Piano Care: How to Clean Piano Keys?

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Owning a piano is great fun, but it needs to be carefully cleaned to avoid damage. Your piano does not need to be thoroughly cleaned as long as you maintain and dust it regularly. In order not to damage or scratch the piano keys, you must use the right tools and methods. Let’s answer the question – how to clean piano keys?

However, there are a few things you should watch out for:

There are two types of keys. What kind do you have?

Before we start cleaning the piano, it is very important to understand what material your keys are made of.

Different keys require different cleaning procedures. Typically, an acoustic piano has ivory keys, while the keyboards are made of plastic. However, some pianos (especially new ones) also have plastic keys; so you should determine their type before you start.

Ivory Piano Keys

On expensive high-end pianos and antique instruments, you can find ivory keys with a natural white sheen. Unfortunately, over time, they can fade or turn yellow. Use a damp soft cloth and mild soap to get rid of dirt, fingerprints, and other stains. You can also use toothpaste or milk to remove yellowing. To keep your ivory keys looking good and clean, you can hire experienced cleaners.

Acrylic Plastic Keys

Often found on keyboards and digital pianos, plastic piano keys are smoother and whiter than their ivory counterparts. Because ivory has become rare these days, plastic-keyed pianos are usually much cheaper than ivory-keyed pianos and are much more common.

Here are some factors to consider if you are having trouble identifying:

  • Ivory piano keys are off-white rather than pure white.
  • Plastic ones are smoother and usually have a clear plastic-like finish.
  • A seam will be visible at the junction of two ivory plates.
  • As ivory keys age and become dirty, they become more yellow.

How to clean and polish piano keys? 6 easy steps!

Step 1. Get rid of the dust and dirt

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The keys must first be gently cleaned of any excess dust that has accumulated by using a dry dust cloth.

It is crucial to clean with them facing you because doing so will stop dust from gathering in the spaces between the keys.

Step 2. Wipe Down the Black Piano Keys with Soapy Water

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Perhaps the most convenient way is, to begin with, one set of piano keys, either black or white. When dusting, it’s best to begin at the back keys (closest to the back of the piano) and wipe towards you. Wiping from right to left can allow moisture, dust, or debris to enter between the keys, potentially causing future damage.

It’s usually wiser to clean the black keys first, as they’re more likely to leave dry mud or dirt on the white ones. So let’s start with black!

Step 3. Clean the Fronts of Piano Keys

The key fronts should then be cleaned in the same manner by dabbing a microfiber cloth in the soft soap solution.

Step 4. Repeat all for the White Keys

If you’ve been cleaning up black keys, now you need to repeat the steps described above, but for all white keys.

Step 5. Remove fingerprints

Dust and debris can be removed from the keys by wiping them off, but fingerprints call for a different approach.

  • Prepare a special cleaning solution by mixing one part of white vinegar with four parts of water.
  • Take a soft cloth, a microfiber cloth works well. Soak in this solution. Before you begin wiping the keys, make sure the cloth is slightly damp, but not wet.
  • Wipe each key individually with a cloth dampened with the solution first, then wipe with a dry cloth. Before you move on to the next key, be sure to make sure the previous one is dry, if the vinegar is left on for too long, the keys may be damaged.
  • To get rid of the smell of vinegar, leave the piano lid open for a day.

Step 6. Cover the keyboard to prevent dust buildup

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Every day, when you are done with piano lessons, remember to cover your piano with a special cloth and close the lid. In this way, you will prevent the accumulation of dust and reduce the frequency of cleaning.

On the one hand, your piano must be located near a window, in a place where there is enough sunlight. However, remember to cover the piano when you don’t have your music lessons as too much sun will fade on the plastic keys.

How to clean piano keys carefully?

Before wet cleaning piano keys, it is recommended that you first wipe the keys to remove dry mud. You can also use a soft brush to remove dry mud from piano keys between practice sessions. Be sure to wipe down with the brush to dust off the keys.

Sometimes it is necessary to disinfect the piano keys. There is a good solution for this – wipe them with filtered water with vinegar. Using gauze or flannel, clean the keys in the direction from the back to the edge, and do not forget to dry them.

To clean ivory keys, a good solution is to use a mild solution of filtered warm water and a little dish soap. Please note that it is advisable to use white cloth so as not to spoil the pure whiteness of the keys.

What’s the best thing to clean piano keys? Choose the right material!

