How To Clean Dust from Under Piano Strings

Date Published: August 1, 2021
Author: Kylee Smith

The inner components of a piano are the most delicate and difficult to clean. These intricate parts, including the strings, have everything to do with the functionality of this musical instrument. While you must be careful, cleaning the dust from under piano strings can be completed easily using the right supplies.

Supplies For Cleaning Piano Strings

Piano strings stain easily, and antique pianos may have rusty strings. Problems with the strings can cause tuning issues and compromise the piano in general. Rusty strings have been known to break in half. Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to clean piano strings. Here is a list of supplies you will need to complete the task.


A flashlight is used to help you see the piano strings during the cleaning process.

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Feather Duster

A feather duster is great for collecting most of the dust that is caked on the piano strings.

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Cotton Balls

Cotton balls or cotton swabs may be used to reach the tight spaces between the strings and underneath the strings.

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A toothpick along with a piece of cloth attached can be used to clean hard-to-reach corners and crevices.

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Microfiber Cloth

A piece of microfiber cloth can be attached to a toothpick for this cleaning task. If you do not have an old microfiber cleaning cloth lying around, it is time to buy a new pack. A microfiber cloth is also used to wipe down metal piano strings after the rust has been removed.

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Steel Wool

Steel wool is only necessary for this cleaning task if you discover some of your piano strings have rusted.

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How To Clean Under Piano Strings

After lifting the top on your piano, the piano strings will be visible. The dust between the upper strings is hardest to clean, but it is simply a matter of using the right tools. First, identify if there is any rust present on the strings. If rust is present, it must be removed first.

Step One: Remove Rust Using Steel Wool

Use the steel wool to gently remove the rust from your piano strings. Take care to scrub lightly, especially when it comes to the front pins and bridge pins. After scrubbing the piano strings using steel wool, wipe them down with a barely damp microfiber cloth.

  • Pro Tip: When removing rust using steel wool, it is best to wear a protective mask.
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Step Two: Use Feather Duster on the Piano Strings

Use the feather duster to help remove the dust from the piano strings, paying special attention to the dust between the upper strings. A feather duster works great hitting most nooks and crannies, but there may still be areas you are not able to reach.

  • Pro Tip: Cotton swabs can be used as a substitute for the feather duster as well as helping you access hard-to-reach areas.


Step Three: Detail Cleaning with a Toothpick Wrapped in Cloth

The toothpick wrapped in cloth method may seem a tad extreme; however, this tiny homemade duster helps you get to those corners and crevices that other cleaning tools cannot reach. Delicately dab the corners, lifting dust so that it can be removed from the piano.

  • Pro Tip: A small paintbrush with extra-soft bristles may be used as well.
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Final Thoughts

Cleaning a piano is as much about the inside components as it is the exterior casing. The strings, soundboard, action, etc. might be out of sight and out of mind, but they must be kept in good shape. You now know how to remove rust and dust from those hard-to-reach piano strings. Keep your piano in good working order by cleaning under your piano strings.

FAQ: Cleaning Under Piano Strings

The corners and crevices mentioned make this task seem tedious, but it is rather simple and requires about 10 minutes of your time. Be sure to pay attention to other inner components of your piano and whether they need to be cleaned as well.

Do you need to clean the strings before tuning a piano?

Yes, clean the strings of a piano before having it tuned. If you clean the strings after a piano has been tuned, you might discover it needs retuning.

What are the costs of restringing a piano?

Restringing a piano cost anywhere between $1k and $10k. That is why it is so important to remove any rust on piano strings so they do not break.

What materials are piano strings made from?

Piano strings are mostly made of high-carbon steel wrapped in a copper exterior. Materials used may vary, especially when dealing with antique pianos.

Can you use WD-40 on piano strings?

There is a common misconception that you can use WD-40 on piano strings. Over time, however, WD-40 discolors the tenor and bass strings, compromising quality.

Is it okay to touch piano strings?

While it is okay to touch piano strings, this cleaning task provides directions that keep you from having to do so. Furthermore, touching piano strings repeatedly over time can cause corrosion due to skin oils.  

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