A bowling ball is a significant investment for many bowlers. Like any piece of fine equipment, it needs to be taken care in order to last and be effective. Most people don’t realize that balls pick up oil, dirt and particles during normal bowling. If left uncleaned, the ball is going to be less accurate and become damaged. That’s why cleaning your ball is not only good for your game, it’s good for your pocketbook in the long run.
Typically, for the casual bowler it is recommended that you clean your ball several times a year, roughly after 30 – 35 games. Professionals and serious bowlers will do it much more often, but periodic cleaning is sufficient for the amateur, once-a-week thrower.
Bowling Ball Bath
The easiest and most efficient way of cleaning your bowling ball is to give it a bath. At least twice a year, it is good practice to clean the bowling ball in warm soapy water. Using a utility tub, sink or bathtub, completely submerge the ball in warm water. Some bowling balls manufacturers recommend taping or plugging the holes to prevent water from entering (check with your manufacturer for details).
With a wash cloth and soap, rub the surface gently. They key is to remove any dirt or particles without scratching the surface of the ball. Small scratches can affect performance of the ball so you want to make sure not to rub too hard.
Rinse the ball completely and repeat the procedure until the water is clear. Be sure to completely dry the ball, especially the holes.
Bowling lanes are coated with oils and a ball picks up quite a bit of the oils every time they are rolled. Soap and water will not remove all of the oils which is why an alcohol rub is a great way to remove the film. Dirt and particles become trapped in the oils and are not removed with basic soap a water.
Using a cotton swab or a a soft cloth, dab with a small amount of alcohol and rub in circles. Again, don’t rub too hard or you may scratch the ball. A soft-circular motion one time around the ball should be enough to remove the rest of the oil and any remaining dirt.
Professional Cleaning Products
Once a ball has been cleaned with soapy water and alcohol, many bowler will do one final cleaning with professional products. These products are available at the bowling alley pro shops and not only clean but treat the surfaces of the balls to bring out a smooth surface. By treating the ball with professional products you remove any deep grime while concurrently smoothing the surface so that the ball is protected and more accurate.