How To Clean A Piano

How To Clean A Piano

It’s always a good idea to keep your piano clean, not only does a clean piano look better and help inject a great sense of pride into your instrument, but it’ll help top up that enthusiasm to keep playing - Who wants to play on a dusty old piano over a shiny one after all?

Today we’re looking at some of our top cleaning tips from our piano technicians, some of the dos, don’ts and quick easy tips that you can do in order to keep your instrument in tip top shape!

Let’s dive in!

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Tools To Clean

Our first tip when it comes to keeping your instrument clean is to make sure you’re using the right tools for the job! Pianos can be rather sensitive souls and when using any cleaning solutions, even just water, always do a patch test on a small area that isn’t visible (the back, underneath, or back of a leg) to make sure that the solution is not going to mark the piano or create a colour differentiation. Likewise, instead of using hard materials like shammy leathers or scouring pads, keep your cleaning material soft, even for those marks that won’t seem to shift as the last thing you want to do is scratch or mark the finish. Most of the time, using a standard microfibre cloth designed for cleaning windows works perfectly.

One often overlooked point here is also to consider the water that you are using. Depending on where you live, using tap water may not be a good idea, as hard water will leave water marks on the finish.

Polishing Your Piano

For general dust or small markings, we would definitely not recommend using polish to clean your piano, however if you want to add a little more shine to your instrument and you really want to use a polish, then the right one will depend on the finish of your piano. Note that this should NOT be done too often as the more polish that is applied, the more the wood may be affected.

As noted, it’s important to make sure that you’re using the right kinds of polish depending on the material your piano is made from. Polyester is the most common finish on new pianos, and they’re usually polished black, although white and various wood finishes can also be found. Black polyester is the hardest wearing finish, this is because part of the black pigment in the finish remains liquid, giving the polyester a bit of extra flex so it’s less likely to crack compared to wood or white finishes so be especially careful if you are polishing a wooden or white instrument and remember to spot check BEFORE polishing the entire instrument.

Another type of polish that can be found on older instruments is French Polish it is typically found on wood finish pianos that don’t have that glassy shine found on polyester finish pianos and widely works in the same way.

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How to Clean Your Piano

When it comes to cleaning, generally speaking you’ll only need a microfibre cloth and another slightly dampened cloth. Emphasis on the ‘slightly’ dampened part.

As a general rule, you should clean your piano much like you clean any other sensitive piece of equipment such as a laptop, camera or television. Use light circular movements that aren’t going to mark the instrument or move anything. For the keytops, the lightly dampened cloth will work just fine, so long as there isn’t enough moisture to get between the keys, as it may swell the wood underneath. Our technicians use a bleach free dettol wipe on the keytops, they aren’t too wet, and lift dirt off nicely, especially on the black keys where it’s less obvious.

From our personal experience, you should only be cleaning the exterior and the keytops - not the insides such as the strings, soundboard or plate, leave that to the professionals! There are thousands of tiny working pieces inside a piano that can be easily damaged or moved out of place if cleaned with the wrong materials or pushed to harshly.

On digital pianos, it's generally best to avoid any kind of moisture as obviously electronics do NOT like getting wet, so again the microfiber cloth will be plenty good enough!

How To Disinfect Piano Keys

Since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, it's safe to say more and more people are cautious about disinfecting their piano keys, particularly those instruments that are used by multiple people or used very often.

Thankfully, this process is also incredibly simple and will not affect your piano's ability to play. This being said, it's important that the correct cleaning products are used and applied in a way that will not leave the keys sticking or and issues.

We have heard some people using standard hand gel or antibacterial gels to clean their keys, but as these often leave a sticky residue, we would certainly not recommend them. Likewise, do not use bleach-based disinfectants or any product containing citrus as these can affect and damage the keys.

Instead, either use a NON-WET antibacterial wipe or moisten a cloth lightly with an over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide available from any pharmacy. This product is not only safe for piano keys, but as long as not too much is applied, will not leave a sticky residue. If you are using a spray or liquid bottle, use a disposable pads or soft cloths. Put the disinfectant on the towel and not the piano.

This process should then be followed up with a dry towel and it is important to never leave any liquids on the piano or keys.

We hope you’ve found this super quick guide to piano cleaning helpful and informative! If you would like the inside of your piano cleaned or tuned, our experts are always on hand to help!

For more information on caring for your piano, read our piano tuning guide here.

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