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Bowling Ball Cleaners

Updated on February 5, 2014

Why clean a bowling ball?

Congratulations! You've moved beyond using a house ball and shoes for bowling - you've got your own ball (or two, or maybe more), your own bowling shoes, bag and accessories. You've become serious about improving your average.

Unless your first ball is a plastic novelty ball, one of the first things you'll need to learn about is ball maintenance. Not that there's anything wrong with a novelty ball - any type of ball drilled properly for your hand is better than using a house ball. It's just that plastic balls don't share the same surface characteristics of more expensive, performance-oriented balls.

So, for the sake of this discussion, let's assume you've got a reactive resin or particle technology coverstock on that new ball of yours. From the first day you use it, its performance will start to erode. Sad but true - you just spent $200 (or more) on this new ball and it will perform less aggressively next week than it does this week. Why?

Bowling balls of this type are made to absorb lane oil as they roll down the lane. This, in conjunction with their asymmetrical core design, is what helps them hook hard and deliver the strikes you spent your hard-earned dollars to get. If they didn't absorb the oil, you'd be just as well off rolling a plastic ball, or a rubber bowling ball from the 1950s. But then you would be missing the performance aspects of the core, but that's for another lens...

The first step in ball maintenance is to keep it clean. Keeping the ball clean of lane grime and belt marks helps assure a consistent reaction. Removing lane oil as quickly as possible keeps it out of the coverstock and lengthens the lifespan of your ball. 

Bowling's a game, and games are supposed to be fun. I don't know about you, but I have a lot more fun at anything that I can do well. Keeping your equipment in top shape is a key ingredient to helping you perform your best!

How do I clean my bowling ball?

If you look carefully at your ball after each shot, you'll notice a series of oil lines around the circumference of the ball. This grouping of lines is called the "track". During league play, you'll want to wipe down the track on your ball prior to each shot.

Optimally, you would wipe the ball down immediately after the shot was made, rather than waiting until your next turn. Practically speaking, you don't want to hold up play by waiting at the ball return after your turn is complete, so that's why you want to build the ball-wiping process into your pre-shot ritual.

After each league session, you'll want to do a thorough, deep cleaning of your ball to remove lane grime, belt marks from the ball return and remaining lane oil. This will make the ball ready for play.

What do I clean my bowling ball with?

During league play or any other competition, you'll want a good towel and perhaps a competition-approved cleaner.

The typical terrycloth bowling towel you see most bowlers use, while better than nothing, is not your best choice. For maximum performance, use a microfiber bowling towel specifically designed to absorb lane oil. Any cloth towel that is non-abrasive that doesn't modify the surface finish of the ball and contains no chemical additives will be acceptable for use during USBC certified competition.

After your session is done, you'll have a greater selection of cleaners you can use: ones made for use during competition and ones acceptable for use at any time. My personal belief is that if the cleaner is unacceptable for use during competition, then I don't need it - before or after.

The BIG exception, of course, are those cleaners that also include solids that will change the surface texture of your bowling ball. Those are products that belong in the class of ball resurfacing agents. As a reminder: If the surface friction of the ball is altered by sanding or polishing, the entire surface of the ball must be sanded or polished in the same manner. You can learn more about the entire process of ball resurfacing by clicking here.

Acceptable bowling ball cleaners - according to the USBC as of 01/09/12

  • Chemicals and household products:


    Castrol Super Clean


    Denatured Ethanol

    Jolt Detergent

    Orange Clean Multipurpose Degreaser

    Rubbing Alcohol (Isopropyl)

    Simple Green

    Spray Nine Multi-Purpose Cleaner


    Cleaners manufactured specifically for bowling balls:

