WD40 helps strings vs sweaty hands

November 23, 2011 at 03:47 PM · Hi all!

I just wanted to share with you a recent discovery I made. It may seem funny and unusual but it helped me a lot.

Most of the time I practice or perform my hands are quite sweaty. But that is not a big problem. Many other violinist do . The real problem is that it turns out that the PH my sweat contains is quite acidic. So strings wouldn´t last long - normally they are good for only a couple of weeks or so.(I am talking about synthethic core strings). I´ve tried different solutions such as cleaning them with water, alcohol, Pirastro String Cleaner, etc. but nothing worked out. Untill I heard a member of my family talk about WD40 and how great it was battling corosion in metals apart from its other thousand and one uses:))

So I decided to give it a try...Surprisingly it worked out!! Now after my everyday practice I clean my strings with WD40 applied on a soft tissue and this has extended their life to more than a month which is quite ok to me.

Maybe not many people have the same problem but for those who do do not hesitate to try it. A few tips from my experince this far would be : don´t clean the strings between the bridge and the fingerboard as this would make them lose brightness and responsivness immediately! Apply the WD40 on the tissue in an open room with good amount of fresh air and after that dry your strings and fingerboard with another tissue.

Hope this helps someone!:)

Replies (23)

November 23, 2011 at 05:03 PM · Just sprayed my violin with WD40. Can't wait to see the results!

November 23, 2011 at 05:33 PM · WD-40 over varnish makes a nice crackle finish :-)

WD-40 wiped on strings as described sounds ok to me. Except for the problem of the rosin area.

November 23, 2011 at 05:39 PM · Wd 40 contains Petroleum distillates and should be used with some caution


I'll stick with alcohol

November 23, 2011 at 06:42 PM · I use a thick layer of Slick 50 on my strings and fingerboard and since doing so I can play 128th notes at 260 beats per minute with lightening speed.

If I need the strings and fingerboard really clean I'll use transmission fluid since it has some really nice detergents in it.

Who cares about a violin's finish when you can put cancer causing, volatile organic compounds on the strings and save a few dollars instead of just buying a new set when needed?

November 23, 2011 at 09:57 PM · I wouldn't use WD40 on my strings not because of the potential damage to violin but I'm more concern about my fingers. I doubt it'll be good to have traces of chemical on your fingers for hours every day.

What brand of strings do you use? I have sweaty hands but my strings started to last 3+ months after I switched to Thomastik Vision. I use Vision because it's the toughest string I've used and they are relatively cheap. I gave up on Evah Pirazzi because the A-string usually gives up after few weeks and costs $$$ to replace.

November 23, 2011 at 10:20 PM · Here is the WD-40 MSDS (material safety)

(caution: will open an acrobat download)


or search "wd-40 msds" and you should see it.

Anyone who has done a lot of mechanical work has had this stuff on his skin regularly. Heck, putting your chain back on your bike...nevertheless, it certainly seems like there should be a more healthy way to do this....

November 23, 2011 at 10:27 PM · why not use fast-fret, or finger-ease? They are probably silicone based but so what?

November 23, 2011 at 11:12 PM · Or antiperspirant deodorant on the bits of you that sweat onto the strings.(You are replaceable, your violin is not..oh.. wait, oh well!)

November 23, 2011 at 11:42 PM · Is it possible to play violin wearing latex gloves? One can get them in skin tone and I doubt anyone would ever notice. :-|

I generally always wear latex or plastic gloves when doing anything mechanical where I would come into contact with any solvent or other volatile organic compound. A box of 100 can be had for less than $5.00 which is much cheaper than a liver or kidney transplant, or radiation and chemotherapy. And less painful too.

November 24, 2011 at 12:08 AM · "why not use fast-fret, or finger-ease? They are probably silicone based but so what?"


I'm slightly paranoid that if anything silicone based is absorbed into my system, it might concentrate in my chest, and I'll look like a gal with a b**b job. In other words, I might be wearing my insecurity on my chest. LOL

So I asked a therapist friend one day, "Which is cheaper? A b**b job, or therapy to fix the underlying problem?"

He first recommended the b**b job, but upon further thought, said that it was only a temporary replacement for therapy.

