component of your violin.

You get a polishing cloth in this kit as well as dark rosin for your strings, instrument polish that you can use to improve the varnish on your instrument, and a compound to help clean the strings.

Unlike other kits this not only comes with a way to remove rosin but it provides extra dark rosin if you don’t have rosin.

For beginners, this might save an extra investment by providing the rosin for the strings and the bow, as well as the cleaning products to get rid of extra rosin dust from the strings and the body of the violin.

View at Amazon to learn more about how this product might work for you.

Pros:

  • Made in America
  • Approved by music teachers
  • Has cleaning cloths with it

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have as many cleaning products for removing rosin as other kits

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