I played a show last night with my acoustic guitar in an environment that was thick with the smell of fried food, and as a result this morning my guitar smelled like fryer oil. This certainly isn't a problem when I play coffee houses or even roadhouses since I don't mind the smell of coffee or stale beer, but I'd like to draw the line at smelling like old McDonald's.

Is there a way to either safely treat my guitar before a show to prevent smells from setting in, or something I can do when I get home to try and detox it?

  • I believe you're well aware that this problem won't actually affect how the guitar sounds, so, is it just an issue about how your guitar smells when you play it? Jan 14, 2022 at 4:34
  • 1
    Afterward ... open air environment, a fan into the sound hole. Beforehand ... simulate a box of baking soda or certain charcoal? ... baking soda in tea bags? Jan 14, 2022 at 4:44
  • My mother says she suffers from a similar problem - that smells "cling to her face" for several minutes to even hours after exposure. Our house's bonus room suffers from a several-minute version nowadays.
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 14, 2022 at 13:23
  • Just curious, if you can't stand the lingering smell on the guitar the day after, how did you survive playing the whole gig, the source of the stink? Jan 14, 2022 at 15:38
  • @MichaelCurtis - Likely the same way my mother can stand cooking but not keeping on smelling her cooking on her face after the dishes are done.
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 14, 2022 at 16:54

2 Answers 2


Letting it "air out" afterward is probably the best suggestion so far. I wonder how much the smell is getting into the grain of the wood and how much it's actually in the fabric lining of your guitar case? During the gig, can you store your case somewhere safe from the smell? (At the weirdest, stuff it into a giant garbage bag?)

I've have some products that are just small cloth bags of activated charcoal, meant to be put into shoes. They have no perfume of their own and don't seem to "leak"; they ought to be safe to put inside the instrument.

I'd steer away from the thinking you seem to be hinting at about "treating" the guitar before the show—I doubt there's any substance you could spray, rub, etc inside the guitar that would be "safe."

And I guess the obvious recommendations are too obvious—bring an electric, or stop playing shows in Dunkin Donuts/KFC.


The old trick for getting cigarette smoke smell out of your stage suit was to hang it overnight over a bowl of vinegar. Don't suppose that would do a guitar any harm.

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