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Holiday Series: How To Clean Your Piano?

With the Christmas season ahead of us, the piano will be pulled out and on show ready for festive cheer and musical accompaniments - perhaps for the first time this year! Find out below in this quick post on how to give it a good clean to show it off to it's best and avoid those easy to make mistakes!

Cleaning a piano can actually be a very quick and easy process but it is important to make sure to use the right products. Unfortunately some products can be harmful to the finish of the casework and the keys, causing unsightly damage and costly repairs.

Cleaning The Case

Cleaning the case is probably the biggest part of cleaning the piano, expecially if you have items sitting on top of the lid. If you do then carefully remove these items first. As a side note we do not reccomend putting anything on top of your piano as it can mark! However if you do then make sure it is on a placemat and it is nothing with liquid e.g. flowers.

Once things are removed find a clean, soft cloth ready to use for cleaning. We reccomend microfibre cloths as these attract the dust and dirt. It is important that you use a brand new cloth that has no previous contaminants on it.

Simply wipe the case of the piano using soft, gentle, long strokes. This will take off the surface dust and grime and your gentle movements will avoid marking the casework. Make sure to shake out the duster periodically so you don't mark the instrument with anything sharp that might have been caught on the fibres. This is true of both wooden veneer finishes and shiny polyester finishes.

For wooden finishes it is very important that you do not use furniture polish. This can be tempting but most furniture polishes have polymers in them which stick to the piano causing an extra thin layer. Should you have any future casework repairs or refinishing done the polymer layer will likely react with the new finish and need to be fully stripped which is more costly and would possibly have been unecessary. Trust us, your piano technician will appreciate you staying away from polishes! Simply use a damp - not wet - cloth over anything extra stubborn.

For shiny polyester finishes we reccomend a damp cloth, again not wet. Make sure to spray on to the cloth not on to the piano and always do a spot test first on an inconspicuous area. Some piano technicians use a glass/window cleaner like windowlene for this, but we reccomend that you do not as different brands have different substances in them and we can not guarantee the brand you are using.

Cleaning The Keys

Cleaning the keys is very simple. For plastic keys - which will be on all modern pianos and easily identifiable as they are in one long piece - use a damp cloth. Some technicians use window/glass cleaner for this but we do not reccomend this unless your piano technician has reccomended you a specfic appropriate brand. Again, do not spray directly on to the keys as it it can soak in to the wooden base and cause problems. Spray on to the cloth and wipe gently and carefully avoiding excessive moisture. Make sure to test on an inconspicuous area first.

The same cleaning method is used on ivory, which is identifiable on old pianos because it is in two pieces on the top of the key with a small line join in the middle. It is very important on ivory to only use water or the correct brand of window/glass cleaner because ivory is porous and will take on any substance that is put on to it. That is why you will find in homes where there have been smokers the keys become particularly yellow as the ivory has "soaked in" the tar more so than in plastic which is a slightly slower process.

Polish Those Pedals

The pedals can be very significant on a piano and are usually very easy to clean up. Give them a little wipe over with a damp cloth first and see what you think. If you are not satisfied then it is possible to brass polish them. We suggest doing this very cautiously as many modern pianos have pedals which have lacquer sealent on top of the brass which will rub off and look patchy if over buffed. Usually you can see evidence of this on pianos where the right hand pedal which is used more often, starts to rub through before the other pedals.

If you are daring, use a small amount of brasso on a soft cloth and gently buff the pedals being careful to avoid getting any brasso on the casework. This can be wiped away afterwards but it is best to avoid it in the first place. On brass pedals with no finish you can use some fine wire wood to aid in buffing the pedals but we do not suggest using this as you might not have identified the finish on your pedals properly and could rub through the lacquer finish making them look worse! Remember to buff off the excess with a clean soft cloth for that lovely shine and if in doubt, test on an inconspicuous area or simply don't do it.

Definitely Don't

A quick reminder on what not to do:

  1. Do not use furniture polish

  2. Do not spray directly on to the case

  3. Do not spray directly on to the keys - this can cause serious problems

  4. Only use a brand new soft cloth and check for debris regularly

  5. Do not use wire wool on the pedals incase you have mis identified them

  6. Be careful removing and replacing items on the top of the piano

  7. Always test on an inconspicuous area first

  8. If in doubt, don't do it!

  9. Do not leave it to last minute

We hope this short post on Holiday Series: How To Clean Your Piano? will help you get ready for the festive season. Please note we do not reccomend cleaning your piano unless you are confident and be very careful that you only use a damp cloth or a reccomended glass/window cleaner. If in doubt speak to a professional first, who will be happy to advise you.

Furniture polish on a piano with a cross over the top How To Clean Your Piano
Don't Use Furniture Polish


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