How To Clean Piano Keys and Keyboards The Right Way

How To Clean Piano Keys and Keyboards The Right Way

Have you ever sat down to play a piano where the piano keys didn’t feel right? Maybe the color had changed, the keys felt rough or sticky. They felt gritty to the touch. 

The piano keys are the most usable part of the piano. Which makes them the most susceptible part of the piano for becoming dirty. 

There are certain things you can do to ward off potential problems. 

  • Dust the keyboard regularly
  • Wash your hands before you play
  • Keep the keyboard covered when kids or pets are around

How To Clean Piano Keys and Keyboards The Right WayIn time, dust, dirt, debris, and oil from your fingertips settle on top of the keys. It comes with age, from simply being in your home and available to play at any time. 

But the piano keys aren’t something you can clean as if it were an average piece of furniture. Do it the wrong way and your keys may stop working. The wrong way could leave you with a piano that doesn’t work. 

Start with a soft cloth – microfiber works well. If you don’t have a microfiber cloth, an old cotton t-shirt works well; cut away any seams or embellishments to ensure you don’t hurt the keys. 

Use an empty spray bottle – you can re-use one from something else. Just ensure there weren’t harmful chemicals in it before you use it. You can pick one up from your favorite big box store for low cost. 

Use a mixture of water and gentle liquid soap – make sure there aren’t any harsh solvents or chemicals in the soap. Castille soap works well.

Use one to two tablespoons of liquid soap per bottle depending on the size. Give a quick shake and you’re ready to clean. 

Never spray the water directly onto the keys. Instead, spray the soft cloth until slightly damp. Then starting at one end of the keyboard, gently slide the cloth from the back of the keytops to the front with gentle pressure. You may have to repeat this several times to remove all of the grime. 

Avoid wiping across the keyboard as that can shove small particles of dust and debris between the keys, which will result in “sticky” keys, those stubborn keys that don’t go up and down when you press them. 

You can clean both the black and white keys in this manner. There is no special treatment for either key. 

Once you clean the tops, you can move to the piano key fronts and clean in the same manner. Slide the cloth from the bottom of the key up to the top, trying to take dust with you as you remove the cloth from the key. 

There is no difference between an acoustic and a digital keyboard. They should be cleaned in similar fashion. 

How To Clean Piano Keys The Right Way

How To Clean Piano Keys The Right Way

So your family just invested in a new piano – congratulations. How are you going to keep the keyboard looking and feeling brand new?

The keys are the one piece of the piano you touch every single time you sit down and play. Your fingers glide over the keys, touching not only the tops, but sometimes bumping into the sides as well. Even freshly washed hands can leave residue behind. Imagine what your child’s sticky fingers can do. 

Is there anything special you need to know about cleaning piano keys the right way?How To Clean Piano Keys The Right Way

Let’s start with the basics. 

You’ll need a soft cloth, water, and a gentle liquid soap. 

While you can use a soft dish towel or cotton cloth, we recommend microfiber. They are soft and can be thrown into the laundry to reuse. Next, mix a solution of liquid soap and water in a spray bottle. You can reuse one – just make sure there aren’t any harsh chemical or solvent residue. Give the bottle a quick shake to mix, and you’re ready to clean. 

The first rule is to never use water directly on the keys. Instead, lightly spray the cloth until it’s slightly damp. Then starting at one end of the keyboard and working a little at a time, slide the cloth across the keys applying a gentle pressure. You may need to repeat this a few times if a key has a stubborn spot. 

Avoid wiping across the keyboard – instead, work front to back on each key. Working sideways can push tiny particles of dust between the keys, which can cause more problems down the road. If too much dust builds up between, it can create what is known as “sticky keys” where they won’t go down when you press them, or won’t return up when you release them. 

Continue cleaning the piano keys in small groups from one side of the piano to the other. Once the tops of all the keys are clean, it’s time to look at the fronts. The small white squares in front can get dirty too. 

Clean the fronts in the same manner, with gentle bottom to top movements. This way you may pull any dust that may have settled low onto the key up and off into the cloth. Pushing the cloth down or sideways can move dust particles between the keys, contributing to “sticky keys”. 

If you have a new piano, the keys are made out of plastic, and you shouldn’t have any problems cleaning them. However, if your piano is old and still has ivory keys, you may want to use a light-colored cloth to avoid discoloration. Ivory can potentially absorb dye from dark or bright cleaning cloth. Otherwise, the cleaning solution from above will work just fine.