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How to Clean a Bowling Ball?

Your Bowling Ball is the most crucial accessory in your bowling kit. You have to maintain your bowling ball just as much as a Formula 1 driver maintains their car. Remember, your bowling ball will perform only as well as you maintain it!

Bowling experts claim that you can keep your bowling ball oil and dirt free by wiping it down regularly with a bowling ball cleaner. They also recommend deep cleaning a bowling ball after every 50 games.

We all know that things perform better and last longer if you maintain them. This is true for everything in your life; it could be your phone, your car, your body, or your bowling ball. If you take care of it, then it will definitely perform better.

A bowler needs his bowling ball to perform as advertised. They want their bowling ball to go straight when they expect it to and hook when they want it to. The outcome of the game and the performance of the player depends on the predictability of their bowling ball.

However, a bowling ball deteriorates with time. Scratches and scuffs appear on its surface as it is repeatedly thrown on the bowling lane. It also collects oil and dirt as it rolls down towards the pins. These scratches and grime affect the performance of a ball, decreasing its speed and ability to hook.

A dirty and old bowling ball will not go as fast as you want, it will not hit the pins as hard as you want, and it will not curve when you want it to. As a result, your bowling score average will go down, and your game will suffer.

What Should You Do?

Should you go and buy a $100 bowling ball every time it gets scratched? Experience tells us that scrapes and lines start appearing on the bowling ball after 30-40 games. If you are a regular player, then this means that you may need a new bowling ball every month!

Of course, this is absolutely ridiculous. You don’t go and change your car every time it seizes, you just change the oil. Similarly, you have to clean your bowling ball to get it to function perfectly again. It is ideal if you maintain your bowling ball regularly so that it remains in a near-perfect condition.

In this article, we shall discuss the proper methods for cleaning your bowling ball. Here is what we will cover in this article:

You can clean your bowling ball yourself, or you can take it to your local pro shop. Let’s take a look at how you can clean your bowling ball yourself:

Clean Your Bowling Ball Yourself

1. Using A Bowling Ball Cleaner

The simplest method for cleaning your bowling ball is to regularly wipe it down with a bowling ball cleaner. Affordable and effective bowling ball cleaners are readily available on the market, read the Best Bowling Ball Cleaner for more information.

Here are the few simple steps in which you can clean your bowling ball with a cleaner:

  • Purchase a good bowling ball cleaner and a microfiber cloth or pad.
  • Spray your bowling ball lightly with the bowling ball cleaner. You should spray it evenly across the surface of the ball, concentrating on areas where you can see the belt marks.
  • Once you have sprayed the cleaner, take the bowling ball in one hand and the microfiber cloth in the other.  Use one hand to spin the ball over the microfiber cloth or power pad.
  • Another method is to place the bowling ball on a bowling ball cup and then spray the cleaner onto the microfiber cleaning pad/cloth, rather than the ball. Once the fabric has been sprayed, use it to wipe the ball down from all sides. Once one side is done, flip the ball upside down to wipe it from every angle.

The bowling ball cleaners will remove dirt and oil from the surface of your bowling ball. They will also give it a tacky finish, which is great for bowling. Apart from the traditional cleaners, some companies sell surfactants, polishers, and mark removers, which are more potent than cleaners.

The Power Gel Scuff by Motiv and the So Fresh and So Clean by CTD are great examples of powerful surfactants which can make your ball as good as new. You can use them along with bowling ball cleaner, as described above.

You can also lightly resurface your bowling ball while you clean it. You can use grit pads available on the market, rub them gently over the surface of the bowling ball to remove any scuffs or lines. It will give your bowling ball an even tackier finish.

An expert tip is to use the bowling ball cleaner after every game. If you clean the bowling ball after every game, then the oil won’t get a chance to soak in deeper. If you let a dirty ball sit till the next day or a few days, the oil will sink in deeper, and it will be harder to get it out.

Remember, while bowling ball cleaners are great for regular maintenance, they can only clean the surface of the bowling ball. If your bowling ball has soaked in a lot of oil, then you may need a deeper cleanse.

2. Baking Your Bowling Ball

If the oil has sunk in deeper and you can’t get it out with a simple wipe down, then you can use the baking method. In bowling lingo, the term baking means methods that use hot temperatures to pull the oil out of the ball.

The coverstock of the bowling ball absorbs oil from the bowling lane. Using a bowling cleaner after every game can minimize the amount of oil that your ball absorbs, but it cannot stop it from happening altogether. It is a fact that your bowling ball will absorb some oil after each game.

