Use of water to dampen a cheese cloth followed immediately by a dry soft cloth, is an effective and safe way to clean both key tops and case parts of the piano. High-gloss finishes seldom require anything else. Lacquer finishes may be enhanced with high-quality polish made Cory Products. Other cleaners and polishes should be avoided. The inside horizontal surface of the grand piano, containing the tuning pin area, plate, strings, dampers and parts of the soundboard can be vacuumed and dusted with a soft cloth. Again, avoid cleaners. It is not possible to pull the dirt from under the strings with a vacuum, and although some sound board cleaning tools for reaching beneath the strings are commercially available, this is a job I am also happy to provide.
Because the piano is primarily comprised of wood, it shrinks and swells with the changes in relative humidity common to the average home in North America. This fluctuation causes tuning instability, cracking, twisting and warping, all of which impact the performance and durability of your piano. Installation of a furnace humidifier where forced air heating is used can be a great help in mitigating the extreme dryness of the winter months. Room humidifiers can also be a help if the piano is in a contained location. During the summer season of excessive humidity, air conditioning can help (down to 60%), but only if it is used continually, every day throughout the summer. Managing changes in humidity is difficult in our region where relative humidity in homes can range between 15% and 90%. Although difficult, doing all you can to provide the recommended 42% relative humidity is well worth the effort.
I am a strong advocate for the use of climate control systems which are designed to protect both grand and vertical pianos. I find that proper installation and maintenance of these systems make a very big difference for the stability of my tunings and action regulation. A more stable piano allows more time for tuning refinements, touch-up voicing and small adjustments during regular service calls. Pursuing these activities rather than chasing wild pitch swings of the unprotected piano, render a more satisfying result for everyone.
Placement of the piano in your home is by far the most important consideration for its care and preservation. To obtain optimal performance as a musical instrument, your piano requires the location most protected from drafts, direct sun light, heating vents, heating vent returns, open windows and doors, air conditioning, base-board heating and radiators. Each of the conditions listed above alter the amount of fluctuation in humidity your piano must accommodate. The less fluctuation, the better and a minimum of five feet, especially from a heating source, is recommended. Placement on an outside wall is preferable to placement near the heat or air conditioning. If the wall is damp, and most are not with more modern construction and insulation, keep the piano six inches from the wall or place a sheet of quarter-inch foam board between the piano and the wall. Direct sunlight, in addition to the impact on humidity near the piano, can damage the finish.