How Do I Remove Crayon From My Piano?

crayon on piano keys

In a perfect world, crayons and pianos would be kept far apart from each other at all times. But we all know that life doesn’t always work that way. If someone has gotten creative with their crayons on your piano, you’re going to need some help.

Crayon can be safely removed from piano cases and keys with WD-40, as well as with some household solutions or piano-specific cleansers and polishes. Piano owners also can take precautions to help protect a piano’s finish to make it easier to remove crayon marks and other blemishes. 

Child drawing on wall

Crayons are difficult to get off just about anything but rest assured that there are some methods that can prove to be safe and effective for the fine wood of a piano’s case and the plastic or ivory of the keys. Read on to learn how to get waxy crayon marks off of your piano.

How To Remove Crayon From A Piano Case

Sometimes a soap and hot water solution will work to remove crayon since hot water can help melt the waxy substance that crayons are made from. Although this may work, what if it doesn’t? There are a few more methods that can be tried to clean away those terrible crayon marks, using a couple of different products.

The Most Effective Usually: WD-40 and a Soft Cloth

WD-40To clean crayon marks from a piano using WD-40 and soft cloth: 

  1. Spray the affected area with WD-40 and wipe with a soft cloth. 
  2. Remove any leftover residue with water mixed with a few drops of mild dishwashing soap.
  3. Dip a sponge in the mixture (not too wet!) and rub in a circular motion. 
  4. Rinse with a lightly dampened cloth and dry.

Other Methods for Removing Crayon From a Piano

While the WD-40 is the most common method for crayon removal, these other methods can work just as well, depending on what you are dealing with.  

Note: It is important to test each chemical on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure that no damage will be done to your piano – just to be safe. 

Mineral Spirits (or Paint Thinner)
  • Should dissolve the wax without affecting the finish
  • Use just dab on a rag or cloth in a well-ventilated room
Murphy’s Oil Soap
  • A natural product
  • Can come in a spray bottle
  • Follow use directions on the bottle
All-Purpose Cleaner Like 409 or Simple Green
  • Spray the affected area with cleaner
  • Wipe with paper towels
  • If crayon marks are still present:
    • Work the area with a dampened sponge and liquid dish soap in a circular motion
    • Rinse with clean water and dry with paper towels. 

To Remove Crayon from a Piano, First Consider the Wood

Since pianos are made from fine wood, it makes using these other items to remove crayon from a piano tricky. Wood, in itself, is a very porous surface. 

The quality or type of wood that the piano is made from and how glossy the finish is can determine if the crayon marks will be harder to remove. 

There are wood cleaning products that could prove effective in getting those crayons off your piano; however, using a wood cleaner can also cause damage if not done correctly or if the wrong wood cleaning product is used. Here are some wood cleaners that may do the trick in getting crayon off of your piano.

Removing Crayon Marks From Piano Keys

While a piano case may be made from wood, the piano keys tend to be made from a different substance, requiring an entirely different cleaner. 

A piano has two different types of keys: non-ivory (usually plastic) and true ivory. 

Piano keys on old pianoKnowing whether the keys are made with true ivory products or if they are made with non-ivory products can help with a more effective crayon removal. Once you know what your keys are made from, the following methods may help in the removal of crayon marks.


Cleaning Non-IvoryCleaning True Ivory
  • Use a soft scrub with a damp sponge
  • Work in a circular motion
  • Wipe with a damp clean, soft cloth
  • Use toothpaste with a damp sponge
  • Work in a circular motion
  • Wipe clean with a damp clean, soft cloth

How to Tell if Your Piano Keys Are Plastic or Ivory

So, what exactly is the difference between non-ivory (or plastic) and true ivory keys? 

  • True ivory keys had a polished appearance, tended to last longer, and had a texture about them. Since the only way to obtain true ivory was to poach elephants (ivory generally comes from elephant tusks), ivory was discontinued. Elephants are now an endangered species due to poaching. 
  • Non-ivory, or plastic keys, come from different types of plastic. Even though non-ivory keys feel slicker, the plastic that was used for key production has improved to create textured plastic keys that were similar to true ivory materials.  