Experts state that you should give your bowling ball a deep cleanse after every 50 games to get out the oil, which soaked in deeper into the shell. Baking your bowling ball is an effective method because the high temperature opens up the pores on the surface of the ball, which allows the ball to release oil.

Heating and cooling your bowling ball can be tricky; it requires some precision and patience. Done incorrectly, your ball may crack from the hot or cold temperature. If you are unsure about the method and don’t want to take the risk, then we recommend that you go to your local pro shop.

However, many people do these methods at home successfully. You can try it an old ball first to get the hang of it. We will also tell you some tips to make sure that you are able to clean your ball without damaging it.

Let’s look at the popular baking methods first:

Hot Water Bath

The hot water bath method is a pretty simple but time-consuming process. You may have to redo it a few times to get all the oil out of your ball. On the plus side, it has the least risk of inflicting damage to your ball.

Here is what you do:

  • Take a tub or a bucket, which is big enough for you to submerge your bowling ball.
  • Fill the tub or bucket with hot water. The water should be between 120-140°F. Take care to not let your water be hotter than 140°F, it can increase the risk of cracks. It can also melt the core of your ball.
  • Add 1-2 tablespoon of liquid dishwasher into the water and give it a mix.
  • Tape the finger holes of your bowling ball so that no water can get inside them.
  • Then submerge your bowling ball into this mix for 15-20 minutes.
  • Take out the ball after 15-20 minutes and clean it with a microfiber cloth.
  • Repeat this process 3 – 4 times to get your ball tacky again.
  • In the end, you can also give it a final wipe using a bowling ball cleaner.
  • Afterward, let it dry for at least 1 -2 days before use.

Personally, I like this method because it is very effective while being safe. The water temperature is perfect to open pores but not hot enough to damage the ball. It is a great way to deep-clean your bowling ball if you don’t want to go to the pro shop.

Dishwasher Cycle

The dishwasher method is a clever variation of the hot water bath method. You use the cleaning action of the dishwasher to clean your bowling ball. Here is what you do:

  • Close the finger and thumb holes of your bowling ball with tape or clay.
  • Clean out your dishwasher and place the bowling ball in the bottom rack.
  • Make sure that the dishwasher setting is set to the regular wash cycle. If your dishwasher has special features such as the heat/dry function, make sure to turn them off. Make sure that the water temp does not exceed 140°F.
  • Now turn on the washing cycle so that the dishwasher can rinse and wash the bowling ball.
  • Once the cycle is done, let the ball cool in the turned off the dishwasher. Take it out once the water has cooled down.
  • Wipe it down with a microfiber cloth and let it dry for at least 24 hours before use.

The dishwasher is slightly riskier than the hot water bucket method. I know from personal experience that the gentle regular wash setting of the dishwasher is perfect for cleaning the bowling ball. Just don’t use any fancy setting, and your bowling ball should be fine.

Sun/Hair Dryer/ Heater Method

Dry heating the bowling ball is another popular technique. A perfectly safe method is to leave the bowling ball in the sun. If it’s a sunny day and the temperature is running hot, then leave your bowling ball out in the sun.

The hot temperature will open up the pores, and the oil will come oozing out. You will be able to see the oil come out on the surface. Give your ball a good wipe once every hour to remove the oil.

I like the sun method because it is simple and risk-free. You won’t damage your ball because you are not using excessive heat or extreme measures. However, it can be time-consuming. It is also possible that not all oil will come out of the ball.

If you live in colder temperatures, then you can use a hairdryer or a heater to mimic the heat of the sun. If you are using a heater, then leave your bowling ball at a safe distance from the heater; 1 – 2 feet is ideal. Make sure to keep rotating the ball to get it from all sides and to ensure that it is heating evenly. Uneven heating can cause cracks in the ball.

The oil will come to the surface quickly, wipe it down regularly until oil does not come out anymore. You have to be very careful in this method; keep an eye on the ball and don’t let it get too hot. It will be ideal if you can maintain the temperature of your heater at 140°F.

If you are using a hairdryer, then place the ball on a bowling ball cup and start drying it. Make sure that you are getting the ball from angles to make sure that it is heating evenly. The heat from the dryer will help release the oil. You can wipe it as you go and continue until oil doesn’t come out anymore.

All these methods are time-consuming, and it can take you hours to get your ball clean.

In The Oven

Baking your bowling ball in the oven is probably the most dangerous method of cleaning a bowling ball. I have not used this method personally; I am too scared to ruin my ball.

