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One day I was showing my cousin how to play the piano and I used a dry erase marker to write the notes on the keys. Now it won't come off! I tried rubbing alcohol, water, and Windex. Please help!
By Sami from Twin Bridges, MT
Wow, don't have any advice but wondered why you would do such a thing!
I hope you named the keys correctly! Good for you for passing on your music training.
Go to an office supply store. They have a solution you can buy just for that. Unfortunately, I don't know what it is called.
Or you could try a little hairspray (but that's mostly alcohol).
When this happens on a dry erase board, I just run the marker over the spot again. It seems to wet it enough, where it comes off. Good luck.
As a teacher this is something common that happens in a class room. Get a rubber eraser and rub hard and it will erase it. Sometimes following this up with hairspray or alcohol also helps.
OFF bug spray. Crazy but it works. Took permanent marker off of the wood part of the piano and did not bother the finish whatsoever.
Hello Sami. Yikes! I'm sure you are regretting writing on the keys, but please don't rely on "home remedies" to solve this problem. Please contact the manufacturer of your piano for the ultimate results.
While some of the suggestions listed here might work for some piano keys, your particular solution will depend on the materials used to make your particular piano: Very old piano keys were actually made of wood and ivory. Newer pianos are made of different materials and composites and finishes that I believe have changed over the decades, and since you didn't mention the age or manufacturer of your piano, the generalized suggestions listed here might not be the best for your particular piano and keys.
If you can't contact the manufacturer, please find a reputable piano sales store to ask for more advice. What works to clean a whiteboard was probably not designed to work on your piano keys so don't count on an office supply store or a well intended share site like this to give you "things to try". Please go to a more primary source, for the ultimate solution.
A piano is a huge investment. To protect your investment, again, please go to the most primary source you can find before "experimenting" with unproven solutions for your particular piano.
And Sami, good for you to share your knowledge of music (what a gift) . . . just don't write on piano keys again, okay? :) Good luck and best wishes!
I think that's a great idea. I would just leave them there.
Ok, thanks everyone! The rubber eracer actually worked. And it isnt a piano piano, it is just a keyboard. I would never write on a real piano!!
I'm grinning, grinning, grinning, Sami! So glad you found a solution to erase your "keyboard" labeling vs. a full sized, very expensive, real piano "key" labeling with a dry eraser pen!
But seriously (LOL) consider using post-it notes above the keys next time! :) (You can buy the skinny ones very inexpensively that are designed to merely mark pages)
So very happy all worked out well for your dilemma and keep passing on your music abilities as you can! Best wishes!
I live in the UK and we have a disinfectant called Zoflora that I used to do this
First you need to determine whether they are covered with ivory or plastic. It is easy to tell; if each white key is topped with two pieces - a larger, rectangle piece (the end that you press) and a separate, skinnier piece that goes between the black keys, noted by a seam in between, they are probably ivory. If it is one piece, generally it is topped with plastic. You cannot tell by age as I have a Hamilton / Balwin studio model that was built in the 1950s & they are plastic. I've successfully removed dry ink markings on the plastic, capped keys as well as much of the yellow nicotine stain using a 3/8" - 1/2" block wrapped with a rag lightly soaked with 90% Isopropanol, (Rubbing alcohol), & a little elbow grease.
My daughter put a Sharpie stain on one of the keys of our piano. Any suggestions on how to remove it? Thanks.
By Hema Kapadia from San Jose, CA
Hey Hemakapadia, try alcohol, it should come right off :)
Try using a little bit of fingernail polish remover on a cotton ball. I have gotten Sharpie off plastic, as well as hard things. Hope this helps.
Alcohol works really well. If that doesn't do it, try a bit of baking soda on a damp cloth scrubbing carefully.
You can use a dry erase marker, rub it over the sharpie stain, and it should work. I saw this on the internet so give it a try if you want to.
How do I get Sharpie off of my piano keys? I regret it and the more I try to clean it the worse it gets. I've tried alcohol, putting dry erase marker over it and taking that off, nail polish remover, and none of it seems to work at all other than taking a little off or smearing it more. How can I take it off?
I just got an old piano and there is some gunk, like old stickers on some of the keys. How do I clean this off? I can't use Goo Gone because of the ivory keys, correct?
By Kathi from Montgomery, AL
I think the ivory can take it. I would try the Goo Gone or if you are really paranoid about that stuff try some Simple Green. Spray it on and let it soak, then clean it off. I used to buy Simple Green at my local automotive store like Pep Buys, High Gear, Advanced Auto or Auto Zone. Any of them should have it.
In days gone by we used mayonaise to clean ivory keys.
Whatever you use, don't spray it on as the excess leaks down between the keys into the piano. Wipe anything on with a soft cloth and use sparingly. Doing this 2 or 3 times is better than having the excess ruin the inner workings and the wood!
