Best way to polish a piano?

We’re about to sell a piano, and I’d like to polish it up to a nice shine before someone comes to see it. What’s the best way to do this without harming the finish or incurring too much expense?

It’s black, if that makes any difference…

I would use a nice lemon oil. Buy it or make your own - lots cheaper. Olive oil and lemon juice works well. Put a little on a clean white cloth and buff well. Don’t use any kind of urethane or varnish. And don’t get the lemon oil on the keys; make sure you don’t drip any onto the keys when you are polishing nearby. I would only use a regular dry cloth anywhere near the keys and cover them completely when you’re polishing the book stand so none drips onto them.

And whatever you do, don’t leave the open bottle of polish on top of the piano while you are polishing! If you do, there will be a freak accident whereby the entire thing empties inside the works or keyboard.

I can definitely see this happening to me!!

Another benefit of this is that I can dip a baguette into it for quick snack while polishing! :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the advice…

I’m not so sure olive oil is such a hot idea, doesn’t it go rancid and smell? And how do you get the water based lemon juice to mix with the oil?

Go to the store and buy a proper lemon oil product. Or, go to your local piano store and ask for a product specifically for pianos. This is a high gloss black, right? I’d be scared to death of screwing up such a finish with a homemade concoction.

Oh, olive oil and lemon have been used to polish fine furniture for hundreds of years. It’s not going to spoil the finish. It doesn’t go rancid either; it is buffed off. To keep it mixed, you just shake it up every so often.

I have been polishing my ebony piano with olive oil & lemon for 30 years and there’s no damage yet.


I’m definitely scared to death of screwing up the finish!

I bought some Pledge Wipes and tested one out on a small part of a leg. It was successfuly in getting some dirt or dust off, which I could see on the wipe, but it left behind kind of an oily, streaky residue that I had to buff out with a towel. Am I going to have this problem with every polish I try? Or is there something that would be better?

Capital idea, old man! I will try that.

Sorry, I didn’t see this when I previewed…

So buffing is a normal part of this process? What should I use to buff?

Why, piano polish, of course!

Mom’s been a piano tuner for the last 20 something years. She’s uses whatever furniture polish is handy. I don’t know if they make a polish specifically for pianos, but it’s probably not much different from Pledge. I’d go with missbunny’s suggestions. And definitely keep away from the keys and inner workings. A bit of Brasso or other metal polish will do on the pedals.

The finish on pianos is pretty darn sturdy, scratches and sweating glasses aside.

Here are some other cleaning ideas: use a vaccum with a hose to get hidden dirt beneath the keys, but don’t get too gun ho about it. Don’t use the crevase tool and don’t try to lift up the keys or anything. Just press them down with the hose as you go. If you get little felt or paper rings comming out, call a recognized technician. This is unlikely unless you have a particularly high-powerd vaccum, since you would have to rip the things loose from their pins, or if they were loose to begin with, but you would have noticed performance problems.

If your piano is an upright (big rectangle instead of the “classical” concert type that’s horizontal) there is a big board that covers the bottom half of the instrument, above the petals. You can remove this and vaccum the bottom of the inside where dirt and bugs like to hide. There ain’t much there to hurt. Just don’t take any icepicks to the strings. Mind the finish on that big board when you are moving it around. No polish inside. Even if the strings are rusty. Not worth the time.

If your piano is the concert type, you can just open the lid and use the hose to get any stray particles. Try not to fuss with the area by the action (the moving bits)

The third kind of piano is a spinnet. It looks like an upright, but it’s only about 4 feet tall. That’s because the action is hung beneath the keys instead of on top. If you have a spinnet, leave the bottom board alone. It sounds like you’ve been pretty nice to your piano, so it’s unlikely that there would be very much at the bottom of the piano to need vaccuming anyway. With the action under there to, probably not worth fussing over.

Wow, that turned into a really long post. My $0.04. Let us know how it turns out!

Wow, $12 for polish. Me suspects a pseudo-scam.

My vote is still on the lemon oil.

Buffing is always part of polishing! You can’t just glop the polish on and leave it there. I see you haven’t been taking care of the family silver now, have you. :wink:

Use a clean, dry, preferably lint-free soft white cotton cloth. Cheesecloth works well and is cheap. You can buy this at the grocery store or hardware store. Even a clean old white cotton t-shirt is good.

I think Pledge or any commercial polish would be fine; I myself don’t like to use chemical cleaners in any case and especially don’t like to use them on the piano. I believe chemicals affect the wood.