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Grubby in Ayr wrote: "What is the best way to clean the keys on our piano?"


Dear G in A: The first thing you need to determine is whether your keys are ivory or plastic. If you are unsure, your piano technician should be able to help you. Regardless of whether the keys are ivory or plastic, please refrain from spraying anything directly onto the keys. Arm yourself with a really soft cloth - an old t-shirt or old flannel pjs will be fine. To prevent the key from going down as you clean push lightly on the front of the key and that should stop the key from moving. For plastic keys I have had success with the blue stuff in the squirty bottle that you might use to clean a mirror. Also, there are key cleaning fluids you can purchase at most music stores. Spray a small amount of your chosen cleaner onto the soft cloth (less is more in this operation), and gently rub the key. Most grunge should come off. Have a dry soft cloth available to give the keys a final polish. For ivory keys - toothpaste! You will need the aforementioned soft cloth and an old toothbrush - what my Dad used to call a "mush brush". Gel toothpastes are not such a good idea, because they have green or orange colouring that will not stain the ivory but could make the sides of your keys green or orange if some should get in between the keys. Just your garden variety, ordinary white toothpaste will work fine. Again, less is more. Put a small amount onto the key with your finger and rub it around with the "mush brush". Dampen your soft cloth - it should be almost dry - and remove the toothpaste. Take another soft cloth and give the key a final polish. Now sit back and admire your handywork. From bitter experience, I suggest that you do one key at a time. If the toothpaste dries it is a lot more difficult to get off the key. This is a very satisfying job - almost zen-like. It is the kind of thing that you can do when all is quiet; you can put some of your favourite tunes on the stereo (I guess MP-3 player would be the modern equivalent) and just think aboutanything that puts a smile on your face.


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