Now being able to tell the difference between the two can be difficult. Here is a comparison list between true ivory and non-ivory piano keys.

Non-ivory (plastic)True ivory
  • Cost less
  • Easier to work with
  • Made with two (2) pieces: Top Front
  • May yellow over time
  • May have more wear and tear (chips, cracks, etc.)
  • Made in three (3) pieces: Key, Stem, Front

Need help figuring out how many pieces your piano keys are?

If you look closely at the keys, you can see the fine line that is the joint between the keytop and the stem. If this line is present, your keys are indeed ivory.”
An Amazing Machine

Protecting Your Piano Finish from Crayon Marks

Steinway & sons grand piano, shinyMost piano owners like to keep a beautiful finish on their piano case.  The only question is, are the different types of finishes more difficult to clean crayon marks from? 

The most common piano finishes are satin, high-gloss, and open-pore. And yes, each of these piano finishes cleans up – and marks up – a little differently.

Satin Finishes

Since the satin finishes have tiny grooves, getting crayon marks removed may take more time and patience. Overcleaning a satin finish will cause it to become a semi-gloss. A mild cleaner to protect this finish but be able to clean off extra debris is the Cory Pre-Polish Finish Cleaner. 

High-Gloss Finishes

High-gloss finishes are the most durable. They generally won’t suffer much damage to waxes, so crayon marks should be able to be cleaned from this finish with little to no problems. 

For a better cleaner to ensure those pesky crayon marks are removed, Cory Super High-Gloss Piano Polish can always be used first. 

Open-Pore finishes

Open-pore finishes have a natural wood look. This is the type of finish that is typically seen on furniture, like coffee tables. This finish is an alternative to satin finishes; however, unlike satin, an open-pore finish can be cleaned using an oil. 

A popular cleaner for this finish is Harmony Detailing Oil. It is important to note that since this finish is more consistent with what a natural wood would be, crayon marks can get into the wood grain, making it difficult to remove. 

Should You Protect Piano Keys With a Cover?

Piano dust cover - redThere is a wide range of covers for pianos on the market. Having a piano cover can protect your piano from dust particles and those tiny creative hands wielding crayons.

Should someone use a piano cover or keyboard cover? In hindsight, using the pull-down door on a piano to keep the keys covered can help keep the piano keys protected when not in use. 

But when deciding on a different cover other than the fallboard, it is important to know that piano keys need adequate ventilation to aid in the prevention of mold and mildew forming. 

Installing the wrong keyboard cover could cause more long term damage to the keys and piano as a whole than those pesky crayon marks. 

Perhaps a simple keyboard dust cover would be a better option.

Regular Cleaning Tips for Your Piano

There are a number of ways to sterilize and keep your instruments clean, so you don’t end up needing heavy cleaning very often:

  • Wash Your Hands Before Playing 
    One way to keep your piano clean, is washing your hands with soap and water before use and in between any breaks. Sometimes soap and water may not be available. A good substitute for soap and water is hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. 
  • Use Disinfecting Wipes on Your Piano
    It is perfectly fine to use disinfecting wipes on your piano keys. However, using sprays or large amounts of water can cause damage to the keys and their counterparts. It is recommended that when using a spray to use a soft cloth that is lightly dampened with the disinfecting solution. 
  • Hydrogen Peroxide or Diluted Alcohol
    While rubbing alcohol seems like the best disinfectant, it is important to use diluted alcohol solutions. When using hydrogen peroxide, using a dampened cotton ball to wipe down the piano keys will be just as effective. 

Final Thoughts

little boy drawing with crayon on wallIt can be very encouraging to have different methods to not only remove crayon markings but also be able to keep your piano or instruments clean. When your instruments are cared for properly and cleaned, they can not only get sound but look as good as the day you bought it. 

So, if you find yourself staring at the crayon marks left by little hands on your piano, you can rest assured that those markings can be removed in time for your next solo.


An ardant fan of acoustic music, I played the clarinet in high school band and even competed in Disneyland. As the son of a music teacher, I know firsthand the importance of keeping instruments clean and maintained. I now enjoy sharing information with others and providing answers where I can.

Related Posts