Cleaning your bowling ball is absolutely necessary. Reactive balls absorb oil, and a ball saturated with oil won’t get enough friction to hook.
When a ball becomes completely saturated, you will need to bake and resurface the ball which can be a very timely and sometimes expensive process. There are ways to bake your ball at home, but having your local pro shop do it is the safest, most common way. To save money and time, you should bake your ball infrequently, and only when necessary.
Clean your bowling ball every time you bowl, and it will need a bake much less often.
There are a bunch of cleaning solutions on the market designed specifically for bowling balls, but it’s cheapest and easiest to just make your own. I will teach you how to properly clean your ball using only common household supplies.
DIY Homemade Bowling Ball Cleaner
You can always just purchase a bowling ball cleaner from one of the major bowling companies. They all have their own versions, but they all function the same and are quite expensive for the amount of cleaner you actually get.
The most cost-effective thing to do is to just make your own cleaning solution. All you need is Simple Green, isopropyl alcohol, water, and a couple small spray bottles like this.
In one of the small spray bottles, make a 1:1 ratio solution of Simple Green and water.
Fill the second spray bottle with isopropyl alcohol.
Keep both bottles with you in your bowling bag, as you will need to use both every time you clean your ball.
How to clean your ball using the homemade solution
- Spray a generous amount of the Simple Green solution on the ball and rub it around.
- Give it a few seconds to break-down the oil in the ball, then wipe it down with a microfiber towel.
- Repeat once or twice to make sure the oil has been removed.
- Next, grab your isopropyl alcohol and repeat the process. Spray the ball down with the rubbing alcohol and rub it around, then wipe it off with a microfiber.
- All Done!
Official bowling ball cleaning products
You can always just shell out the cash for the official ball cleaning products. There are a bunch of different products from different manufacturers. Brunswick, Storm, Motiv, Pyramid, Hammer, etc.
The process of using these cleaners is usually the same as the homemade cleaner. But, make sure you read the instructions on the bottle, as some products may have different instructions.
How often should I clean my bowling 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.
Can you clean your ball during league play?
As of August 1st, 2019, it is now illegal to use any sort of cleaner on your ball or resurface your ball during league or tournament play.
You are welcome to clean your ball before and after, but from the moment you throw your first ball, until the end of league or the tournament, you can only use a dry microfiber or leather shammy on your ball.
You’re Done! (Probably)
At this point, the ball should have quite a tacky finish. If it doesn’t, and it’s still slippery, 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 coverstock to be removed easily. In the latter 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.
1 thought on “How To Properly Clean And Maintain A Bowling Ball”
I love it. Great advice, simply stated. Profit motive, articulated. I loved the part about, “Don’t bake your ball! But if you must… I am bowling ten pin now after a 50 + year hiatus from my previous CYO duckpin career. I’m 62. I found a greasy old Columbia 300 red dot (Goodwill $2.50 ) that wants to hook. I know it does. Or bend a little more. It shows promise. 15lbs. 12oz. And I have not just a hair dryer, but a Wagner heat gun. I know. Danger. But I shall endeavor to persevere, on low. Thanks. Dan