Have you noticed a change in the way your pool balls react when hit?
Or in the way they move?
Chances are the balls are dirty.
Even if it’s not visible, billiard balls get dirty and that affects the playing experience.
It can also cause additional wear and tear to the felt of the table.
That’s why it’s important to keep your pool balls clean.
And the good news is: cleaning pool balls is much easier than you might think.
Keep reading to learn how to clean billiard balls at home. We’ll also go into a bit more detail why it is so important to keep your pool balls clean.
Table of Contents
- 1 How To Clean Pool Balls At Home
- 1.1 Why You Should Clean Billiard Balls
- 1.2 Cleaning Billiard Balls: Step By Step Guide
- 2 How To Clean Pool Balls That Have Yellowed
- 3 How To Polish Pool Balls At Home
- 4 How To Clean Billiard Balls: Conclusion
How To Clean Pool Balls At Home
Before covering the how, it is important to understand the why. So let’s begin with a bit more detail on the effects dirty pool balls can have on your game and your pool table.
Why You Should Clean Billiard Balls
Why bother cleaning the balls when you only play for fun?
Is it really worth buying cleaning supplies or equipment?
Those are valid questions.
You may not see the need to clean your pool balls at first glance. Often, they even look nice and shiny, and don’t seem dirty at all. This is especially true of billiard balls made from phenolic resin, which is most of them these days.
But if you’ve never cleaned them, chances are they’re dirty. And a dirty pool ball can affect everything.
Dirty pool balls can have a negative effect on your playing style, the felt on your pool table, and even on your health!
In other words, there are many important reasons for cleaning pool balls. Here are the most important:
Protects The Felt
Chalk is the worst enemy of your pool table felt. Chalk is always getting stuck to pool balls, especially the cue ball.
And naturally, some of the chalk comes off on the table. When the felt is exposed to chalk over a long period of time, the wear and tear increases.
You should clean your table regularly anyway. But dirty balls make the table dirty much, much faster.
Clean balls minimize the amount of chalk that gets on your table, which minimizes the maintenance work your table will need.
You might be thinking that you could just not use chalk, but you need it. Chalk is very important in the game of pool, in order to get accurate shots, especially when using spin.
Improves Shot Accuracy
The game of pool game is all about physics. Friction and impact formulas are play an especially large role.
The coefficient of friction of dirty balls is lower. This results in less accurate impacts.
In other words, the cue ball and object balls don’t move as expected. A set of clean, polished balls is maximizes the accuracy of your shots.
Improves Moving Accuracy
Similarly, dirty balls just don’t roll the way they should. Dirty on the balls can cause an imbalance in weight and it can create little bumps on what should be a perfectly round ball.
Both affect the ball movement. Clean balls have a balanced weight and a perfectly smooth surface and round shape. They move in the desired direction when you hit them.
Makes Games More Fun
This is psychological, but no less significant. We always prefer clean stuff. It’s simply more inviting.
We’ve all seen dirty balls and pool tables in some bars. They almost seem to tell you, “don’t bother playing with me!”
When billiard balls are clean, they just seem to invite us to play a lot more. Keeping you pool balls clean will make them much more inviting to guests in your home. You pool table becomes an attraction, instead of a distraction.
Cleaning Billiard Balls: Step By Step Guide
You should be careful when cleaning your pool balls. You don’t want to damage your billiard balls when cleaning. After all, a damaged ball is far worse than a dirty one.
To that end, you need to be aware of unusual cleaning solutions (and there are definitely some out there). They can potentially cause damage to your pool balls.
And they are completely unnecessary.
You can easily clean your billiard balls with a soap and water mixture. More professional methods include using a polish designed specifically for the task.
The material from which your pool balls are made determines the best way to clean them.
If the balls are resin-based, you can use hot water. But for polyester-based balls, lukewarm water is better.
If you don’t know the material of the balls, use warm water. It’s always better to play it safe.
Cleaning Pool Balls With Soap And Water
Soap and water is an insanely useful mixture that works to clean almost anything. And you can use it to clean your billiard balls at home, too.
Follow the steps below to clean your pool balls with soap and water:
- Find a medium-sized bucket for cleaning. Pour some hot or warm (based on your balls’ material) water into it.