However, some of my friends swear by it. They say that its very effective in getting the oil out and leaving your ball tacky.

I will discuss the method here for educational purposes. However, I will not recommend using this method.

Here is how it works:

  • Set your oven at the lowest temperature. Most home ovens can go as low as 170°F if your oven supports a lower temperature, then go for that. Ideally, the temperature should not exceed 140°F.
  • Place a cookie sheet as far away from the heating element as you can while still being able to fit the ball.
  • Place microfiber cloth on the cookie sheet. Put the bowling ball on these microfiber sheets and close the oven door.
  • After every 2-3 mins, open the oven door to wipe down the oil coming from the ball. This will also help regulate the temperature and keep it from getting too hot.
  • Continue this process until no more oil comes from the ball.
  • Take out the ball and give it a good wipe down. Once done, turn the oven off and place the bowling ball back into the oven so that it can cool off gradually.
  • Remove the cooled ball from the oven and clean it one more time. Use a bowling ball cleaner if you like.

This method is extremely dangerous, and if done incorrectly, it can damage your ball. If you decide to use this method, be very careful.

Get Your Bowling Ball Cleaned from Pro Shop

If you don’t want to take the risk of cleaning your bowling ball yourself, then take it to the nearest pro shop.

Your local pro shop has machines that will clean the bowling ball in no time. You will not have to spend your entire day wiping the oil from the ball or worrying that you may crack your bowling ball at any time.

The following are some of the methods through which a pro shop cleans your bowling ball.

  • The pro shop uses machines called rejuvenators or revivers. Innovative’s 2 Ball Oil Extraction Device, UltraSonic Ball Cleaner by JayHawk, and the Salmon Creek NuBall are some devices that can easily take the oil from the bowling ball.

Pro shops also use bowling ball spinners like The Wave by Ebonite. These devices are specially designed to clean your bowling balls. All of these devices function differently. However, their main purpose is to clean the ball without damaging it.

If you need a deep clean, I will recommend that you take your bowling ball to the Pro shop. The pro shop has professional equipment and expert technicians who know the best way to clean the ball properly.

It will only cost you a few bucks, and you can get your bowling ball cleaned without any risk!

How Often Should You Clean Your Bowling Ball?

I hope that by now, you know that cleaning your ball will increase its performance and longevity. It is important that you clean it regularly. But how often should you do it?

Regular Cleaning 

Experts recommend that you should clean your bowling ball with a bowling ball cleaner and microfiber after every game. It only takes 5 minutes! I know that you are probably not in the mood to clean your bowling ball, but trust me, it will save you a ton of trouble later on.

Some people clean their bowling ball before every game. While you can certainly give it a good wipe down before a game, it is more effective if you do it after every game. Don’t let your bowling ball sit dirty in the bowling bag until you take it out for the next match. Clean it as you go.

Some players give their bowling balls a wipe down between each throw/turn. That is a good way of ensuring that the oil does not penetrate into the ball. However, if you think its too much of a hassle, just do it at the end of the game!

Deep Cleaning 

Bowling coaches and experts say that you should deep clean your bowling ball after 40-50 games. The bowling ball soaks up enough oil after 40-50 games that it is filled with it. The oil in the coverstock makes it unresponsive, so it’s better to have it cleaned.

You can use the DIY methods suggested above or take your bowling ball to a pro shop to get it cleaned.

Final Thoughts

Your bowling ball is the best tool in your arsenal. I cannot stress this enough, but you should always keep it clean. As you have guessed, the best way to keep your bowling ball clean is to get in the habit of cleaning it with a surfactant after every game.

You can also scuff, buff, and polish your bowling after every few games to give it that tacky finish.

It is important that you take your bowling ball for a deep clean after every 40-50 games. Bowling balls, especially reactive resin ones, soak up a lot of oil from the bowling lane. You have to get that oil out, or it will become a problem for your game.

As you have seen, you can deep clean your bowling ball in a few creative ways. While I will recommend that you take your bowling ball to the nearest Pro Shop, there is no harm in experimenting with the DIY methods to find one that best suits your needs.

If you feel like splurging, then you can even buy a bowling ball rejuvenator/reviver for your home! In fact, if you are a frequent player, a bowling ball rejuvenator like the Salmon Creek NuBall will prove cost-effective in the long run.

In the end, it doesn’t matter which method you choose as long as your bowling ball is clean!

Thanks for reading. Did you find this article helpful? If you have thoughts, concerns, or questions, please feel free to ask us in the comment section. We will be happy to answer!