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How to Polish a Piano

Pianos are wonderful music machines but they also represent potential dust magnet and can end up covered in unsightly fingerprints and marks over time if not properly polished and cared for. But where do you start when polishing your piano?

Pianos obviously vary in shape and size, you’ll find grand pianos require more polishing and careful attention than your ordinary piano. The finish of the piano can also make a difference to how you polish it and the results you get. Careful polishing is required to ensure you don’t damage or mar the surface.

Polishing Lacquer Finished Pianos

Polishing Lacquer Finished Pianos

One common type of piano features a lacquer finish similar to your average pieces of household wooden furniture. You can see the grain of the wood underneath the lacquer and if not properly polished you risk scratching and damaging the lacquer and the finish.

It’s important to treat a piano as a high-quality piece of furniture. As such, we’d recommend investing in a premium furniture polish rather than a standard household polish. Certain ingredients in standard furniture polish can be harmful to the finish and damage the lacquer.

The following steps should lead to the best results:

  • Invest in a high-quality furniture polish. We’d recommend consulting a specialist piano or music store on the best polishes to use. Avoid polishes that use lemon oils or silicone as they are likely to damage the lacquer and ruin the finish.
  • Use a soft polishing cloth to gently apply your polish to the piano’s surface. Apply the polish in the same direction as the wood grain. This ensures a good finish and is more beneficial to the wood – enhancing the longevity of the finish and design of the piano.
  • Ensure to apply gentle pressure while polishing and regularly turn the polishing cloth to avoid scratching the surface with any dirt or debris you might pick up along the way.  If you are overly concerned about the danger of scratching the piano, you could try using a high-quality microfibre cloth instead. These cloths are far less likely to cause scratches as dirt and dust gets sucked up by the tiny fibres and away from the surface of the cloth.
  • Take care not to overdo the polish. There is a potential for building up polish on the surface that can result in an unsightly piano. If you do find a build-up, try gently wiping with mild soap and water.

Polishing Polymer Finished Pianos

Polishing Polymer Finished Pianos

Some pianos are finished with polymer which results in a dark and reflective surface that looks nice but is easily ruined by fingerprints and other marks. These sorts of pianos are more scratch resistant than lacquered pianos and are also easier to get a high shine from.

When polishing a polymer piano, follow these steps for the best results:

  • Use a high-quality piano polish that doesn’t contain alcohol or silicone. Ideally, find a high-gloss polish that can be used on plastic as they are more likely to get the better results.
  • Purchase a soft microfibre cloth that can be used for polishing the pianos surface.
  • Apply a small amount of piano polish to the microfibre cloth and polish along the grain. Avoid polishing in circles are you might naturally be inclined to do on other surfaces as this may damage the piano’s surface and remove the shine, rather than replenish it.
  • Gently buff off the polish to create a fantastic piano shine that you’ll love.
  • Repeat your piano polishing on a regular basis for the best results.

Polishing Piano Keys

Over time, piano keys naturally become soiled and marked with dirt and oils from fingers. You can polish your piano keys easily using a soft, clean cloth, lightly dampened with a mixture of water and mild soap or detergent. Wipe the keys back to front to ensure excess moisture does not leak into the workings of the piano or between the keys and be sure to use another dry cloth to buff off the keys as you go.

We recommend using a polishing cloth made of a material that’s colourfast to ensure there is no bleeding of colour onto the keys as you polish.

Between Polish Piano Care

Obviously you won’t want to spend all your time polishing your piano. You might not be able to find the time and if you overdo it then you’ll end up with a build-up of unwanted polish. To maintain the polish and shine of your piano, it’s a good idea to carry out regular piano care between polishing i.e. dusting.

Believe it or not, dust can be very abrasive and even a small build up could lead to scratches and scuffs if not carefully removed. We’d recommend using a microfibre cloth or a soft, damp polishing cloth to gently wipe the surface of the piano on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

When dusting a piano, treat it with the same care as you would when polishing – be sure to wipe in the direction of the wood grain and avoid circulation dusting motions.

Regularly vacuum the room in which the piano is located to reduce dust particles and build up in the room that might damage the piano.

Things to Avoid

A piano is a valuable and precious piece of furniture. To care for it properly you should avoid:

  • Using the piano as a coaster i.e. keeping or standing drinks, vases or other crockery on its surface.
  • Avoid leaving pots of polish on the wood of the piano while you polish as these might result in unwanted marks.
  • Avoid using spray polish to clean your piano. These cheap polishes are more likely to do harm than good and some contain chemicals or ingredients such as alcohol and silicone that might damage the lacquer or the surface of the wood.
  • Keep your piano out of direct sunlight – this will mar the polish and ruin your efforts and may also cause the wood to expand and contract as it is heated and cooled by the rising and falling of the sun.
  • Avoid putting your piano near heat sources such as radiators and fires for the same reason. Humidity and temperature changes can damage the piano and the sound it produces.