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How to Easily Clean Your Bowling Ball with Dawn Dish Soap

  • Reading time:10 mins read

As an avid bowler, you know that maintaining your equipment is crucial for optimizing your game. One of the most important pieces of gear to keep in top condition is your bowling ball. A clean, well-cared-for ball can significantly improve your ball motion, hook, and overall performance on the lanes.

However, many bowlers overlook the importance of regular ball cleaning and end up with a ball that’s dull, grimy, and underperforming. That’s where Dawn dish soap comes in – it’s an affordable, effective solution for getting your ball looking and performing its best.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process for cleaning your bowling ball with Dawn, share some expert tips, and explain why this method is so beneficial. Let’s get started!

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Before you begin the cleaning process, it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary supplies on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Dawn dish soap (the original blue formula works best)
  • A clean bucket or container large enough to submerge your ball
  • Warm water
  • Clean, soft rags or microfiber cloths
  • A towel for drying

The key things to remember are to use Dawn soap specifically, avoid any harsh chemicals or abrasives, and stick with gentle, non-scratching materials. This will ensure you get your ball sparkling clean without damaging the surface.

Prep Your Bowling Ball

Before you start scrubbing, you’ll want to prep the ball surface to ensure maximum cleaning effectiveness. Here are the steps:

  1. Remove any tape, stickers, or accessories from the ball. This includes things like weight holes, balance holes, and thumb inserts. Leaving these in place can prevent you from getting a thorough clean.
  2. Use a clean, dry rag to wipe down the entire surface of the ball. This will help remove any loose dirt, dust, or debris that could interfere with the cleaning process.
  3. Inspect the ball closely for any cracks, gouges, or other damage. If you notice any serious issues, it’s best to have the ball professionally resurfaced before proceeding. Trying to clean a damaged ball can cause further harm.

Taking the time to properly prep your ball will help the Dawn solution penetrate and lift out all the grime and oil that’s built up over time. It’s a crucial first step for getting a deep, thorough clean.

Cleaning with Dawn Dish Soap

Now it’s time for the main event – using Dawn to clean your bowling ball. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Fill your bucket or container with warm water. You don’t need to use scalding hot water, as that could potentially damage the ball. Just make sure it’s warm to the touch.
  2. Add a few drops of original blue Dawn dish soap to the water and give it a gentle stir to create some suds. You only need a small amount – about 1-2 tablespoons per gallon of water should do the trick.
  3. Submerge your bowling ball completely in the soapy water solution. Let it soak for 5-10 minutes to allow the Dawn to penetrate and break down any built-up oils and grime.
  4. Using a clean, soft rag, gently scrub the surface of the ball while it’s still submerged. Focus on getting into all the nooks and crannies, including the finger holes. Avoid using anything abrasive that could scratch the ball.
  5. Rinse the ball thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of the Dawn solution. You may need to dunk and swish it around a few times to ensure no soap residue remains.
  6. Dry the ball completely with a clean, soft microfiber cloth. Make sure to get into all the finger holes and wipe away any remaining moisture.

That’s it – you’ve successfully cleaned your bowling ball using the power of Dawn! This simple process can make a huge difference in how your ball looks, feels, and performs.

Tips for Effective Bowling Ball Cleaning

To get the best results and protect the longevity of your ball, here are some additional tips and tricks to keep in mind:

Get Into Those Finger Holes

The finger holes on your ball can be a tricky area to clean, but it’s essential to make sure they’re spotless. Dirt, oil, and bacteria can build up in these small spaces, affecting your grip and potentially causing skin irritation.

To clean the holes, use a smaller rag or even a soft-bristled toothbrush dipped in the Dawn solution. Gently scrub the inside of each hole, being careful not to push too hard and scratch the surface. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely when done.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

While Dawn is a gentle, effective option for cleaning your bowling ball, you’ll want to steer clear of any harsh chemicals or abrasives. Things like acetone, bleach, and sandpaper can permanently damage the ball’s surface and affect its performance.

