How to Clean Piano Keys – Step By Step Guide!

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Looking to keep your piano looking and sounding its best? Regular maintenance is key. While the piano is a timeless instrument that adds elegance and class to any room, the accumulation of dirt, oils, and debris on the keys can detract from its beauty and sound quality over time. Luckily, cleaning piano keys is a straightforward process that can be completed in just a few easy steps. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through each step of the process, so you can keep playing your piano for years to come.

How to Clean Piano Keys

How to Clean Piano Keys

Whether your piano’s keys are made of plastic or ivory, you should always wipe the keys carefully with a soft cloth or duster as a first step, then add a few drops of a mild dishwashing liquid to carefully wipe each key, then dry the keys thoroughly with a clean cloth.

Piano keys, whether plastic or ivory, can be easily damaged if improper care is not taken during the cleaning procedure.

Ivory and plastic piano keys must be cleaned using somewhat different techniques since the two materials have distinctive properties that might affect the cleaning process. There are some similarities in the process for cleaning both types of keys, but the materials and cleaning solutions used are kind of different.

Keys made of plastic or ivorite (fake ivory) are less likely to warp or break when exposed to extremes in temperature or humidity since they are synthetic and nonporous. They’re less prone to pick up filth and dirt, making them simpler to clean. After removing the dust with a soft cloth or duster, you can clean the keys with a damp cloth and a mild soap solution while doing your best to avoid using abrasive materials and strong chemicals to not damage the keys.

How to Clean Piano Keys

Ivory piano keys, on the other hand, are more delicate, especially to fluctuations in humidity and temperature, and they are porous, making them a magnet for dirt and filth. If you have ivory keys, you should treat them with extra care and clean them with regular toothpaste after the dust removal process. Cleaning ivory keys with normal soap or strong chemicals might ruin the keys’ finish and should definitely be avoided.

Keep in mind that whether your piano keys are plastic or ivory, frequent cleaning (maybe once a month) is necessary to keep them in pristine condition.

Step-by-step Solution for Cleaning Piano Keys

As mentioned earlier, the cleaning process of plastic keys is a tad different than cleaning ivory ones. First, we’ll discuss how to clean plastic keys.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Gather Your Supplies

You’ll need certain materials before you can start cleaning your piano keys. A gentle cloth or microfiber towel, a duster, some warm water, and a drop or two of mild dish soap.

Step 2: Remove the Dust

Use a duster or a soft-bristled brush to remove any dust or grime that may have formed on the keys. Simply run a cloth over each key in a back-and-forth motion to get rid of all the debris and loose dirt. Do not apply the dish soap and water to the keys until all debris has been removed since doing so might drive dirt further into the key mechanism.

Step 3: Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Get a little bowl and fill it with lukewarm or room-temperature water. Add a drop or two of mild dish soap and stir to combine.

Step 4: Clean the Keys

Clean the Keys

Use the bowl of cleaning solution to dampen your cloth or microfiber towel, making sure to wring it out so that it is not dripping. Start cleaning one end of the keyboard and work your way across, carefully and gently wiping each key with the moist cloth. Each key should be cleaned separately, and then the entire keyboard should be cleaned in a circular motion to eliminate any dust or grime.

Step 5: Wipe the Keys Down Again With a Dry Cloth

When you’re done cleaning the keys, give them one more wipe with a dry cloth to get rid of any remaining moisture. Always make sure the piano keys are dry before playing since any moisture can cause irreparable harm to the piano’s inner workings.

Step 6: Apply a Plastic-Safe Polish

If you wish to take extra precautions, you can use a dry, clean cloth to apply a small quantity of plastic-safe polish to each key. This will help maintain the keys’ shine and prevent them from tarnishing over time.

Step 7: Let the Keys Air Dry

Let the Keys Air Dry

Last, but not least, wait a few minutes to let the keys completely dry before playing.  Playing the piano with damp keys is risky since it might damage the piano’s mechanism.

This is undoubtedly a foolproof method for keeping your piano keys in excellent shape.

