How to Clean Tennis Balls? 3 Quick & Easy Methods + Pro Tips

Generally, tennis balls don’t last much longer and worn out with time. But if you are lucky enough to have a tennis ball that is with you for more than expected time, then it would surely be dirty due to so many factors. Now you must be looking for how to clean tennis balls?

The best way to clean dirty tennis balls is to wash them using water and some chemical like laundry detergent or liquid soap and then scrub them using a dry cloth.

But there is a lot more you need to understand, so let’s move one level deeper.

Usually, what most of the players do is – throw the ball away as soon as it gets dirty without even thinking that we can clean and reuse it or it can be a toy for your dog if you are not going to reuse it.

washing tennis balls for pet
Dog Looking Into a Basket of Tennis Balls

Or you can also recycle the balls in a proper way to keep the environment clean, otherwise, those balls spend their rest of the life in garbage releasing contaminating methane gas.

What I am trying to say is by keeping your tennis balls clean, you are contributing to clean the environment.

I will write another detailed article on how to recycle tennis balls, but for this article, let’s just stick to the different ways of cleaning a tennis ball.

However, when it comes to professional tennis, it becomes inevitable to replace and discard tennis balls in bulk. For example, Grand Slam Tournament uses up to 5000 balls. This example highlights the importance of clean balls in tennis.

It’s because a slight deformity in the ball’s curvature may lead to losing a match or even a tournament. However, on a small or beginner level, we can wash and reuse tennis balls.

When should I clean my tennis balls?

This depends on the frequency of your play. If you play more frequently, there are higher chances of your tennis balls getting dirty in a short time.

So, as soon as your tennis balls are dirty, clean them using different methods that I am going to share in this article.

Why Should I Clean Tennis Balls?

A dirty tennis ball’s curvature may change and it may lead to unexpected deviations on the tennis court. Furthermore, a ball may lose bounce which makes it useless.

Other than this, there are a lot of other advantages to keeping the tennis balls clean. Here are some of them:

  • Budget-Friendly

    Tennis balls are fairly less expensive, but they can still shrink your budget if you reuse your tennis balls.

    However, if you are a frequent player, then it can have a great impact on your budget. So, it’s always a good idea to clean and reuse tennis balls – especially when you are on a budget.

  • Extended Lifespan

    Generally, the lifespan of a tennis ball is 4 weeks to 1 year or even 2 years depending on the frequency of your play.

    So, cleaning and keeping your tennis balls in mint condition can extend their lifespan.

  • Clean Balls and Clean Tennis Equipment

    Cleaning a tennis ball not only improves its lifespan but also keeps your other tennis equipment clean. For example, tennis bag, your outfits, balls canister, etc.

    Moreover, it keeps the smell away from your bag and other equipment.

  • Clean Environment

    This is another important benefit of keeping tennis balls clean and reusing them. More than 300 million tennis balls are used yearly around the world and 125 million alone in the USA.


    Around 60% – 70% of them are thrown away in the garbage where they release contaminating methane gas which contributes to climate change.


    So, cleaning and reusing tennis balls can be your step towards a clean and green environment.

  • Mentally Satisfaction

    I am 100% sure anyone reading this article would agree with me on this point. Clean tennis balls mean more satisfaction during the game as compared to a dirty ball.
Remember: This is very important to clean tennis balls from time to time to keep them in mint condition. Otherwise, it may harm your skills and techniques in the longer run.

Can I use cleaned tennis balls for a long run?

Besides the so many other benefits of cleaning a tennis ball, it’s fact that the balls are considered old after some time losing their bounce and delivering less capability of a good hit.

Even if you get a new tennis ball and wash it, it will slightly lose the quality. I describe cleaned balls as practice balls. So, keep them for practice purposes only.

Note: I recommend washed balls only for practice games and matches, not for competitive matches. Otherwise, it may hurt your game style and skills.

How to Clean Tennis Balls?

How To Clean Tennis Balls?
Tennis Ball on a Leafy Tennis Court

No matter, what kind of game you are playing and on what kind of tennis court, tennis balls get dirtier after some time – especially when playing outdoor.

At first, it seems very simple to clean a tennis ball, that’s because it is. However, there are few minor details you need to know so you can shrink your tennis budget for a longer-term.

So, let’s discuss the different methods you can follow to clean tennis balls easily.

Wash Tennis Balls by Hand

This is the easiest way to clean tennis balls. As this process is manual, you can go deeper and keep washing the ball until you are satisfied. We will need the following items for this method.

  1. A Bucket
  2. Warm Water
  3. Laundry Detergent or Liquid Soap
Note: If your pet is also going to use this tennis ball, make sure you use a pet-friendly detergent. If you are not sure about the chemical, a combination of water and vinegar can do the work.

Here are the steps to wash a tennis ball by hand.

  1. Fill the bucket with warm water, remember, warm water not hot water. The key is optimum temperature.
    Put laundry detergent or liquid soap (as much as we use for a small pile of clothes) into the water and keep stirring the water until the soap is fully dissolved into the water.
  2. Now put the tennis balls into the water and keep stirring for a few minutes, maybe 5 minutes.
  3. Leave the balls into the water for at least 2 hours. It can be longer if balls are dirtier.
  4. Take the balls out of the water and rinse them with clean water so that there is no dirt left on the ball.
  5. Take a dry cloth and scrub the balls with it. Don’t scrub too much, otherwise, you may stiffen or wear out the fuzz over the ball.
  6. Put the tennis balls into the air to dry them or you can also use a dryer with the lowest heating settings.
Pro Tip: If after washing the balls they lose bounce to some extent, dry the balls with hot air(not too much hot). This will increase the internal air pressure inside the ball and restore the bounce to some extent.

