The do’s, don’ts and tips for cleaning and shining your bowling ball at home.
Can you use car wax on your bowling ball? You felt the embarrassment and humiliation as the other team stared and snickered at your dull and dirty ball during last week’s bowling match. And today, as you’re leaving for this week’s match, you’re side eyeing the Turtle Wax under the kitchen sink and wondering if you can give your ball a quick shine.
Well, stop right there and step away from the car wax! Before slathering your bowling ball with something meant for shining and detailing your car, potentially ruining your bowling game, read our do’s, don’ts and tips for cleaning and shining your bowling ball at home. You’ll save some cash and stop the embarrassment of having a filthy, lack-luster ball.
Say No to Wax and Yes to Polishes and Finishing Compounds
To answer the question, “Can I use car wax on my bowling ball?”, it is a resounding no. But in order to avoid being caught with a dirty ball, is there a safe, inexpensive way to clean your bowling ball at home? Absolutely! Just say no to the car wax and yes to car polishes and finishing compounds.
Car wax contains, well, wax. And much like your face, your bowling ball has pores. While car wax may make your ball shiny, the actual wax ingredient will clog the pores on your ball, which can have a negative effect on your ball’s performance on the lane. Bowling ball pores, clogged with wax, will make your ball behave like a cheap plastic ball, keeping it from gripping the lane and resulting in you not being able to control your spin.
If you want to use an automotive product on your ball, reach for a polish or a rubbing compound that is free of wax. Much like more expensive bowling ball cleansers, automotive polishes and rubbing compounds contain a fine particle grit. This grit cleans away oils, dirt and grime and shines your bowling ball without the pore clogging effects of wax-based products. Not sure if the product you have in your garage contains wax? Simply read the label.
Some products to try are Griot’s Garage Complete Polish, Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish, 3M Marine Compound and Finishing Material and Turtle Wax Renew-X Rubbing Compound. All of these products, and others like them are available on Amazon or your local automotive store.
Preventing A Dirty Bowling Ball
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when preventing a dirty bowling ball. Taking the steps now to prevent the buildup of oil and dirt will make for a shiny ball and easier cleaning down the road. But where does all of that filth come from in the first place?
The answer; bowling lanes look the way they do for a reason. They are covered with a special oil to keep the surface smooth and slick. And that oil is what will build up on your ball, causing it to gather dirt and grime with each and every roll. As a result, you get that embarrassing dirty ball situation as well as a bowling ball that doesn’t perform as well.
Therefore, when the oil is still fresh on your ball, it will be easiest to wipe away. Your ball towel, ideally, should be a lint free, microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths will protect the finish of your ball, and because they are a lint free fabric, they will prevent threads and pieces of cloth from sticking to your ball and influencing your game. And remember to change out your cloth after every match you play so that oil doesn’t build up on the cloth and transfer to your ball again.
Finally, although it may seem tedious and repetitive, you get the best cleaning, resulting in the most consistent throws, when you towel off your ball after every shot. In addition, during prolonged play, you may even want to swap in a clean towel at about the halfway point in your play.
A Cheap Solution for Cleaning Your Ball at the Lanes
Just as wiping your ball down after a match may prevent oil and dirt build-up, there is a simple and effective way of cleaning your ball right there at the lanes; rubbing alcohol.
As soon as you finish your bowling outing or match, the ball will be retaining warmth from the friction of the lane. This heat opens the pores on your ball, allowing you the opportunity to clean the ball more effectively. A little bit of alcohol goes a long way, so use it sparingly. Simply moisten a rag or bowling towel with rubbing alcohol and wipe down your bowling ball.
After you have wiped down your ball, take a dry portion of your towel or a fresh towel and wipe free any remaining moisture on its surface. Follow that up with a quick shine using a microfiber cloth. This will give your bowling ball a more thorough cleansing and prevent the transfer of dirt, oil and grime into your bowling bag which will ultimately transfer back onto your ball.
Inexpensive Methods of Cleaning Your Bowling Ball at Home
In addition to car polishes and rubbing compounds, there are other inexpensive methods of cleaning your ball at home and stopping the embarrassment and shame of having a dirty ball at your next bowling match. The following methods will keep your ball clean while saving you a bit of cash to spend at the snack bar.
Simple Home-Made Ball Cleanser
If you want to save some money and make a degreaser yourself, pick up some Simple Green and Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Use one third equal parts Simple Green, rubbing Alcohol and water mixing it in a clean, spray bottle.
Spray the cleanser directly onto your bowling ball. Using a hand towel or household wash cloth, wipe the ball until it’s dry. Repeat these steps, using a clean cloth each time, until the cloth no longer shows signs of dirt and oil. Finally, give your bowling ball a final shine with a microfiber cloth to remove any lint or threads left behind.
Deep-Cleaning Recipe and Process
For this deep-cleaning method you will need:
- A household hand towel
- Dawn dish liquid
- Waterproof tape
- A large bucket
- A microfiber towel
Using the waterproof tape, cover the finger holes of your bowling ball so that water can’t get in. Next, fill the bucket with enough hot tap water to cover your ball completely when submersed. Try and keep the water temperature around 140 degrees fahrenheit.
Then, add a few drops of Dawn dish liquid to the water, mixing it around to make bubbles. The original, blue version of Dawn works best as it cuts grease and oil while remaining gentle on most materials. The next step is to slowly lower your bowling ball into the soapy water. Allow the ball to soak for 20 minutes, spinning your ball occasionally throughout the soaking process.
After the 20 minutes, remove the ball from the bucket carefully, as it will be slippery. Next, dry your bowling ball thoroughly with the hand towel. Repeat the soaking process, as needed, until you no longer see any more oil rising to the top of the soapy water.
Finally, remove the waterproof tape and wash the area with the same hand towel and a bit of the soapy solution to make sure no sticky residue is left behind. You will then use the microfiber towel to shine your bowling ball and remove any specs of lint left behind.
Treat Your Ball with TLC
To stop those looks of disgust and ball shaming, make sure you treat your bowling ball with TLC. Taking care of your bowling ball is not only important in keeping it looking good, it’s also an important factor in increasing its lifespan.
Cleaning your bowling ball after each match as well as cleaning your ball at home, will help in maintaining your ball. However, a professional cleaning at your favorite bowling pro shop is a must as your ball needs it. Keep track of your ball’s performance. If it’s not acting the way is used to, it’s definitely time for a professional cleaning or even a resurfacing.
In the end, with proper care and maintenance, your ball will last for years, look like-new and stop those embarrassing stares at every bowling match or outing.