How to Clean Piano Keys and Keyboards

Piano and keyboard are some of the most beautiful and of course melodious instruments in the world.  They come with classic design, that once you lay your eye on one you can’t help but press the keys. This, however, comes at a price.

Even if you give them a quick dusting every now and then, they still need cleaning to keep their beauty as they first did on their arrival. That’s why you need this How to Clean Piano Keys and Keyboards guide.

Piano Cleaning

The item you need to prepare

  • Water
  • Liquid soap
  • Soft cloth

Cleaning Ivory keys

If you own an antique piano and you are disturbed by the yellow stains on the keys, you might be looking for something to clean them up. However, you need to be extra careful.

The antique ivory key tops are sensitive and when you use harsh chemicals, you might end up destroying the value of the piano. The key tops might absorb moisture and chemicals which might make them appear discolored and even damaged.

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How to Clean Piano Keys and Keyboards

Due to regular pressing, the keys are prone to dirt since they are the ones that you touch every time you sit down to play.  Oil, debris, dirt, and dust will eventually settle on top of the keys and make them less appealing.

Step 1: wear white cotton gloves

The white gloves will protect the ivory keys from your hand’s dust, dirt, and oil while cleaning. They should be white to avoid transferring color to the keys.

Step 2: clean the keys using a soft duster

Here you should dust the keys using a soft-bristled brush or duster to clean the keys. Start from back to front to avoid pushing the dust to settle between the keys.

Step 3: whiten the keys

There are many methods you can whiten the keys. One, you can gently rub a vinyl eraser on the key surface and remove the bits when done using the earlier dust-off technique.

Another way is by using the fine steel wool pad # 0000 where you gently scrub the keys to remove the yellow stains. Lastly, you can expose the keys to sunlight which will bleach the ivory and brighten the color.

How to Clean Piano Keys and Keyboards

Cleaning plastic keys

Plastic keys are simple and easy to clean. You can use soap or other chemicals to clean them without the worry of destroying them. Here’s how you do it:

Step 1: start with a soft cloth

You can go with a microfiber cloth but if you don’t have one, there will be no harm by using a piece of an old white t-shirt. You really don’t need to spend money buying a piece of cloth for cleaning. You should avoid using colored cloth because it might transfer color to the keys.

Step 2: Prepare a cleaning solution

Put half water half full on a bowl and add a drop of mild soap (dishing soapy liquid or soap is preferred). If this is not available, you can wipe a damp soft cloth on bar soap.

Step 3: clean the keys

You should clean the keys from back to front, and avoid brushing down keys from side to side because it might transfer moisture and dirt between the keys.

Start with the white keys first and use a different cloth while wiping the black keys. Dip the soft cloth into the soapy water and wring it out well making sure it’s not wet but damp.

Step 4: wipe off the contaminants

Use a clean dry cotton cloth to wipe the keys and clean the soapy residue. Use the same method of back to front so that nothing gets between the keys.

Step 5: clean the fingerprints

Use 4 parts of water and one part of vinegar to make a solution. Then take a soft cloth and dip it into the solution. Wring it well leaving it to dump and wipe off the keys dry.

Leave the piano uncovered to get the smell of the vinegar scattered.


As you have seen, cleaning a piano or keyboard keys is easy and anyone can do it.  You just need a soft cloth, soap, and a little patience to have your piano look as beautiful as new.

However, you should always be cautious when cleaning to keep it safe and clean. Also, remember the best cure is prevention, always wash your hands before playing the piano to avoid the dirt.