How should I clean my piano keys? The answer to this question depends on what type of material has been used on your piano. If you are not sure, ask your piano technician before cleaning.
The two types of material used are plastic and ivory. Most modern pianos have plastic keytops, while many old pianos have ivory. Keep in mind if your piano has ivory, though the cleaning method is virtually the same as with plastic tops, allowing moisture and harsh detergents to penetrate the ivory will loosen the old glue and the key tops may begin to lift off.
First: gather all the needed gear. Lint free cotton rags, two small bowels (one for soap and water, the other for clean rinse water), a good mild detergent. I like Simple Green detergent; it works great and leaves no residue. Note: if you have ivory key tops white toothpaste can be used to brighten the tops.
Second: start cleaning. Always work with a small number of keys. I find eight is manageable. Working with a damp cloth and detergent keep the key top moist for a few seconds, use a little elbow grease, use a clean damp cloth to rinse, move on to the next section, and continue the process till all tops and sharps are sparkling clean. Remember to work with a damp cloth only! Water between the keys will damage the piano.
A note to those of you that have ivory key tops; have a hair dryer on hand to dry the ivory quickly after rinsing. This step will help prevent moisture penetration that will cause key tops to lift off. Be sure to use the cool setting only. Heat will cause the glue to soften and the key tops will lift off.
If you have any concerns, check with your piano technician before tackling the job.
Every piano technician is asked, “How should I clean and polish my piano?” In order to answer this question the technician must have at least a basic understanding of the types of finish products that have been used in the past as well as an understanding of the types of finishes that are put on a piano cabinet today.
To help piano owners understand how to maintain the beauty of the finish of their piano, it is necessary to understand the two different types of finishes used in the piano manufacturing industry. The first type of finish is an old style used on many pianos from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I will refer to this type of finish as a finish that allows penetration of oils to condition the wood and the finish itself. This type of finish includes shellac, and old style varnish. The second type of finish we will discuss is a finish that does not allow oils to penetrate the finish. This type of finish includes lacquer, and polyester.
Once the type of finish has been determined by your piano technician, recommendations can be made to the piano owner on the best products and ways to clean and oil or polish the piano. If your piano is an old style varnish or shellac finish you will want to use products like lemon oil to both clean the finish and help condition the wood to avoid cracks and that dull worn look that is common when the wood and finish dry out. If the finish of your piano is lacquer or polyester, there are many fine products you can use to clean and polish the piano. I service pianos in the Oakland County, Michigan area, and I can provide my clients with products that are specific to the finish they have on their piano. I can provide products from; CORY and STEINWAY.
One final suggestion; do not use oil on lacquer or polyester finishes. If you do the oil will sit on the finish surface giving an oily dull appearance. To keep your piano looking beautiful for years to come, use only products developed specifically for the finish of your piano.
For product information in the Oakland County area; call Ace Piano Tuning today.