- Add some soap or another regular detergent to the water.
- Mix the water and soap properly.
- Soak your dirty billiard balls in the bucket. Leave them there for at least 10 minutes.
- Pour some cold water into another bucket. Room temperature water is fine, too.
- Remove the soaked balls from the first bucket. Wipe them with a microfiber cloth.
- Put the balls in the bucket filled with cold water. Wash off the remaining soap.
- Wipe the balls with a dry towel.
Don’t forget to dry the billiard balls after cleaning them. If you leave the balls wet, the water may damage them.
Cleaning Billiard Balls With A Professional Pool Ball Cleaner
There are many specialized pool ball cleaners in the market. They help you clean billiard balls faster and usually make the task simpler than it is when washing with soap and water.
Pool ball cleaners are also great options to try when the balls are too dirty and water and soap alone won’t get the job done.
But not all cleaners are good. Low-quality pool ball cleaners may damage the balls. Look for top-grade cleaners and be willing to pay a bit more.
Cleaning billiard balls with specialized cleaners is simple. Follow the steps below:
- Apply some cleaner to the ball.
- Polish the ball with a microfiber cloth.
- Dry clean the ball with another microfiber cloth.
Cleaning Billiard Balls Like A Pro
There are more professional ways to clean your billiard balls. They’re more expensive, though.
Some pool halls and bars have special machines for cleaning their billiard balls. You can buy one for your home table and make cleaning a complete snap.
These ball cleaning machines take care of all of the steps for you. You just put the balls in the machine, and it uses its motors to clean and shine the balls.
How To Clean Pool Balls That Have Yellowed
Over time, you might begin to notice your billiard balls taking on a yellow tone. This yellowed stain makes them look old. Get yellowed pool balls looking white again to maintain a professional look.
This yellow stain is the result of oxidation. It is most noticeable on the cue ball. Unfortunately, yellowed billiard balls are challenging to clean.
High-grade ball cleaners are ideal for cleaning the yellow stain. You can also use water and soap to clean it, but you’ll want to add some baking soda to the mixture.
How To Polish Pool Balls At Home
Polishing billiard balls gives them a shiny look. They’ll look great under the table lights.
But polishing isn’t always necessary. In fact many professional tournaments avoid shining the balls, because it affects the way they spin and how they react when hit.
But some people like their billiard balls to look shiny, and there is nothing wrong with that.
There are many ways to polish and shine your billiard balls at home. The easiest way is to use special wax.
You should polish the balls only after cleaning them with one of the methods presented above.
Apply the polish or wax on your cleaned ball. Polish it with a microfiber cloth. Leave the ball to dry for a while. Buff it up using another microfiber cloth.
A circular motion is the golden tip here. It gives a shiny look to your billiard balls.
Some of the more expensive ball cleaning machines have the option to shine the billiard balls, too. If you are going to spend the money on a cleaning machine, it might be worth it to spend a bit more and get one that polishes the balls, too.
How To Clean Billiard Balls: Conclusion
Cleaning billiard balls is necessary an important task for any for pool table owner. You can buy the best pool table possible, but still have a poor playing experience if the balls are dirty.
Dirty balls don’t hit and spin well. Their movement on the table may change over time, too.
The damage a dirty ball causes to the table cloth is harmful, too. The chalk on the balls speeds up wear and tear of the felt and increases the need for table maintenance.
This is true for full-sized professional tables, as well as mini pool tables.
Luckily, you now know how to clean billiard balls at home and you know that it is not a difficult task. You don’t need any special machinery or equipment.
Soap and water works great to clean ass but the dirtiest balls. The only potential complication is the water temperature. Just make sure to use the right temp for your particular balls.
But you have to be aware of the suitable water temperature for your billiard balls.
Special ball cleaners are available to make the job easier, but you want to make sure you get a high quality cleaning solution. If you have yellowed balls, you may even need a professional cleaner, though you can always try baking soda with soap and water first.
Polishing billiard balls makes them look great, but be aware that it might affect playability slightly immediately after polishing.
In the end, shining the balls is a matter of preference. But cleaning is not. Please make sure to clean your pool balls regularly. You table, and your game, will thank you!