Any experienced bowler knows that a ball’s performance starts to diminish after a few games. This is also why experienced bowlers take proper care of their favorite ball. A bowler knows that to be at his or her best, their ball has to be at its best. Knowing how to clean a bowling ball is just as essential as a proper throwing technique.

How to Clean a Bowling Ball

Ball Storage

Before diving headfirst into the details of how to clean a bowling ball, proper ball storage needs to be addressed. All the hard work of cleaning and polishing can quickly go to waste if a ball is stored improperly. When not in use, an owner should keep their ball in a stable and temperate environment. Car trunks don’t count. Too hot and a ball can warp. Too cold and a ball can crack. Both are obviously bad scenarios.

Coverstock Materials

There are several different coverstock materials used in bowling balls. Common materials include resin, hard plastic, and pearl. The type of material a coverstock is made from dictates how difficult the ball is to clean. As a bowling ball is handled and travels down a lane, it absorbs oil. A resin coverstock is the most porous of the materials, while plastic absorbs little to no oil. Oil absorption changes a ball’s performance. The more oil absorbed, the greater the change.

How Often To Clean a Bowling Ball

Technically speaking, between every game. However, this doesn’t mean a thorough cleaning, as explained later, is needed. A ball should be wiped down between games to get rid of excess oil. How often a full cleaning is needed comes down to personal preference. A good average is every ten games.

Different Ways to Clean a Bowling Ball

There are three basic ways to clean a bowling ball:
  1. At home using a basic detergent.
  2. Take it to a pro shop and let them do it.
  3. Clean it with a ball spinner.

    Cleaning a Bowling Ball at Home

    The cheapest way to wash a bowling ball is at home. To do this, a person should gather up a bucket, detergent or dish soap, warm water, and a terrycloth or cotton towel. Fill the bucket up with warm water and a small amount of detergent or dish soap. Dunk the ball into the bucket and let it soak for a while. If the ball is made of a more porous material such as resin, let it soak longer to draw the oils out. Eventually, oil will begin to appear on the surface of the water. This is a good sign. After at least 15 minutes, remove the ball from the water and wipe it clean with the terrycloth or cotton towel. Repeat the whole process until oil is no longer visible. It may take a few times, but the ball will eventually come out oil free.

    There are a few things to keep in mind with this method. Make sure the water in the bucket is warm and not hot. Hot water can warp a ball. It doesn’t matter how clean a warped ball is; it isn’t going to perform well. Some people recommend putting a bowling ball in a dish washer. While this method does work, it doesn’t come without risk. A dish washer uses hot water in a normal cycle. Remember, hot water can warp a ball. This means having to monitor and remove the ball before the hot water cycle. If it isn’t timed right, the ball can easily be ruined.

    Let a Pro Shop Handle It

    After enough games, simply cleaning a bowling ball isn’t enough. It may need resurfacing to get back to performing like it was new. This is one of the advantages of letting a pro shop take care of ball maintenance. Not only can they quickly and easily clean a ball, but they can actually resurface it to restore lost performance.

    Pro shops resurface bowling balls in a couple ways. They can sand it down to remove surface imperfections, or they can bake it in a specialized machine. While a person can sand a bowling ball themselves to achieve the same result, it takes some experience to do this properly. Often, it’s better to leave this to the pro shop; it’s hassle free, and the work is done by experienced professionals.

    Use a Ball Spinner

    Most bowling alleys have a ball spinner available, or a person can buy one to use at home. Either way, ball spinners are not for beginners. A ball spinner acts like a spinning sander and is used to produce varied surface grits, clean, and resurface bowling balls. It’s very easy to get overzealous and end up sanding too much surface material away. However, in the right hands they work very well.

    Not all ball spinners are created equal, so there are a few considerations when choosing one. Different lanes and bowling styles dictate different levels of grit and polish on a ball. Overtime, balls become dented, scratched, nicked, and accumulate oil. A good ball spinner should be able to sand, polish, clean, and resurface a bowling ball restoring it to like new condition.

    Between Games

    Some bowlers advocate a thorough cleaning between every game. For most people, this isn’t necessary. However, a ball should be wiped down to remove excess oil between each game. A dry terrycloth or cotton towel works very well. Rubbing alcohol has been a favorite of some for years, but caution is necessary when using it; rubbing alcohol can strip finishes and soften the surfaces of some balls. Alcohol free window cleaners can work just as well without the danger of damaging a ball.

    Final Thoughts

    Like any other sport, a bowler must maintain his or her equipment for optimal performance. Overtime, a ball absorbs oil and accumulates dents and scratches. To stay on top of the game, a bowler must know how to clean a bowling ball. A person can easily clean his or her ball at home using a bucket, detergent, and warm water or drop it off at the pro shop for a professional resurfacing. Experienced bowlers may want to learn how to use the ball spinners available at many bowling alleys or buy one to keep at home. It isn’t necessary to thoroughly clean a ball between every game; however, wiping it down with a clean cloth keeps oil buildup to a minimum. With a bit of maintenance, bowlers can easily keep their bowling balls performing like new.

    Post a Comment

    Previous Post Next Post