Safe and Effective Ways to Clean Your Bowling Ball

Proper care and maintenance are a must with used equipment in any sport so that the gear will last long and provide uninterrupted games. Bowling is no exception to this. I’m talking about bowling balls, in particular, considering how they can easily contact dirt, dust, and other particles during every bowling session.

Nevertheless, how do you properly clean bowling balls? There are many ways to clean them at home. You can use cleaning solutions which are available in the market specially made for bowling balls. You should also regularly be wiping down your ball to remove oil build up from lanes and stop grit and dirt being pressed into your bowling ball’s surface.

How Dirty Are Bowling Balls

You throw a bowling ball down a 60-foot oil-coated lane when bowling. Since the surface of bowling balls is spongy, different friction is generated. Eventually, the tiny holes will have oil and dirt lodged into them.

When the holes have more oil and dirt lodged into them, your bowling ball will react more differently to the surface than before. It can get slower, incorrectly grab for the hook, or have an increased margin of error. Whatever it may be, the accumulated dirt can negatively affect your game.

When to Clean a Bowling Ball

You now understand how important consistent maintenance is to make sure your bowling balls last for a long period. Every time you play, the ball gets more and more exposed to oil. Therefore, it picks up more slick on its surface.

When you pick your ball up, you might notice a ring of oil around the ball. This is called an oil track which you have to deal with as soon as possible. Ideally, it should be after every turn of the ball so that the ball’s surface won’t absorb the oil. The sooner you deal with the oil, the better.

If this proves challenging, you can follow the cleaning regimen you have in your car. You can often determine when it is time to have your car washed and waxed. It is the same thing when cleaning bowling balls.

There are times it will take several weeks before cleaning them while there are times that they will need to be cleaned after one game.

You also need to keep in mind that the surface of your ball needs maintenance. Even if your ball rolls well with a 500 grit surface, you still have to maintain it. When you begin to see weak reactions, this is a good sign that you need to freshen up the surface.

The Best Ways to Clean Bowling Balls Properly

Applying Sprays

After wiping your ball with a microfiber after every use, it is recommended to use a spray and wipe it down to make the ball cleaner before keeping it. It can make your ball last longer. There are also other store-bought and homemade sprays available to increase the longevity of your ball.

If you choose to buy a spray, you can purchase one from an online store or local pro bowling shops. What you need to keep in mind is that your chosen spray functions as a degreaser that targets oil saturation without breaking your ball.


Resurfacing your bowling ball is another good method to clean it. You can do this at home, but you need to take extra caution. Inexperienced bowlers can risk sanding off more than they should or not get the amount of grit they want from their ball.

Moreover, there is a risk of creating an uneven surface on the ball which can result in the ball reacting differently during a game. To make sure that your bowling ball is cleaned thoroughly, you have to grit and polish the right surface properly. It is best to consult your local pro bowling shop on how to do it.

You can purchase different abrasion pads, polishes, and high-speed ball spinners from these stores so that you have your ball the way you want.

Moreover, you can seek help from trained and experienced professionals to ensure that your ball is resurfaced properly. This is a good choice if you have no time to resurface your ball but need to have it deeply and thoroughly deep cleaned.

Most shops have special ovens that bake the oil out. These ovens are heated to a constant temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also an internal machine that rotates the ball and wipes the surface using rollers beneath at the same time.

If you choose to bake your ball to resurface it, you need to go to a pro bowling shop. DON’T try to do this at home. Ovens at home can’t generally maintain the needed temperature on the whole surface of the ball.

Using Dish Soap

Using dish soap or the hot bath method only requires a few items. You simply need a bucket that is large enough to fully submerge your ball, a dish soap, a microfiber towel, and a waterproof tape.

I highly recommend using Dawn dish soap to clean your bowling ball. It is the ideal soap for hot bath methods because its gentle formula works well in getting rid of the oil saturation. Other brands of dish soap can work, but many agree, including me of course, that Dawn works the best.

Start by filling your bucket with hot water with a temperature of about 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Afterward, cover the finger holes of your ball using waterproof tape so that water won’t enter and damage the ball’s material. After you fill your bucket, add a few drops of dish soap to the water. Lastly, drop your ball into the solution.

Let it soak in the soap solution for 20 minutes. You have to keep in mind not to go beyond 20 minutes since you’ll be exposing your ball to warping. You should also spin the ball occasionally throughout the soaking period.

After 20 minutes, take the ball off from the water and thoroughly dry it using a microfiber towel. Then, throw the dirty hot water and refill it. You can repeat the whole cleaning process as much as needed. You can determine you are done if you see oil rising on the top of the water’s surface.

Using Household Products

Many methods are available to clean bowling balls using household methods and items. How effective these methods and items are will vary. Some say that certain methods or items work best for them while some say that these are useless or ineffective.

What you need to remember is to practice caution at all times when trying out a product or method because some can end up damaging your ball.

Rubbing Alcohol

What you need to remember when using rubbing alcohol on your bowling ball is not to soak it at any period. It’s is best to wipe down the surface of your ball using a microfiber cloth or a towel that’s soaked in alcohol as it can help remove oil and dirt on the surface.

After wiping it with a towel or cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol, you need to wipe it dry using a clean microfiber towel to prevent damaging the surface. You might need to vigorously scrub when doing this method so that you can clean the surface very well. Nevertheless, this helps in keeping oil from getting absorbed in the ball further.

There is also another method to use rubbing alcohol for cleaning your bowling ball. This method involves combining the alcohol with equal parts of Simple Green solution and water in a spray bottle.

Then, use this solution to spray the surface of your bowling ball. You need to make sure that you use a microfiber towel or wiping the ball down after use. Moreover, you should not leave the solution on the surface for more than 30 seconds.

If you plan to bring this spray with you in your bowling bag, simply fill in another spray bottle with isopropyl alcohol. When you want to clean your ball right away, you will need to use both.


The US Bowling Congress has approved Windex as a legal bowling ball cleaner. Aside from Windex, ammonia works well in keeping the surfaces of your bowling balls clean. It is recommended to always check which ball cleaners have been approved by the US Bowling Congress as legal and safe.

When you opt to use Windex, you just need to spray it gently on the surface of your ball and wipe it upwards using a microfiber towel. Similar to other cleaning solutions mentioned, you should not allow Windex to soak in the surface for a long period.


Finally, it does not matter if you want to avoid spending more on commercial bowling ball cleaners or you just want to use DIY cleaners in keeping your ball in great shape. After all, the methods I covered are not only effective but easy to follow too.

You just need to remember to be careful when you try any of these methods. Incorrect cleaning and failure to follow the steps might do more damage to your bowling ball. Nevertheless, when you use the methods right, you can maintain your ball well and maximize its use to get the best shots and scores.