How To Clean Billiard Balls

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Billiards is a popular game, and cleaning the billiard balls is essential to ensure that you have a good game. In addition, periodic cleaning of the balls ensures that your board stays in good condition for a long time. Here you’ll see how to clean billiard balls.

How To Clean Billiard Balls

By the primary thrust mechanism of billiards, there should be a frictional co-efficiency between the balls. Also, dirty billiard balls increase wear and tear and do not guarantee good co-efficiency. Therefore, before learning how to clean the billiard balls, it is essential to know why do we need to clean them in the first place.

Person aiming the cue stick to hit a ball

Why Clean Billiards Ball?

With time and usage, the billiard balls acquire dirt and may not travel as smoothly as they did when brand new. Cleaning helps to restore the balls to their former state.

  • If the billiard balls aren’t cleaned periodically, they accumulate chalk dust. As a result, they cannot be used for long and needs to be replaced soon. Cleaning helps to increase the longevity of the balls.
  • Cleaning the billiard balls periodically helps you save money in the long run. Without cleaning, the balls will be rendered useless, and you will need to buy a new set of balls.
  • Cleaning the billiard balls regularly helps to protect your feet as well. If the ball isn’t clean, your felt may accumulate dirt, and then you will have to clean it as well.

Things Not To Use For Cleaning Billiard Balls

Billiard balls are expensive sporting goods, and you must choose the material you use for cleaning them wisely. Here are some things you should not use.

Dishwashing Liquid

Dishwashing liquids are readily available, and you may find it lucrative to use for cleaning. However, they should strictly be avoided.

  • Billiard balls are made from a blend of polyester and resin or phenolic resin, which are very sensitive to heat.
  • The heat generated by the dishwashing cycle has adverse effects on both the surface and the interiors of a billiards ball.
  • Even a little dishwashing liquid can make the surface of the billiards ball look dull and make it less durable.

Household Bleaching Agents

Some people may recommend the use of household bleaching agents as an easy method of cleaning. However, their chemical composition makes them unfit for the process.

  • Common bleaching agents may decolorize the balls and give them a very unattractive appearance.
  • Agents like CLR may cause yellow spots to appear on the balls. Other bleaching agents may render the ball with some white patches and decreases its durability.
  • Toothpaste should not be used either as it can cause some unwanted residue to form on the surface of the balls, which can’t be washed away by water.

Items Required For Cleaning

After seeing what items not to be used, we now see what should be used to clean billiard balls. 

  • A bucket of warm water
  • Detergent
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Baking Soda

An Aramith billiard ball cleaner kit is handy for this purpose. However, do not go for cheap products as it may cause permanent damage to the balls. 

Depending on the material of your billiard balls, wisely choose the cleaning kit you buy. Also, buy a proper balling-keeping case so that the balls don’t acquire dirt. This ensures the cleaning process is not very cumbersome.

Billiard balls in a rack

Step 1: Dusting

Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of the cleaning process, it is time to see how to proceed with the cleaning procedure.

  1. The first step towards cleaning the billiard balls involves removing all dust particles that might have settled on the surface of the billiard balls.
  2. With the help of a microfiber cloth, wipe the surface of each ball carefully. Be gentle while wiping.
  3. If you wipe too fast, there are chances that scratches might fall on the surfaces of the ball, which are very difficult, if not impossible, to remove.
  4. Make sure the microfiber cloth you use is properly dried. Any amount of moisture on the cloth can cause the dirt particles to attach firmly to the surface of the balls.

Only after dusting the billiard balls properly should you move to the next step. Wipe the balls multiple times till you are convinced it is dust-free.

Step 2: Soak The Balls In Water

Now that all the billiard balls are adequately dusted, and all settled particles are removed, it is safe to use water for cleaning purposes.

  1. Take a bucket full of warm water, not too warm to damage the billiard balls, and sprinkle some detergent in it. Stir it to make the solution uniform.
  2. You can use hot water if the billiard balls are not made of acrylic or polyester. If the water is too cold, the particles adhering to the ball’s surface will not loosen up.
  3. The detergent you use should not be too strong. Use detergents that are used to clean linen or other such delicate fabric.
  4. Soak the billiard balls in this solution for at least five minutes. You can then soak them for some time in room water as well.

Take the balls out and properly dry them before moving to the next step. Again, keep it under sunlight if possible to ensure proper drying.

Step 3: Remove The Yellow Stains 

After the ball has been cleaned with warm water and dried properly, it is time to remove stain marks from its surface, if any.

Over time, the balls accumulate rust and turn yellow due to a redox reaction with the atmosphere. This makes them lose their initial appeal, and it needs to be restored.

  1. Add a small amount of baking soda to a small bowl, and then add some water. Mix it properly and keep on adding both components till the paste is thick.
  2. Apply small amounts of this paste on the yellow spots. Rub them gently with the microfiber cloth taking care that you do not scrape paint from the surface.
  3. Rewash the balls with cold water and do not allow any paste to accumulate on the surface of the balls.
  4. After washing the paste off, dry it thoroughly. Any moisture on the ball can damage your billiards board.
Newly cleaned billiard balls stored in a box

Step 4: Polish

Everyone likes their billiard balls nice and clean. The shine on it is something that makes it stand out. However, to sustain this shine for long periods, you need to polish it.

  1. Be careful about the material you choose for polishing. Remember, oil should not be used for polishing.
  2. No matter how well you dry the balls, they will accumulate dirt if you use oil to polish them.
  3. Wax should also be avoided as it can damage the ball’s surface and has some adverse effects as oil.

The Aramith billiard cleaning kit comes with a polish tool that should be used for polishing. This article has more details on cleaning billiard balls.

Step 5: Store The Billiard Balls Properly

After the cleaning process is complete, you need to store the billiard balls to accumulate dirt quickly.

  1. Do not leave the balls on the table after the game is over. If the balls stay stationary for a prolonged period, they are more likely to accumulate dirt.
  2. Do not leave the balls inside the pockets as well. The balls should be kept at a place that has exposure to the external world.
  3. You should buy a ball-keeping case specially designed to keep the billiard balls after a good game.
  4. Hang the case upon a wall or in any place that is not within reach of children. The billiard balls are made of fine material and can get damaged if not treated with care.

After a good game, storing the billiard balls properly may call for some extra effort, but it is worth it if you want to enjoy more such games in the days to come.

This video on how to clean billiard balls helps you understand the process better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Difficult To Clean Billiard Balls?

No, cleaning billiard balls should not be a difficult job. All you need to carry out the process smoothly is a bit of patience. If you are careful with the choice of material for cleaning and systematically, the process is hassle-free.

How Frequently Should Billiard Balls Be Cleaned?

Depending on how much care you take while storing the balls, the number of times you need to clean the ball shall vary. You should wipe the balls with a microfiber cloth after each game and store them. If you take reasonable care, cleaning the balls once in two months shall be enough.

Conclusion

Cleaning the billiard balls is not half as enjoyable as playing a game with them. However, cleaning them once in a while can help you have many pleasant moments on the billiards board. Thus, cleaning the billiard balls should be done systematically and carefully to ensure their longevity and smooth functioning.