Bowling ball cleaning tips may be old news for experienced bowlers. But for less experienced bowlers, you might wonder why your bowling ball isn’t working like it did when it was new. Bowling balls seem to lose some hooking power, or don’t carry pins as well anymore. This happens because the ball has some oil build-up. Here are some bowling ball cleaning tips.
Deep Bowling Ball Cleaning
Deep Cleaning your bowling ball is one of the best bowling ball cleaning tips I can offer any bowler. To get more hook out of the ball, it is important to deep clean the ball.
I generally like to use the dawn dish-washing foam,(It just works better than regular dawn!) and add a little ammonia(optional) say 1/4 cup in the bucket and put the ball right in hot water for ten minutes.
I check to make sure I have enough water to cover the ball to start, then heat my water. It is the hot water sweating the oil out that deep cleans the ball.
Use a candy thermometer, just because it has high enough temperature readings on it. I like to get the temperature of the water heated to around 140° F on the stove.
When Bowling Ball Cleaning Be Very Careful With Water Temperature
The pot I use to heat the water on the stove is smaller than the bucket and so a small amount of water is left in the bucket after I fill the pot. I also use hot tap water, so the small amount left in the bucket is pre-heated. Heating the remaining hot tap water to the correct temperature only takes a few minutes.
Depending how much water is needed in the bucket to cover the ball, (usually, about 1 inch of hot tap water is left in the bucket) at about 115º F. When I dump the heated 140° water in and mix, it settles out about 130º.
( Caution: If your ball manufacturer has a temperature limit of say 125° then Do Not Exceed that…keep temperature at or below it). The ball will quickly drop the temperature 5 or more degrees in a few minutes as the ball warms up.
A Word Of Caution
Some balls will discolor in the water bath, so to check a ball for the first time only place the ball in the water for about 5 minutes, and remove and inspect it.
Do this for every 5 minutes or less the first time. If you see any changes, and do not like this, stop and remove the ball. Normally this does not affect the ball in any adverse way, but they do change in appearance and look funny. Most will return to normal appearance after a few games and some oil is picked back up.
If you do not want any changes to the color, then simply do not use the hot water bath, and clean the ball however you normally do, or take it to the pro shop in your local bowling alley. They will clean your ball for a small fee.
Or invest in a Bowling Ball Rejuvenator and clean your ball the easy way! Check it out.
120° Maximum for Sensitive Bowling Ball Cleaning
I have used a 120° water temperature on sensitive balls, and reheated the water when the temperature fell to 115° or below. I give 2 squirts of Dawn Foam(It MUST be Dawn FOAM) to the water, and mix it in or add it before I dump the heated water in. Then I put the ball in the first time for five to ten minutes, check the thermometer. Depending on the temp you are using(125°-140°) and it should have cooled down to about 120°F or lower.
I take the ball out, and set it in the sink, and spray with simple green/water 50% solution. I rub that around to cover the whole ball and reheat the water in the bucket back up to 130°(120° for sensitive balls) keeping in mind that the water won’t cool down as fast now. The ball has warmed up some, so it won’t draw the heat out as fast, thus the water stays warmer longer.
Don’t Warp the Ball
The whole idea is to keep the water temp as close to 125°F for as long as possible to draw as much oil out of the ball as possible, without warping the ball. Articles I have read, report any more than 20 minutes could warp your ball.
I have never had a ball warp on me, so I try to stick with the 20 minutes just to be leaning to the safe side. By doing that, I never had any problems. Always check the temperature carefully and give the thermometer time to get an accurate reading, no cheating.
When the 20 minute bath is done(use you stove timer, or some timer to be sure, don’t trust memory!) take the ball out and I give it one final spray with the simple green50/50 and rinse the ball with warm water. Take it out of the sink and wipe it with a soft rag or paper towels till dry.
Then to ensure the ball dries out well, turn the holes down(Very Important), on a towel. This allows the water to run out of the holes and dry.
After Bowling Ball Cleaning Let the Ball Drain and Dry for 24 Hours
If you don’t turn the holes down the water will not drain out and you will have water in the finger holes when you go to bowl. I’ve used a paper towel or two on occasion. and let the ball sit in a warm spot for 24hrs, or as near as possible to let it dry well. If you follow these steps exactly you should see a dramatic change in the response of your ball.
If I see an extreme amount of oil on the ball after the 20 minute soak, I let the ball sit for 20 minutes and then repeat the process again, till the ball is nice and squeaky clean. The older the ball gets the more often you will need to do this to keep your ball in top condition. I can assure you that your ball will last much longer than anyone on your team, unless they are doing the same thing!
Oven Method For Bowling Ball Cleaning
This is my method and you must be careful and stay right there with the ball. If you have ever left your bowling ball in your trunk or inside your car, on a hot summer day, then you know how the heat sweats the oil out of your ball. Some people set their ball out in the hot sun to accomplish the same thing.
The problem with the sun is that you don’t really know how hot it is getting, not to mention the UV rays of the sun hitting you ball also. I placed a thermometer on a bowling ball in the sun once..it registered 160° degrees F in the hot sun. No wonder we get sunburned, that is a slow-cook temperature!
Pre-clean the ball with a cleaner like Simple Green, to help bring the oil up to the surface, and also remove any dirt from the ball. Prepare a baking sheet as described below.
