How to Clean a Bowling Ball: Quick and Effective Methods

How To Clean A Bowling Ball - bowlingview
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Bowling enthusiasts understand the importance of maintaining their bowling ball to keep it in prime condition for optimal performance on the lanes. Cleaning a bowling ball is an essential step in maintaining its surface and ensuring consistent rolls, as oil, dirt, and residue can easily accumulate on the ball, affecting its motion and stability.

There are various methods for cleaning a bowling ball that cater to different preferences and levels of expertise. Some prefer a simple at-home cleaning routine, while others opt for professional maintenance provided by a pro shop. It’s crucial to know the best practices when it comes to care and maintenance, as improper techniques could potentially damage the ball or, at the very least, impair its performance.

This article will delve into the process of cleaning a bowling ball, offering practical advice and steps to follow to keep your bowling ball in optimal condition for those strikes and spares. With proper care, you’ll increase your bowling ball’s longevity, maintain its performance, and improve your overall experience on the lanes.

Why Regular Cleaning Is Important

Performance Enhancement

Regular cleaning of a bowling ball is crucial to maintaining its optimal performance. Over time, oil from the lanes accumulates on the ball’s surface, affecting its reaction and movement on the lane. This oil build-up can cause the ball to skid or hook unpredictably, making it challenging to achieve consistent scores. By routinely cleaning your bowling ball, you can effectively remove the lane conditioner and restore the ball’s traction, leading to more predictable and reliable shots.


Taking care of your bowling ball by cleaning it regularly not only enhances its performance but also prolongs its lifespan. Bowling balls tend to absorb oil and dirt from the lanes, which may cause the ball’s coverstock to deteriorate over time. Regular cleaning helps preserve the coverstock’s integrity, preventing premature wear and allowing the ball to retain its original characteristics for a longer period.

Reduced Damage

Another crucial benefit of regular bowling ball cleaning is reduced damage risk. Dirt, grime, and oil can accumulate in the ball’s track area or finger holes, impacting the ball’s balance and overall performance. Additionally, this accumulation may lead to an increased likelihood of scratches or gouges on the ball’s surface. By taking the time to clean your bowling ball consistently, you can minimize the risk of these issues and protect your investment for years to come.

Fundamentals of Bowling Ball Cleaning

Removing Surface Oil and Dirt

Cleaning a bowling ball is essential for maintaining its appearance and performance. The first step in the cleaning process is removing surface oil and dirt.

To do this, use a clean, high-quality microfiber cloth to gently wipe the ball in a circular motion. This helps remove any oil or dirt that has accumulated on the ball’s coverstock.

For stubborn dirt or grime, you can also use a cleaner specifically designed for bowling balls, such as Simple Green or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol).

Ensure that you have the following supplies before starting:

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Bowling ball cleaner (Simple Green or rubbing alcohol)
  • Water

Deep Cleaning and Oil Extraction

After removing surface oil and dirt, deep cleaning and oil extraction is crucial to maintaining a bowling ball’s performance. This process helps to remove oil absorbed by the ball’s coverstock, ensuring that it maintains its original movement and reaction on the lanes.

Here are the steps for a thorough deep cleaning:

  1. Prepare a bucket or sink filled with hot water (approximately 140°F / 60°C). Avoid using water that is too hot, as it may damage the ball.
  2. Add a cleaner such as liquid dish soap, ammonia, or acetone into the water. Be cautious not to use an excessive amount of these cleaning products, as it may harm the ball’s appearance or damage the coverstock.
  3. Submerge the bowling ball fully in the cleaning solution, making sure the entire surface is covered.
  4. Allow the ball to soak for about 20 minutes. This helps to extract the absorbed oil from the coverstock.
  5. Remove the ball from the cleaning solution and gently clean it with a microfiber cloth to remove any residual dirt or cleaner.
  6. Dry the ball thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth or a bowling ball air dryer.

Remember, regular deep cleaning and oil extraction technique can improve your ball’s longevity and performance. Ball maintenance is just as important as your skills and techniques in the game. Regular cleaning should be a part of every bowler’s routine to keep their equipment at peak performance.

