How to Clean Piano Keys Without Damaging Anything

Written by: Leslie Carmichael

The best way to clean your keyboard or piano without damaging anything is to use either a dry cloth or a lightly damp cloth.

Let’s face it, more than half of us never wash our hands before using the piano. While a bit of oil may not pose a problem, the keyboard can collect oil and dust over time. This, along with spilled food and drinks, can hinder a piano’s performance.

When exactly should you clean your keyboard? The frequency depends on how often you use the piano. If you use the piano every day or week, cleaning it out once a month is ideal. If you use it leniently, clean it after every 6 months or so.

Digital piano keys need to stay in the most ideal condition possible. Only then will they give you precise touch sensitivity and accuracy.

Pianos with plastic keys (that is, most of the newer ones) are easier to clean than their ivory or ebony counterparts. But how exactly do you clean a piano keyboard? That’s what we’re here for!

Read ahead to learn more about piano care and how you should clean out your keyboard.


How to Clean Your Piano Keys

Here are a few steps you must follow in order to clean out your keys. Remember that improper methods can damage the keys. If you do happen to have damaged keys please see our full guide on how to fix or replace piano keys.

Step 1: Prepare a Cleaning Solution

The simplest cleaning solution is a few drops of liquid soap along with warm water. You can also purchase some furniture cleaning equipment. This should benefit both your piano and any other furniture that needs cleaning.

Step 2: Clean the White Keys


For cleaning the white keys of the piano, take a damp clean piece of cloth and dip it in the solution. Make sure that the cloth isn’t too rough or too dirty, and doesn’t have any dyes on it. After dipping it in the soapy water, gently rub it all over the keys. It is best to go over each key individually.

This should remove any fingerprints and surface dust luting around. Next, take a dry piece of cloth and rub it gently on the keys. This should remove any residue left from the solution.

Step 3: Clean the Black Keys

Take a different soft cloth and dip it in the solution. Be sure to only slightly dampen the cloth. You don’t want too much moisture. Then rub it gently all over the black keys one by one. It is important to clean around the sides of the keys too.

Repeat the process and use a dry cloth to wipe away the moisture.

Cleaning Alternatives

As stated before, you can use a cleaning spray or solution to clean up the keys. Many furniture cleaners can easily be found in online stores. Try looking for one which has the best reputation. In fact, some cleaners are made especially for piano keys.

If your keyboard is extremely dirty and greasy, a mild detergent solution can be used. However, remember to never use any abrasive chemicals. These can not only damage the keys but also the circuits that lie under them. Contact a professional to clean out keyboards which are exceptionally dirty.

Cleaning Tips

Remember to keep the piano covered when it’s idle. Dust and grime can easily accumulate over the keys, especially if they have oil over them. So, remember to cover it with a a clean piece of cloth or a felt sheet. Be careful, as some cloths can actually invite bacteria and fungi. Make sure the cloth is clean.

Do not drink anything near the piano. The liquids can spill, get under the keys, and damage the hardware. Drinks which contain sugar can harden into a thick liquid on the keys. This can be harder to get rid of.

Wash your hands before and after playing the piano. For kids, remember to ask them to wash their hands before touching the keyboard. This can significantly reduce oil damage.

How to Make Your Piano Keys White Again?

As your piano collects dust, the keys can lose their natural color. This mainly has to do with the oxidation of the white paint job. To make them pearly white once again, take the following steps.

With Vinegar

Take as much as half a cup of white vinegar and add two cups of warm water. Follow the same process for cleaning. Use a clean and soft cloth and start gently rubbing it on the white keys. Remember to only dampen the cloth slightly. Dripping water can damage the keys. Take a dry cloth and go over all the keys. This should remove any leftover moisture or vinegar.

With Toothpaste


Toothpaste can also be used, especially one containing baking soda. Put some white toothpaste on a spare toothbrush and rub it on the keys. Remember to not rub too hard, as this can deteriorate the paint job. Use a soft-bristle brush. Keep doing this once a week and you’ll definitely notice a difference.

Disinfecting Piano Keys

During the flu season, we highly recommend that you disinfect your piano keys especially if you share the instrument. This is a must for those who hold piano lessons in their homes.

Disinfecting your piano keys is a relatively simple job. All you need to do is prepare a solution of 3 parts water (filtered) and 1-part vinegar. Damp a soft cloth with the solution and scrub all the keys with a light hand.

We strongly advise against using spray disinfectants as they can easily carry over to the delicate parts of the instrument such as the sensors.


  • If the keys are very badly discolored, hire a professional for the cleaning process.
  • Do not use any harsh chemicals or corrosive substances on the keys.
  • Do not use rough brushes or pads on the keys. Remember to use softer pads and brushes, or a cloth.
  • Dampen the cloth only slightly. Do not let water seep into the keys, lest you want to bear damage.
  • You can check under or between the keys yourself if they are stuck. Try getting rid of the stuck object using tweezers. However, if it gets too hard, it is recommended to seek professional help.


A digital keyboard can last for decades before losing its performance. Making sure the keys stay clean is an effective and sure way to keep everything in shape. However, remember to always look at the user’s manual. You can definitely find some instructions from the manufacturers.

And remember to wash your hands before using the keys!

Written By:
If anyone knows a thing or two about pianos, it's Leslie. Having played piano for the past 25 years and teaching for the past 15 years, she has vast experience compared to most. She loves to share her honest opinions about the brands and manufacturers in the industry. In her free time, Leslie loves to play with her dogs and go on hikes.

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