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How Often to Clean Bowling Ball: The Definitive Guide for Optimal Performance

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Striking a perfect game relies on more than just skill – a well-maintained bowling ball is crucial. Whether you’re a casual bowler or a league player, keeping your bowling ball clean is essential for consistent performance and extending its lifespan.

Over time, the oil and dirt buildup on the surface of your ball can degrade its traction, making it harder to control and potentially affecting your scores. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover when, how, and why you should clean your bowling ball to keep it in top shape.

The Importance of Keeping Your Bowling Ball Clean:

Improved Traction and Control

A clean bowling ball provides better traction on the lane, allowing you to execute more precise shots. As oil and dirt accumulate on the surface, it creates a slippery barrier that can cause your ball to deflect unexpectedly or lose its intended trajectory.

Regularly cleaning your ball ensures that the coverstock maintains its optimal level of friction, giving you better control and more consistent pin action.

Prevents Oil/Dirt Buildup That Can Degrade Performance

Over time, the oil and dirt buildup on your bowling ball can become embedded into the porous coverstock material, leading to a dull and sticky surface.

This buildup can significantly impact your ball’s performance, causing it to hook more than intended or lose its backend reaction. By cleaning your ball regularly, you prevent this buildup from setting in, maintaining the ball’s intended performance characteristics.

Extends the Life of the Bowling Ball Coverstock

Bowling ball coverstocks are designed to withstand a certain amount of wear and tear, but excessive buildup of oil, dirt, and grime can accelerate the degradation process.

Regular cleaning helps preserve the integrity of the coverstock material, ensuring that your ball lasts longer and maintains its factory-specified performance over a more extended period.

Maintains the Ball’s Original Color and Appearance

In addition to performance benefits, keeping your bowling ball clean also helps maintain its original color and appearance. Over time, the oil and dirt buildup can cause discoloration, making your ball look dull and worn. Regular cleaning helps restore the ball’s vibrant color and shiny finish, keeping it looking like new for longer.

How Often Should You Clean Your Bowling Ball?

The frequency with which you should clean your bowling ball depends on several factors, including how often you bowl and the conditions of the lanes you play on. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

After Every Use/Session

It’s recommended to clean your bowling ball after every use or bowling session, regardless of how long you played. This helps prevent any oil or dirt buildup from setting in and ensures that your ball is ready for the next time you hit the lanes.

Once a Week (for Frequent Bowlers)

If you bowl multiple times a week or participate in league play, it’s a good idea to give your bowling ball a thorough cleaning at least once a week. This will help maintain its optimal performance and prevent any significant buildup from accumulating.

Once a Month (for Casual Bowlers)

For casual bowlers who play once or twice a month, cleaning your ball once a month should be sufficient. However, if you notice any significant buildup or a change in your ball’s performance, it’s best to clean it sooner.

Signs That Indicate Your Ball Needs Cleaning

Even if you follow a regular cleaning schedule, there are certain signs that may indicate your bowling ball needs cleaning more frequently:

  1. Visible dirt or oil buildup on the surface
  2. Discoloration or a dull appearance
  3. Decreased traction or unexpected ball reaction
  4. Sticky or tacky feeling when handling the ball

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to give your bowling ball a thorough cleaning to restore its optimal performance.

The Proper Way to Clean a Bowling Ball:

Supplies Needed:

  • Bowling ball cleaner (various types available, more on this later)
  • Soft, microfiber towels or cleaning pads
  • Plastic bristle brush (for cleaning finger holes)
  • Bowl of warm water (for rinsing)

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process:

  1. Start with a dry ball: Make sure your bowling ball is completely dry before beginning the cleaning process.
  2. Apply the cleaner: Spray or apply a generous amount of bowling ball cleaner onto the surface of the ball, ensuring even coverage.
  3. Scrub the surface: Using a clean, soft microfiber towel or cleaning pad, scrub the ball’s surface in a circular motion, applying moderate pressure. This will help break down and lift any buildup or residue.
  4. Clean the finger holes: Use a plastic bristle brush to scrub the inside of the finger holes, removing any accumulated oil, dirt, or debris.
  5. Rinse the ball: Rinse the ball thoroughly with warm water to remove any remaining cleaner and loosened grime.
  6. Dry the ball: Use a clean, dry microfiber towel to thoroughly dry the ball, ensuring no water remains in the finger holes or on the surface.

Dos and Don’ts of Bowling Ball Cleaning:


  • Use a cleaner specifically designed for bowling balls
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the cleaner
  • Scrub gently but firmly to break down buildup
  • Rinse thoroughly to remove all cleaner residue
  • Dry the ball completely before storing or using


  • Use harsh chemicals or abrasives that can damage the coverstock
  • Soak the ball in cleaner or water for extended periods
  • Neglect cleaning the finger holes
  • Store or use the ball while still damp

Cleaning the Finger Holes:

The finger holes of your bowling ball can accumulate a significant amount of oil, dirt, and skin cells, which can affect your grip and potentially cause the holes to become misshapen over time. When cleaning your bowling ball, be sure to pay special attention to the finger holes.