Cleaning Techniques and Supplies

Commercial Bowling Ball Cleaners

There are several commercial cleaning products available in the market that effectively clean a bowling ball. One popular product is Simple Green, which removes oil, dirt, and grime with ease. Another option is Windex, known for its ability to cut through grease and stubborn stains.

Commercial Bowling Ball Cleaners - Bowlingview

When using a commercial cleaner, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply the solution to a microfiber cloth before wiping down the ball. This helps ensure even distribution of the cleaning solution and prevents potential damage caused by friction.

In addition to liquid cleaners, there are also specialized cleaning pads and waterproof tape products designed for use on bowling balls. These aids help remove excess oil and dirt accumulated during gameplay without causing damage to the ball’s surface.

Homemade Cleaning Solutions

For individuals looking to create their own bowling ball cleaning solution, there are several household items that can be utilized. A mixture of equal parts isopropyl alcohol and water serves as an effective cleaner for removing oil and dirt. Simply combine the two ingredients in a spray bottle and mist it onto a microfiber cloth before wiping down the ball.

Another homemade solution can be created using ammonia and detergent. Mix one part ammonia with two parts detergent, and add the solution to warm water. Dip a microfiber cloth or soft brush in the solution, and gently clean the ball’s surface. Avoid using acetone on a bowling ball, as it can damage the ball’s surface and affect its performance.

Commercial Cleaners Homemade Solutions Cleaning Tools
Simple Green Isopropyl Alcohol Microfiber Cloth
Windex Water Waterproof Tape
  Ammonia Specialized Cleaning Pads

Remember to always start with a mild cleaning solution before progressing to harsher methods, as this can help preserve the integrity of the bowling ball’s surface. Regular cleaning with the appropriate techniques and supplies can extend the lifespan of your bowling ball and maintain optimal performance.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

Preparing the Ball and Workspace

To ensure a thorough cleaning, prepare both the bowling ball and the workspace. Begin by placing a microfiber towel on a flat surface to protect the ball from scratches and damage. Next, secure the ball on a hook or another stable object to keep it in place during the cleaning process. Examine the finger holes, and if necessary, cover them with waterproof tape to prevent any cleaning solution from entering.

Before starting the actual cleaning, gather all the necessary materials, including a bucket, brush, microfiber cloth, acetone, and the appropriate cleaning solution for your ball’s coverstock. If unsure about your specific type of ball, consult with your local pro shop for guidance on the best cleaning solution.

Applying the Cleaning Solution

After preparing the workspace and gathering the necessary materials, it’s time to apply the cleaning solution. Fill the bucket with warm water and add the appropriate solution. Avoid using hot water, as it may cause damage to the coverstock.

Next, submerge a microfiber cloth or towel in the cleaning solution and wring out excess liquid. Then, gently but thoroughly wipe down the entire surface of the ball, focusing on the areas where the ball picks up most of the lane conditioner. For stubborn or hard-to-reach spots, use a brush to apply some additional pressure and agitation while being cautious not to scratch the ball’s surface.

If your ball is particularly dirty or has reactive coverstock, you may need to apply acetone to clean the finger holes. To do this safely, dampen a microfiber cloth or towel with the chemical and carefully swab the inside of the holes, being sure to avoid contact with the rest of the ball.

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Drying and Finishing

Once the entire surface of the ball has been cleaned, take another microfiber cloth or towel and dry the ball completely, removing any remaining moisture from the coverstock. After the ball is dry, inspect it for any dull or rough areas. If desired, you can polish the ball at this point to increase shine and enhance the performance of the coverstock.

To apply the polish, place a small amount onto a clean microfiber cloth and rub it over the ball’s surface following the instructions provided by the product’s manufacturer. Finally, buff the ball with a separate dry microfiber towel to achieve a high-gloss shine.

Another interesting read> Can You Use Car Polish On Your Bowling Balls?.

By following these step-by-step instructions, your bowling ball will be thoroughly cleaned and ready for its next trip to the bowling alley. Regular maintenance will ensure the longevity and performance of your ball, ultimately leading to more consistent gameplay and higher scores.

