Pianos are made for playing not storing, but sometimes life doesn't give you a choice. To ensure your piano remains usable, you must take adequate precautions before and after placing the instrument into long-term storage. Here are three tips for preparing your piano for long-term storage and the best place to put it.
Clean the Piano of Dirt, Dust, and Debris
The first thing you need to do is thoroughly clean the piano to remove dust, dirt, and oils that can damage both the exterior elements and the delicate machinery inside. Pianos are made from a variety of materials, so it's important to use the right cleaning supplies to avoid damaging the instrument.
First, remove dust using a feather duster or similar instrument (e.g. Swiffer duster). Dust can be very abrasive and easily scratch the piano's finish. Next, gently clean dirt and debris with a damp cloth and quickly follow up with a dry cloth. Use the softest materials possible, such as flannel or microfiber, and be sure to wipe along the grain rather than in circles. If some areas have tough to remove dirt, use a little bit of mild soap. Wipe clean and dry afterwards.
Be as gentle as possible. Some parts are very delicate, such as the strings, so it may be best to have a professional clean those areas for you.
It is not necessary for you to polish the piano, especially since the common furniture polish products on the market can do more damage than good. However, if you have used furniture polish in the past and notice your piano's finish appears oily, gummy, or has streaks, it may be suffering from product accumulation. Definitely remove as much as you can use mild soap and water, drying immediately after to avoid softening the wood. If a stronger cleaning product is needed, use one labeled as a wood cleaner and wax remover, preferably made specifically to cleaning piano surfaces.
Wrap and Cover the Instrument
Let the piano dry thoroughly for about a day, and then wrap it in blankets and put a soft cloth over the keys. Afterwards, put a cover over the entire thing and secure it in place using rope or string. This is a necessary step for a couple of reasons. First, wrapping the piano in blankets will protect it from bumps and dings during the move from your home to the storage facility. Second, it will keep dirt, dust, and debris from accumulating on and inside it while in storage.
Clean and wrap any accessories that accompany your piano (e.g. piano stool). If they're small enough, place them in a plastic bag or container and attach to the piano cover to avoid losing the items.
Place in Climate Controlled Storage Unit
The most important thing you can do is place the piano in a climate controlled unit. Regular units are subject to constant changes in temperature and humidity during the day/night cycle and as the seasons change. This can cause the material the piano is made from to continuously expand and contract, which can lead to warping and other damage. Additionally, any metal inside the machine may rust due to moisture from excess humidity.
A climate controlled unit maintains the temperature and humidity at a steady level, avoiding the damage associated with a fluctuating interior clime. The ideal temperature for the piano is between 65 and 78 degrees and the ideal humidity is around 50 percent. Opt for a piano specific storage unit or search for a climate controlled facility that can maintain these stats.
After you remove the piano from storage, let it sit in its new home for a few weeks so it can acclimate to the environment. Afterwards, have it tuned by before playing it.
For more information on storing a piano long term or to rent a storage unit for your belongings, click for more help from a local storage facility.