The other day I was teaching some 5 and 6 year old friends about my violin, and they drew the bow all over the fingerboard, making the strings sticky. I don't want to damage my violin while cleaning it, but it's hard to work with and I do need to keep practicing.

My violin did not come with anything to clean it with, and before now, it hasn't gotten so dirty that I had any trouble wiping it off with whatever was handy. My present situation seems to call for water (which I am worried would damage my violin) or some kind of cleaner. As to the latter, I do not know what kinds to use and not to use, and I would rather be safe and ask before I act.

  • 1
    My mother cleans her violins finger board with eucalyptus oil.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 9:14

3 Answers 3


If the goal is to remove the rosin residue on your strings, you can remove it with a soft dry cloth, without any other product.

Put the cloth on the string, one at a time, then by snapping two fingers together firmly go back and forth across the length of the string.

This sould produce a somewhat high shriek from the strings and will put them out of tune. It is not dangerous.

Same goes for the fingerboard itself, if the rosin is not too ingrained in it, rubbing with a cloth might do it.

Otherwise, you can go to a luthier and ask for something to clean your violin, the ones I know each have their own recipe for that and normally give it or sell it really cheaply.

Also, as relevantly commented by Sergio, do not use any alchool in the process. This will badly damage the varnish, maybe even affect the sound.

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    NIce answer, +1. Might be usefull refering that alcohol related products are a no no, just so people don't even get tempted.
    – Sergio
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 7:25

When I was a kid I had this violin cleaner and polish set from Shar. Maybe you could look into that cleaner stuff to get rosin off. Looking at Sharmusic's website they seem to have a lot of cleaning supplies. I'd be interested to hear feedback from anyone else who has used that.

Personally I have used rubbing alcohol on the fingerboard because a teacher suggested I use it on the chinrest to deal with my violinist hickey possibly getting infected. And I accidentally got rubbing alcohol on the varnish on the back of my violin, which of course took a layer of varnish off in the shape of a square. Embarrassing. And I think the rubbing alcohol might have damaged the fingerboard. So that's my experience with it.


Indeed there are the so-called "instrument polishes" but if in dire need and willing to try something on a NON-shellac finished instrument ( careful there! ) you could try ..non-alcoholic furniture wipes. There are some that do not contain alcohol or leave residue- an acquaintance uses them to gently wipe the neck every week (ok, a hard worker, gives lessons every day so the violin gets dirty a lot) by passing a rolled up wet furniture wipe underneath the strings. Me, I have a totally un-violin-like beast made out of resin and composites , finished with nitro (yes, an electric abomination) but it still has an ebony fretboard. Using the same furniture wet wipes, not pressing down too hard, and cleaning up afterwards with a microfiber cloth did nothing bad to my particular instrument in 12 years now. My friend uses a lower, student-grade violin for teaching and only gets the master-built one out in concerts. I do not know how she services the high quality instrument, but the same wet furniture wipes worked perfectly on her other, teaching- grade violin also with non-shellac finish.

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