    2EZ2 Strike Bowling Ball Cleaner

    2EZ2 Strike Bowling Ball Clean-N-Shine

    Ball Clean

    Absolute Cleaner

    Absolute Cleaner Mousse Type

    Absolute Remover

    Ball Conditioner

    Tacky & Clean

    Atomic Ball Cleaner


    Snap Back

    Cherry Cleaner

    Oil Magnet

    Instant Length ball cleaner

    Magic Dust Premium Bowling ball polish

    Oil Off ball cleaner

    Qwik Strike Citrus Gel Bowling Ball Cleaner

    SP 101 ball cleaner

    Strike It Clean

    Bowler's Choice

    Clean Edge

    Perfect Grip

    Brand X

    Remove All Ball Cleaner

    The Good Stuff

    Bowler's Edge Ball Cleaner

    Bowler's Edge Reactive Resin Cleaner

    Captain Bob's X12 Bowling Ball Cleaner

    Seino Fukkatsu Bowling Ball Cleaner

    Pro-Grip Reaction Ball Cleaner

    Wipe 'n Strike ball cleaner wipes

    Ball Cleaner Wipes BW 40235



    Maz's Ball Klean


    U-Turn Reactive Ball Cleaner

    Super Cleaner



    Best Shot

    Clean Shot

    Clean Shot Reactive Ball Cleaner

    Hydro Cleanser

    Dri-Wash 'n Guard

    Clean All

    Oil Remover

    Perfect Oil Remover

    Strike Zone

    Fiber Cleen

    Bowling Ball Cleaner

    Best Shot

    Sure-Shot Spray Cleaner

    Pro-Action Ball Cleaner

    Ball Pre-Cleaner & Stripper

    Alley Catz

    Xtreme Kleen

    Ball Cleaner

    Hy-Tek Reactive Ball Cleaner

    Reactive Cleaner "R"

    Urethane Cleaner "U"


    Bowlers Bowling Ball Wipe

    Jiffy I

    Jiffy II

    Strike King



    Secret Sauce ball polish

    Extreme Clean


    Quick Clean

    Ultra Bio Clean

    Ultra Bio Remover

    Striking Ball Cleaner


    Mark's Home Brew


    High Performance Ball Cleaner #311

    Spray Master


    Ultimate Clean

    Ultimate Clean Reactive Ball Cleaner

    Control No. 24

    Liquid Nitro

    Neo-tac Foaming Ball Cleaner

    Ace Ball Cleaner

    Liquid Spray Ball Cleaner

    RD3 Formula II


    PJ's 10-In-The-Pit

    Adrenaline Cleaning Wipes

    Magic Bowling Wipes

    Pro Bite Ball Cleaner

    Pro Clean



    Ball Bite

    Ball Buff

    Protrac 19

    Oil B Gone

    Knock Out

    MX Bio Cleaner

    Ball Clean

    Strike Gold

    Strike Green

    Lance Ice Ball Polish/Cleaner

    RIP's Motion Potion Ball Cleaner

    Redd Hott Ball Cleaner

    Grime Solver

    Ole Roy's Front 9 Ball Cleaner

    Ole Roy's Late Shift Ball Cleaner

    Alley Catz

    Ren Boll

    Strike Machine Liquid

    Mega Bite

    Proacta Clean

    Proacta Shine

    Reacta Clean

    Reacta Wipes

    Super Shine Polish

    Xtra Clean

    Super Concentrate Cleaner

    U-Clean U-Score

    Bowling Ball Speed Shine

    Bowling Ball Spray Cleaner

    Strike-Mor Ball Cleaner

    Kleen Ballz


    Power Gel Clean

    The Perfect Cleaner


    Squeaky Clean Spray Cleaner

    Rev-It Cleaner

    Energizer ball cleaner

    Power Wash

    Bowling Ball Cleaner for "Sensitive Skin"

    Power Kleen Bowling Ball Cleaner

    Strike Wipes

    Dry Wash Speed Shine

    Black Magic Rejuvenator Particle Coverstock Cleaner

    Ultra Ball Cleaner

    Bowling Ball Quick Clean Wipes


    Zapp-It Distance

    Zapp-It Insta-Grip

    Zapp-It Polish & Spray Remover

    Awesome Ball Cleaner

    Valentino Bowling Remedy RX

  • Approved before / after certified competition

    Citrus Base Cleaner

    Finesse-it II

    Perfect-it II

    Lane Ice

    Delayed Reaction Ball Polish


    Clean Right

    Ballshield 1000

    Ballshield Base Cut & Shine

    Super Cherry

    Brunswick Ball Polish

    Factory Finish High Gloss Polish

    Rough Buff

    Captain Bob's X-12 Bowling Ball Wipes



    #1 Low % of Abrasives

    #2 Course

    #3 Medium

    #4 Fine

    Fast Work

    Go Long

    Performance Polish

    Clean Shot

    Sure-Shot Polish

    Ball Cleaner & Wax No.III

    2001 Pro Roll Bowling Ball Polish

    Scrubbing Bubbles

    Repel Ball Polish

    Repel Ball Polish (High Gloss)

    Repel Ball Polish (Matte Finish)

    Repel Ball Polish (Medium Gloss)

