How to Clean an Accordion

Written by bridgette ashmore
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How to Clean an Accordion
Accordions come in many shapes, sizes and styles. (accordion music image by Alexander Ivanov from

Accordions, like all musical instruments, require proper care and maintenance to keep them in good working order. From the reeds to the bellows to the keys of the case: Each piece is part of an intricate design that must be properly attended to. Whereas everyday maintenance should be tended to by the owner, interior endeavours and tunings require the careful touch of a professional. Neglect and damage will also require the skilled hands of an experienced craftsman to return an accordion to full working order.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Chamois or cotton cloth
  • Wax-less furniture cleaner
  • Leather conditioner

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  1. 1

    Take your accordion out of its case by lifting up on the straps. If the lining of your case has got dirty or collected animal hair, use a lint roller or a slightly damp cloth to remove the spots. Make sure the case is completely dry before putting your accordion back in. Most accordions require air from time to time anyway.

  2. 2

    Wipe down the outside of the accordion with a chamois or cotton cloth. Wax-less furniture cleaner can be applied lightly to add a sheen. Avoid heavy polishes that will leave a residue.

  3. 3

    Pay particular attention to the keys, which will accumulate oil from your fingers and turn yellow. Wipe down each key carefully. If you develop the habit of wiping down the keys after each use, it will help prevent them from yellowing.

  4. 4

    Use a leather conditioner on the straps. A mix of lanolin and silicone (often referred to as mink oil) will help keep the leather strong and supple. Apply a liberal amount to each strap and use a rag or your fingers to work it into the entire strap.

  5. 5

    Take your accordion to a professional for care if you suspect there is a hole in the bellows or a damaged reed.

Tips and warnings

  • Always store your accordion properly. Avoid extreme temperatures, moisture and dusty areas as these will all affect the reeds. A properly cared-for instrument that is wiped down after use will only need to be tuned every five to seven years. During these tunings the accordion will be opened, the reeds will be inspected and replaced if necessary and new wax will be poured.
  • Never attempt to open your accordion unless you have a great deal of experience. There are many parts that vary from instrument to instrument, and unless you are a professional the chances are far greater that you will do more damage than good.

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