How to Clean Pool Table Felt

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Pool tables are not cheap. The best way to protect your investment and get the best possible playing experience is by maintaining your pool table correctly. That includes wiping down the rails, cleaning out the pockets, and of course, taking care of the playing surface. 

From daily care after playing a few games to deeper cleaning a few times a year, there is a right way and a wrong way to keep the felt of your pool table looking great.

This article will walk you through the tools, products, and techniques you need to know to keep your pool table felt looking, and playing, like new.

The Tools 

BETTERLINE Billiard Pool Table Brushes for Rail Cleaning - Bonus Cue Chalk Cubes and Pool Table Spot Dot Stickers
Betterline pool table brushes, available at Amazon

You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to keep your pool table felt spotless, but you do need a few cleaning supplies specifically made for the job. 

  • Pool Brush. The most important tool you must have is a pool table brush, also called a pool broom. Look for one with soft bristles, and ideally one that is sold for your particular pool table. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to save a few bucks on a pool table brush and think you can use the brush attachment of your vacuum. Never use any vacuum on your pool table. Suction can loosen the weave of the felt and pull it up from the surface, causing wrinkles and creases to appear. 
  • Cloths. Always have a few clean and absorbent lint-free rags on hand. You will use these rags to clean up any spills from the felt as well wipe down the rails and balls. Some people swear by microfiber clothes, while others prefer 100 percent cotton-fiber ones. It does not really matter as long as they are free of any stains and chemicals or solvents. 
  • Pool felt stain remover. Pick up a bottle of pool felt stain remover that the manufacturer of your table recommends. Do not use carpet or upholstery stain removers since this can damage the felt. 
  • Pool felt cleaner. This is an optional cleaning supply which you may want to consider. Many commercial venues with multiple pool tables find using this alternative method of cleaning ideal because of its speed and its ability to offer a deeper cleaning. On the other hand, many people prefer not to use chemicals on their pool tables at home. 

Now that you have your supplies, it is time to learn how to clean pool table felt. 

Begin By Brushing the Table Down

  1. Lots of dirt and pool chalk can accumulate on the bumper rails, so you will want to pay extra attention to this area. Start by going around the table and gently using your pool brush to push any debris off the bumper rails and onto the table. 
  2. Next, locate the head of the table. This is the short side of the table where a player stands to break at the start of the game. Place the brush lightly on the surface on either the far left or right of the table. Press down slightly to spread the bristles under the bumper rail and walk the brush down to the opposite end of the table using short strokes to flick any debris in front of the brush.
  3. You should notice a small pile of debris beginning to form as you near the other end of the table. Clean under the foot bumper rail by using only the edge of the pool brush. Remove the debris from the table by sweeping it onto a thin piece of cardboard and discard. 
  4. Walk back to the head end of the table and repeat. Remember to always go in one direction and never applying excessive amounts of pressure. 

Make brushing your pool table part of your post-playing routine for the best results. Consider using a pool table cover to protect the table when you are not playing. 

Cleaning Up Spills

No matter how careful you are, spills happen, and when they do, you have to be ready to act quickly to prevent stains. That is why it is a good idea to have the tools to tackle spills as soon as they occur close by. You can minimize the risk of stains by doing the following. 

  1. Start by laying a clean, dry rag lightly over the top of the spill to soak up as much as possible. 
  2. Once all excess liquid is gone, use a fresh rag to beginning blotting. Don’t scrub. Instead, use the heel of your hand to push straight down. Always use a clean part of the cloth each time you blot. If the stain is large, you may need to use more than one rag. 
  3. Next, slightly dampen a fresh, clean cloth with water. Starting at the outer edge of the spill, begin to blot. Use a clean area of the rag each time you blot. Work your way around the edges of the stain towards the middle. 
  4. Once the stain is gone, use a dry rag to blot the area dry. Again, start from the edge and move towards the center until it is dry. 
  5. For stubborn stains, you may need to use pool felt stain remover. Be sure to follow the instructions for your particular product to avoid causing any damage. 

Using a Felt Cleaning Product

  1. First, make sure the felt cleaning product you are using is approved by your pool table’s manufacturer. Since you are dealing with a chemical cleaner, you will also want to make sure that there is plenty of ventilation. 
  2. Make sure to follow the product’s instructions to avoid damaging the felt. 

A Word on Those Fuzz Balls

Occasionally, you may notice small balls of felt appearing on your table. This is called pilling, and it usually occurs on new pool tables. Resist the urge to pick them off or you can cause more damage. Pilling typically does not affect play, and will eventually go away over time. 

Pool table felt will last a long time, but you will need to replace it someday. The good news is that now that you know how to clean pool table felt, that day will be many years in the future!

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