What’s That Smell? Can You Remove Odor From A Piano?

What’s That Smell? Can You Remove Odor From A Piano?

You’ve just picked up a piano from a loved one. This piano has been in your family for generations. Now it’s your turn.

But when you bring it into your home, you instantly notice a smell. And all roads lead back to the piano. 

It’s musty. It smells bad. Is that even lingering cigarette odor? 

That’s the last thing you want inside your home. But what can you do? Can you remove odor from a piano? Will that damage the piano? 

Think of your piano as a cabinet housing the parts that create sound. It would be like closing the closet doors, hiding what’s inside. As you open it up, odor can be released. 

Is this a job you should tackle yourself?

The outside

Because the outside is similar to your furniture, there are ways you can clean it if the odor is coming from the wood. A white vinegar solution can effectively kill mildew and the odors that come from it. With a solution of one part vinegar and ten parts water, you can lightly wipe down every inch of the cabinet, being conscious not to get any part too wet. Lingering water and wood never mix. You can repeat if the odor is still noticeable. 

The inside

The inside of your piano is made up of over 12,000 individual parts. If any one of them is damaged, it can have a serious impact on the instrument’s functionality. This isn’t a job you should take on yourself. 

Still, you can look inside and see if there is a reason for the musty smell. You may find evidence of rodents or other small critters taking up residence inside. You may find old debris. If possible, you can remove it – just be aware that any disturbance of the mechanics of the piano are bound to have an impact. 

This can also be an indication that piano maintenance has been neglected. Without proper tuning regularly, the strings may not be in proper placement, may become rigid, and break. 


This may be the time to consider renovating your piano. If it’s a family heirloom, your best course of action may be to meet with one of our professionals. We can evaluate the condition of your piano, and give you a better idea of the work involved to bring it back to playing condition. 

Have a problem with your piano? Give us a call today.