How to Clean and Take Care of a Bowling Ball

How to Clean and Take Care of a Bowling Ball

A lot of bowlers complain that their bowling ball doesn't hook anymore, or that they’re unable to get the same reaction from the ball after 20 – 50 games. Usually this happens as a result of poor ball maintenance. As you bowl, oil and dirt from the lanes adsorb into the coverstock of the bowling ball. This oil and dirt cause the ball's performance to decline over time. As the oil sets in, the ball will have a harder time gripping the lanes, ultimately losing its hook potential. Taking care of your bowling ball will prolong its life and prevent it from “dying” on you.

oil track
If you’ve ever taken a look at your ball after a shot, perhaps you’ve noticed a ring of oil around the ball. This is called the “oil track” and this is what needs to be cleaned before it gets absorbed into the ball. So, be sure to wipe the bowling ball with a microfiber towel between each shot. Simply hold the towel in one hand with the ball on top and spin it around the oil track using the opposite hand. This will remove the visible oil build-up.

After each session before putting your ball back in your bag, get in the habit of giving it a proper cleaning by using a few sprays of ball cleaner like Brunswick Remove All Ball Cleaner and wiping it down with a towel. This will help remove the oil before it starts to soak into the ball.

Simple homemade bowling ball cleaner 

If you want to save some money and make a degreaser yourself, pick up some Simple Green and Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Use equal parts Simple Green, Rubbing Alcohol, Water, mix it in a spray bottle, and this will make an easy, effective bowling ball cleaner.

No matter how much you clean and wipe your bowling ball, oil will still seep into the coverstock, it’s unavoidable. So, if you feel your ball is not reacting the same or doesn’t have the hook it use to, it may be time for a “deep clean”. It’s best to leave this to your local proshop.

The proshop will use a technique that bakes the oil out. The Proshop has a special oven that maintains a temperature at approx 110 degrees while rotating and wiping the oil off the ball while it's baking. This method should never been done using your home oven because it cannot maintain a consistent temperature over the entire surface of the ball.

The proshop oven has a dual ball chamber with an insulated casing so you can safely touch the oven while it’s in use. It has a timer that allows the operator to select the desired time, and a temperature gauge provides instant feedback of the chamber temperature. The oven also pushes hot air to the chamber while rotating the ball slowly on rollers while absorbent pads in the bottom collect any oil residue.

A second option that could save you some money is the hot water bath method. There are mixed reviews on it’s effectiveness. Some say it it works wonders while others say it’s not very effective. So, do this at your own risk.

Home cleaning method

For this method you’ll need a microfiber towel, dish soap, waterproof tape, a large bucket, and your bowling ball.

  • Use the waterproof tape and tape up the finger holes of the bowling ball so that water can’t get in.
  • Fill the bucket with hot tap water, keep it around 140 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Add a few drops of dish soap to the water.
  • Put the bowling ball in the water and spin it occasionally throughout the soaking process.
  • Allow the ball to soak for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the ball from the bucket and dry it thoroughly with the microfiber towel.
  • Repeat as necessary until you don’t see any more oil rising to the top in the water.

Taking care of your bowling is important to increasing its lifespan and will help keep your ball hooking like it’s new. With proper care and maintenance, your ball will last for years.


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  • BOb W

    I’m just the opposite I don’t want my Columbia 300 scout to hook I try to throw down and in not a big hook. My question is will not cleaning hurt the ball, I also use Brunswick crown factory polish to get the ball to skid farther down the lane left handed ball speed around 10 thanks for listening

  • Joey C.

    I always for deep clean out in plastic bags two each ball, set in hot sun for six hours. Then wipe down with mean green/ alcohol. Repeat next day same way.

  • vince

    has anyone ever used simple green in the hot water bath method?

  • Tom Holbert

    Alot of guys just put their balls in the bag when finished bowling then get mad when the ball dies when new take care of it W last for yrs

  • Adam Brewer

    I’ve been using the “hot bath” method for well over a decade now and, without doubt, it is the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to refresh your coverstock.

    The instructions given here are straightforward and concise enough where a bowler of any skill level can ensure their equipment is well maintained. The only ways that my method deviates from this is that I, personally, don’t bother with covering the finger holes and every time I remove the ball from my 5 gal bucket to wipe away the oil I will change the water and clean the bucket. But, that’s just me.

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