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How to Clean a Pool Table: Step by Step Guide

How to Clean a Pool Table: Step by Step Guide

Posted by Home Billiards on 27th Oct 2022

Those of you looking to buy a pool table for your home may already know that maintenance takes a little bit of effort. Cleaning dirt is a must to keep the table looking presentable, including keeping the pool table felt in quality shape for game play.

What do you need to know to keep your pool table in the best possible shape? Take a look at how to clean a pool table and the felt in the right way to avoid making mistakes that could cause damage.

What is the Best Way to Clean a Pool Table?

Your pool table is going to accumulate dirt, no matter how careful you'll be. General dust is going to build up there, not including pet hair if you have pets in the house. Plus, chalk dust from playing pool is inevitable, as are random stains from food and drink if you hold parties in your gaming room.

All that dust and the stains require just a few steps of careful cleaning to avoid damage to the pool table felt on the surface.  The best way to get started toward a clean pool table is to use a soft brush to sweep debris off the table. 

To do this, you'll want to start by checking for debris in the middle section of the table and brush toward the edges. If you see debris in this area, simply use a small pool table brush for cleaning and into a waste basket.

It's here where you might need to use a specific brushing technique to avoid causing wrinkling in the felt weave. Brushing with straight strokes (rather than circular motions) is the best method. Keep going in the same direction as you brush.

What Do You Need to Clean a Pool Table?

All you really need is a pool table cloth or brush to sweep the debris. You can also use a damp towel to help clean inside the table pockets. A lot of debris can accumulate around the edges, especially if you and your friends eat snacks while playing.

An absorbent microfiber cloth made of cotton is also a good supply item to have on hand to clean up any immediate stains on the felt. In the chance you spill a drink on the table, the dry towels dab up the excess moisture. For set-in stains, you can moisten the cloth with water.

Just remember not to use any soaps since those can stain. Old-fashioned cleaning and wiping with a clean pool table cloth or damp cloth is always the better way over the chance you could permanently stain your pool table with a cleaning solution.

Is it OK to Vacuum a Pool Table?

It's ok to use a vacuum to clean your pool table, with one condition. Every pool table cleaning expert will tell you that it's best to use a brush head vacuum cleaner that doesn't have direct suction capability. Otherwise, using a vacuum with strong suction could:

  • Stretch the felt material and potentially tear it, or pull it in irregular directions.
  • Create "wrinkles" in the felt as you clean up chalk dust, hence affecting your pool game performance, particularly ball travel.
  • The durability level of your felt. With good care, the felt should last you for years. The last thing you want is the felt wearing out too fast after only a year of ownership, only because you thought a suction vacuum was more convenient.

How Often Should You Clean Your Pool Table?

Most experts will say clean after 10 hours of playing, or at least once a week. Doing so helps prevent any excess dust and dirt.                          

Some might be tempted to put off cleaning, especially if using a table cover when not in use. Dust can accumulate on the table even with a cover. It seems that dust always finds a way in, no matter how many protective surfaces we use. Yet, when you remove dust, it becomes a vital preventative process.

How Do You Get Stains Off a Pool Table?

Set-in stains can sometimes happen on a pool table when a lot of activity is going on during a match, including from dirty hands. What if you discover a stain on your pool table and don't know how to get rid of it?

Here's some good tips:

  • Using a white, dry cloth is the best method if the stain is already set in, though paper towels can work if the stain is recent. Wet the cloth (with cold water rather than warm water), then lightly press, and gently dab the surface of the stain. Make sure to wring out any excess dampness since too much water can harm the felt.
  • Create a vinegar solution to use on the cloth. To create this, you simply mix one small bowl of water with one or two cups of white vinegar. This creates a perfect stain cleaning solution that doesn't have harsh chemicals. 
  • Keep light strokes going and dab with the damp cloth until you start to see the entire surface of the stain disappear. Don't exert too much pressure or rub excessively. It might take some extra effort on the dabbing to see any difference after an air dry. Tougher stains might require a professional to properly remove to keep your pool table in better shape.

How Often Should You Change the Pool Table Felt?

You'll be glad to know that most at-home pool tables only need their felt changed every few years. Pool tables used in bars or other public establishments will need the felt changed on an annual basis due to spills and excess use of chalk that acts as an abrasive. These public tables almost never maintain clean pool table felt.

Signs that you need to replace your felt include a rough surface or extreme accumulation of lint. By running your hand over the surface, you'll know whether it's worn. 

All it takes is a little bit of extra time using regular preventative measures with a clean cloth to protect your table so it continually looks like new. This also includes cleaning the balls and pool cues as often as the chalk stains.

Visit us at Home Billiards to learn more about how to properly clean a pool table and to find the right table for your home.