How to clean piano keys with vinegar?

A solution of warm water and white vinegar is the best way to clean plastic keys. Other cleaners, and even soap, may be too strong for plastic. It is important to make the right solution – one part vinegar to four parts water. Too much acetic acid can damage the keys.

Don’t forget to dilute!

Cleaning with vinegar solution always gives quick results. Remember to remove dust first and then wet clean.

How to clean with White Toothpaste?

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If you have real ivory keys, you can clean them with very soft white toothpaste to keep the color from yellowing.

Never use colored, glitter, gel, or whitening pastes. Take the softest white toothpaste.

If you’ve finished cleaning the keys with toothpaste, wipe off the rest of the paste with whole milk. Yes, that’s right! Milk is useful not only for our bodies but also for ivory.

Be sure to wipe each key dry before moving on to the next.

How Do I Get My Piano Keys White Again?

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There are different ways to bleach ivory. To do this, the method of cleaning with toothpaste is well suited for whitening ivory keys.

You can also use milk and lemon juice. With lemon juice, you need to be careful and not abuse it, so as not to harm the keys. However, with judicious use, this method will help keep the keys white.

You can also use rubbing alcohol for bleaching. Apply some rubbing alcohol to a clean white cloth and gently wipe the keys with it.

An ivory scraper can be used to remove very stubborn stains. However, it is better not to use this method on your own, but to contact the master.

How to polish ivory keys?

For ivory, there is another important step – polishing. Polishing helps restore the keys to their original whiteness and luster. The same soft toothpaste is well suited for this.

You can also use over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide for this. It can be bought at a pharmacy. Dampen the cloth and gently clean your piano. Be sure not to forget about the last step – dry the keys by wiping them with a dry soft material.

Important things for key care

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What Not to Do?

Let’s dwell on some important things that absolutely cannot be done when caring for a piano.

  • DO NOT use harsh chemical-based cleaners. They will only harm your musical instrument. Use only soft cleaning products – mild solutions, soap, or toothpaste.
  • DO NOT use paper towels for drying. On the contrary, they only clog the space between the keys. Use a lint-free cloth, microfiber, or soft damp material.
  • DO NOT wipe the keys from side to side, as this may allow debris and moisture to enter between the keys. This will make your keys even dirtier.
  • DO NOT use the same cloth to clean the black and white keys. Some of the paint on old black keys may come off and you might inadvertently stain white keys with it. So we need separate cloth for each piano key group.
  • DO NOT use aerosol disinfectants during cold and flu season. Substances from them can spoil the surface of the keys. In addition, the aerosol may get inside the piano and cause damage to other parts.

Wash your Hands Before Playing

The simplest thing that will help you keep your piano keys clean and white for a long time is clean hands. You need to take classes only with clean hands. Remember to wash and dry your hands thoroughly before playing the piano.

Use your Piano Cover

If you have special cloth, don’t forget to cover your keyboard with them between your piano lessons. If you have a piano with a lid, be sure to keep the lid closed. It is advisable to buy a special cover for the electronic keyboard.

Monitor the Humidity and Temperature

If you own a vintage acoustic piano or antique piano be sure to keep an eye on the temperature and humidity in the room! Sudden changes in humidity and temperature harm not only the keys but the entire piano mechanics in general. Also, remember that an acoustic piano needs regular tuning.

Dry and Clean Regularly

Regularity is very important in piano care. Don’t forget to keep your piano clean, and clean it regularly. Then your piano will delight you for many years.

The Right Technique for Cleaning Keys

Always follow the key cleaning technique. Do not neglect all the important points that we have described above. The use of gentle cleaning agents, the right materials (cloths and brushes), gentle movements, and the correct procedure will help you achieve cleanliness and prolong the life of your instrument.

Avoid aggressive means and actions – only gentle and gentle care is suitable for the piano.

Let’s summarize! Keep taking care of your piano!

This concludes our article. You’ve learned a few simple steps and tips on how to clean your piano keys and how to keep them clean for as long as possible.

Don’t neglect these tips. With regular care, your piano will give you years of enjoyment. Practicing with a clean instrument will be more enjoyable and inspiring.

If you are just starting your musical journey, I invite you to read about how long it takes to learn to play the piano and how to read piano sheet music.

I wish you easy cleaning, productive practice, and inspired piano playing.

Best wishes, your Lucy.

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