Use a plastic bristle brush specifically designed for cleaning bowling ball finger holes. Dip the brush in the bowling ball cleaner or warm water and scrub the inside of each hole thoroughly. Rinse the holes with clean water and dry them completely with a microfiber towel or compressed air.

Different Types of Bowling Ball Cleaners:

When it comes to bowling ball cleaners, there are several different types available on the market, each designed for specific cleaning needs. Here’s an overview of some popular options:

Conventional Cleaners

These are the most common type of bowling ball cleaners and are designed to remove general dirt, oil, and buildup from the surface of your ball. Many popular brands like Monster Trac, Reacta Foam, and Storm offer effective conventional cleaners.

UV Cleaners/Rejuvenators

UV cleaners, also known as rejuvenators, use a combination of ultraviolet light and specialized cleaning agents to break down and remove built-up oil and lane conditioner from deep within the porous coverstock. These cleaners can help restore the original performance characteristics of your bowling ball.

Popular UV cleaner brands include Vise, Pyramid, and Motiv.

Heavy-Duty Cleaners

For heavily soiled or neglected bowling balls, heavy-duty cleaners may be necessary. These stronger formulas are designed to tackle tough, embedded buildup that regular cleaners can’t remove. However, it’s important to use these cleaners sparingly and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid damaging the coverstock.

Polishes and Sealers

In addition to cleaners, there are also polishes and sealers available that can help protect and maintain the surface of your bowling ball. Polishes can restore the shine and luster to your ball, while sealers create a protective barrier against future buildup and staining.

When choosing a bowling ball cleaner, consider the type of coverstock material on your ball, as well as the severity of the buildup you need to remove. It’s always a good idea to consult with your local pro shop or experienced bowlers for recommendations on the best cleaners for your specific needs.

Maintaining Your Bowling Ball’s Coverstock:

While regular cleaning is essential, it’s also important to take steps to maintain the integrity of your bowling ball’s coverstock material. Here are some tips to help extend the life and performance of your ball:

Using a Revivor/Restorer

Over time, the porous coverstock material on your bowling ball can become dried out, leading to a loss of traction and performance. To combat this, you can use a bowling ball revivor or restorer product, which helps to replenish the oils and maintain the flexibility of the coverstock.

Revivor products should be applied periodically, typically every few months or as recommended by the manufacturer. They can help restore the ball’s original reaction and extend its lifespan.


In addition to cleaning, it’s also a good idea to have your bowling ball professionally polished or resurfaced periodically. This process involves gently sanding or abrading the surface of the ball to remove any remaining buildup or imperfections and restore the ball’s original shape and surface texture.

Polishing or resurfacing is typically recommended every 6 to 12 months, depending on how frequently you bowl and the condition of your ball. This process can help restore the ball’s original performance characteristics and prevent any permanent damage to the coverstock material.

It’s important to have your ball resurfaced by a professional at a reputable pro shop, as improper techniques or equipment can potentially damage the ball. They will have the specialized machinery and expertise to properly resurface your ball without compromising its integrity.

When to Consider Resurfacing

There are a few signs that may indicate it’s time to have your bowling ball resurfaced:

  1. Visible grooves, gouges, or blemishes on the surface
  2. Significant discoloration or dullness that cannot be restored by cleaning
  3. Noticeable changes in the ball’s reaction or performance
  4. The ball feels rough or gritty to the touch

If you notice any of these issues, it’s best to have your ball evaluated by a professional at a pro shop to determine if resurfacing is necessary.

Storage and Care Tips:

Proper storage and care of your bowling ball can also play a crucial role in maintaining its performance and extending its lifespan. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Keeping Your Ball in a Cool, Dry Place

Extreme temperatures and moisture can be detrimental to your bowling ball’s coverstock material. Always store your ball in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Avoid leaving your ball in a hot car trunk or exposed to excessive humidity, as this can cause the coverstock to become dried out or warped.

Using a Bowling Ball Case/Bag

Investing in a quality bowling ball case or bag can help protect your ball from scratches, dents, and other potential damage during transportation and storage. Look for cases or bags that are padded and have separate compartments or pouches to keep your ball securely in place.

Avoiding Extreme Temperatures

In addition to storing your ball in a cool, dry place, it’s also important to avoid exposing it to extreme temperature changes. Rapid temperature fluctuations can cause the coverstock material to expand and contract, potentially leading to cracks or other damage.

When transporting your ball from a warm environment to a cooler bowling alley, allow it to acclimate gradually to the temperature change before using it. This can help prevent any potential warping or cracking issues.


Regular cleaning and proper maintenance are essential for ensuring your bowling ball performs at its best and lasts for years to come. By following the guidelines outlined in this guide, you can keep your ball in top shape and enjoy consistent, reliable performance on every shot.

Remember, cleaning your bowling ball after every use or session is crucial to prevent buildup and maintain optimal traction. Invest in high-quality bowling ball cleaners and accessories, and don’t be afraid to seek professional help from a reputable pro shop for resurfacing or more advanced maintenance needs.

Implementing a consistent cleaning routine and following proper storage and care practices will not only extend the life of your bowling ball but also help you achieve more consistent scores and enjoy the sport to the fullest. So, grab your towel and cleaner, and get ready to keep your bowling ball looking and performing like new for years to come.