How to Clean A Digital Piano: Comparison vs Acoustic Pianos

Piano keyboard

Digital pianos are a great alternative to an acoustic piano for many reasons. Portability, the ability to plug in headphones and practice without the piano being heard around the house, as well as price. Just like an acoustic piano though, digital pianos have a tendency to become dirty and need some routine cleaning.

Luckily, cleaning a digital piano is easy and takes only a few minutes. Unlike an acoustic piano that has thousands of moving parts, all of which are more exposed to the elements, a digital piano can be cleaned using household cleaners such as Windex, as well as a wet cloth and disinfectants on a weekly or monthly basis.

This article is designed for the everyday buyer, one who will buy a digital piano and keep it at home; not for the touring musician who travels with a digital piano and will put it through extensive wear and tear due to constant moving. I was that 2nd guy years ago, moving my Yamaha Clavinova digital piano from show to show 60+ times a year, and you can imagine how rough my piano looked after loading and unloading it onto stages, vans, elevators, breaking legs, etc. I bought it from a lady who sold it to me in mint condition, and by the time I eventually sold it years later, it looked the exact opposite of “mint.”

Onto some more relevant cleaning tips and comparisons for the average consumer

Most people who buy digital pianos over an acoustic piano buy them for a few reasons. The first is space. A digital piano will arguably take up a fraction of space compared to a larger upright or grand piano. This makes a digital piano ideal for smaller rooms, apartments, or when you just want to work with less space in general.

A big selling point to digital pianos, is that unlike 95% of acoustic pianos on the market, you can practice in “silence,” well, it will sound like silence to everyone else as you have the ability to plug-in your headphones and practice for hours on end without disrupting anyone else.

Digital pianos also never have to be tuned, and normally the purchase price on these is much smaller compared to buying a new acoustic piano.

Along with all the reasons that people buy digital pianos that are listed above, a HUGE selling point is that they are so much easier to clean than a real piano, and I’ll explain why by walking through each part of the piano and comparing digital vs acoustic piano characteristics.

Acoustic pianos have real hammers hitting real strings, and digital pianos have weighted keys that simulate the feel of a hammer but are controlled by a computer.

Have you ever peaked inside a real piano by propping open the lid? There are literally thousands of moving parts that are responsible for the instrument making sound. Starting from the key, all the way up to the hammer hitting the string, and the damper hitting the string to stop the sound. In-between each part of that process are hundreds of small moving parts that will collect dust.

With a digital piano however, it is much more simplistic. Because there are less moving parts and because the cabinet of a digital piano is normally always closed, it is much easier to clean and maintain a digital piano.

Let’s discuss a few components that are easy to clean on a digital piano

  • Piano Keysdigital piano
    Almost all piano keys on a digital piano are plastic. Therefore, you never have to worry about chipping keys or using specific cleaners, opposed to very old acoustic pianos that have ivory keys. With ivory keys, you need to practice extra care and use products that are safe to clean.With a digital piano, you can take a microfiber cloth and get it slightly wet with water, or Windex, and clean the top, fronts and side of each key.To follow proper disinfecting guidelines, specifically with viruses like the Coronavirus, Flus, Colds and other viruses that spread easily, you can imagine how easy it is for piano keys to harbor bacteria and viruses. For that reason, taking a Clorox or Lysol wipe, and blotting it so that it’s not soaking wet, then cleaning each key, will help you keep your piano sanitized. After you wipe down your keys, take a dry microfiber cloth to go over each key and make sure you dry them to avoid any cleaner seeping down in-between each piano key. Much like an acoustic, a digital piano with “weighted keys” will have felt padding below each key to help pad the fall of each note when a key is pressed. The difference being, is that a digital piano’s key will hit a sensor to trigger the piano to play a sound, all at varying volume based on the sensitivity of each key, and/or how hard you press the key. Because less moving components are involved to make sound, there’s less opening and therefore less dust than collects.
  • Dusting and Wiping Down the Outer Casing
    All acoustic pianos are built using real woods that are shaped using machines or even by hand in higher-end models. Most digital pianos use a much more basic wood, and are often times covered in laminate that resembles a wood grain. This means that cleaning a digital piano’s outer case is much easier, and doesn’t require the delicate care that an acoustic piano demands.You can use Pledge, 409, Windex or any alternative to wipe down dust on the case. A very common location for a lot of dust to collect on a digital piano is the horizontal shelf that sits above where the pedals are located. Because this area is close to your feet and lower to the ground, dust will collect there much easier.
  • Pedals
    Much like the pedals on an acoustic piano, these can get scratched easily, so using a brass or metal cleaner/polish can help restore the shine, and enforcing a “no shoe” rule can also minimize the wear and tear on your pedals.
  • Cleaning the Inside of a Digital Piano
    On a rare occasion, if you own a digital piano that’s been sitting in a dusty garage, or hasn’t been cleaned for 10-20 years, there’s always the chance that dust will collect inside the case where the motherboard sits and sometimes cause electrical issues. Because this is very rare, it’s not advised to open the case up, but if you feel this could be a probable issue, most digital piano cases will open up on the backside where your MIDI and cable connections are located. Normally there are 3-4 screws that will need to be unscrewed, and the top of the case will lift out providing you access to the inside of the piano. If the motherboard of the piano is covered in heavy dust, you can take a small vacuum extension to suck up the large pieces of dust, but be sure not to touch the actual motherboard, as these are VERY delicate. Breaking something on the board will prove to cost you a good amount of money to replace. I always recommend taking a can of compressed air and blowing out the insides as well, which is a safe and effective way to lift that dust.

In conclusion, owning a digital piano has its many perks over an acoustic instrument when it comes to maintenance and cleaning. In order to keep your piano clean and safe of contaminants, we recommend cleaning your keys and piano surfaces once a week, even more frequent if you have small children or spend many hours enjoying your instrument.

Josh Olswanger

I've been playing and writing music since the age of 13. My father is a piano tuner/technician of 40 years, and I've been musically involved in all aspects from composing, to recording, producing and playing live for most of my life. I've always had a fascination and appreciation for all types of music and musical instruments, so creating this site is a perfect outlet to share my knowledge.

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