3 Painless Steps for Cleaning Inside Your Piano

Posted by Sarah Czarnecki on

"What! You mean we're supposed to clean inside the piano, too?!"

Yup.

Dust is a fact of life. Most of us ignore it, but some of us despise it. If your grimy piano keeps staring at you begging to be cleaned, you're in luck. Cleaning the pinblock and soundboard inside your piano is way easier than it seems and is absolutely worth your time.

And you don't need to dedicate much of your day to do it, either.

In fact, unless your piano is ultra disgusting, you could probably do the whole job in about 15 minutes. Here's how it's done properly.

3 reasons to clean inside your piano

Before we dive in to the actual cleaning process, you might be wondering why you should even bother. Three reasons:

1. Thick layers of dust and gunk can impair sound. If you want a rich, full-bodied sound, your piano strings need to vibrate freely. The soundwaves must be allowed to bounce off a smooth, clean soundboard.

2. Accumulated dirt can damage the strings and pinblock, ultimately resulting in broken strings. Not good. If it's too late, have a look at our string selection guide to get your piano playable before you worry about cleaning.

3. A clean piano looks as great as it sounds! 

4 essential tools to clean inside your piano

Soundboards are delicate creatures, and cleaning them properly can be a hassle without the right tools. Pick the right one for your piano and dust situation.

1. Soundboard duster. If you have an XL grand piano, you'll want an XL soundboard sweeper. If you're great at remembering to clean your piano, a simple machine washable microfiber duster is just the ticket. (We have a lot of cats, so this one gets the most use in our house.) Haven't cleaned your piano in awhile? Need to do some detail work? The Spurlock felt squeegee cleaner may be small, but it's great for really scrubbing off gunk and getting into the teeniest, tiniest corners. Here's how to find the right duster for your piano.

2. Clean, dry microfiber cloth. A microfiber cloth is perfect for cleaning up strings and the lip around the inside of the piano. 

3. Vacuum cleaner with a gentle hose attachment. You'll want to vacuum up those leftover dust bunnies that fall on the floor or accumulate in corners. It's also key to cleaning up that pesky pinblock.

4. Pinblock brush. A pinblock cleaning brush is specifically made for this job, and it does it well. The sturdy nylon bristles hold up to the poking and brushing against the tuning pins better than any other brush we've found.

Note: Don't even think about DIYing a soundboard cleaner. Yes, it can be done, and yes, the right tools can be expensive, but there's a reason the pros use the right tools. Scratched soundboards will stay scratched forever, so if you're concerned about having a showroom-perfect piano on display, this is one corner you won't want to cut.

Step-by-step guide to cleaning your soundboard & pinblock

There are just three simple steps to cleaning inside your piano. Looks daunting, we know -- there are strings in the way, a zillion little nooks and crannies, and more dust than you'd care to admit. But if you just take it slow, remember to take dust out and not grind it in further, your piano will look amazing in no time.

1. Sweep dirt off the soundboard with the soundboard duster. Slip the cleaner between the strings, and gently swipe the dirt toward the edge of the piano. (Don't push dust down through the holes.) You can scrub a little with the felt, or you could simply sweep in a long arc. Technique depends mostly on your piano's level of dirt and the type of duster you're using. Remember to pull out the duster now and then so you can shake off excess dust.

2. Clean the pinblock with a brush and vacuum attachment. After you've cleaned up the soundboard, use the pinblock brush to clean up the pins. Sweep, brush, or poke the pins with the special brush with one hand, while using your vacuum attachment to clean as you go. Unless your tuning pins are horrendously dirty, this should be a fairly straightforward job. 

3. Brush away dust bunnies to finish. Use your microfiber cloth to brush away any leftover crud or suck it up with your vacuum attachment. Wipe your clean dry microfiber cloth over the strings and around the lip of the soundboard, and you're all set!

Satisfying, right? Check out our other cleaning guides to get the rest of your piano looking perfect.

What type of wood finish do I have and how do I clean my piano?

What to do when your piano has water damage

How to measure your grand piano for a cover

How to clean your high gloss piano the right way 


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