How to Properly Clean a Bowling Ball
Cleaning your bowling ball is an absolutely necessary part of owning a ball. Reactive balls absorb oil and as it accumulates, the performance of the ball will deteriorate. An oily, slippery ball won’t get the friction required for a quality hook. Although it’s an inevitable process, you can significantly delay it by cleaning your ball properly and often. There are a bunch of cleaning solutions on the market designed specifically for bowling balls, but they aren’t completely necessary. I will teach you how to properly clean your ball using only common household supplies.
- Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol
- Paper Towels
Step #1 – Use A De-Greaser
Use any high-strength household cleaning degreaser. You probably already have a suitable cleaner under your sink! Any common tile/kitchen/garage degreaser will work, but the one I use can be found here. If you are bowling in USBC sanctioned leagues or tournaments you can see all of the approved cleaners here.
- Spray the degreaser generously* on the ball and spread it evenly around the ball.
- Let it sit for 30-60 seconds to let the degreaser work.
- Using a paper towel, wipe off all the degreaser.
- Repeat the above steps 2-3 times.
*Don’t be afraid to use a lot. Degreaser “melts” the oil so you can wipe the degreaser off along with the oil, so it’s important to use enough!
Step #2 -Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol
Use as high of a percentage as you can find. Many stores don’t carry heavily concentrated isopropyl alcohol, but it can be found. Check your cupboards, there’s a good chance you already own some! If you can’t find any 90%+ strength isopropyl alcohol locally, you can order it on Amazon.
- Using paper towels, apply a generous amount to the whole surface of the ball
- Rub it in to make sure it gets into all the nooks and scratches on the surface of the ball.
- Using paper towels, completely dry the ball.
How often should I clean my ball?
In general, you should clean your ball after every bowling session. Make sure you wipe your ball with a microfiber towel, chamois (shammy), or leather pad after every shot. From the instant your ball touches the lane until you wipe it off, the shell will be absorbing oil. Wiping it off immediately after every shot is the best way to reduce the time your ball is in contact with the oil. However, just wiping your ball isn’t quite enough. Using either the method described above or an actual bowling ball cleaning solution, you should give your ball a thorough cleaning at least after every session. During practice, I clean my ball every game or two, but during league, I usually just wait until the end. In general, clean your ball at least after every practice session or league night.
You’re Done! (Probably)
At this point, the ball should have quite a tacky finish. If it doesn’t, that can mean a few things. One, you might not have a ball with a reactive shell that is supposed to be tacky. Two, you may need to go through this process again. Three, the oil may have sunk too deep into the core to be removed easily. In which case, the next step is to “bake” the oil out of the ball. This can be done in a variety of ways, but more than likely, your local pro shop will offer a ball-baking service. There are ways to do it yourself, but it can be risky. Baking your ball is the best way to extract the oil, but as long as you frequently clean your ball it shouldn’t need to be done too often. If you clean your ball and aren’t getting the reaction you think you should check out our article on how to bake your ball at home.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, concerns, etc.