How to Clean Your Bowling Ball With the Immersion Method

Close up of a woman polishing a bowling ball
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Reactive-resin bowling balls absorb oil as you bowl, and that can lead to your ball reacting less. This will make it more difficult to throw a proper hook.

There are several methods​ you can use to get that oil out of the ball and keep the ball at maximum effectiveness for as long as possible. One method, which isn't the best or most effective but comes with the main benefit of being something anyone can do at home, is the immersion method.

In this method, you let your bowling ball sit in hot water, drawing the oil out of the cover stock.

01
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Fill a Bucket With Hot Water

Filling a bucket with water.
A standard, no-frills bucket being filled halfway with hot water.

In step one, find a bucket and fill it with water. You don't want the water to be boiling, but it should be very warm. You can also use a sink or anything large enough to hold a bowling ball and enough water to submerge it. Whatever you use will soon be holding a lot of oil, so take that into account.

Don't fill the bucket too much. The four-quart bucket shown above should be filled approximately halfway. Remember, you still need to put a bowling ball in there, which will cause rather substantial water displacement, and you don't want to flood your house.

02
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Tape Over the Holes

A bowling ball with duct tape over the holes.
A bowling ball with duct tape over the holes.

Some people wouldn't consider this a necessary step, but there is a chance your ball could get waterlogged if you leave the holes exposed. Put some duct or water-resistant tape over the holes of the ball before putting it in the water.

This step is one of the reasons this method isn't the best for cleaning your equipment. If you don't properly tape the holes, you can loosen the glue on your grips or saturate the ball with water.

03
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Immerse the Bowling Ball

A bowling ball in a bucket.
A bowling ball in a bucket.

Put the ball in the bucket. If the waterline doesn't completely cover the entire surface of the ball, add more water. If you put the ball in and the water spills everywhere, you're fine, aside from the huge mess you now have to clean up.

Leave the ball in the water for 20 to 30 minutes before removing. You'll see the oil bleeding out of the ball and floating to the surface of the water.

04
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Wipe the Bowling Ball

A bowling ball being wiped clean.
A bowling ball being wiped clean.

When you remove the ball from the bucket, it will be very slippery because of all that oil. To get rid of the oil before it reabsorbs into the cover stock, which would render everything you just did useless, wipe the ball dry with a clean, microfiber towel.

05
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Let the Bowling Ball Rest

A freshly cleaned bowling ball.
A freshly cleaned bowling ball.

Remove the tape from the ball and set it, holes down, in a place to dry. This is especially important if you didn't cover the holes. If you did cover the holes, the ball is probably ready to be used immediately, but letting it rest won't hurt.

Next time you go to the lanes, the ball should be gripping the lane noticeably better. If it isn't, the ball may be at the end of its life.

A regular cleaning regimen should be used for all your bowling equipment, especially if you use it frequently. Several companies make bowling-ball cleaners that wipe down the ball and remove oil from the cover stock. You can also take your ball to your local pro shop and have them resurface the ball for you, which is another way to reclaim some of the friction you may have lost.