I use the LOWEST temperature on my oven, which is 170° degrees. I preheat the oven to 170°, then place the ball on an INSULATED baking sheet. Place a sheet of cardboard on the baking sheet and a folded paper towel on top of that. This is to PROTECT the ball from the heat and catch the oil from the ball.
Use a Timer
Put the cookie sheet, cardboard and folded paper towel into the oven, low enough in the oven to allow the ball to fit.
Place the ball on the paper towel, THUMB HOLE DOWN. Be sure the ball is centered in the oven and not touching anything around the sides. Close the oven door. Only allow the ball to remain in the oven for 5mins. I use a TIMER!
You should see the outside of the ball get very glossy as the oil comes to the surface. Remove the ball and wipe it with soft rags or paper towels. I use a non-flammable ball cleaner like Simple Green soaked into a paper towel, and wipe it around the surface, and then wipe and dry the ball. Take a clean towel soaked with water, and wipe then dry the ball.
You can remove the ball sooner if you like, and slowly increase the amount of time you let the ball in the oven. I WILL NOT GO ANY LONGER THAN 5 MINUTES. Let the ball cool first, before giving it another 5 Minutes if you wish. But always keep in mind, you are using temperatures higher that the manufactures recommended 125 degrees.
When you do so, you are likely starting to break-down the balls polymers slightly. In small amounts, this is renewing the surface characteristics, but eventually reduces the life of the ball. That is why you want to be as gentle as possible, and do not over do it.
Be Careful – Don’t Get Distracted When Bowling Ball Cleaning In The Oven
Because I am not a chemist and do not claim to be one, I can only tell you my experiences. Once, I had forgotten about one particular ball in the oven and left it in overnight@150° degrees(different oven). When I opened the oven the next day, I unfortunately discovered a very warm, dry ball inside. But, the ball was changed forever!
I turned out to be next to impossible to get strikes with that ball. The reaction was completely changed, and it was not aggressive at all. I ended up buying a new ball. So, yes, you can ruin your bowling ball in the oven! If you attempt higher temperatures, as others have, the ball will blister and get small bumps all over it as it cooks in the the oven like a cookie!
One story I heard was a ball placed into a 325° degree oven for 30 mins!! NO!!!..that is way to hot and way too long! Do not do that! Use the lowest possible setting, and check it frequently till you are familiar with the ball. I am fortunate to have a lighted oven with a glass door, so I can watch it easily. You can’t be careful enough!
If you don’t like to clean your ball using the above methods, then you will have to use the commercial cleaners on the market.
Here is a product I have used and liked you might want to try. It gives the ball a nice tacky grip and will improve your hook on oily lanes. It is approved for use during league and tournament play. Monster Tac ball cleaner
My Own Bowling Ball Cleaning Solution
Here is a simple ball cleaner mix I have used for years, and was told all sorts of calamities and ball destruction would occur. It didn’t! I see all the things I used are now accepted for use in cleaning your ball “anytime” by the ABC rules. But, if you feel it will harm your ball in any way, then do not use this.
UPDATE: The USBC rules have changed to no ball cleaner is allowed after play has begun. However,they also made a temporary allowance for alcohol to be used to sanitize the ball during match play because of Covid 19.
Buy whatever commercial cleaner you feel more comfortable with, and use it instead. I can assure you no commercial cleaner manufacture will assume responsibility for damage to your ball either! Alcohol and other very harsh chemicals are found as ingredients in almost every ball cleaner on the market, yet people insist that alcohol will destroy your ball.
Well my mix is diluted, and not full strength anyway. Isn’t it funny all those ball cleaners, using the same chemicals don’t destroy your ball? I think the people promoting all this trash talk, are the cleaner manufacturers.
Fill your own spray bottle
The cheap spray bottles you can buy at any drug or dollar store, are the ones I use. Mix 1/4 of(91% isopropyl)alcohol, 1/4 ammonia, 1/4 simple green(undiluted), 1/4 water. I can use this anytime during bowling as all the ingredients alone are legal for use anytime. I will if possible wipe the ball with a wet towel after cleaning, then wipe with a dry clean towel, just to ensure any residue of any cleaner is rinsed off the ball. But if I can’t rinse it, normal wiping off of oil after each shot during play will remove any residue fairly quickly anyway. I wipe my ball clean of lane oil after every shot, insuring I get a consistent reaction every time.
Check this out! The EASY way to clean your ball!
NuBall Bowling Ball Rejuvenator
Click on the image and check it out!
This is a cool little gadget that will simplify the chore of cleaning your ball. If you have ever taken your ball to the pro shop to have it deep cleaned, and rejuvenated, you handed over around $25 or30 dollars or maybe more. Now, you can do it at home for a fraction of the cost.
- You can control the heat and clean your ball as often as you like.
- Full support is provided by the manufacturer.
- Comes with a 2yr warranty and also a 30 day return policy.
If you want convenience, give this a try. If you don’t think this is a great way to keep your ball working, you can return it for a full refund. I think you will really like this product!
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below. I respond to everyone.
If you are looking for bowling balls and bowling supplies, please check out my product pages for Accessories, Bowling Balls, Bowling Bags, Bowling Ball Rejuvenator, Cool Bowling Shirts, and Cool Micro Fiber Towels.
Bowling products and great deals at #1 Online Store
Important Disclosure: Please note that some of the links listed here are affiliate links. This means that if you decide to make a purchase through my affiliate links I might earn a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.