How to Clean Pool Table Felt

Having a pristine pool table to play on completely elevates the experience. How should you be maintaining it to protect your purchase?

Pool tables are great investments that can provide countless hours of entertainment and enjoyment. They’re great for hosting parties, a family game night, or just for a way to practice at home.

Like everything else, pool tables will get dirty over time. Cleaning the wooden structure your table is built out of is a pretty straightforward task. Simply wipe down the wood with a damp cloth and periodically apply a citrus-based oil to it to keep your table looking good for years to come. 

However, it takes a little more care than just the occasional wipe-down when it comes to the playing surface.

Keeping your table clean is a great way to keep your table playing as intended. Dirty and worn-down felt can affect the way the balls roll across your table. It can cause the balls to roll slower or even make unexpected direction changes, all of which can affect the quality of your game. 

Felt can also pick up and retain odors, so keeping your playing surface clean can go a long way to keeping your table in good condition and at the center of your game night get-togethers.

The cue and eight pool ball on the corner

Preventative Maintenance

You can save yourself a lot of hassle by exercising good table practices. Consider instituting some of the following rules around your pool table to keep it from needing cleaned more than it should:

No Food Or Drinks At The Table

Keeping food and drinks away from your table is a great way to keep the felt free of any unintended contamination. Food and drinks can soil and stain the felt and prove to be among the most challenging substances to clean out of your felt.

No Smoking At The Table 

Similar to food and drinks, smoking is another activity that can drastically affect your felt over time. The felt on your table can act as a sponge and “soak up” the smell of the smoke and cause odors to linger. 

Use Chalk Away From The Table

The use of chalk is one of the most prominent aspects of the game of pool. Consider setting up a designated chalk area away from your table to avoid causing your table and its felt to become a reservoir of chalk dust. Chalk dust can stain the table surface and affect the way the balls move on it.

Match Your Chalk to the Color of Your Table

I recommend buying Magic Chalk, as it will leave less of the chalk on the table’s surface and more of it on your cue. Also, look to buy chalk that is the same color as your table so that when it does leave residue, it is less noticeable. 

It’s Not A Seat

Don’t allow your pool table to be used as a seat. This is one of the leading causes of problems on pool tables. Not only does it get them dirty, but the friction of sitting down and moving around can wear your felt down and make it prone to tearing.

Use A Table Cover

Utilizing a table cover while your table is not in use is a tremendous way to keep your table from picking up dirt and debris that it may pick up if left uncovered. 

Keep Your Balls Clean

Nothing comes in more contact with your felt than the balls on your table. Therefore, it’s a good idea to periodically clean the balls from your table with a warm, damp cloth and then let them dry in the air before returning them to your table. 

Billiard balls arranged before the game on a pool table

How To Clean Your Pool Table Felt

If there’s just no way around it and you’re going to have to clean your pool table, be sure to exercise caution. Improper technique or overcleaning could cause your felt to break down and tear. When cleaning your table, keep the following techniques in mind:

Brush It Off

Pool tables have specialized brushes explicitly meant to help with the task of keeping your table clean and ready to use. Simply wipe your table down after each use to clean off extra chalk dust or unwanted debris and help keep your table clean and ready to use.

Take Care Of Spills

If you find yourself with a spill on your pool table, you should make sure to immediately clean up all excess liquids on the surface. It is important that you use a dry cloth and blot these out. Do not scrub. Scrubbing will only push the liquid more into the felt, so make sure to blot it as dry as possible.

In The Case Of Stains

If you do not get a spill cleaned before it sets in and stains, you can still clean the area carefully. If you need to apply an external cleaner to your felt, I do not recommend chemicals to clean your felt. Instead, I recommend a mixture of vinegar water to help clean stains out. 

Make sure to note that the same process for spills applies while cleaning stains. Do not scrub and apply pressure to the affected area as this can cause the felt to change consistency or tear. Instead, use a blotting method and make sure the affected area is left as dry as possible. 

Vacuum Attachments Are An Option

If your vacuum has handheld dusting attachments, you can use these to clean your pool table as well. Be sure not to exert too much pressure on these attachments because that could damage your pool table. Don’t use any kind of attachments with hard edges or spinning parts to clean your felt.

Never apply the suction directly to your felt. This can cause tugging and tearing and lead to thin, wrinkled, or even folded felt on your table. 

Invest In A Specialized Felt Cleaner

There are specific tools made especially for cleaning your pool table. Many billiards specialty stores have a varied selection of felt cleaning products and tools that you can buy and use on your playing surface to keep it in top condition. If you’re looking to get the most out of your table, you should absolutely look into these.

I would recommend looking into the Simonis X-1 Felt cleaner. It’s a pricy option, but well worth it. 

Billiard balls scattered on a pool table

These are just a few general ideas on caring for your table. Each case will be different, so be sure to assess and decide what is right for your table. If you follow the suggestions and tips in this guide, you’ll be able to maintain a pro-quality playing surface on your pool table for years to come!w

Mary Bishop
Mary Bishop has been working in the cleaning industry for over 5 years. She has experience with both residential and commercial cleaning, and is now trying to start her own company.
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