Maintenance and Additional Care

Regular Surface Maintenance

Proper ball maintenance is essential for a player’s performance and the longevity of their bowling ball. One key aspect of maintenance is regular surface cleaning. Bowling on oily lanes can cause oil to build up on the ball’s surface, affecting its reaction and performance. To combat this, it is important to clean the ball after each use.

Using a microfiber or cotton cloth, wipe down the ball’s surface after each game to remove any oil or dirt that may have accumulated. For more thorough cleaning, consider using a ball cleaner specifically designed for bowling balls. These cleaners can help eliminate stubborn grime and restore the ball’s original surface. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

Professional Deep Cleaning Services

While regular cleaning with cloths and ball cleaners can keep a ball performing well, over time, more stubborn grime may accumulate, requiring a deeper clean. For such situations, consider seeking professional help from a local pro shop.

Local pro shops typically offer deep cleaning services that can remove built-up oil and dirt that regular cleaning efforts cannot. These services often involve the use of specialized equipment, such as a ball rejuvenator or an ultrasonic cleaner, to lift and remove contaminants from the ball’s surface and core.

Related article> 3 Best Bowling Ball Rejuvenator – The Complete Guide.

By keeping up with both regular surface maintenance and periodic professional deep cleanings, bowlers can ensure their ball continues to perform optimally and maintain its longevity on the lanes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

You can clean your bowling ball at home by first using a mild cleaning agent and a soft cloth to remove any dirt or oil that is stuck on the ball.

You can then use an abrasive pad or sandpaper to scrub away more stubborn dirt and grease, after which you should dip the bowling ball in a cleaning solution for 3-5 minutes before rinsing it off with water.

Finally, make sure to air dry your bowling ball completely before using it again.

You can use mild cleaning agents such as dish soap and vinegar, soft cloths, abrasive pads or sandpaper, cleaning solutions such as rubbing alcohol or acetone, and water to clean your bowling ball at home. Make sure to air-dry your bowling ball completely before using it again.

Yes, it is okay to clean a bowling ball with alcohol. Rubbing alcohol or acetone are two types of cleaning solutions commonly used to clean bowling balls. Make sure to use a mild solution and air-dry the ball completely before using it again.

Yes, it is OK to soak a bowling ball in the water. However, you should not let the ball soak for too long as this can damage it or remove its finish.

It is best to use a mild cleaning solution and only let the ball soak for 3-5 minutes before rinsing off with clean water.

Make sure to air-dry your bowling ball completely before using it again.

No, it is not advisable to use just any towel to clean your bowling ball. You should use a soft cloth that won’t damage the surface of the ball when scrubbing away dirt and grease.

If you do choose to use a towel, make sure it is made of soft fabric and doesn’t have any sharp edges or abrasive materials. It is best to air-dry your bowling ball completely before using it again.

Yes, you can use dish soap to clean a bowling ball. Dish soap is considered a mild cleaner and can be used safely on bowling balls to remove dirt and grime without damaging the surface.

Make sure to use only a small amount of dish soap mixed with warm water when cleaning your ball, and then air-dry completely before using it again.

Rejuvenating a bowling ball at home can be done by cleaning the ball with a mild soap and water solution, drying it off with a soft cloth, and then applying an approved rejuvenator to the surface.

The rejuvenator will help restore the original tackiness of the ball surface and add shine. After applying, let the rejuvenator sit for 60 minutes before wiping off any excess with another soft cloth.

Finally, air-dry your bowling ball completely before using it again.

For optimal performance, it is recommended to wipe your bowling ball after every use. This will remove dirt and sweat residue that can accumulate on the surface of the ball and reduce its grip on the lane. Wipe down with a soft cloth or towel and make sure to air-dry your bowling ball completely before using it again.

No, it is not recommended to use oil on a bowling ball. Oil can make the surface of the ball too slick, which causes reduced control and spin. 

In addition, oils can prevent other products used on the ball from properly bonding or sticking to its surface. 

The best practice for cleaning and maintaining your bowling ball is to use a mild soap-and-water solution with a soft cloth or towel and then air-dry completely before using it again.