Piano Cleaning Supplies

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Piano Cleaning Supplies

A piano’s value is determined not only by mechanical condition and tone, but also by the perfection of its finish.  Even before you sit down to play a piano, the very first thing you notice is the gleaming wood finish.  The term “piano finish” is actually used to describe any very finely finished wood, even non-piano objects can have a “piano finish.”  If damaged, a piano’s finish is quite expensive to repair.  For one thing, the entire piano needs to be taken to the refinisher and refinished piece by piece.  Only a specialized piano refinisher can do this work.  Therefore every piano owner needs to learn how to care for the piano finish, and this includes keeping their beautiful surfaces dust free, scratch free, grease free, wax free, and silicon free.  

A grand piano has large flat surfaces that collect dust, pet hair, dander, and fingerprints like mad.  Keeping your piano dust free can be problematic, precisely because the surface area is so smooth and shiny that it attracts dust like a magnet.  If you have pets or live in an urban area there is often so much particulate matter in the air that you might need to clean your piano weekly, or even a couple of times per week (depending on your housekeeping style of course lol). 

Avoid Dangerous Cleaning Supplies

The trouble is that there are many substances that should not be used, such as wax or silicon-based cleaners.  Never use a general “furniture polish” or a “dust remover” that contains the slightest bit of silicon or wax.  Most typical “furniture dusting” or “furniture polish” products on the market use silicon or wax so it is quite difficult to find the correct product.  Unfortunately, even if you only dust the surface with silicon, it can get into the working parts of your piano and cause permanent damage to its action mechanisms.  Unless a furniture polish is specifically formulated as a piano polish it is not advised to be used on your instrument. 

Use Cleaners Specifically Made for Pianos

What is the best piano cleaning solution?  Cleaning supplies made specifically for pianos were developed by piano technicians to solve the silicon problem.  We sell Cory piano polish and piano cleaning supplies because they are designed by piano technicians to be super safe for piano finishes.  They make specific products for each of the three main piano finish types (lacquer, satin ebony, and high gloss polyester finishes).  Cory also makes a specific piano polish product just for cleaning the grease and grime that easily accumulates on piano keys, which is not the same as the wood cleaner.

Types of Piano Finishes

Lacquer Finishes

Lacquer finished pianos used to be the most common finish.  Lacquer finishes gleam but they are not too shiny; they are not the matte finish of satin ebony.  Lacquer finish is most common for natural wood colored (brown) pianos. Brown pianos are most commonly made of mahogany or walnut, although they can be made of fruitwoods like cherry or even maple but these are more rare.  Use Cory Lacquer finish cleaning products for your lacquer piano.  Cory Harmony Detailing Oil is a new product, but it is more for piano techs when they are doing a deep cleaning of the interior, the soundboard, etc.  It isn’t a product we sell to piano owners at this time, but since we are considering it please call us if you want to try it and we will bring it in.

Speaking of rare piano finishes, some very fine pianos are made with rare woods, such as tiger’s eye maple.  The lacquer finish is terrific for bringing out spectacular grains that can make those instruments prized not only for their sound but their appearance.  Some pianos have inlayed designs, or finely chosen veneers with wood grain patterns that delight the eye from across the room.  Inlaid pianos are also called "art case pianos".  If you are fortunate enough to own one please give us a call!  Our technician would be so delighted to speak with you and provide you with unique insights, advice, and cleaning suggestions.  

Satin Ebony Piano Finish

If your piano is a dull matte black it is likely what is called a “satin ebony finish”.  Many older black pianos are not super shiny like today’s newer, imported pianos.  The matte finish, subdued and formal, is also called an open pore finish or, more commonly, a satin ebony finish.  Fine scratches don't show as easily on a satin finish as they do on high gloss finish. For the matte black, satin ebony finish, make sure to use the Cory Satin Sheen cleaner, available in a kit with a key cleaner, 4 oz of satin ebony piano polish, and a soft cloth, or as a larger bottle of piano polish (8 oz) but it comes without the cloth or key cleaner. 

