Pianos look great in showrooms don’t they? Why is it then that even the nicest pianos quite often look tired in private homes? The answer is not to play or touch the piano. Au contraire, pianos are made for music and to be played! Quite frankly, I believe it’s due to the fact that there aren’t parameters set around piano care. Having had a busy household with three of my own children growing up around pianos, I set up three simple rules to prevent piano damage:
1) No toys (I don’t care if it’s fluffy the teddy bear… he still has button eyes)
2) No food or drinks near the piano
3) No acts of aggression
My reasoning? I’ve seen way too many pianos destroyed by small cars (especially on the keytops). Anything that is hard (keys and purses are the worst!) will eventually lead to hairline scratches. Regarding food or drinks, I can’t count how many times people have said “oh I’ll just put that cup down at the end of the keyboard” (referring to the cheek blocks) or “up here on top”. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s an indelible circle left afterwards – usually on beautiful wood veneers such as mahogany or walnut.
Finally, no acts of aggression; Despite the fact that pianos can take quite a beating when played at concert level doing avant garde or prepared piano music, it’s the intention and respect with which I’ve shown my own children to have for an instrument that’s important.
Beyond household rules that establish simple parameters for having an instrument in the home, how do you keep a piano looking new? Dusting with a swiffer or chamois on a regular basis is perfect. (Word to the wise though, don’t let the swiffer handle scratch the piano!) A simple light swipe to keep the dust off keeps it looking presentable. More than that, what’s the protocol for wiping fingerprints or simply cleaning a piano?
Let’s start with the DON’Ts:
1. Don’t use standard furniture polish. They build up a sticky residue over time and depending on the piano, sometimes even soften the finish
2. Don’t use water. Although most modern finishes are impermeable to water (such as eurethanes), it will still streak and look terrible
3. Don’t use any type of paper product – not papertowel, no Kleenex or tissue because when you think about it, paper is derived from wood – wood is an abrasive – you’re actually scratching the finish
4. Don’t use harsh cleaners or solvents
1. Always use a soft cloth or chamois
2. Use a cleaner/spray that enhances depth, removes smudges, minor dirt and fingerprints that also doesn’t leave a greasy residue
One product family that I have used for many years is Cory Care Products. They understand pianos. Their products are simple, effective and you really can’t over do them. They make the blacks jet black and sheen incomparable.
One misunderstood finish is satin. By nature of the fact that you’re rubbing a piano to clean it, it becomes shiny – counterintuitive for satin. Cory has developed a ‘polish’ for satin pianos. It retains the satin look very effectively. I’ve kept a bottle of both for years now. So if you want to keep up with appearances, set up some basic house rules, dust regularly and clean occasionally using great products. It’ll keep the wow factor for any piano in your home.