Bowling Ball Maintenance

Taking proper care of a bowling ball isn’t as difficult as many people would have you believe. 

You also do not have to transfer the responsibilities of maintaining a bowling ball to a seasoned bowler or pro shop all the time. Most of the things you need to do to keep your ball in top shape, you can do them yourself. 

Not sure how? This article will show you how you can keep your bowling ball in mint condition. 

Why Bowling Balls Require Regular Upkeep

In a bid to protect the lane from the repeatedly thrown bowling balls, owners of bowling alleys often spread oil on the lanes. As a protective measure, the oil keeps the effects of the friction produced by the bowling balls to a bare minimum. 

This allows the owners to get their money’s worth on the lanes, helping them keep the lanes in prime condition for extended periods. 

Nowadays, bowling balls often come manufactured with coverstocks that feature microscopic pores. These pores are responsible for generating friction and increasing the hook potential of the ball. 

So, when a bowling ball is used frequently, it starts accumulating oil and debris in its pores. When a bowling ball has clogged pores, it loses its effectiveness and is unable to perform at optimum levels. 

To prevent a ball from losing its accuracy, power, and hook potential, bowlers have to clean and maintain a bowling ball regularly. 

The 4 Stages of Bowling Ball Maintenance 

1. Cleaning (After Every Use)

The emergence of cleaning agents has made it extremely simple to clean a bowling ball

Do note though that cleaning agents vary depending on the specific coverstocks they are manufactured for. For instance, a cleaning agent made for a polished surface shouldn’t be used on a sanded surface coverstock. 

Pay attention to this specific detail when you make your purchase. I would also recommend you to only go for an agent that has been officially approved by the USBC. 

Cleaning agents are also available in spray or squeeze bottle, so feel free to choose what your most comfortable using. Applying the cleaning solution after every game is a good way to go about things. 

To clean properly, apply the cleaning agent to the ball. Work the solution with a towel and wipe the agent away. 

Next, wipe the ball again with a microfiber towel. Why? A microfiber towel works best at absorbing the oil. 

Use a fresh towel to clean the ball for the last time before stowing the ball away for the night.

2. Polishing/Sanding (After Every 10 Games)

The two different types of coverstock surfaces I have mentioned before require different treatments. 

For instance, a sanded surface coverstock will need to be sanded with grit disks or sanding pads. Meanwhile, a polished surface will need a polisher. 

When working with a sanded surface coverstock, aim to scuff the surface to the roughness you prefer. 

Polishing a ball is much easier. Simply follow the instructions on the polish bottle for desired results. 

In most cases, you simply need to put a dime-sized drop of polish on a fresh rag. Then, apply the polish to the bowling ball in a circular motion. 

Let it dry for a while and finish up with another wipe. Use a fresh towel for the last wipe. 

3. Bleeding (After Every 30 Games)

Despite regular cleaning, the pores of your bowling ball will eventually get clogged up. When this happens, you will need to extract the accumulated oil and dirt from your bowling ball, a process called bleeding. 

There are two effective ways to bleed a bowling ball: bathing and baking.


You can perform this cleaning method at home. Simply tape the finger holes of the ball to prevent water from seeping in, then submerge the ball into a bucket of hot water and dishwashing liquid.  

Let the ball sit in the bucket for around 20 minutes. Be careful not to exceed the time limit. 

Remove the ball from the bucket and wipe it clean with a microfiber towel. 

Repeat the process until you don’t see any more oil rising to the top of the water. Every new bath cycle will require fresh hot water and dish soap.


Baking is a popular method used by experts to bake the oil out of bowling balls. 

As you must have guessed, this method requires you to bake the ball in an oven. However, a regular oven will not suffice because that’s not what a regular oven does. 

Pro shops have special ovens specifically created to bake bowling balls. These special ovens are capable of maintaining a temperature of 110 degrees, the ideal temperature to bake balls. 

Most ovens also wipe the bowling ball thoroughly as the oil comes out of the microscopic pores. 

You’d need to take your ball to a pro shop to have it baked unless you have a bowling ball rejuvenator at home which is basically a mini version of the ovens found in pro shops.

4. Resurfacing (After Every 60 Games)

The pores in your bowling ball aren’t present only to accumulate oil and debris. They are there for beneficial reasons too. 

The pores play an instrumental role in producing friction on a bowling ball, thereby enabling the ball to hook better and grip the lane properly.   

Resurfacing is a process that requires you to sand down your bowling ball thoroughly. It involves the recalibration of your ball’s surface to restore the elevated edges on the pores. 

To bring a “dead ball” to life, you will need to restore the pores and smoothen out the ball’s surface.  

Unlike the other stages of bowling ball maintenance, I believe resurfacing a bowling ball should be left to the experts. It can be done at a pro shop for a measly sum. 

Final Note

Before you purchase a bowling ball, you should bear in mind the additional costs of maintaining it. Though most of the things you need to do to maintain a bowling ball can be done at home, they still require materials and tools that can be costly over time, especially when you burn through them because of frequent upkeep.

There are also bowling balls that are best maintained at pro shops. So, only go for a bowling ball that you can afford to maintain.

Also remember that no matter how expensive or expertly-designed a bowling ball is, it will lose its performance if not maintained well enough. Give some love to your bowling balls and they will repay you tenfold on the bowling lane.