How To Clean Bowling Ball At Home (Step By Step Guideline)

Last updated on May 26th, 2021

Caring for and maintaining the balls is an essential aspect of bowling. If you do not clean your bowling ball often, its quality will go down and influence your game. Every time you play a turn, the ball contracts more and more oil.

Dealing with this oil is an essential measure in taking care of your bowling balls. While there are many commercial cleaning services, it is possible to clean the balls at home. You just need to invest some time, and you can do it with the help of essential household products. 

Step By Step Cleaning Method

You can easily deep clean your ball at home with products you probably already have with you. The main objective here is to pull the oil out of the ball. Let’s go through the steps in detail.

Step 1: Pick The Right Time

The most important thing is to know when your bowling ball needs cleaning. You need not clean the ball after every few games. How often you play and the lanes you play on determine how often you should clean the balls.

If you regularly play on oily lanes, try cleaning the balls every 50 games or so. If the lanes you play are better regulated, you’ll probably have to clean your ball once every 70 to 100 games. 

Look out for when the action of your ball changes on the bowling alley. It’ll help you decide when to clean.

Step 2: Brush Down The Dust

First and foremost, brush down the surface of the bowling ball. This way, you can get rid of dry dirt. Make sure that the brush has soft bristles. 

Hardened bristles may damage the surface of the ball and ruin its look. If you can’t find a soft brush, a dust cloth will do the trick.

Step 3: Cover The Finger Holes

Use waterproof tape to cover the finger holes on the bowling ball. If water enters the balls, it will hinder their performance. Once you apply the tape, smoothen it over and ensure there are no gaps in the tapes. 

Put some additional pieces of tape to make sure that no water goes through. If it does, it could damage your ball severely.

Step 4: Submerge The Ball In Hot Water

Fill up a bucket with hot water, approximately 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The bucket should be big enough to fit the entire bowling ball. Mix your cleaner into the water. Insert the ball in the hot water bucket.

The logic here is simple. Oil is lighter than water. Hence, the surface of the ball will release oil and any other contaminants when it is soaked. Allow the water enough time to get rid of all the dirt. Ideally, 20 minutes is a good time to leave the ball in the water. 

Step 5: Finishing Up

Once you’re satisfied and believe all the dirt has come off the ball, remove it from the water. You can use a clean towel or rag to dry the ball.

Try to get off as much moisture as you can with the tapes in place. Once it’s over, remove the tapes and clean any parts that are still dirty. 

Step 6: Repeat

Continue submerging the ball and cleaning it until you reach your desired outcome. The process is very safe and will not damage your bowling ball. Keep cleaning till all the oil comes off.

Follow these steps, and your bowling balls will be squeaky clean without spending much time or money.

What About Finger Holes?

Washing the bowling ball with finger holes open is a strict NO. Even using cleaning substances can prove to be harmful to these balls. They may affect the core and weight of the ball.

The best way to clean the finger holes of a bowling ball is using a dry, lint-free microfiber towel. Thoroughly clean each hole with just the towel and no other substances.

Use your fingers to thrust the towel into the holes with solid force. Wipe all the sides of the hole and even clean the finger rims. Ensure that the towel you use is spotless. 

Short-term Measures

Deep cleaning only needs to be done when a ball has been in use for a long time. However, you can maintain your ball by cleaning it after each game. It will also make deep cleaning a lot more convenient.

  1. Prevent oil from collecting on the surface of the ball. Wipe your ball after every game. Do not use the same wipe every time, as it makes this exercise futile. The wipe should be a lint-free microfiber cloth.
  2. Use rubbing alcohol on the cloth. The friction of the lanes leaves bowling balls hot and opens their pores. Using alcohol to clean them gives excellent results. After using the alcohol-dampened material, use another dry rag to wipe the ball clean.
  3. The longer you allow oil to sit on the surface of your ball, the more challenging it gets to remove it. It is good practice to clean the bowling ball lightly after every time you play. 

Important Tips For Cleaning Bowling Balls

Cleaning a bowling ball may appear tricky. However, there are a few steps that you can follow to ensure good results.

Clean In Between Turns

While playing, you should wipe the finger holes in between throws to keep them free of grease. It’ll help you keep your grip more stable. This way, you can get consistent results. It would be best to wipe your hands now and then so that you do not add to the oil on the ball.

Keep a microfiber towel handy. With some rubbing alcohol and the towel, lightly clean the ball between throws.

Polish Well

If you bowl regularly, you should polish your bowling ball from time to time. Liquid or gel cleaners are readily available for this purpose. These products are specifically for bowling balls. They help in getting rid of grease and maintain the integrity of the balls.

