Dr Piano Tells All 


rev. 11-29-13
Cleaning Plastic Keytops


By: Elizabeth Atkins

Cleaning Plastic Keys

Plastic keytops are usually one piece, with no division between the front (wide part) and the tail (slender back part). Ivory keytops usually have a butt joint which you may see as a black line between the front and the tail. Very occasionally, you will get a plastic keytop which tries to mimic an ivory keytop by having a narrow score line where the butt joint would be. Look at the texture of the key. Ivory has a pattern of sworls, much like a fingerprint. Plastic is smooth. Both plastic and ivory can become yellowed, so that is usually not good as a guide.

Once you've decided that your keys are plastic, cleaning is easy. You may scrub them with a mild soap and water solution on a cotton cloth, wrung out pretty dry, and then polish dry with another cotton cloth. Old t-shirts make perfect rags for this.  If the keys have light scratches or are slightly yellowed, use Maas International Metal Polish, 4-Ounce with a cotton rag.  Rub it on and polish it off.  I use this for ivory cleaning too.

If you want to have the keys off of the piano for this project and you have an upright piano, please refer to Cleaning Your Upright Piano for instructions on how to remove the front panel and then Cleaning the Keybed of Your Upright Piano for instructions on how to take off the fallboard and remove the keys from the piano. Please make sure that you have numbered them first!