Stick to mild, bowling-specific cleaners or the Dawn method outlined here. If you’re ever unsure about a cleaning product, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid using it.

Don’t Forget About Maintenance

Cleaning your bowling ball is just one part of proper ball maintenance. To keep it performing at its best, you’ll also want to:

  • Store the ball in a cool, dry place when not in use
  • Apply a ball polish or conditioner periodically to restore shine and surface texture
  • Have the ball professionally resurfaced every 50-100 games or when it starts to lose its hook

Developing a regular cleaning and maintenance routine will go a long way in extending the life of your bowling ball and ensuring optimal performance game after game.

The Benefits of Regularly Cleaning Your Bowling Ball

Now that you know the step-by-step process for cleaning your ball with Dawn, let’s discuss why this practice is so important. Here are some of the key benefits:

Improved Ball Motion and Hook Potential

Over time, oil, dirt, and other contaminants can build up on the surface of your bowling ball. This can cause the ball to lose its intended friction and surface texture, negatively impacting ball motion and hook potential.

By regularly cleaning your ball with Dawn, you’re removing those troublesome build-ups and restoring the ball’s original reactive surface. This allows the ball to grip the lane properly and generate the desired hook action, helping you strike more consistently.

Increased Ball Response and Predictability

A clean, well-maintained bowling ball will also be more responsive and predictable on the lanes. You’ll be able to rely on a consistent ball reaction, rather than having to compensate for erratic performance caused by a dirty or damaged ball.

This consistency is crucial, especially when you’re trying to fine-tune your release, match up to different lane conditions, or perfect your overall technique. A clean ball takes the guesswork out of your game.

Longer Ball Life and Better Performance

Proper ball cleaning and care isn’t just about short-term performance – it’s also an investment in the long-term life of your equipment. A ball that’s regularly cleaned and conditioned will last much longer before needing to be resurfaced or replaced.

This saves you money in the long run, as you won’t have to purchase new balls as often. Plus, a ball that’s been well-maintained will continue to deliver optimal performance for much longer, giving you a competitive edge on the lanes.

Improved Grip, Comfort, and Hygiene

Finally, cleaning your bowling ball with Dawn can also enhance your personal comfort and hygiene on the lanes. A grimy, oil-laden ball can lead to skin irritation, especially in the finger holes. It may also start to develop an unpleasant odor over time.

By keeping your ball clean, you’ll enjoy a smoother, more comfortable grip, and you won’t have to worry about bacteria or grime buildup. This can make for a more enjoyable and hygienic bowling experience overall.

When to Clean Your Bowling Ball

So, how often should you be cleaning your bowling ball with Dawn? The general recommendation is to do a thorough cleaning every 10-15 games, or whenever you notice the ball starting to lose its shine and responsiveness.

However, the exact frequency may vary depending on a few factors:

  • How often you bowl: More frequent bowlers will likely need to clean their balls more often than casual players.
  • The oil pattern at your home lanes: Heavier oil conditions can cause faster ball surface degradation.
  • Whether you’ve had the ball resurfaced recently: Newly resurfaced balls may need cleaning less often.

As a rule of thumb, pay attention to how your ball is performing and performing, and adjust your cleaning schedule accordingly. Some bowlers find it helpful to create a regular maintenance calendar to ensure their equipment is always in top shape.


Keeping your bowling ball clean and well-maintained is an essential part of optimizing your game and equipment. By using the simple, effective Dawn dish soap cleaning method outlined in this guide, you can restore your ball’s original performance characteristics and extend its usable life.

Remember to properly prep the ball, use only gentle, non-abrasive materials, and establish a regular cleaning routine. With a little bit of effort, you’ll have a bowling ball that looks great, hooks like new, and helps you bowl your best, game after game.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your Dawn, bucket, and rags, and get to work on reviving that trusty ball of yours. Your scores (and your equipment budget) will thank you.