In general, pool tables don’t require a ton of maintenance if you take good care of them. There is one element of them, however, that tends to pick up dust, dirt, chalk, and other debris easily. That is the table’s cloth. Learning how to clean the pool table cloth is not as hard as one might think. There are some simple dos and don’ts that you have to keep in mind and in this article, we will go through all of them.
If you are looking for a good pool table brush to help you keep your table’s cloth clean and intact, make sure you go to my guide on that topic!
The steps that we will go through in order to clean the table’s cloth are:
- Sweep the table
- Vacuum the felt
- Cleaning up any spills
Sweep the table
The very first thing you should do when you start cleaning your table is brushing it. There are special pool table brushes that have special non-abrasive hairs and won’t damage the felt. They aren’t very expensive and will outlive most felts anyway, so they are a great investment.
The key thing you have to keep in mind when brushing the table is keeping a straight line. Never brush in a circular motion as that can potentially damage the felt and won’t brush off the dirt and dust anyway. Use swift and short, straight motions across the whole surface of the table. Never push against the table, as that can also damage the cloth and wear it unevenly.
The goal of brushing isn’t to remove the dust and dirt from the table but rather to sweep it off to the sides where the bumpers are. Once you pile everything up, the table will be ready to be vacuumed. It is a good habit to do a second pass with your brush once everything is done just to make sure that everything is swept into the corners.
Vacuum the felt
Whether vacuuming the table is the best way to clean it is still debatable and some owners of good, expensive pool tables rather avoid it. Still, when you pile up all the dust by brushing it to the side (bumpers), the easiest way to pick all that up without making a mess is by using a vacuum.
Modern vacuum cleaners have low-power modes that are much more gentle to surfaces and won’t rip the cloth. One thing you have to look for, though, is to not damage the felt with different types of sharp or hard attachments the vacuum cleaner might have.
Vacuum brushes are notoriously too stiff and are much worse than pool table brushes, so try to avoid those. Use the narrow nozzle most vacuums have to get below the bumpers and suck away all the accumulated dust and dirt there.
If you’re set on using the main large attachment of the vacuum to clean the entire table’s cloth, make sure you do it in long, straight lines. Don’t do any sharp turns or circles with the vacuum’s head. Once again, set the vacuum on low, otherwise, you risk sucking up the cloth’s fibers.
Cleaning up any spills
Nothing ruins a good pool table worse than a spill. While water is easily fixable, oftentimes you see different types of beverages spilled over. These include red wines which are notoriously hard to get off any surface, let alone a table felt.
The treatment of a spill happens immediately right after it. Place a soft cloth towel or a napkin over the affected area. Super absorbent paper towels work like wonder too. A key thing to remember is to never press down on the stain, as that might push it further into the table’s cloth. Keep replacing the towel with a dry one until the stain is mostly absorbed and out of the felt. If you’re dealing with something besides water, make sure you rinse the cloth multiple times while you’re dealing with the stain. Never scrub on the spot because that will damage the cloth and might have the same effect as pushing too hard on the table.
When you’ve dabbed most of the stain out, dry it out with dry towels and let it dry on its own afterward for a few more hours. If the stain is still there you can resort to another technique (which also works for older stains).
These older stains will require you to use a solution of vinegar and water (50/50 distribution). Since vinegar isn’t as harsh as some chemical cleaners out there, it will protect the cloth while taking the stain out of it. Dab the stain with a clean cloth until it is gone and let it dry just like you would do with using only water instead.
Ideally, you can use a felt cleaner solution that is designed to specifically deal with hard stains that have gotten deep into the felt. There are different types of felt cleaners that will deal with different types of stains and you will have to contact your table’s manufacturer in order to determine which one will fit the situation best.
How to Protect and Maintain Your Pool Table’s Cloth
There are quite a lot of things you can do in order to make your pool table cloth last longer. Some of the most important tips I can give you in that regard are:
- Make sure you cover your table every time you aren’t playing
- Don’t leave the billiard balls on the table’s surface when they aren’t being used
- Brush large pieces of chalk off the table with a table brush after every game
- Don’t bring food and drinks near the table
- Don’t sit on the table’s cloth unless necessary for a shot
- Avoid wearing watches or jewelry that can damage the table’s cloth
Another very important factor in regard to keeping your table’s cloth clean is to keep the actual balls clean. Dirty billiard balls tend to leave spots and trails across the table. That’s why you should take good care of them just like you are with the cloth. The only difference is that the balls should be cleaned and maintained more frequently. If you’re really interested in learning how to clean your billiard balls, make sure you check out this article!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you vacuum a pool table’s cloth?
Most pool table cloths are firmly set to the table’s bed and can be vacuumed without any issue. However, make sure your vacuum attachment won’t damage the felt.
How long do pool table cloths last?
Pool tables that are used on a daily basis for up to 4-5 hours often have their cloths last up to a few years. Well-cleaned and maintained cloths will easily last up to 5 years. Moreover, with less frequent usage, you can get more than a decade out of your cloth if the conditions are right.
Can you wash your pool table cloth?
While a lot of beginners will make that mistake, it still is highly unrecommended to wash the cloth. You can use water and blowdry it, but never wash it.
Learning how to clean a pool table cloth is essential knowledge every pool table owner should have right from the get-go. The reason for that is that these table cloths get dirty, burn up, and accumulate dust over time. One of the simplest ways to clean it is by swiping off the bigger debris and then vacuuming it. Covering the table and cleaning the balls frequently will ensure that the table also stays as clean as possible with fewer cleanings needed over time.