Piano Cleaning & Polishing

Closeup shot of a clean piano in the lounge

From dusting to polishing to exterminating, Thomas Piano Service encourages all piano owners in Montgomery and central Alabama to perform a yearly piano cleaning.


Tips & Advice for Keeping Your Piano Clean & Attractive

Most piano maintenance should be performed by a qualified Piano Technician.

However, one of the most overlooked piano maintenance tasks is Piano Cleaning and Polishing.

The good news is that providing your piano with a little TLC (Tender Loving Care) can be a DIY (Do It Yourself) project with many benefits! (We like acronyms.)

Why should you perform an annual piano Spring cleaning?

  • It helps keep your piano in tune
  • It extends the life of your piano
  • It protects your investment
  • It makes your Piano Tuner very happy 🙂

Using a finger to clean dust off a piano

Cleaning Your Piano’s Exterior

Maintaining the exterior of your piano (or Piano Cabinet) typically consists of dusting and polishing.

Before getting started, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Compared with other pieces of furniture, your piano may seem like an indestructible beast. This isn’t the case at all.

If you clean your piano like you clean your kitchen table it can lead to exterior and interior damage, making your wallet feel a LOT lighter.

Please Note: If your piano’s exterior has deep scratches or unsightly inconsistencies in appearance, Thomas Piano Service offers professional Piano Refinishing services.

Piano Dusting

Always use a gentle touch when cleaning your piano!

Thomas Piano Service recommends using a feather duster to remove dust and lint.

Dusting with a dry cloth should be avoided! It will allow the dust to scratch the finish.

Consider placing a room air purifier near your piano if dust is a big problem. Resist the temptation to dust exposed areas of the piano’s interior because these parts are fragile and should only be cleaned by a professional.

Piano Polishing

Piano Polishing should be kept to a bare minimum!

Before using polish on your piano, be sure it is actually necessary and beneficial.

According to the Piano Technicians Guild:

“Most manufacturers recommend against using polishes because of the potential for damage to the finish and contamination of other parts of the instrument.”

Before you polish your piano, determine whether it has a polymer or lacquer finish.

These two finishes must be polished differently to avoid possibly irreversible damage. To help you determine the difference, please refer to this article.

Common household furniture polishes are not ideal for a piano.

In most cases, a damp (not wet) cloth followed by a dry one is the safest approach.

There are also several specially formulated piano polishing products available online, click here for an example » (Please note: Thomas Piano Service does not endorse a specific product. Please choose with care.)

Multi-colored piano keys in need of cleaning

Cleaning Piano Keys

Piano keys become soiled over time due to sweaty hands and oily skin. It’s unavoidable.

Frequently used notes are especially vulnerable because as their polished surfaces are worn down it becomes easier for dirt to penetrate their pores.

In most cases, a mild soap diluted with filtered water is all you need.

When cleaning piano keytops, always use a soft cloth such as cheesecloth, flannel, or chamois. Avoid paper towels at all costs!

Abrasive or colored cloths can lead to grainy textures and discoloration.

If your keytops are extremely old and/or discolored, Thomas Piano Service can recover your keys and make them look like new!

Opened piano for cleaning interior

Cleaning Your Piano’s Interior

Be careful and look before you touch. The previous owner may have installed a mousetrap!

When cleaning your piano’s interior, a flashlight comes in handy.

If you have a dehumidifier installed, be sure to unplug it before getting started.

Piano Disassembly

No tools required!

With very little effort and some patience, you’ll discover that accessing your piano’s interior is pretty simple.

However, if you’re not “mechanically inclined,” Thomas Piano Service can clean your piano’s interior during our next visit for a nominal fee. Please let us know in advance.

How to Open Your Piano

Follow these steps when “opening” your piano:

  1. On most upright pianos you can raise the piano lid. Typically, it’s hinged on the back edge. Just apply a little upward force with your hands.
  2. Next, you’ll find two metal clasps inside, one on each end. These hold the piano’s front board in-place.
  3. You can release these clasps by hand which will enable you to remove the front board.
  4. Warning! This board can be heavy. Find someone to help you lift it out and lie it flat, preferably on a carpeted floor or blanket.
  5. Now you can remove the piano’s bottom board, usually with a slight tug outwards using your hands. Again, this part can be heavy.
  6. Remove and lie the board flat on the floor on something soft (carpet or blanket) to avoid scratches.

What’s Inside YOUR Piano?

Now it’s time to inspect the interior of your piano.

First, you might find some loose items that look like piano parts.

Examples include:

  • Various small thingamajigs (That’s “piano talk” for various wood, felt, or metal pieces – don’t worry, we know what they’re called.)
  • Unattached or broken strings
  • Wooden rods

If you’re not sure whether it’s part of the piano, err on the safe side and hold on to it.

Temporarily set these items aside in a small box. The next time you call Thomas Piano Service out to perform maintenance, we may be able to re-use some of these parts.

It can also help us diagnose problems with your piano.

You can place the box back inside the piano after you finish cleaning.

Dead rat found in piano

Piano Vermin

To be fair, not all animals or bugs are vermin (pests or nuisance animals).

But if your piano has been in storage or unused for an extended period, you might find dead rodents or insects. That’s when they become “piano vermin.”

For your safety, wear rubber gloves for protection when removing vermin.

If they’re still alive and kicking, you might want to contact a pest control service. Or let us know and we’ll bring a can of RAID on our next visit. 🙂

Piano Garbage or Treasure?

You NEVER know what you’ll come across inside your piano, especially older models.

We’ve seen everything from old clothing and magazines to “hidden” whiskey bottles!

Old Piano Bill of Sale

Piano Documentation

If you find any paper documents like an owner’s manual, purchase receipt, or service order, file these away in a secure location.

These documents might come in handy later if you decide to sell your piano. They can help determine your piano’s age, make, and model, as well as serve as proof of maintenance.

Woman seated at piano

Piano Booty

Not that kind of booty!

We’re referring to “booty” as in “any prize or gain.”

Occasionally, piano owners find very valuable items inside their piano!

In 2016, a piano owner discovered 900 gold coins dating from the 18th century in a piano that had been in their possession for 33 years. The treasure was valued at over half-a-million dollars! Here’s a link to the story » or watch the short video below.

If you find any valuable coins or a large bag of money, Thomas Piano Service probably left them there by accident during our previous service call.

We will be happy to stop by and retrieve them.

We’re just kidding! But we’ll be happy to split the booty with you 50/50. 🙂

Piano Cleaning – The Good News!

In most cases, your piano will simply be covered with or contain a lot of dust.

All you’ll need is a feather duster, a damp cloth, and a canister vacuum with a long enough hose (and possibly a crevice attachment) to suction those hard to reach nooks and crannies.

If you have additional questions about the care and cleaning of your piano, please contact Thomas Piano Service.