Cleaning your Piano Keys:
There are 88 piano keys on a standard grand piano. Each one of those keys are covered by a piece of plastic or ivory called a keytop. Although some notes may get more of a workout than others, they all can use a good cleaning now and than. But what is the best way to remove the dirt, grime, and oil that can accumulate?
The first thing you will need to do is determine what material your piano keys are made out of. Due to the ban on the use of newly harvested ivory, the vast majority of pianos played and manufactured today have some type of plastic or high quality simulated ivory keytop. Although the feel of ivory is not always fully duplicated, they are usually more durable, easier to clean and more environmentally friendly.
Cleaning Plastic/Synthetic Keytops
If your keytops are made of plastic, use a clean white or colorfast cloth with a bit of mild soap or key cleaner to remove the grime. After applying the cleaning solution to the cloth itself, wipe the keys down with a back to front motion, not side to side. Clean a few keys at a time and then dry with another cloth. Be careful not to use a non-colorfast cloth as the color could bleed onto the keys. Be sure to also take care to not get the cleaning solution on the wooden piano keys themselves. The wood can absorb the moisture, causing swelling or separation.
Cleaning Ivory Keytops
If your keytops are made out of ivory be careful to make sure your damp cloth is wrung out well. Excessive moisture can penetrate the porous ivory material and loosen the glued surface, causing the keytop and the wooden piano key to separate. Again, be careful not to use a colored cloth as it can transfer unwanted stains to the material.
Clean the sharps in the same way as described above, but use a separate cloth for this step if you have painted sharps. The last thing you want is to transfer the black stain onto your beautiful (and now clean) white keys.
Killing germs and viruses is key if you want to make it through cold/flu season. Take a small drop of antibacterial soap on the corner of a damp cotton cloth and wipe down the keys. Don’t use too much soap or you will be dealing with sticky keys. Some clients have asked if they could use rubbing alcohol. However, alcohol will melt all lacquer piano finishes. We recommend avoiding the use of rubbing or cleaning alcohol if at all possible.
Final word: Be sure to clean your pianos keys regularly, to prevent hard to remove stains from setting into the material. This ensures a more pleasant playing experience and helps prevent the spread of viruses. If stains do set in, contact a piano technician to see if the set in stains can be removed.