Cleaning your synths

Im a big believer in always having a big clean paintbrush handy for brushing off dust, but what do you all use when doing more general cleaning on say keyboards or synths?

I’m starting to notice a very mild layer of grime on my polysynth, (nothing heavy) and mostly from my own fingers and hands most likely over time.

I want to give it a good clean with something with a little more oomph than a damp cloth with all the water wrung out of it.

Can anyone recommend anything? I have some isopropyl alcohol on hand, that’s good for cleaning the aluminium panels on my modular, but unsure if it’s suitable for keyboard keys and the rest of the interface.


Very mildly soapy water, and make sure none of it gets anywhere it can’t be wiped off!

Wet-wipes are handy for this. It’s what I tend to use on used stuff I buy that arrives with crust.

For my own stuff I don’t really need to clean it tbh, just keep the dust off. Keep that red wine away!


Those little alcohol infused pads are great for this. No water means they’re safe on electronics and do a good job at cleaning your grubby paw prints

These guys


general cleaning: wet wipes for electronics
where degreasing needed: a cloth with WD-40

For keys, maybe alcohol as a last resort instead of first? Especially for high quality / expensive gear.

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I have a large bottle of Isopropyl alcohol I use with kitchen towels or cotton swabs to clean my devices. And some orange oil cleaner I use for removing residue of stickers, velcro or rubber feet.

FWIW, I have that fabled Befaco Synth Brush, it works fine. I just found out that this is just a rebranded Barber Brush. (via

Between devices and cabling, I find these vacuum straw tubes quite handy



Brushes, canned air, mild soapy water on a damp rag, the more expensive the synth the more care I would caution. Rubbing alcohol does clean things, but the effects on various plastics (hazing, cracking of acrylic, white residue, paint smudge) are unpredictable so the phrase “at your own risk” becomes more relevant now than ever.


Also isopropyl will degrade rubber coating - or if it has gone sticky, remove it with a lot of elbow grease.

Generally for cleaning plastics the LCD wipes are what I use as they are plastic safe (as long as they specify it on the packaging)

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Good old spit and a shirt sleeve.

From a smoke and pet free home.


If you have a Dyson vacuum cleaner this accessorie works nicely, looked up the specs of the used material and those fibers should not conduct electricity, so no static buildup


Ha! “I’ll make sure to give it a clean before I box it up”


Thanks, I was not aware of that. Here’s a similar answer on stack exchange that mentions includes ethanol (the alcohol used in the alcohol pads mentioned above).

Yep, this mostly sums it up:

" neither alcohol nor plastic refer to specific compounds, but are rather generic terms encompassing hundreds of compounds each. The number of possible combinations is endless."

That person had it dead to rights.

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Ok, but if you’re synth is REALLY dirty…


I was referring to the part after that, I should have quoted that:

However, assuming that by alcohol you either mean ethanol, which is the drinking kind of alcohol, or isopropanol, which is the alcohol in many cleaning products, then I can give you some advice based on common plastic types. Both are similar enough in their solvent properties that we can generalize.

And for whoever might be interested in the rest of the answer which goes into detail about different kinds of plastic:

Alcohol will damage some plastics, but not all. I will list my answers by the resin code, or “recycling symbol”, found on most plastic items:

  1. Poly(ethylene terephthalate), PET or PETE - PET is not very soluble in ethanol or isopropanol, but prolonged exposure may cause crazing or stiffening due to the dissolution of plasticizers.
  2. High-Density polyethylene, HDPE - HDPE is resistant to most things.
  3. Poly(vinyl chloride), PVC - PVC is not very soluble in ethanol or isopropanol, but prolonged exposure may cause crazing or stiffening.
  4. Low-Density polyethylene, LDPE - LDPE is resistant to most things.
  5. Polypropylene, PP - PP is resistant to most things.
  6. Polystyrene PS - PS is not very soluble in ethanol or isopropanol, but prolonged exposure may cause crazing or stiffening.
  7. This stands for “other”, but the most common is polycarbonate, which is not very soluble in ethanol or isopropanol, but prolonged exposure may cause crazing or stiffening.

Rubber - most rubbers are probably resistant to alcohols, but prolonged exposure will cause loss of elasticity

General dust removal:

  • cheap chip-brush from the hardware store (stiff bristles)
  • cheap ultra-soft paint brush from the Japanese dollar store
  • inexpensive “HEPA” air cleaners from Amazon (unclear if they are truly HEPA, but seem good enough) for general dust removal
  • Oreck XL + HEPA bag kit. Cleans as well as my old Dyson, but it is MUCH easier to clean hair and string out of the Oreck. The Oreck is about 1/3 the cost of a new Dyson and is built like a tank with zero unnecessary parts.
  • B&D 20v hand vac for corners and desks

When I run the humidifier, I often get a very fine white powder accumulating on shiny plastic parts. For that, I use the same handkerchiefs I use for cleaning glasses.

I’ve used alcohol (specifically, >90% Isopropyl) to clean flux off of PCBs and also to clean an extremely sticky/grimy Z1 (Korg, not BMW). I try to keep the beer, wine, and whisky in their respective bottles and glasses and also my belly.

Some more cleaning threads:

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Be careful with rubbing alcohol (although generally safe around electronics), I wiped some of the labeling right off my M:S with it!

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One thing I use when there is any kind of difficult grime is those magic cleaning pads. They work with water and you can be surgical with them. You don’t need much water at all, and if you sub in some iso for the water it will dry more or less instantly.

Or, you know, just wash your hands from time to time? :wink: