Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Piano

cleaning a piano

Piano enthusiasts understand that their instrument is not just a piece of furniture, but a companion in their musical journey. Regular cleaning is important for keeping your piano looking and sounding its best. 

Cleaning a piano requires more than just a swipe of a cloth; it demands care, attention, and the right technique to maintain its luster without harming its delicate interior and exterior. This guide will walk you through the essential steps to clean your piano, ensuring it continues to produce harmonious notes for years to come.

1. Understanding Your Piano’s Finish

Before you start, it’s important to know the type of finish on your piano. Modern pianos usually have a polyester or polyurethane finish, known for their durability and high gloss. Older pianos might have a lacquer, shellac, or varnish finish, which are more delicate. This knowledge dictates the cleaning materials you’ll use, as the wrong chemicals can damage the finish.

2. Dusting: The First Step

Start with dusting your piano. Use a soft, lint-free cloth to gently remove dust from the surface. Avoid feather dusters as they can scratch the finish or leave behind debris. For hard-to-reach areas, such as between keys, use a soft brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner set to low suction.

3. Cleaning the Keyboard

The keys are the heart of the piano and require special attention. To clean them, use a soft, damp cloth. If your piano has ivory keys, use minimal water to avoid soaking the keys, which can lead to warping or yellowing. For plastic keys, a mild soap solution can be used. Always wipe down the keys gently from back to front to prevent moisture from dripping between them. Afterward, use a dry cloth to remove any remaining moisture.

4. Polishing the Exterior

For pianos with a high gloss finish, you can use a microfiber cloth and a small amount of piano polish specifically designed for your type of finish. Apply the polish to the cloth, not directly onto the piano, to avoid over-application. Wipe in the direction of the grain, and use a separate clean cloth to buff the surface gently. For satin finishes, avoid polish; instead, use a dry microfiber cloth to maintain the sheen.

Here at Clare’s Player Pianos we have a piano cleaning kit available for purchase. We’ll be happy to bring one along for you at your next piano tuning.

5. Interior Cleaning: Leave it to the Professionals

The interior of a piano—a complex landscape of strings, hammers, and dampers—requires professional care. Attempting to clean the inside on your own can lead to damage and affect the instrument’s sound. Our piano tuning package includes cleaning the interior of your piano.

6. Maintaining a Clean Environment

To reduce the cleaning frequency, maintain a dust-free environment and keep drinks, plants, and other potentially damaging items away from your piano. Use a piano cover when the instrument is not in use, and consider controlling the room’s humidity level to protect the wood and internal mechanisms.


Regularly cleaning your piano not only maintains its beautiful appearance but also contributes to its longevity and the quality of sound it produces. While exterior cleaning can be done at home with care and the right materials, remember that the interior of your piano requires professional attention. By following these guidelines, you’ll ensure that your piano remains a cherished musical companion, resonating with beauty and harmony for years to come.

Our high quality tuning service includes a thorough interior and exterior cleaning. If you’re ready to get your piano cleaned and tuned by a professional, contact us now.

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