How to wash a guitar case

How to Wash a Guitar Case: The Easiest Way to Clean It

Keeping your guitar case clean is as important as caring for the instrument itself. A clean case looks great and protects your guitar from dust and grime. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the simple yet effective steps to clean your guitar case, ensuring it stays in top condition.

To wash a guitar case, first remove all contents, dust off the exterior and vacuum the interior. Then, use a gentle cleaner and a soft cloth to wipe down the inside and outside, avoiding any harsh chemicals or excessive moisture that could damage the case. Baking soda can help with stains or musty, unpleasant odor.

How to Wash a Guitar Case?

Because there are two types of guitar cases, the hardshell guitar case and the soft one, aka gig bag, let us look at them separately and also at your options to get rid of unpleasant smell.

How Do You Clean A Hardshell Guitar Case?

What You Will Need:

  • Soft Cloth: Ideal for gentle cleaning without scratching the case.
  • Mild Soap: A gentle soap ensures no harsh chemicals damage the case’s exterior or interior.
  • Vacuum Cleaner: Useful for removing dust and debris from the interior.
  • Water: For mixing with mild soap, used in a dampened cloth.
  • Towel: For drying the case after cleaning. Take a kitchen towel to avoid lint.

How To Clean Guitar Case Interior:

  • Empty the Case and ensure all items are removed from the case, use a vacuum cleaner to remove any loose dust and debris. Mix mild soap with water, dip a soft cloth in the solution, and wring it out well. Gently clean any discolored or stained areas. Dry thoroughly in the end. Simply wipe the interior with a dry towel to remove any moisture.
  • If the guitar case adopted an unpleasant smell because it spent to much time in a musty cellar or smoky rooms you can either try steam cleaning your guitar case or use something like baking powder to get rid of it.

3 Ways to Get Rid of Unpleasant Odor in a Guitar Case

Unpleasant odors in a guitar case can be a nuisance, but they are usually manageable with some simple steps. Here’s how you can freshen up your case:

1. Air It Out

After cleaning it, open the case and leave it in a well-ventilated area. Keep it out of direct sunlight, as this could cause discoloration. This helps to dissipate the smell.

2. Absorbing the Odor

  • Baking Soda: Sprinkle baking soda inside the case and leave it overnight. Vacuum it out the next day. Baking soda is excellent for absorbing odors.
  • Charcoal: Place a few pieces of charcoal in a breathable bag and leave it in the case for a few days. Charcoal naturally absorbs odors.
  • Coffee Grounds: Fresh or used coffee grounds can also help. Place them in a breathable bag or bowl and leave them in the case for a day or two.
  • Essential Oils: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a piece of cloth and leave it in the case to impart a pleasant smell.

3. Steam Clean the Guitar Case:

Equipment Needed:

  • Steam Cleaner: A handheld steam cleaner, that is intended for the use of upholstery or fabrics, is ideal for this purpose.
  • Microfiber Cloths or Dish Towel: To wipe down the case after steam cleaning.

Instructions: Fill the steam cleaner with water and let it heat up. Hold the steam cleaner nozzle close to the case surface. Move it slowly across the case, focusing on one section at a time. Immediately after steaming a section, wipe it dry. Allow the case to air dry completely before using it again. Do not linger too long on one spot to prevent damaging the case, also like with all fabrics to a spot test to see that your case lining can handle the temperature.

Preventing Future Odors

  • Moisture Control: Use silica gel packets to control moisture in the case (if it is not in use), as dampness can cause odors. For cases containing a guitar, a humidifier that can also absorb excess moisture like the Humidipak System by D’Addario is a better option.
  • Regular Cleaning: Regularly air out and clean the case to prevent odor buildup.

How Do You Clean a Soft Guitar Case – Gig Bag?

With a soft guitar case you have also the option to simply toss it into the washing machine, so whichever way you choose, here is how to do it and what to look out for.

