How to Clean Tennis Balls

How to clean tennis balls
  • Use a standard brush – ideal for moderate dirt
  • Soak in the sink – best for above-average levels of dirt
  • Washing machine – if the balls are filthy

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

Nobody enjoys playing with dirty tennis balls.

Not only can this WEIGHT the balls down, but it ALSO HURTS the general performance of the balls too.

So even when you are hitting your favorite forehand down the line, it WON’T FIRE like usual if you’re playing with dirty tennis balls.

This is true when the balls get hindered for whatever reason, whether it be damp, damage or even the tennis court surface GETTING TANGLED up in the outer fluff.

With this said, regardless of how you’ve managed to get the tennis balls dirty, it’s fairly easy to get them clean again.

And let’s be honest, this is FAR MORE cost-effective than purchasing new balls just because your current ones have got a little dirty.

You can see my top three recommendations above, but I’d like to go into a bit MORE DETAIL as to how you can clean the tennis balls with each method, without overdoing it and ruining the balls.

Believe me, it’s easy to find bad advice online regarding this issue. So please, allow me to give you some real advice on how to SUCCESSFULLY CLEAN your tennis balls today.

Main methods of cleaning

The method you ultimately decide to use depends on the LEVEL OF DIRT you are seeing on your tennis balls.

This can be mild or it can be severe, which is why I’d like to cover all three scenarios right now:

1) Moderate Dirt

There are many ways of actually getting your tennis balls dirty. But let’s ASSUME you haven’t let your dog tackle the balls for the sake of keeping things simple!

I would class ‘moderate dirt’ as dirt that has managed to get caught on the outside of the ball, but IT HASEN’T properly affected the ball’s performance.

It’s fairly easy for your tennis balls to enter this category too.

Balls can FLY OUT of the court and land in the bushes, mud, or if you have been playing on heavy clay, this can easily attach itself to the ball.

All three can be mildly problematic, but it’s EASY TO SOLVE.

In my experience, the easiest way of cleaning tennis balls that are just moderately dirty is to simply brush them.

This can be done with a simple dustpan and brush that you will probably have at home, but if the dirt is a little more resilient, you might want to get one with stronger bristles.

Casabella Wayclean Handheld Angled, Medium, Gray Dustpan and Brush Set, 1-Pack, Green and Taupe

Just place all of the balls in a bucket, and then BRUSH AWAY.

Since the dirt is likely dry, it should tear off the ball easily

I’d recommend brushing each ball individually, and then removing it from the ‘dirty bucket’, and putting it back into whichever location you store your tennis balls in.

2) Above-Average Dirt

If your tennis balls get into the ‘above average’ category, it’s likely that the dirt has managed to become ingrained into the fluff.

This can happen if the balls get stuck into WET DIRT, where it will then easily attach to the ball and make it heavy.

It can also change the color of the ball if the dirt is particularly EXTENSIVE.

So, if your tennis balls are looking a little worse for wear and you don’t feel that brushing them will get the job done, you will likely need to soak them to remove the dirt

To be honest, there isn’t much MAGIC involved here, and you can treat the balls much like you would treat your dirty dishes – unless you’ve got a dishwasher (please don’t do that!).

I would recommend filling up your kitchen sink with some warm water, not hot water, and then adding a little dish soap to the water to alleviate the dirt.

You don’t need to then scrub them, just leave them for somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes and then REMOVE THEM from the sink.

You should then stick them somewhere dry – possibly outside in the garden if you live somewhere warm, or spaced out in a warm room of your home if not.

If you are feeling a little apprehensive about this method, you can see a step-by-step guide right here.

3) Caked in Dirt

When I say caked, I mean CAKED!

Imagine your dog has been playing with them in wet dirt, and then chewing them, and then REPEATING THE PROCESS.

You can probably imagine the EXTENT of the dirt I’m talking about here.

If your tennis balls are suffering from this kind of appearance, I doubt that brushing, soaking, or combining the two will be of MUCH USE.

Instead, you will likely need to get your washing machine involved in the cleaning process.

You can stick as many tennis balls in there as you like, add some washing-up liquid, and then stick them on at a VERY LOW TEMPERATURE.

Do not run a cycle at a high temperature, as this can damage the balls and even change their shape.

Also, please do not stick them on with a ‘spin cycle’, as this can have the same effect.

Once complete, you can put the balls in your dryer on the lowest possible heat setting, but this shouldn’t be done for longer than 10-15 minutes.

Ideally, I would recommend letting the balls AIR DRY, as this will remove any risks of damaging the balls during the drying process.

Final thoughts

So there you have it, my top three recommendations on how to clean tennis balls!

As you can hopefully see, each of these methods is QUICK, cost-effective, and fairly easy to do.

I like that each of these methods involves tools/items that you should already have at your disposal in your home, most likely.

This removes the need to go and purchase any items PURELY TO CLEAN your tennis balls, which creates a nice, win-win scenario!

Do you know of any alternative methods not mentioned here? Perhaps you have some other advice for our readers? If so, please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.

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