Ping pong tables are surprisingly good dust-magnets, especially outdoors models. They are, in their essence, furniture and can get dirty either when people frequently use them or store them improperly. To know how to clean and maintain your table tennis table properly, you need to learn what detergents to use, which ones to avoid, and how to make sure that the table will keep its original coating over the years.
In summary, here is how a basic cleaning process should look like:
- Remove the net
- Wipe down the table with a clean, soft cloth
- Using a cleaning solution, wipe the table one more time
- Add a protective layer
- Lubricate all moving parts
- Clean the metal parts
- Dry out any remaining moisture
- Put the net back on the table
Before we discuss the different steps of the cleaning process in greater detail, I highly suggest checking out my guide on the best ping pong tables on the market right now! Now, let’s answer two of the most important questions regarding this topic…
When and Why should you clean your ping pong table?
As a rule of thumb, you can remember that the more you use the table, the more frequent maintenance it will need. That doesn’t only include cleaning but also checking its frame and other elements for any potential wear and tear.
Tables that don’t have a table cover or aren’t stored in a dust and dirt-free environment, should be cleaned at least once a weak with a damp cloth before or after you store them. Outdoor tables are generally in bigger need of a clean-up than indoor ones, especially if you don’t use a cover every time you aren’t playing.
As to the question of why you should clean your table, there are quite a lot of reasons, the best of which are:
- The table won’t last as long
- It can worsen the gameplay
- It can transfer dust and dirt particles to your paddles
The table won’t last as long
Ping pong tables that accumulate dirt, dust, and debris over time tend to degrade faster. Some of the dirt can also have slight corrosive potential over the years and degrade the top layer of the table, making its surface less-than-ideal when it comes to the ball’s bounce. Discoloration and wood warping is also common among tables that aren’t properly taken care of or are left without a cover.
It can worsen the gameplay
Not cleaning your table can make its surface dustier than it should be. While at first, that might not seem like a big issue, small debris do have a role in the ball’s trajectory and bounce and might make it inconsistent which will result in poor gameplay over time.
It can transfer dust and dirt particles to your paddles
This is an issue most players won’t notice until they start learning how to spin a ping pong ball.
Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the actual cleaning process…
How to clean a ping pong table
Now that we’ve gone through the basics of table maintenance, let’s check out each of the cleaning steps in greater detail.
Remove the net
Always start your cleaning process by removing the net. If your table has clamp mechanisms, untie them until the net is loose and you can take it off. Set the net aside as we will need it later for the next stages of the cleaning.
Pro tip: To clean your table’s net properly, you can use a vinegar and water solution (1:5). Put the net into the solution but make sure the other parts of the net don’t touch it. Let the net soak until you go through the rest of the steps.
Wipe down the table with a clean, soft cloth
Next up, take care of most of the dust and debris by wiping them off with a clean and soft towel or microfiber cloth. Doing this process in a well-ventilated room (or better off outside) is ideal but not mandatory.
Using a cleaning solution, wipe the table one more time
For this step, you can either use again a solution of vinegar and warm water or you can use a store-bought ping pong table cleaner. Both of these work great and will handle almost any stains. Spray the solution gently over the table without adding too much of it at one single spot.
It is very important to never use strong detergents as they can ruin the top layer of your table and make the surface unevenly bouncy.
Add a protective layer
While most tables won’t need a finishing layer, there are some furniture protection products that will seal any potential pores in your ping pong table and will keep the wood healthier for longer periods. This is especially valid for the underside of your table that is often more exposed and doesn’t have a protective layer from the factory.
Lubricate all moving parts
The frame of the table has a lot of moving parts that are used in the folding and storing process. Make sure you inspect the whole frame and legs along with their nuts and bolts for any signs of rust. Wipe them down with a clean cloth before you move on to lubricate all of the joints and wheels.
Clean the metal parts
If you have a separate solution for cleaning metal parts, now is the time to use it. Most metal parts will be powder-coated aluminum which is especially easy to wipe down and you won’t even need anything else than a dry cloth for it.
Dry any remaining moisture
After you’re done cleaning, inspect the table for any damp spots. If there are any, dry them out as they can absorb into the table and cause the wood to warp or bubble up on that spot.
How to maintain a ping pong table in top condition
The maintenance of a ping pong table consists of a few simple things. Wipe it off frequently, don’t leave it out without a cover, and store it properly. In case it gets damaged over the years, there are companies that offer re-coating for ping pong tables or even full renovations.
And yes, while it sounds pretty simple, a lot of people think that they don’t need a table cover or that they don’t need to store it away when the table is not in use for longer periods. That will eventually lead to long-term damage on the table’s surface or any other of its components.
Things to avoid
There are certain things that you should try to avoid during the cleaning process. They can potentially damage the table and or even worse – make it unplayable. Those things are:
- Using too much water or cleaning solution
- Adding too much pressure when you’re wiping down the table
- Not cleaning the net
- Using harsh solutions
Ping pong tables aren’t very glossy and there is a very good reason for that. Matte finishes allow more control over your ball’s trajectory, bounce, and spin. Unfortunately, it also makes the table more prone to water absorption. This is why you should be very careful with how much water you use when you’re cleaning it. Too much moisture can damage the wood permanently and that is why any excess moisture should be taken care of before you’re done cleaning.
The same thing applies to pressure. Even with the softest cloth, you can wipe away the top layer of a ping pong table if you put too much pressure on it. If you’re using an abrasive towel, you should be even more careful with how much you’re pushing against the table.
Also, never forget the net. It is an even bigger dust-magnet than the table itself and can spread all that dust to the rest of the otherwise clean table once you hit it with the ball.
Last but not least, try avoiding harsh solutions. They can eat through the top layer of your table, especially if you use too much of them or apply too much pressure.
If you want to learn how to make your own ping pong table, click here!
As a whole, ping pong tables are generally easy to maintain and don’t require some sort of special detergents that will cost you a lot of money. Also, I always recommend getting a ping pong table cover, as that will prolong the life of both indoor and outdoor models greatly. If you’ve remembered how often to do it and what not to do, then you already know how to clean and maintain your table tennis table properly!