    Extreme Dull

    Extreme Shine

    Naturoll Finish Ball Polish

    100% Natural



    Hook-It Plus (Liquid Sandpaper)




    Cream Ball Cleaner, Ball Polish

    PJ's Tacky Snap

    Ball Buff

    Ball Cleaner & Polish

    Scotch Brite Scouring Pad


    Orange Power Spray & Wipe

    Moon Shine

    Pro Finish Step 2

    Pro Finish Step 3

    Reacta Skuff

    Reacta Shine

    Xtra Shine

    Bowling Ball Cream Cleaner

    Power Gel Polish

    Power Gel Scuff

    Cream Cleaner

    Rev-It Polish

    1-Step Reactive Resin Ball Cleaner

    2-Step Reactive Resin Ball Cleaner

    Clean N' Dull


    Delayed Reaction

    Extender Polish

    Factory Finish Polish

    Magic Shine

    Particle Polish

    Quick Sand

    Reaction Control System Cleaner

    Reaction Plus

    Reactive Resin Finish Polish

    Black Magic Particle Coverstock Resin Ball Polish

    Black Magic XL Cleaner & Polisher for Particle and Resin Balls

    Ultimate Plus Polish Cleaner

    XXX Rated Cleaner & Polisher


    Soft Touch

    Doc's Magic Bowling Ball Elixir

Ebonite Energizer Cleaner, 5 Oz.
Ebonite Energizer Cleaner, 5 Oz.

This is a great citrus-based all purpose ball cleaner.

Ebonite Clean N Dull Ball Cleaner, 5 Oz.
Ebonite Clean N Dull Ball Cleaner, 5 Oz.

This cleans grime and belt marks from your ball, leaving a tacky, dull finish.

Powerhouse Energizer Ball Cleaner Quart
Powerhouse Energizer Ball Cleaner Quart

When the small bottle just isn't enough...


Products and chemicals deemed unacceptable - according to the USBC, as of 01/09/12

  • Acetone


    Cutex (acetone OR non-acetone nail polish remover)

    David Greco Cleaner

    Dull It by INX Corp.

    Ethers, esters and ketones (MEK)

    Kerosene, gasoline, other fuels

    Master Ball Cleaner by Master Industries

    Most commercial solvents (xylol, lacquer thinner, mineral spirits, chloroform, methyl hydrate)


    Strike Power by Veterans Products

    Ultra Clean by Tenth Frame



One more valuable tool to help keep your ball clean...... a bowling ball spinner!

Maintain your equipment like the pros by using a spinner. This handy tool will help you clean your bowling balls faster and more thoroughly than you could ever do it by hand.

A spinner will also allow you to resurface your bowling ball any time you wish without having to make an appointment with your pro shop. This tool will pay for itself many times over by extending the lifespan and performance of your equipment.

Click here for more information on bowling ball spinners.

Do you have a favorite ball cleaner? Let me know!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      KaBoom the purple suff

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: i use awesome. works great.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Power house Power Wash, adreline wipes

    • reynolds9835 profile image

      reynolds9835 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi EJ,

      Thanks for the question. I wish there was a simple, spray-on, wipe-off solution, but if you can't seem to find a line to play that will get you any pin carry, it's time to either resurface your bowling ball and, depending on how long you've used your ball, maybe a rejuvenation session. Although cleaning your ball each session is important, you may have a situation that will require a pro shop visit. Best of luck out there!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      my wood bowling alley has used oil for synthetic lanes, ball won't react, just slides thru, what can I do to the ball ?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Tac up is hands down best "LEGAL" ball cleaner on the market. A definite must try!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I myself use a little known product called ProShine. I and my guys have been testing this stuff for about two months and it's a good product. What I like most about it is it smells good. It does not disturb the motion of the ball, I don't get any smudges - nothing. I also figured out it can clean the screen on the scoreboard. The more I wipe my ball down the better the gleam its like its storing the shine. My friend just found a site on the internet that runs it although I do not think you can buy it online but you can call them and I guess one of the sales people will handle it. We get ours from a guy on the bowling team. Here is the website if anyone is interested:

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I been using Knockout Ball Cleaner for the past 8years, it gets the lane oil out of the pores of the ball and restores aclean surface and adds some tack to the equipment. Just make sure youi left it get into the ball wait 45 seconds andthen wipe off..

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      1/3 isopropyl alcohol. 1/3 water 1/3 wintergreen

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago