Modern pianos are finished with a variety of materials, from traditional lacquer to modern polyurethanes and polyester resins. Whatever the material, a piano finish is designed to protect the wood from dirt and liquid spills, reduce the damaging effects of humidity changes, and -- in the case of clear finishes -- enhance the beauty of the wood.

Modern finishes are designed to do their job without the additional aid of polishes or waxes. In most cases, a piano finish is best maintained by simply keeping it clean and avoiding exposure to direct sunlight, extremes of temperature and humidity, and abrasion.

1. Avoiding finish damage.
Your piano's cabinet, like all woodwork, is subject to expansion and contraction with humidity changes. Excessive wood movement can eventually cause the finish to develop tiny cracks and even separate from the wood. Moderating the temperature and humidity swings around the piano will help to preserve its finish as well as its overall structure and tuning stability.

Situate the piano in a room with a fairly even temperature, away from drafts, dampness, and heat sources. ALWAYS AVOID DIRECT SUNLIGHT -- it will age the finish prematurely and cause color fading.

To prevent scratches, never set objects on your piano without a soft cloth or felt pad. Never place plants or drinks on a piano, because spillage and condensation can cause major damage.

2. Dusting your piano
Dust is very abrasive and can scratch the finish if wiped off with a dry cloth. To avoid scratching, dust the piano lightly with a feather duster. Alternatively, wipe lightly with a soft damp cloth to pick up the dust, followed immediately with a dry cloth. The cloths should be soft cotton such as flannel because coarse or synthetic fabrics can scratch some finishes. Wring out the damp cloth thoroughly so it leaves no visible moisture on the surface.

To avoid creating swirl marks, always wipe with long straight strokes rather than circular motions. Wipe with the grain for natural wood finishes, or in the direction of the existing sheen pattern for solid-color satin finishes.

Because some exposed parts inside your piano are fragile, it's best to let your technician clean these areas.

3. Cleaning the finish.
To remove smudges and fingerprints, first dust using the damp/dry cloths as above. If heavier cleaning is necessary, dampen your cloth with a small amount of mild soap solution. A common product is Murphy's Oil Soap, available at most grocery and hardware stores.

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