How To Clean Piano Keys


 This is a question I get often.  Usually, a mild detergent applied to a cloth will suffice to get most dirt off the keys.  Be sure not to wet or spray directly on the keys.  If there is sticky reside that won't come off, use naptha (paint thinner) to remove it. 

  • Ivory or Plastic? Keys are either plastic or ivory.  How do you tell which one you have?  Look very closely and see if you can find a grain pattern which is unique to each key.  There will be a very faint line where two pieces of ivory overlap.  The key will feel cold to the touch, and moisture will disappear into it.  Plastic keys will feel warm,and moisture will not penetrate.
  • Yellowing:  Ivory keys often get yellowed with time, especially if sunlight doesn't touch them.  There is a procedure to bleach them, but is not recommended for the owner as it requires the keys to be removed from the piano.  
  • Marks and Residues: If there are stains or marks from a pen, it may be necessary to use a more aggressive procedure to remove them.  Using chemicals like polish remover is not recommended because they will melt plastic.  Toothpaste, or Flitz, or plastic polishes can be used with a cloth to remove stains and pen marks.  If the marks won't go away, they may have to be sanded and buffed out.  Unless you're very handy and have experience polishing plastic yourself, give me a call and I'll take care of it.