Hubby hired a new cleaning service, and I don't know what they did to dust the piano, but half of the keys have some kind of rough residue on them now. It is so distracting when you play! I tried a little alcohol. I tried spraying general cleaner on a soft cloth. Nothing seems to touch it. Help?
By Jen H.
I need to know how to clean black spray paint off of white ivory keys. Is it even possible?
Believe it or not, Off! Bug spray. It works! I took permanent magic marker off of my piano and it did not leave any residue or hurt the finish!
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
How do I clean nicotine off of ivory piano keys?
By kay from Nashville, TN
Alcohol was the recommended cleaner for ivory. I don't know what else is safe for them. (10/12/2010)
By K OLeary
How do I get the yellow out of my ivory piano keys without harming it. It has to be a child and animal safe substance. We have tried fingernail polish remover. Does this damage the keys?
Kiki from SC
I just read on another website that a solution of 30% hydrogen peroxide and an ultraviolet light is used by a professional antique piano restorer to whiten genuine ivory. This sounds like a treatment used by dentists to whiten teeth. I just used a solution of regular hydrogen peroxide and some swabs to clean my yellowing ivory piano keys. It certainly removed some built up dirt and oil from previous owners. As far as whitening it immediately I haven't noticed anything extremely significant. However, it seems to evaporate quickly off the keys which seems like a good idea. (03/14/2007)
I have had an old Heintzman Upright Grand for about 40 years. It was built in Toronto Canada iin the 20s. It is in pristine condition. I have had many piano tuners over the years, however the very first fella that came had been in the piano tuning business for many years. He gave us the very best advice for whitening and cleaning my ivory keys.
A little lemon juice on a soft rag with a little elbow grease.
Do it often so that the oils from your fingers do not have a chance to build up residue on the keys. Air-borne dust, dirt, and particles can also lead to graying of the keys so if you value your piano and play it often, wipe the keys often with lemon juice. You will notice results. (04/01/2007)
By My Ivory
"Spray Nine" is the name of a cleaning agent sold in paint stores. A reputable piano restorer suggested I use it to clean the keys by rubbing with 000 steel wool and "Spray Nine" and it worked quite well. (04/25/2007)
I have a very rewarding 1898 Bechstein upright with original ivory keys, the ivorys are in excellent condition and my piano tuner always remarks on their whiteness.
My secret is to treat them like you would treat your teeth, ivory is bone after all.
Never use WATER or anything ACID or SOLVENT based, this will damage and erode the ivory.
I firstly wipe over the keys with a dry lint-free cloth, then I gently apply regular non coloured toothpaste and gently rub it in. Then the toothpaste is rinsed away with milk using another lint-free cloth. Finally I use an extra soft lint-free cloth to buff the keys to a brilliant shine.
Also it helps if you wash your hands or at least wipe them in a dry towel before playing an instrument with ivory keys. Keeping the lid up to expose them to sunlight does also help and wiping the keys after playing can be beneficial. (07/14/2007)
That is if your piano keys are ivory, piano keys using early plastics discoloured easily from body oils and the old plastics also discolour purely from age anyway. In this case the only option is to have the keyslips replaced with new plastic. Though if it is an antique piano yellowed keys are an expected feature by dealers and buyers. (10/19/2007)
My mother said, "that her mother told her 45 years ago, to clean them with real mayonnaise". We tried it on a 100 year old piano that we just acquired, and guess what? It really worked. They are not snow white, but it did make a really big difference. And they are silky to the touch.
My mother told me that her Mom told her 45 yrs ago that real mayonnaise would clean the keys. They didn't turn out pearly white, but it made a huge difference. We thought we get even more creative and use peanut butter. It did an even better job, go figure. Our updates will continue as we experiment further. Peace out. (01/24/2008)
Some pianos use bone and mammoth tusk material for key tops also. All ivory key tops have a head and a tail piece distinguished by a fine line joining them near the end of the sharp keys. Some plastic tops look very similar with even a grain structure molded in, but they are all one piece without the line.
There is a polish called Ivorene used for ivory by piano technicians that works well. Also sunlight works best for age yellow. Contaminated ivory suffering from piano lounge syndrome ie., cigarette smoke, can be rubbed with the finest steel wool and then polished with fine rubbing compound.
Real ivory is an opaque material that lets sun shine through it. Manufacturers used zinc oxide on top of the keys to whiten them first so that the ivory will appear whiter on top. If you have to glue one back on, make sure the wood is covered in white first if it came off with the glue wafer they used.
I've had great luck getting old sticker and tape adhesive off ivory piano keys by rubbing olive oil on the keys, then gently scraping the adhesive off. Works like a charm, and doesn't harm the ivory! (09/16/2009)
By Amy Reed