Some may ask why…why do I need to clean my bowling ball?
Others may simply wonder how.
I will answer both of these questions in this article. There are a few reasons to keep your bowling ball clean; the most obvious is to keep from getting too much of the lane oil on your hands and clothing. Another reason, if this matters to you, is to keep the ball looking nice. But the most important reason for cleaning your bowling ball is performance. This applies especially to bowling balls that are designed and drilled with the intent of hooking on the way down the lane. Cleaning this type of ball on a regular basis (every 6-9 games) will definitely help preserve the performance level of the ball (not necessarily the bowler) as well as extend the life of the bowling ball.
There are a variety of bowling ball cleaning methods floating around out there, a few can potentially damage your ball so be careful. Over the years I have tried all of these methods with varying results. In this article I will discuss the use of rubbing alcohol, manufacturer recommended products, and all purpose cleaners.
Rubbing alcohol I used rubbing alcohol for a long time; carried it my bowling bag for years. Until I really started to pay attention to the effect it was having on my bowling balls. It does seem to get the oil and lane grime off of any bowling ball. Then I started to take notice of its effect on the cover stock (outside cover) of a 4 month old ball. The shiny, pearl cover began to dull-rapidly. It seemed to be losing sheen daily. At first I didn’t realize that the rubbing alcohol was causing the problem so I continued to use it. As the color/clarity problems worsened so did the performance of the bowling ball. It was a ball designed to hook very sharply; it eventually became my spare ball because all it would do was roll straight as an arrow. Apparently, rubbing alcohol can chemically breakdown the properties of the cover stock, rendering it nearly useless. Needless to say, I finally figured out that the alcohol was the problem and never used it again.
Manufacturer Recommended Products I was once given a bottle of cleaner meant for the bowling ball that I was purchasing. It worked quite well for that ball; no negative changes to the surface of the ball and it maintained its ability to hook. No complaints here…well, maybe one. That cleaner was very specific to that line of bowling balls. I tried to use it for another manufacturer’s product; it got the ball cleaner but left a film on the ball that had to be cleaned off professionally. These products may or may not work for equipment other than what they are meant for, and they are usually quite expensive.
All purpose cleaners You know, like 409 and Fantastik. They both have worked very well for me, and are a lot cheaper than the stuff made by the bowling companies. The only problem with these is that they tend to be soapy, so make sure you do a good job of rinsing them off.
The product that has worked the best for me is a citrus-based all purpose cleaner. For me, these tend to get all of the oil off the ball and wipe off cleanly without leaving any residue. Remember, if you’re just feeling lazy, have your local pro shop clean the ball for you. I certainly hope that this article has been helpful–now all that is left is to go out on the lanes and have some fun!