Cleaning Ivory Piano Keys

Cleaning Ivory Piano Keys

Cleaning ivory piano keys is not much different from cleaning plastic ones. But you have to be extra careful with ivory keys because of their porous nature. It’s very easy for ivory to soak up sweat and liquids, leaving the keys with not-very-pretty stains.

Let’s see how you can properly clean your ivory keys and restore their beauty.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Before you can begin cleaning your piano keys, you’ll need a few things. Grab a soft cotton cloth or microfiber towel, a duster, some warm water, mild dish soap, and non-colored toothpaste.

Step 2: Remove the Dust

Soft Cotton Cloth

If dust or filth has settled on the keys, you can easily remove them using a duster or a soft bristles brush. After that, just wipe the keys in a back-and-forth motion to remove any extra dust and grime stuck on the keys. You shouldn’t use dish soap and water to clean the keys until after any debris has been removed since doing so might push dirt further into the key mechanism.

Step 3: Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Prepare the Cleaning Solution

The first thing you can do is fill a small bowl with room temperature or lukewarm water, add a couple of drops of liquid dishwashing soap, and gently stir to incorporate.

To get the best results, however, we advise dissolving a pea-sized amount of non-colored toothpaste into a cup of warm water, as this can help remove stains and fingerprints and bring back the keys’ original off-white tint that has gone yellowish with time.

Step 4: Clean the Keys

To clean using the liquid dish soap mix, just dampen a cloth or microfiber towel in the cleaning solution and squeeze off the excess water. Starting from one end of the keyboard, wipe the keys one by one with the damp cloth as you move over the entire surface.

If you’re using the toothpaste mix, simply wet an old toothbrush in the solution, tap the toothbrush against the bowl to remove any excess water, then use the toothbrush to carefully and gently scrub the keys from top to bottom. When you’re done, use a clean damp microfiber cloth to wipe the toothpaste mixture off the keys.

Step 5: Wipe the Keys Down Again With a Dry Cloth

Wipe the Keys Down Again With a Dry Cloth

Finish up by drying the keys with a clean, dry cloth when you’ve finished cleaning them. Before you start playing, make sure the piano keys are completely dry since any moisture might ruin the piano’s inner workings.

Step 6: Apply a Plastic-Safe Polish

If you want to be extra cautious, you can apply a light coating of plastic-safe polish to each key with a dry, clean cloth. This will keep the keys looking shiny and new for as long as possible.

Step 7: Let the Keys Air Dry

Finally, you should give the keys a few minutes to dry before you try to play. If you play the piano with damp keys, you might potentially cause harm to the instrument’s inner workings.

It’s important to remember that if you want to keep your keys in good condition and prevent them from breaking in the future, you should avoid harmful materials and cleansers that are too abrasive and harsh. If you take good care of them, your piano’s ivory keys will keep looking and sounding great for decades.

FAQs

Can you use rubbing alcohol to clean piano keys?

Yes. You can use rubbing alcohol to clean your piano keys. However, the keys might be damaged if you use it too often or for too long. To clean the keys, dab some rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth and wipe them down before drying them off with another clean cloth.

Why do piano keys get sticky?

The accumulation of finger oils, grime, and sweat, as well as fluctuations in humidity and temperature, can make piano keys sticky. This buildup can cause the keys to feel sticky or gooey, making it difficult to play smoothly. However, the stickiness can be avoided with routine maintenance and cleaning.

How do you remove sticky residue from piano keys?

Sticky residue on piano keys can be removed by applying a small quantity of rubbing alcohol to a clean cloth and wiping the keys lightly. You might also use a solution of mild dish soap and water. Be careful not to use too much alcohol and to dry them completely afterward.

Conclusion

As we wrap up this step-by-step guide on cleaning piano keys, it’s important to keep in mind that a piano is much more than simply an instrument. It’s a beautiful piece of art, a representation of your individuality and your dedication to something you love. For this reason, it is essential that you give it the care and maintenance it needs and deserves.

And though it may seem trivial, keeping the piano keys clean is an essential part of keeping the piano in good shape and working properly. If you make an extra effort to clean your piano keys regularly, you can keep your instrument in pristine condition for a long time and enjoy its wonderful sound and beautiful appearance.

So go ahead and grab your cleaning materials and give your piano keys the attention and love they deserve!

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