How To Clean Tennis Balls?


The get served, they bounce off-pavement, and once in a while, they also end up in your favorite pup’s mouth. They’re tennis balls, and we all know that they end up taking a lot of abuse from their owners. While you can always throw them out, getting the most use of each ball tends to require a little extra cleaning power.

How do you clean tennis balls? The best way to clean dirty tennis balls is to soak them in warm water, scrub them clean with a sponge, rinse them off, and pat them dry. 

Cleaning your tennis balls may seem like a fairly simple ordeal, and that’s because it is. Even so, knowing the details on the best way to clean them can help you stretch your tennis dollar further than you’d believe. This article will tell you what you need to know.

A Dirty Tennis Ball

How Do You Clean Tennis Balls?

Cleaning tennis balls is a fairly simple process. As long as you soak them, scrub them, and rinse them off, you’re good to go. That being said, the actual process can be broken down as such:

  1. Get a small plastic tub and fill it with warm water. If your balls are very dirty, it may be wise to add a small drop of dishwashing detergent. There’s no need to add too much detergent, though. A little bit in the soak goes a long way.
  2. Drop your tennis balls in. Leaving them to soak for half an hour is a good idea. If they are extremely dirty, leaving them in for an hour or more can help loosen the grime they’ve acquired.
  3. Take a soft sponge and start scrubbing each ball. Once the ball’s dirt is properly loosened up, you can scrub them with ease. Gentle strokes with a sponge that’s not designed to scour is your best bet.
  4. After the balls are scrubbed, rinse them off with water. Cold water works best. Once every ball is scrubbed, place them on a drying mat.
  5. Pat them dry with an absorbent rag. If you can’t pat them dry, leaving tennis balls out in the sun can do the trick.

The overall cleaning process takes about an hour or so. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to schedule this into your routine if you’re concerned about having it clog up your time.

Do You Have To Pat Your Tennis Balls Dry After Cleaning?

Though this is strongly advisable if you have a dog, the truth is that you don’t always have to pat your balls dry with a towel. If you use your tennis balls exclusively for gaming purposes, you caj just leave them out to dry in the sun for a day.

How Hot Does Your Soaking Water Have To Be?

The ideal temperature of your tennis ball soak is debatable. That being said, most people get results by soaking a ball in water that’s hot to the touch, but not hot enough to scald a person.

Can Dish Detergent Harm Dogs That Play Fetch With Tennis Balls?

If you only add a small amount of dish detergent to your tennis ball soaking bin, you shouldn’t worry about the dangers it poses to your pets. If anything, dogs might just find the leftover taste of detergent to be a bit gross.

The dish detergent is only really used to help get rid of extra grit. Tennis balls that are solely used for fetch don’t always have to be bathed in a mix of hot water and detergent. If you are deeply concerned about your dog’s health, you can always skip the detergent.

Why Should You Clean Your Tennis Balls?

It’s oh, so easy to just replace tennis balls once they get to a certain level of grossness. However, cleaning your tennis balls does have some perks that are hard to ignore. Here are some of the bigger reasons why cleaning your balls makes sense:

  1. It’s more budget-friendly. Though tennis balls don’t cost too much, they still can make an impact on your monthly budget. Replacing tennis balls is expensive, especially if you’re doing it on a regular basis. Cleaning them rather than tossing them away after one use helps you save money on tennis balls.
  2. Keeping clean tennis balls also means your other tennis supplies won’t get as dirty. Dirty tennis balls are a serious killer for your gym bag. The grit from those balls can get on the tennis ball container, your other sports supplies, and even cause your bags to smell. Keeping them clean reduces the chances of unsanitary stuff in your bag.
  3. It also extends the life of your tennis balls. If you want to keep your tennis balls in top shape for as long as possible, cleaning them is a must. Cleaning your tennis balls helps presreve the fuzz and the rubber they’re made of.
  4. Handling clean tennis balls is a lot more pleasant. Anyone who has ever picked up a grimy tennis ball will agree on this one!

Can You Use Cleaned Tennis Balls For Games?

Once a tennis ball has been used, it’s considered to be an old ball regardless of whether or not it’s been cleaned. Old balls are generally seen as less likely to have a proper bounce and less capable of delivering a good hit. As a result, they’re not used in competitive games.

Even the gentlest of cleanings can still negatively affect a tennis ball’s ability to handle the game. Due to their slightly reduced quality, cleaned balls are best used as practice balls while you’re on the court.

How Long Do Tennis Balls Last?

If you want to play a competitive game, then you better be ready to stock up! A single game with highly competitive players can be enough to kill a ball within as little as two to three hours. After that, the ball will not bounce as well and are only suitable for practice.

If you’re a newbie who doesn’t get too many good swings, you might be able to potentially stretch your ball’s “official” lifespan is done.

You can read more about how long do tennis balls last here.

When Is It Better To Replace Your Tennis Balls Instead Of Clean Them?

Though cleaning your tennis balls can improve your balls’ lifespan enormously, there are still limits to what cleaning can accomplish. Every tennis ball, even clean ones, will have their own lifespans.

Worried that cleaning won’t be enough to save your tennis balls? Here are some signs that it’s time to go shopping once more:

  1. Your tennis balls are heavily stained. Stains that won’t come out are a sign that the material of the ball may have changed for the worse.
  2. Try as you might, you can’t seem to get them to bounce the way they’re supposed to. A tennis ball that can’t bounce well doesn’t have much use at all.
  3. The fuzzy coating on the balls is shredded. The coating on the balls might seem aesthetic to a casual observer, but it’s there for a reason.
  4. You can squeeze the ball with ease. This is a sign that the tennis ball lost the pressure that makes it bounce. When this happens, your ball is considered to be “dead” and no longer capable of play.
  5. You’ve used the ball for a competitive game and don’t have any new balls left. A ball that’s been used competitively is dead after a single 3-hour match. Simply put, the air pressure in the ball gets knocked out with every hit, and after too many swings, it just doesn’t have the same amount of bounce.
  6. The ball split. It might be rare, but it does happen! If your ball broke, it’s pretty clear that it’s time to buy some more.

David Lee

Hey there, my name is David Lee and I am the person behind this website. I started playing tennis over 20 years ago and on this site I will show you how to enjoy tennis.

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