Wash Tennis Balls By Washing Machine

Wash Tennis Balls Using Washing Machine
Wash Tennis Balls Using Washing Machine

As cleaning tennis balls by hand is a manual process, it takes some time to wash them. You can speed up the process by introducing a washing machine into our above-mentioned required items.

Here are the steps for washing tennis balls using a washing machine.

  1. Fill the washing machine’s tub with warm water.
  2. Put detergent or liquid soap into the water along with tennis balls.
  3. Now turn on the machine with a low spin cycle.
  4. Once the spin cycle is done, take out the balls and rinse them with clean water.
  5. Dry them using a dryer or put them into the open air.

Hand Wash vs Washing Machine: Which is the Better Way to clean tennis balls?

Both of these methods work well to get your dirty tennis balls clean, but each method has its pros and cons. Now you might ask, which one is the better way to wash tennis balls?

If you don’t have too many tennis balls to wash, then I would recommend washing them by hand.

It’s because, in this method, you can clean the balls deeper as compared to the washing machine. In this way, you won’t hurt the tub of the washing machine which would be hurt if you used the fast spin feature.

On the other hand, if you have a large number of dirty balls, then a washing machine is the best method. Make sure you use the slow spin feature of the washing machine and not more than 5 balls in a batch.

However, there is another easy but less commonly used method (or we can say an almost dead method) – using Kleenball.

Cleaning Tennis Balls Using Kleenball

Kleenball is the first-ever tennis ball cleaner created in 1950. Kleenball looks like a tennis ball with two halves each made up of wood from the outer casing.

Inside each half, there are ball cleaning brushes fitted as shown in the picture below.

Kleenball
Kleenball

This is how you can use this tennis ball cleaning tool.

  1. Simply put the ball inside two halves and press them against the ball.
  2. Now rotate the two halves in opposite circular directions.
  3. The brushes will clean the ball.

Kleenball is not a common tool that you can easily buy from online stores. This is an ancient tool with a limited number of copies scattered throughout the world. You can find this tool through auctions or old antique shops.

When it is better to buy new tennis balls instead of cleaning them?

Although cleaning tennis balls improve their lifespan, there are limits to their usage after cleaning them. One limit is, we can use them only for practice matches.

Even if after cleaning, a tennis ball has a certain lifespan after which it becomes useless. So, to find out when to replace the tennis ball even after cleaning it, use the following signs to schedule your day for shopping.

  • Hold the ball in your dominant hand and squeeze it. If it’s easily squeezable, then it’s time to say goodbye. It’s because the ball has lost its internal air pressure and ultimately the ability to bounce.
  • If your tennis ball gets stains in such a way that even if after cleaning, stains are not getting away then replace it with a new tennis ball. It’s because the material of the ball has worn out which has added heavy stains on the ball.
  • When on the court, you have to put a lot of effort to have the ball bounce off well, replace it. It means the ball is dead and no longer useful for tennis matches.
  • Rarely but when the ball’s rubber cracks, replace it.

Conclusion: Final Thoughts on Cleaning Tennis Balls

No matter how hard you hit a tennis ball against a wall, pavement, or a racket or how strong your dog bites it, it can endure all kinds of pressures. But it doesn’t mean that you should not care about it.

I mean cleaning the tennis balls means you care about them in the same way as you care about your pet. Not only dirty balls are hard to hold in the hands, but they are also unhygienic and bad for your tennis bag, ball container, and all other equipment.

As washing tennis balls are not very common, so I tried to cover all the necessary steps and items required through this article so you can easily wash them.

I have covered the 3 most common ways of cleaning tennis balls – washing using hands, washing machine or by Kleen ball. All of these methods are effective, it’s only a matter of time.

Make sure the chemical, detergent, or soap you are going to use to clean tennis balls is pet-friendly because there are chances that your pet is also going to play with your tennis balls.

I hope you have learned the right way to clean tennis balls, do share this article with your friends, family, or tennis colleagues and let them have their tennis budget to a minimum while contributing to the environment.

FAQs

1. Is it safe to wash tennis balls?

It’s totally safe to clean tennis balls. However, after washing 2-3 times, the ball loses bounce to some extent which means this ball can be used for practice matches only instead of competitive games.

2. Can water ruin a tennis ball?

Generally, No! But if the tennis ball is exposed to water more often then it may hurt the ball’s bounce and playability to some extent. One trick works best in this case which is to use hot air to dry up the ball. This will increase internal pressure to improve the ball’s bounce.

But this kind of ball can’t be used for a longer run.

3. What is the best way to dry a tennis ball?

You can put the wet tennis ball in the open air or you can put it into the dryer. Both options work fine.

4. Cleaned tennis ball vs a new one. Which one is the better?

Obviously, the new tennis ball is always better than the washed one. However, if you are just playing a practice match, then washed/cleaned tennis ball can be used instead of putting a burden on your budget, although tennis balls are not much expensive.

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