Can You Put Pool Balls in the Dishwasher?

Phenolic resin pool balls don’t have bad reactions to heat, so technically, you could wash them in the dishwasher.

You can clean them as you’d clean things made of glass.

While you can clean the pool balls in the dishwasher, you shouldn’t.

Using a harsh detergent can harm your pool balls.

No manufacturer recommends this method. Instead of putting them in the dishwasher, try other methods to clean them.

Pool Balls Should Be Cleaned—But Not in the Dishwasher

The more games you play, the more dirt you’ll see on your pool balls.

They get chalk from the cue and grime from the table felt. The oils from your hands will also transfer to the balls.

Think of the dark pockets on the pool table. You don’t know what debris is in there, coming into contact with your pool balls.

Cleaning your pool or billiard balls regularly can help them last longer.

Clean balls are smoother. When dirt sticks to the surface, it can increase friction and prevent your ball from rolling evenly.

Dirty balls will cause wear and tear to your table. The dirt gets pressed into the fabric and is hard to remove. Your table will look dingy and not play as well as when it’s clean.

Dirt in the fabric might prevent the balls from reaching optimal speed. Since friction is also increased, the felt is more likely to rip.

When your balls get dirty, the grime and oils can penetrate the surface. They’ll not only look unattractive, but over time the dirt can damage the integrity of your balls.

How to Clean Pool Balls

It might be tempting to throw your pool balls into the dishwasher and let the machine do all of your dirty work.

But using a dishwasher might damage some types of pool balls.

If your pool balls came with a lifetime warranty, running the balls through the dishwasher will void it. A spin through the dishwasher also dulls the ball’s surface in an obvious way.

It doesn’t take much work to wash pool balls with soap and water or with professional cleaners.

It’s recommended you clean your balls regularly, so you can do it quickly and efficiently.

Using Soap and Water

Soap and water are what most people think of using when it’s time to clean.

It’s an effective way to wash your pool balls, as long as the soap isn’t too harsh.

Cleaning Phenolic Resin Balls

To clean your balls with soap and water, you’ll need two buckets and a microfiber cloth.

Start by mixing a gentle soap with water. 

You can use warm or even slightly hot water when cleaning phenolic resin balls because they’re made to withstand the heat. You won’t damage the surface or interior with higher temperatures.

Let the pool balls soak in the soapy mixture for about 10 minutes. While they’re soaking, add cool water to the other bucket. 

Remove the balls from the soapy water and wipe them with a microfiber cloth. If they still look dull, you can apply soap to the cloth and rub it onto the surface.

After using the microfiber cloth, put the balls in the bucket of cold water to wash off the soap. Then dry them with a clean towel.

It’s tempting to let the balls air-dry, but they need to dry thoroughly before you play with them. Trying to play with moist balls can damage them.

Also, water itself often has minerals and salts that can deposit on the ball if you let it air-dry. This again will ruin the playing experience as the ball won’t go smoothly,

It’s best to use a clean soft cloth and wipe the balls dry after cleaning.

Cleaning Polyester Balls

You can clean polyester balls the same way you clean phenolic resin balls, with one major difference: the water temperature.

Use lukewarm water to clean polyester balls. If the water is too hot, it might cause the surface to crack.

With polyester balls, you want to ensure you clean off all of the soap. It can leave residue on the ball that throws off your game.

Using Professional Cleaners

There are professional pool ball cleaners on the market. They’re specially made to treat the materials manufacturers use to make pool balls. 

Many companies make cleaners for their balls. Over 85% of pool players use Aramith balls, and they have a custom cleaning solution

Aramith Bundle of 2 Items Billiard Ball Cleaner & Aramith Billiard Ball Restorer 8.4 fl.oz. Bottles

Because it’s made by Aramith, this cleaner provides the best results for balls made of phenolic resin.

If you have polyester balls, you’ll want to read the label carefully or find another solution.

When you use a professional pool ball cleaning solution, there is no need to use water.

You can directly apply the product to the pool balls and rub it in with a microfiber cloth.

Work the cleaner into the ball’s surface for about a minute. Then use a clean microfiber cloth to dry off the ball.

Some brands offer two products for a full cleaning regimen. Use the ball restoring solution first to break down the grime on the surface. Then apply the cleaner to wash the dirt away.

There are also professional pool ball cleaning machines on the market. If you’re attracted to the simplicity of washing balls in a dishwasher, this is a safer option.

BallStar Pool and Billiards Ball Cleaner

The machines have special sections for each ball and spin them as they clean.

Many of these pool ball washing machines have an extra setting to polish the balls once they’re clean.

How to Wax Pool Balls

The World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) is the governing body of the game of pool. They state that you can’t wax your pool balls because it throws off gameplay.

When you wax your balls, they’re smoother than normal. This can change their speed, how they spin, and the friction they have when hitting other balls.

Since this is only important in tournament games, you might choose to wax the balls you use when playing at home.

You have to admit that gleaming pool balls look great under bright lights as you play.

To shine your pool balls, you can use polish or wax. Apply it to the ball and then buff it with a microfiber cloth. If you have a pool ball washing machine, you can use the polish cycle.

Why Do Pool Balls Turn Yellow?

You might notice your cue ball and the white part of your striped balls turning yellow over time. This happens naturally, just as metals rust when exposed to the elements.

Cleaning your pool balls with soap and water or even professional cleaners might not remove these yellow stains. You need to add a secret ingredient into the mix: baking soda.

Baking soda can be used in two ways. Mix it with a little bit of water to create a paste. Apply the paste to the white parts of the ball and scrub it in. The grit will help remove the stains.

If you’d rather stick close to the soap and water method, then you can mix a scoop (about a cup) of baking soda into the warm water and detergent.

Let the balls sit in the mix for longer than 10 minutes.

After letting them soak, rub with the microfiber cloth and see if the stains are getting lighter.

If you can’t see a difference, you might want to put them in for another 10 minutes.

Final Notes

Phenolic resin pool balls are technically tough enough to handle a cycle in the dishwasher.

But the harsh detergents the machine calls for can damage the surface of your ball.

Don’t risk dishwasher damage when you can wash the balls by hand. Not only is it more energy-efficient, but you’ll ensure that your pool balls last longer.

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