High Gloss Piano Finishes

New pianos, which mainly come from overseas, are identifiable by their high gloss, mirror finish, which is a polyester finish.  Finish scratches, even fine scratches, on any piano finish are not desirable, but Polyester high gloss finishes don’t just scratch; when they are damaged they go white, crack, and shatter.  When a polyester finish cracks the entire piano needs to be refinished because a polyester finish is applied differently than any other finish.  Avoiding trauma to a high gloss piano finish is the main reason why we also sell piano covers.  When the piano is high gloss use the high gloss piano polishing kit.  The soft cloth supplied makes high gloss finish polishing even easier.

The Key To Your Musical Pleasure

Cleaning the Piano Keys

Piano care is an ongoing process, especially for people with young piano students.  Clean piano keys should be white (except the sharps and flats, obviously), and white keys are exposed to the grease and grime from the natural skin oils of our fingers.   This why piano keys should be wiped gently with the Cory key cleaner whenever you find them to be sticky or dirty.  The Cory Piano Key cleaner contains a very mild degreaser, and it is specially formulated to be gentle on older piano’s ivory keys as well as modern white plastic keys.  Piano care is specialized, so your products need to be chosen with special care.

Cleaning Ivory Piano Keys

Ivory keys were outlawed in 1990 to protect whales, elephants, and other endangered species who had been hunted to near extinction because their bones and tusks were sources of ivory.  Since ivory keys were outlawed piano keys have been made of plastic.   It is illegal to resell your old ivory piano keys, so piano technicians cannot buy them to replace yours if you need them.  Technicians do try to reuse ivory keys when possible, but they cannot buy or sell them.  Cory key cleaner works very well on degreasing and cleaning ivory keys, but, like our own teeth that have coffee stains, sometimes ivory will hold a stain that cannot be removed.  Properly trained technicians can address your ivory key issues but even the best tech cannot solve every stain issue.

Plastic Piano Keys

Piano care means key care.  White plastic keys still get dirty, of course, and they need to be cleaned to keep them from feeling sticky and looking discolored.  Sticky keys are unpleasant to play on, and they can be germy as well as unsightly.  Never spray the key cleaner directly on the keys!  Instead, lightly spray a very soft cloth (supplied with our Cory cleaning kits) and use the dampened cloth to rub away the grime and grease from the keys.  If you spray directly on the keys liquid can go down in the cracks between the keys and cause the wood to swell, making it difficult to play.  No liquids should ever be applied directly to a piano!  The 10,000s of parts, mostly wood, are susceptible to moisture and dampness and humidity, so piano owners should always endeavor to use a soft microfiber cloth as the delivery system for any cleaning product.

Take Home Made Advice With A Grain of Salt

 Some people recommend a highly diluted dish soap or mild vinegar dilution as a piano key degreaser, but the best bet is to stick to authentic piano care polishing and cleaning products.  Don’t follow internet advice on using baking soda to clean your piano keys as the baking soda can be gritty and scratch the key surfaces.  Also baking soda can stay behind and leave an obvious white residue on your ebony keys. Your qualified, ptg certified piano technician can advise you on deep cleaning and dusting services for your piano; they might have special equipment not available to those outside the trade.

If you care about your piano you need to learn about piano care products!  A dusty and dirty piano takes up just as much space as a clean piano, but a clean piano makes your room much nicer!

We sell piano dusters which help get the fuzz and dust off your soundboard by sneaking under the all important piano strings.  Check the duster out here.  https://www.perfectlygrand.com/Soundboard%20Cleaner-Duster-pg-13133.html

Other Important Considerations to Protect Your Piano Finish

Aside from cleaning and dusting, piano finishes can be damaged over time by too much direct sunlight.  Over time piano finishes darken, especially with too much sunlight.  Sometimes an old piano is made completely new by refinishing, and that is when you truly realize how deeply damaging exposure to UV rays of direct sunlight can be.  What might look like a dull uniform brown piano can come back to life with refinishing, revealing incredibly rich grain and fine wood details that have been dulled over time.  Simply polishing a piano at this point is not going to bring back the natural beauty lost over time to the sun damage.  But once refinished it is more obvious that a piano cover should be used unless you put sun protective shades on your windows.





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