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How To Whiten Piano Keys

Learn How to Safely Whiten Your Ivories


How to Whiten Piano Keys

The discoloration and yellowing of your piano keys is inevitable. Many factors play a part, and some can be prevented by practicing proper piano care.

A professional should always handle severely stained or yellowed keys. To whiten your discolored piano keys, follow these steps:

  1. Gently buff white piano keys with a thin layer of mild, white toothpaste, and follow the general key-cleaning tips.

  2. Wipe away toothpaste residue with a cloth slightly dampened with whole milk, and dry immediately.

  3. Indirect sunlight after a cleaning can help prevent white piano keys from yellowing.

    Beware: Plastic keyboard keys will become discolored if exposed to sunlight, so always keep them covered when not in use.

How to Clean Pure Ivory Piano Keys

Ebony and ivory are rare and precious materials. Replacing keys made out of them is a very difficult, expensive, and time-consuming process, so extra caution should always be taken when dealing with them.

Tips found in both this article and the general key-cleaning article can be safely applied to ivory. However, ivory is very porous, and immediate drying is crucial. Too much moisture can cause the ivory to become malformed. It can also seep past the material, damaging nearby wood and weakening glue.

Tips on Whitening Pure Ivory Piano Keys:

  • Whitening pure ivory takes patience. Since it is so porous, stains are deeper and more difficult to remove. Plan on spending at least 20 minutes on each octave (depending on severity), and dry each ivory key after a scrubbing.

  • Lemon juice is sometimes recommended to clean ivory, but milk is a far better choice. Ivory is essentially dental bone, and acidic lemon juice can wear it down over time; milk’s calcium and fatty acids help protect it.

  • For stubborn stains, you can purchase an ivory scraper. Talk to a professional before using this tool; not only can you destroy your keys because of misuse, but you will have to remove the keys for a thorough cleaning (which should only be done by a licensed technician).

How to Tell If You Have Pure Ivory Piano Keys

If you are unsure whether or not your keys are pure ivory, look for a very fine, straight split on a key. Ivory is molded together, and keys made out of other materials will not have this separation. Ebony can be identified by its matte texture, and will have a solid feel to it. Read the forum discussion about pure ivory piano keys.

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