November 24, 2011 at 06:29 AM · "Anyone who has done a lot of mechanical work has had this stuff on his skin regularly."

Doesn't mean it did them any good...

November 24, 2011 at 10:40 AM · WD40 stinks

November 24, 2011 at 12:24 PM · I don't have sweaty fingers but when I play on plain gut I like to first moisten my finger tips very lightly with olive oil. Just a thought.

November 24, 2011 at 01:08 PM · Yeah,those of you who say you shouldn´t touch wd40 with your fingers are quite right.Although it says it doesn´t contain any cancirogens I wouldn´t touch it either. That´s why after I apply it I dry the strings with a soft towel and leave the violin in its case till the next day of practicing.

November 24, 2011 at 01:20 PM · There is a likelihood that the core may absorb some of the low molecular weight constituents. But strings are disposable anyway.

November 24, 2011 at 01:22 PM · @Nick Lin

Right now I am trying out Warchal strings(I´ve tried almost every brand that exists,even steel core, but still haven´t found THE ONE:))

I´ve tried Vision too but they die fast under my hands as well...

November 24, 2011 at 01:29 PM · @Tony Boone

I agree with you Tony, that one could simply buy a new set and replace the old one. That´s not a problem at all. But imagine you practice hard for a concert only to find out that a few days before your strings are dead, you cannot get a straight fifth out of them nor a proper sound. And there is not enough time for the new ones to settle...

November 24, 2011 at 01:29 PM · Plain gut will probably have the longest life with your perspiration, ironically...have you tried it? (It isn't for everyone and takes a new setup to get right...but you never know.)

I have a friend who has corrosive fingers. If I lend him my guitar, the next day I can tell what chords he played the previous night!

November 24, 2011 at 03:54 PM · I used to have an issue with the moisture from my hands causing my plain gut D and A to fray prematurely. I've recently started applying a thin layer of chapstick to my fingertips to help seal in the moisture and prevent it from affecting the strings, and it seems to work quite well. It's enough to solve the problem for me, but not enough to cause any noticeable change in traction on the strings.

November 24, 2011 at 06:16 PM · I would look into any foods you eat that would increase the acidity of your body and perspiration. Seek out foods and nutrients that would tend to neutralize your body's ph. Avoid colas and other soda, foods with high sugar content, and foods with high fructose corn syrup to name a few.

Acidic ph is associated with an increased risk of cancer. You may try drinking a glass of water in the evening or a couple of hours before practice or performance with a small amount of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

"According to MayoClinic.com, teenagers and adults can drink an 8 oz. glass of water in which 1/2 tsp. baking soda has been dissolved every two hours until the heartburn or upset stomach is relieved. Children should not be given baking soda dissolved in water unless prescribed by your doctor. Always check with your doctor prior to taking baking soda for heartburn relief. It could have adverse affects when taken while pregnant, breastfeeding, taking other medication or on a special diet."


You might want to have your doctor order an electrolyte panel in order to ascertain whether or not your acid-base balance is in proper order.

I also wash my hands with ivory soap and water before I practice or play my instrument in order to remove any oils or other contaminates that might affect the strings or finish.

November 24, 2011 at 08:50 PM · If I were you I would consult a doctor instead of using WD40. I don't have a can with me right now but I'm sure that stuff is toxic. Excessive extremity perspiration is treatable and your diet could be part of the problem, as has already been mentioned.

November 24, 2011 at 09:22 PM · I wouldn't bring a can of wd 40 near any piece of wood that would need to be varnished, or re-finished. the silicone will prevent future film finishes (varnish) from sticking. it creates a condition known as cratering or fisheyes. Getting rid of the contamination is the source of much frustration and cursing for any woodworker.

November 24, 2011 at 10:13 PM · Ilya, if, as Bill Platt suggested, you try plain gut, the G string will be wire covered (unless you're into Very Early Musick!), in which case I'd suggest a copper-wound gut G instead of silver- or aluminum-wound (the latter would certainly have problems with some types of sweat). I use a Pirastro Chorda copper-wound G, and in fact I prefer it for sound to the Eudoxa G. Anyway, copper winding, which soon loses its initial brightness, looks good with plain gut.

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