Your piano is a beautiful instrument and focal point in your home, and the last thing you want to do is let it sit and collect dust. But let’s face it, this happens to most people, and for those who don’t care to spend the time cleaning a piano on their own, they fortunately have options such as hiring a technician who offers piano cleaning services.
On average, a thorough piano cleaning can run anywhere from $75 to $250+, but costs can vary based on how dirty the piano is, what size of piano, your geographic location, and how many piano technicians are in your area.
Most pianos that sit inside a home, collect dust every day. Whether you have carpet, pets, kids and many other factors, will determine how much dust it will collect and how quickly it goes from clean to dirty.
In addition to dust, many times you hear of small children getting curious and sticking objects down into a piano, causing even more “fun” for whoever gets to fish that out. Objects usually include food, crayons, small toys, etc.
Luckily, any credible piano tuner will also offer piano cleaning as an add-on service, and this should be something you might want to invest in every few years if you want to provide the best maintenance and upkeep for your piano.
Parts of The Piano That Need Cleaning
There are a lot of moving parts of the piano that need cleaning. Let’s review the most common parts so that you know what your piano cleaner should be taking care of.
- Piano Keys and Fall board
To start with, piano keys can be a playground for bacteria growth if you’re not enforcing a hand-washing rule before playing. Often times it’s common to find sticky food residue or other junk on keys, as they have direct contact with your fingers, fingernails, etc. A piano technician will start by wiping off the entire key bed, one key at a time using a safe cleaner. A damp microfiber cloth with a little bit of soap normally does the trick on most keys.
- Piano Case & Lid
The piano case is another term for the body of the piano. Your tech will clean and wipe down the entire outer and inner casing with some sort of fingerprint and oil remover, as well as apply some wax or polish if they are asked to detail the piano. The outer casing and lid will collect the most dust, so they’ll remove this entirely for you.
- Soundboard and Strings
The soundboard, which sits below the strings, is a common location for dust to collect, as there are hundreds of small parts very closely placed underneath, so dust will work its way in and create a thick layer. Technicians will use a combination of flexible dusting tools and a shop vacuum specifically sized for hard to reach areas to reach under the strings and lift the dust off. Once the dust is removed, they can use a metal polish and cleaner to restore the shine of the soundboard, and bring out the original beauty of the wood again.
- Tuning Pins
Another area of the piano that will collect dust, more common on a grand piano rather than upright, are the tuning pins and felt strips in that area. To be precise, it’s the area around the pins that harbor dust due to the very small spaces in-between each pin. This area of the piano on a grand is always exposed when the case is open, opposed to an upright piano where the front lid is almost always down and covering the pins.
- Pedals, Rods and Casters
All of these pieces of hardware can get dirty, so most techs will clean the pedals with some polish, same with the pedal rods, caster/wheels and cups. Dust, pet fur and grime will find their way in nooks and crannies. Most technicians who offer a really in-depth detailing service will also polish all metal components on the piano.
- Piano Action
The action on a piano is what’s responsible for the keys moving, all the way up to the hammer striking each string. The action has thousands of parts, with each note containing their own mechanism (known as a whippen), felts, hammers, shanks, and more. The entire action on an upright or grand piano can get dusty over time, so a technician will need to remove it from the piano to thoroughly clean it properly. The action is meant to come out, so in no way does this damage piano.
How long does a piano cleaning take?
The amount of time it takes for a professional piano cleaning depends on a few factors:
- The type and size of piano
- How dirty the piano is
- How fast and thorough the piano technician is
Cleaning Factor 1: Type of Piano and Size
There are technically 3 classes of pianos. Grands, uprights and console pianos. Grands are the largest and range from “baby grands” that are 4-5’ in lengths all the way up to “concert grands” which are 9’+ in range.
Upright pianos have the large vertical casing, and there are also upright grands that have a very tall casing.
Consoles are the smallest pianos, and these resemble the size of a digital piano. Think of an upright piano with 70% less vertical space for a soundboard.
In short, larger pianos like a concert grand could take a few hours for a thorough cleaning, and a small console that just needs a touch-up might take only 20 minutes.
Cleaning Factor 2: How Dirty The Piano Is
You can imagine what piano technicians see on a weekly basis. Everything from pristinely clean pianos, down to cobwebs with thick layers of dust, etc. Because there are so many unknowns before a technician arrives, you could always send them a picture of your piano to help assess what costs you can expect for a piano cleaning before you commit to a price.
Does it cost more to clean a grand piano over an upright?
In general, larger grand pianos will cost more money to clean than smaller consoles or upright pianos due to surface space needing to be cleaned. The two hardest areas to clean for any technician will arguably be the soundboard underneath the strings and the tuning pins and felt strips that surround the area. These are the most common anchor points for dust to collect, and are generally just hard to get to. Although grands usually cost more, this is a general assumption since there are plenty of upright pianos that are in far worse shape or much dirtier than a grand, which would equate to a higher cost for cleaning.
Cost comparison of piano cleaning based on location
Because the cost of a piano cleaning services can vary based on geographic location, we’ve put together a cost estimate based on location in the United States. This will help you understand a general average price you can expect to pay depending on which region you live in. Keep in mind that most piano tuner/technicians will offer their cleaning services at discounted rates if you’re already hiring them for a piano tuning, regulation, or other maintenance as well. For technicians, piano cleaning is a nice add-on and is convenient as they are already at your home working on your piano.
Average Cost Range for Piano Cleaning By City
Is Professional Piano Cleaning Worth The Spend?
In conclusion, there are so many variables to understanding what goes into a deep piano cleaning when you a hire a technician and how much you can expect to pay. In the long run, you will save lot of money if you’re willing to put in the time to learn how to and clean your own piano, however the professionals have years of experience in this field, so hiring them may very well be money well spent.
Here at Clean My Instrument, we lean towards doing our own cleaning since you can save lots of money, can schedule that cleaning on your schedule, and you get the satisfaction of knowing that it’s done right. If you do clean your own piano, make sure that you still call in the professional for tuning and repairs.