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How to Clean Billiard Balls

Updated: Feb 26

pool table balls

Billiard balls are used in games like pool, snooker, and carom, and keeping them clean can significantly impact your game. Removing stains, dirt and grime — and keeping them well-maintained and polished — is important to keep your billiard balls clean and in pristine condition.

If you want to learn how to clean billiard balls, you've found the right guide. We'll teach you how to keep them clean without causing unnecessary damage or discoloration.

4 Methods for Cleaning Billiard Balls

There are various ways to clean your billiard balls. Follow these instructions and use these tips to get the best pool ball cleaning results.

1. Vinegar

If you want to know how to clean billiard balls with yellow stains, look no further than vinegar. A mild bleach solution like white vinegar effectively removes the yellow stains that can form on billiard balls over time. All you need to do is follow this process:

  1. Create your solution: Fill a bucket with water and add half a cup of vinegar. Stir consistently until the vinegar is homogenous with the water.

  2. Add the billiard balls: Place your billiard balls in the solution in the bucket and let them soak.

  3. Wait five minutes: After waiting for five minutes, remove the billiard balls from the bucket and rinse them with clean water.

  4. Wipe the billiard balls: Wipe off all residue on the billiard ball and ensure you have rinsed them thoroughly. You want to ensure the vinegar is completely removed from the billiard ball. Any vinegar left for too long might damage the surface of the ball.

2. Soap and Water

The best way to clean billiard balls and remove stains by hand is with soap and water. This process works similarly to the vinegar process:

  1. Fill a sink or bucket with warm water: Water that's too hot will damage your billiard balls. Warm water is the best way to loosen the dirt and grime.

  2. Add mild detergent: A little bit of mild dish soap will work. Create a sudsy solution to soak your billiard balls in.

  3. Add the billiard balls: Add the billiard balls to your solution and let soak for around five minutes. Leave the billiard balls for a max of 10 minutes. Any longer will cause discoloration and may create more stains.

  4. Scrub the billiard balls: Remove all the billiard balls and wipe them with a microfiber towel or rag. Scrubbing brushes are too abrasive and will scratch the billiard balls and cause discoloration.

  5. Dry the billiard balls: Take your time to dry the billiard balls thoroughly. Make sure there is no remaining soapy residue on the billiard balls. This will help avoid water spots and stains.

3. Ball Washing Machine

A billiard ball washing machine is a gadget that any avid pool or billiards player should look into getting if they want to learn how to clean pool balls at home easily and effectively. These devices are easy to use and have slots for each ball so you can clean them all at once. While they are niche, if you play billiards or pool often, then a pool ball cleaner is a worthwhile investment.

4. Professional Cleaning Services

You can also hire professionals to clean your billiard balls. They will use specialized products and equipment to provide proper billiard ball cleaning and restoration services. 

How to Maintain and Properly Store Billiard Balls 

Properly maintaining your billiard balls can help them remain in pristine condition. After each game, you should give them a quick wipe down with a slightly damp rag or microfiber towel and dry them completely.

How often you play will also impact how often you'll need to clean your billiard balls. If you play a game of pool or billiards once a week, you will only need to clean your billiard balls every other month.

If you play a couple of times every week, cleaning the billiard balls every couple of weeks is good practice. If you play daily, you should clean them every week.

You should avoid leaving your billiard balls out on the table for an extended period of time. This can lead to small indentations being left on your table and discoloration of billiard balls. It will expose the billiard balls to dust and dirt, which can build up quickly when left out on the table.

Store your billiard balls in a case or on a rack to keep them away from the table and safe from becoming too dirty.

Polishing pool balls is a good way of keeping them in pristine condition. Avoid oil-based polishes and wax, as they will damage your table's felt. Use a microfiber cloth to apply the polish after you've washed and properly dried the billiard balls.

Troubleshooting for Common Billiard Ball Issues

These are some troubleshooting tips and tricks to follow to avoid common billiard ball issues:

  • Dealing with discoloration and fading: Plastic balls are more prone to discoloration than other materials. Billiard balls are susceptible to degradation from sunlight, so keep them away from UV rays. Prolonged exposure to heat, moisture, air and dust can accelerate discoloration. The white cue ball is the most susceptible to yellow stains, while the others are vulnerable to discoloration and fading if left uncleaned and unpolished.

  • Addressing damaged balls: While it's almost impossible to break a billiard ball in half, it is possible for them to chip and crack. Damaged balls can greatly affect your game. Your billiard balls should last for years, depending on how often you use them. To prolong their life span, avoid dropping them on the floor, banging them together forcefully, washing them in hot water, scrubbing them, using corrosive materials to wash them, and throwing them.

  • Using certain products: Refrain from using toothpaste, household cleaners, the dishwasher, oil-based polishes and wax, and strong detergents to clean your billiard balls.

Shop High-Quality Billiard Balls at Imperial

You can find high-quality billiard balls and sets and a collection of stylish pool tables from Imperial. Imperial is known for our wide range of stylish pool tables seamlessly blending into your home's decor. From classic playability to contemporary design, we have an awesome pool table for every home. 

Imperial offers the highest-quality game tables and accessories for the ultimate gaming experience, from pool to foosball. We have everything you need for pool and billiards game night. Purchase the table and accessories you've been looking for at Imperial!

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