Alternatives to denatured alcohol for string cleaning (not boiling)

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by kesslari, Jul 4, 2022.

  1. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Denatured alcohol is no longer available in CA. (Let's keep the political comments out of the thread, please). I don't like boiling strings.
    What other good alternatives are available for string soaking/cleaning?
    Cost, within reason, is not a huge issue - I only buy one or two quarts of the stuff per year.

    <edit> with a bit more research I find I could use Everclear...
    I've also seen isopropyl alcohol as an alternative - anyone use it?
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2022
  2. I have used isopropyl, the rag was dirty when i was done but the strings still weren’t all that clean feeling when i was done.
    I now keep microfiber rags around and give my strings a good dry rubdown before I start playing, that makes a huge noticeable difference in how they feel…. Im a rounds guy, just saying that for reference.
  3. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Acetone will remove greasy stuff better than alcohol. Use gloves and don't breath a lot of the fumes to be safe.
    fhm555, BBQisgood, 31HZ and 3 others like this.
  4. GTHintz


    Jan 9, 2018
    I've boiled them and it's a good idea to try to get a little more life out of them. But as far as something to clean them I've wiped them down with a little bit of electrical contact cleaner on a rag. All I'm going to say on banning is that we just need to ban everyone who wants to ban everything and we'd be fine. Or just ban banning things. Watch me get banned too. :bag:
  5. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    I've used isopropyl. The main argument against it is that it does contain some water, so there's a chance it will seep into the string and cause corrosion at the core. But I generally only use it as a wipe down, not a soak. When I feel like my strings are so bad that a soak would be in order, I'll buy a fresh set.
  6. LetItGrowTone


    Apr 2, 2019
    I think it was called Everclear because it is (almost) free of water, which would cloud it.
  7. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    Ethyl ether, can you buy that?
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2022
  8. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Ah, now I understand the problem with isopropyl.
    I use denatured as a soak (inside a length of PVC).
    Seems like Everclear is the front runner.
    BassinCT likes this.
  9. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    All alcohols contain water. Lab grade 200 proof (100%) ethyl alcohol will drop to 198 proof (99%) as soon as you open the container in air as it absorbs moisure. Other alcohols act the same. I use 80% or better isopropyl and make sure the strings are dry after treating.
    NKBassman, Loring, DaDo625 and 11 others like this.
  10. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Pretty much, I use a dry cloth as well, and I have really oily hands. I also play rounds. I'm thinking in general sticky strings is more of a problem with flats, especially in areas with high humidity.
    zon6c-f likes this.
  11. LetItGrowTone


    Apr 2, 2019
    Then I guess that nearly pure ethanol would strongly absorb, disperse and help to evaporate any moisture in the string.
  12. superiorpine

    superiorpine Superiorpine Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2007
    Milwaukee WI
    I use silicone spray, either sprayed on a shop rag and then looped around the string and moved up and down, or sprayed directly on a string while the fingerboard is protected with wax paper, and then wiped with a shop rag.

    It cleans well, leaves negligible residue when wiped off well, and strings feel great afterward. Anecdotally it seems to make strings last longer, and increases string clarity after cleaning. IME, YMMV, while it works for me it may or may not be that great of an idea, and other general disclaimers.
    MattZilla likes this.
  13. Tim Craig

    Tim Craig Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Nashville area
    How bout’ a new set?
  14. LetItGrowTone


    Apr 2, 2019
    Many people like their strings broken in, and hope to never change them for new.
  15. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    We play new sets every gig! Bandleader has a huge repertoire.
    Oh, you meant new set of strings? :D :D :D
  16. thunesBARROW


    Apr 12, 2010
    New York
    It’s almost an excellent idea. I’m sure it maintains and cleans strings well, but it’s also toxic and a skin irritant.
    aprod likes this.
  17. GeeBass

    GeeBass Supporting Member

    Jul 14, 2004
    North/Central NJ
    I got this tip from builder Carl Thompson way back - I'm really surprised I've never seen this method posted in these kinds of threads.

    I've used pure lemon oil for 30+ years to successfully freshen up strings.

    1] Loosen the strings one at a time
    2] Wipe down the string length with a cloth saturated with some lemon oil on it
    3] Wipe down string again with clean cloth this time, to remove any excess oil and grime.
    4] Retune string, before moving on to the next string - and repeat 1 thru 4.

    I've done this many times to the same string set - it really freshens and stretches the life of strings, with none of the down sides from boiling or using chemicals.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2022
  18. I use methanol. For some reason it’s called Methyl Hydrate in Canada.
    mikewalker and MisterUbu like this.
  19. LetItGrowTone


    Apr 2, 2019
    Ethanol should be equivalent and much safer. Wouldn't even want methanol on my hands.
    (Sorry, just warning people who might not know.)
    RocknRay and AEVAREX like this.
  20. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    fast fret.jpg

    a friend of mine (pro, full-time) just told me on saturday that he's started using this stuff and that he's very pleased with the improved "string life." he'd also been a denatured alcohol guy, but said: "i went from treatment to prevention."

    i've used the stuff before --- years ago, but didn't get the same results (user error?), and stopped using it. just throwing it out there because he (and others: the stuff is ubiquitous) finds it useful.

    good luck finding the right stuff! :thumbsup:

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