Following our recent post about weighted keyboards, let’s see how to keep your piano clean. First of all, ensure that you keep it in good condition. When it comes to actually cleaning, use soft materials and stay away from harsh chemicals. If you’re dealing with ivory keys, keep in mind that they are really sensitive.
What you’ll need
There are certain things you need to have at hand if you wish to get your keyboard really clean. You should start with a soft cloth fabric. If you can find microfiber, that’s the best, but if you can’t do that, an old repurposed t-shirt will serve you great. You can cut it into small pieces and make sure to leave out all the embellishments or seams.
The next thing that you will need is an empty spray bottle. Again, you can reuse one that was purposed for something else but make sure it didn’t previously hold harsh chemicals or solvents in it. Many home-goods stores and departments also sell empty spray bottles, so you can purchase one cheaply from them.
Get the bottle filled with water and a liquid soap that you know isn’t too harsh. It’s essential that the soap and whatever you use is not harsh, so it doesn’t deteriorate the keys. Whatever you use for washing your hands should be good.
Don’t put too much soap in the bottle, 2 tablespoons are enough. Pour the soap and after that fill the bottle with water. Shake it so the soap and water mix well and you’re ready to go.
Cleaning the keys
Next, let’s see how you actually clean the keys. Never spray the mixture directly on the piano and the keyboards. The best thing to do is to spray the cloth so you make it damp. You will use that to clean everything.
Cleaning the keys is like brushing your teeth – you need to pay attention to each key individually and make sure that there is nothing dirty left on it. When cleaning, focus on a few keys at a time, and move the cloth up and down, from their top to the front, applying just enough pressure to remove any grime.
If you have some sticky keys, you will have to do this a few more times for each of them. You should avoid wiping across the keys. Although it may look like you’re cleaning them faster, you’re actually moving the dirt between them if you’re doing this. In turn, this will result in keys that don’t go back up when you press them because the dirt is keeping them in place.
Clean from one side of the piano to another, and once you’re done with a group of a few keys, move to the next group. Repeat the process, moving the soft cloth vertically on each key. You should do the same with the black keys, but when cleaning around them, make sure not to push the dirt down their sides.
Once you’re done with the top view of the keys, it’s time to start cleaning the front of the keys. The part that gives the keys their weight, the one that can be seen under their top, will also get dirty. Use the same soap mixture and a clean cloth to get that clean as well.
A good way to clean those parts is to wipe the keys sliding the piece of material upwards, from the bottom to the top of the key. This way you will get the dust and the dirt on the cloth, instead of pushing it down under the keys. Once again, don’t swipe across the keys, because this will get the dirt between them and you will make them stick together.
After that, you’re done with cleaning the keyboard. It is recommended that you clean your piano and especially its keys once every week or at least every two weeks. It depends on how often you play the piano, but if you regularly use it, your hands will get it dirty.
Even if you’re not playing it that often, you can still use a soft cloth to clean the keys once in a while. Or you can use a feather duster to get the dust off the keys if you don’t play them that often. If you own a digital keyboard of some sort, cleaning it requires the same process.
Tips for better cleaning
There are some cases where you need to pay more attention to details when cleaning your piano keyboard. For example, some quality pianos have ivory keys. What does that mean? They are prone to discoloration, and to avoid that you will have to use light-colored cloth and substances when cleaning them.
This happens because of how porous the ivory is. It tends to absorb color and the keys will get darker if you don’t pay attention. Other than that, the cleaning process is the same. There is another situation, however when you need to pay attention to how you clean the keyboard.
That is the case with the black keys, which are most often made of black wood or plastic that has been painted. If made of dark wood, there is no issue with them, however, if they are painted black, there is a chance that the coloring can transfer to the cloth, with the help of the cleaning soap, and then the cloth will leave a stain on the white keys.
As a measure to prevent that, it’s always a good idea to clean the white keys first and then the black ones. Discoloring isn’t a problem that occurs often, especially if the keyboard is new, but you still have to avoid it. Older pianos are prone to losing their coloring, so pay attention to that.
When you have a very old piano, its value is given by its age and the owners that it has gone through. So when cleaning the keyboard, make sure not to damage it. Removing the yellow stains on the keys will make them look better, but in the process, you might be reducing the piano’s value.
Most antique pianos have their keys made of ivory, so it’s important to clean them with light hands, and without any harsh chemicals or solutions that you usually find on the market. It’s indicated that you don’t use soap either. Ivory, especially if it’s older, will absorb moisture and chemicals and this will lead to discoloration or worse, damage.
Your hands can carry a lot of bacteria, small particles of dirt, or they can be sweaty, so when cleaning old keyboards, it’s a good practice to wear some gloves. White cotton gloves are the best because that way you don’t risk transmitting their color to the keys.
You will then have to use a paintbrush that is very soft, in order to dust the keys. As with the cloth, start from the back of the keys and push to the front. Don’t let the dirt settle between the keys. Clean the keyboard with care.
There are some methods of getting rid of the yellow stains on the keyboard. You can get a vinyl eraser and use it gently rubbing the key’s surface. Again, the motion should be from the back of the key to its front. When using the eraser, some small bits of the eraser will drop and you will have to clean them afterward. You can get rid of them using the same previous method, dusting them away.
Another way of removing the yellow color is with the help of very fine wool pads. Make sure to pick the lightest color and the finest pads, otherwise, you could be scratching the keyboard. You can also use a more natural method of getting rid of the yellow, by exposing the keys to the natural light of the sun.
Keeping your piano in good shape
Knowing how to clean the keyboard isn’t the only thing you have to learn; you also have to keep your piano in good shape so you don’t have to clean it that often. As we previously said, letting the piano get some sunlight is good, but don’t have it be too much sunlight, as the glue holding some pieces together will melt.
If you want to keep dust away from the piano, use an air purifier in the room you’re holding it. That’s how you will be able to get rid of most of the dust in that room. Also, make sure the moisture in the room is low, and to help you with that, use a dehumidifier.