In a Washing Machine:

Ensure all pockets are empty. Close zippers and velcro to prevents damage during washing. And if there is already damage like something coming lose or a rip in the fabric, make sure to repair it before washing, as ist could get worse otherwise. Pre-treat any heavy stains with a gentle stain remover.

Washing Machine Settings: Use a gentle cycle to avoid damaging the bag. Cold water (30°C) is recommended to prevent shrinking or fading. Use a mild, bleach-free detergent.

Post-Wash: Air dry the bag in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Adjust the bag’s shape as it dries.

Wash by Hand:

Fill a bucket or basin with lukewarm water. Mix a mild detergent with the lukewarm water. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub the bag, paying extra attention to dirty areas. Rinse the bag with clean water to remove soap residue. Press out excess water and air dry the bag in a shaded, well-ventilated area.

How to Maintain Your Guitar Case

Use a soft, dry cloth to wipe down the exterior of your case. This prevents dust and dirt from accumulating. Vacuum the interior of your case occasionally to remove dust and small particles. For gig bags you can use a fabric cleaner.

Check and clean latches and hinges regularly. Lubricate them if necessary to keep them functioning smoothly. Also regularly check for signs of wear and tear, such as loose stitching or cracks. Early detection make those easy to mend and prevents more significant issues.

If a spill occurs, clean it up promptly to prevent stains. Use a damp cloth and mild soap for hardshell cases and a suitable fabric cleaner for gig bags.
When not in use, store your guitar case in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to avoid material degradation. If your case gets wet, air dry it thoroughly. If your case starts to develop an odor, place baking soda or coffe grounds inside it (as recommended above) to absorb the smell.

By caring for your case, maintaining it, you can ensure that your guitar case remains clean, functional, and looks its best while protecting your guitar as it should.

Can the Guitar Case Be Fixed and How Much Is the Repair?

Simple repairs like fixing loose stitching or small cracks can often be done at home with basic tools and materials. This can be cost-effective, often under $20 for supplies.

For more significant damage, professional repair services are recommended. Costs can vary widely, from around $40 to $150, depending on the extent of damage and type of case.

Cost vs. Replacement

Before opting for repairs, consider the case’s age and replacement cost. Sometimes replacing a severely damaged case is more economical than repairing it.

When Should I Replace My Guitar Case?

You should replace your guitar case when it no longer provides reliable protection for your guitar or when the cost of repairing it is close to or exceeds the cost of a new one.

If the case has significant structural damage, like a broken shell or a compromised locking mechanism, it may no longer provide adequate protection for your guitar, and if it doesn’t do its job, a replacement is necessary.

Also, ongoing problems, such as persistent odors, mold, or excessive wear, such as torn fabric or heavily scuffed corners, might affect the case’s functionality and appearance and you could opt for a replacement.

And at last if the cost of repair approaches or exceeds the cost of a new case, replacement is the more sensible option.

What Is the Cost of a Replacement Guitar Case?

Like many things in the music world there is a broad variety of guitar cases, varying significantly in price. You can get hardshell cases as cheap as $50 (gig bags start even lower), suitable for casual use or entry level instruments. If you want a professional, high end case for increased protection they can be easily 10 – 20 times as much ($500-$1000) or more.

But you don’t have to go all out to protect your guitar, there are plenty good options mid-range. And to be more cost effective, you can also look at second-hand options. The value of your guitar should give you a clue for what to spend at most, in my opinion it’s not worthwhile to spend $500 on a case for a $200 guitar.


In summary, the key to extending the life of your guitar case, whether it’s a hardshell or a gig bag, lies in regular maintenance and proper cleaning. So maybe just look it over whenever you’re taking care of your guitar.

Regular dusting, spot cleaning with appropriate materials, and addressing any repairs promptly can significantly prolong the life of your case.

By incorporating these simple yet effective practices, you ensure that your guitar remains protected and your case stays in good condition for years to come. The care you give to your guitar case ensures the safety of your guitar.

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