Buff Out The Scrubs

You can remove most bowling ball scuffs with a towel or a ball cleaner. Bowling balls are most likely to attract scuffs when they go through the return system. 

Scruffs can end up catching excessive oil and dirt. They may impact your throws and damage your score.

Use The Right Techniques and Products

Dish soap works well for surface cleaning. However, you should leave no bowling ball in soap water for too long. When brushing off the dust, be gentle, or you may warp the ball. 

For urethane balls, do not use solvents such as acetone and methyl ethyl ketone or abrasive cleaners.

What Cleaners Should I Use

Selecting the correct cleaner is essential to keep your bowling balls in good condition. One thing to always keep in mind is USBC approval.

The USBC, or the United States Bowling Congress, is the authority that specifies all the items that you’ll need and should use while playing. It is hence crucial that you use only USBC-approved cleaners. 

The USBC tests products to determine if they are fit to use in professional competitions. Bowling ball cleaners have to meet the specified criteria as it may affect the finishing of the ball.

Casual players do not necessarily have to use USBC approved products. However, these products are tested and proven not to harm your bowling balls. They are a much safer option than other products.

Professional players do not get a choice here. If they use cleaners that the USBC disapproves of, they may get a penalty. 

Resurfacing Bowling Balls

Resurfacing is the process by which you can restore the sharp edges of the tiny pores found on the ball’s surface. You can do it generally by sanding the surface down.

Over time, the microscopic pores on a bowling ball get clogged with oil and dirt. Even if you regularly clean a ball, debris may get absorbed in the pores. 

The pores generate friction and enable the ball to travel better down the lane. If these pores are clogged, the bowling ball will not perform to its full potential.

Practice resurfacing. Suppose you want to protect your bowling balls from dying soon. Sand out the clogged pores and recreate the hills and valleys on the ball’s surface that generate friction.

It is a general standard that bowling balls should resurface about every 60 games played. If you resurface it at home, it may take a lot of time and effort. However, resurfacing at a professional store will take much less time. 

Requirements for Resurfacing Bowling Balls

It is possible to resurface your bowling balls at home. Here are a few things you will need for this DIY project.

Sanding Agent

3M Scotchbrite Pads or sandpaper are popular picks for resurfacing. Air sanding discs and pads from the National Abrasives Inc. are also preferred.


You will require a bowl of water, as well as a spray bottle filled with water. The bowl has to be large enough to rinse the sanding pads. 

Water keeps the bowling ball lubricated and helps prevent the unnecessary spreading of dust.

Polishing Pads and Towels

If you plan on applying polish to the bowling balls after resurfacing, keep towels and polishing pads. For each product you apply to the ball, use a different pad or towel. Do not use these towels for cleaning. 

Compound, Cleaner, and Polish

Ensure that you have cleaning products, compound, and polish at hand before you start sanding your bowling balls.

Bowling Ball Spinner

Bowling ball spinners are a boon and will make the job much easier. If you do not have a spinner at home, you can use a home resurfacing kit.

Professional Cleaning Services

Every once in a while, you could consider using professional services to clean your bowling balls. They can be found at professional bowling shops and have specialized machinery for cleaning these balls. 

The machines are like huge water tanks. They heat to open up the pores of the ball. It helps in removing deeply ingrained dirt and oil.  

Professional cleaning services do not burn a hole in your pocket. They thoroughly clean and polish the balls. They can also bring damage to your notice. These are things you might not be able to understand all by yourself.

Advantages of Cleaning Bowling Balls

You may be wondering why there is so much emphasis on cleaning a bowling ball. It turns out there are various benefits of maintaining a healthy bowling ball.

Improvement in Game

Everyone uses similar balls to play, but how they maintain their bowling balls has a considerable impact on their performance. Apart from the bowler’s skill, cleaning and maintenance are a vital part of playing. 

It is essential to clean the bowling ball after every game to ensure that dirt does not get encrusted on the surface. According to your judgment, you can plan a deep cleaning for the balls from time to time. 

Enhances Longevity of the Ball

Proper cleaning goes a long way in making the ball last longer. Bowling-specific cleaners protect the balls from cracks and dings.

Preserves Appearance of the Ball

Who doesn’t appreciate a nice and shiny bowling ball? Regular cleaning and maintenance will keep the ball spick and span. They will have a nice sparkle all the time.

Summing Up

It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur or a professional; cleaning and maintaining a bowling ball are critical. It preserves the integrity and appearance of a bowling ball. If not cleaned well regularly, dirty and clogged up bowling balls may negatively impact your games.

When not cleaned, bowling balls do not roll off the alley as you would expect them to. It is, therefore, essential that you take the time to clean your bowling balls. 

Getting the job done at home is not much of a task. A little time and effort can go a long way in keeping your bowling ball healthy.