How to Clean Piano Keys


Authored by Colleen Michele Peralta in Music 
Published on 11-20-2009

With the threat of the swine flu and other winter illnesses running rampant, it is especially essential to make sure you keep your piano keys clean. Whether you are the only pianist in your residence, or you teach twenty piano students a day, it is important to make sure that your instrument is clean from germs and also kept in good shape to ensure its longevity.

The cleanliness of your keyboard should begin before you sit down to play. Always wash your hands and encourage your students to wash their hands before playing. Since piano keys are mostly crafted from natural materials such as ivory or wood, it is important to make sure that you are using a natural soap that is chemical-free. This ensures that damage from the chemicals does not effect your instrument. Hand sanitizers and gels have become a popular weapon in the war against germs, however they often contain levels of alcohol in them to make them dry quickly. Alcohol has qualities that may affect your keyboard in a negative way, so stick with mild soaps.

To clean the keys directly, mix a mild solution of white vinegar and warm water. Use a clean cotton cloth dipped in the solution. Make sure to wring out the cloth before wiping down your ivories so that excess water does not drip between the keys and wet the wood. When wooden components of the instrument come into contact with water they are apt to swell and this could cause damage to the instrument and hinder sound production. A mild soap can also be used if you do not have any white vinegar on hand. Make sure to check the soap before you apply it to make sure it is free from damage-inducing chemicals and bleaches. Harsh chemicals can strip the keys of the instrument.

Along with washing your hands and cleaning the instrument with a cloth and mild solution, it is important to maintain cleanliness between practicing and playing. Do this by keeping the keys of your instrument covered with a strip of felt or other fabric, or by keeping the keyboard closed. An instrument that is well taken care of will last longer and play better than a neglected instrument. It is also important to clean your keys so that excess build up from the oils of your hands does not make the keys sticky or harder to play on because of build up. Cleaning your keyboard will make your piano healthier and you and your students healthier. The encouragement of hand washing prior to playing is important especially for younger students who may also learn a lesson in hygiene as well as music.

It is important to remember not to use common household cleaning items on musical instruments. A piano is an instrument, not a piece of furniture, and must be properly cared for to ensure its maximum quality. Common household cleaners can contain chemicals that are not harmful for kitchen counters but are harmful for pianos. Wash your hands, wipe down keys before and after playing, and keep keys covered and you will have a successfully clean piano.


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