When you play pool, the balls can pick up chalk dust, fingerprints, and dust off the table. These things can make your billiard balls lose their luster and shine and start to look dingy. So, to keep your pool balls looking great, you must clean them—but how should you clean them and how often?
Why You Should Always Clean Your Billiard Balls
To help you decide how often to clean your billiard balls, let’s examine why it is important to clean them. For starters, polished, clean pool balls roll more smoothly than dirty ones. You will also notice a difference in how the balls interact with one another.
You get better contact with clean pool balls, so they tend to go where they should. On the other hand, dirty billiard balls will not always go in the direction you wanted because the balls’ surface is dirty.
The second reason you should clean your billiard balls is to help reduce the amount of pool table maintenance required. Chalk dust, dirt, grime, food, or oil on the balls will be transferred onto the table felt, racking triangle, and pockets. So, if you constantly play with dirty pool balls, you will have to spend more time on your other pool table maintenance.
How to Clean Billiard Balls
There are three different methods you can use to clean your billiard balls. You can use a billiard ball cleaner, wash them by hand, or invest in an electric pool ball cleaner and polisher machine.
Billiard Ball Cleaner Method
Step 1: Wipe Off the Balls
Start by wiping any excess residue off the balls using a microfiber cloth. Place the balls onto another soft towel.
Step 2: Apply the Billiard Ball Cleaner
Using an approved billiard ball cleaner, apply a small amount to each ball. A small, pea-sized dot will do.
Step 3: Buff and Polish the Balls
Using a clean microfiber towel, spread the cleaner around the ball and continue to buff and polish it. Once it looks shiny, set it aside. Continue working on balls one at a time, switching to a clean microfiber towel if needed.
Step 4: Allow the Balls to Air Dry
As the balls dry, you may notice the ball polisher leaves a film on them. This is perfectly normal. Once the balls are fully dry, use a clean microfiber cloth and buff the balls one final time.
Hand Washing Method
This ball cleaning method takes a little longer than using a ball polisher and cleaner. It will remove dirt, chalk dust, food, and grime from the balls. However, they may not look as shiny as when you use a polisher.
Step 1: Fill a Clean Bucket with Soapy Water
Use a mild dish detergent, like Dawn or Palmolive, mixed with lukewarm water. You never want to use hot water, as this can damage the balls. You can use cool or cold water, but the balls may not come as clean, as the lukewarm water helps loosen stuck-on food and grime.
Step 2: Put the Balls in the Bucket
Start with four to eight balls at a time instead of putting all sixteen into the bucket. You do not want the balls banging into each other. Allow the balls to soak for about five minutes but no more than ten minutes.
Step 3: Wash the Dirty Billiard Balls
Using a clean microfiber cloth, dampen them in the bucket of water. Then wash each of the balls. You can place washed balls on a soft towel or back into the wash water.
Step 4: Rinse and Dry the Balls
Using cool water, rinse the soap off of each of the balls. Set the rinsed balls onto a soft towel. After all the balls have been rinsed, use a dry and clean microfiber cloth to dry each ball to prevent water spots.
Electric Pool Ball Cleaner and Polisher Machine Method
This is probably the easiest way to clean your pool balls. You simply put the balls into the machine and run the cleaning and polishing cycle, which takes about three minutes. There are consumables you will need to replace like the cleaning solution and cleaning pads. However, most electric machines will run numerous cycles before you need to replace these things.
How Often to Clean Billiard Balls
The frequency of cleaning will vary depending on how often you play pool. For example, if you play one game once a week, you only need to clean the pool balls every other month.
However, you should clean the balls monthly if you play two to three times a week or play three or more games weekly. On the other hand, if you play daily, you will want to clean your billiard balls every week or every other week.
Furthermore, keep a clean microfiber towel handy and wipe down all the balls after each game. Doing this will keep the balls cleaner for a little longer.
Eventually, your pool balls will wear out and need to be replaced. It is easy to find new, high-quality ball sets at Blatt Billiards. Explore our ball sets online or contact us at 212-674-8855 today.