How to Clean Tennis Balls

A step-by-step guide to cleaning tennis balls and keeping them in good condition for your next game.

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Do you have a tennis ball that looks a little bit too grungy? One of the most frequent questions I get is how to clean tennis balls. Nobody wants some dirty balls in their tennis bag, right? Tennis balls are quite expensive, so it’s normal you want to keep them intact for as long as possible. 

Don’t worry. We’re here to help! This guide will teach you how to clean your tennis balls in just a few simple steps. So, whether your tennis balls are covered in dirt, grass stains, or being used as a pet toy and you are worried about their hygiene, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for our top tips on how to get your tennis balls looking as good as new!

Can You Wash Tennis Balls?

Tennis balls can be washed by the washing machine or by hands by soaking them in warm water. The cleaning process is very simple. It doesn’t require expensive tools and detergents or more than an hour of your time. Here are all the steps to give your tennis balls a good clean. 

Cleaning Tools Checklist

First thing first! What tools do you need for the cleaning? Not as much as you think, and these are all things you already have in your home. 

If you want to clean your tennis balls by hand, you are going to need:

  • A bucket or a sink 
  • Liquid soap
  • A sponge 
  • An old toothbrush
  • Warm water 

If you choose to clean them using a washing machine, you obviously need water and some regular laundry detergent, the same one you use for your clothes.

how to clean tennis balls Tools Checklist

How to Clean Tennis Balls

Cleaning your tennis balls by hand means you need to do it the old-school way, by soaking them in the water, giving them a good scrub, and then rinsing them off. Here is the breakdown of the whole process.

Step 1: Fill a bucket with warm water

Make sure the water it’s not too hot, nor at a boiling temperature. You should be careful not to burn your skin but also not to damage the tennis balls. Make sure to use enough water, especially if you are cleaning two or more balls and if there are stains in them. 

Step 2: Add liquid soap or detergent

You can choose dishwasher soap or hand soap for this step. Make sure to add it in the water, not directly at the ball, because it will be hard to rinse it off. It’s a good idea to let the balls soak in for at least half an hour, or even more if they are too dirty. 

Step 3: Start scrubbing 

Scrub, scrub, scrub! After you let the balls soak in the water, take a sponge, a rag, or even an old toothbrush, and start scrubbing the dirt off. This way, you get rid of the hard stains and any dirt soaked in them. Make sure to be gentle enough not to damage the ball.

Step 4: Rinse and dry

After you have finished scrubbing the tennis balls, it is time to rinse them off. For this step, use cold water instead, and make sure to get off them the soap or the detergent. Then place all of the balls on a drying mat, and let them out in the sun to air dry. 

how to wash tennis balls

How to Wash Tennis Balls Using the Washing Machine

A washing machine is also a good alternative to clean your tennis balls. If you don’t have time or are just too lazy to wash them by hand (we’ve all been there), just through the tennis balls in the washing machine, and they’ll be almost as brand new. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you don’t ruin them. 

Step 1: Set the temperature to cold

In the washing machine, you must never use hot water to clean your tennis balls because the rubber will melt, and you’ll be left with a mess. Instead, make sure to set the temperature to cold and use the same setting as you would do for a small laundry of clothes. 

Step 2: Don’t use the spin cycle 

This is a very important warning, so please don’t ignore or forget this one.

If your washing machine goes through the spin cycle, as it is washing the tennis balls, it will cause them to warm. This will ruin your balls and cause serious damage to the washing machine. So never, ever use the spin cycle to wash tennis balls. 

Step 3: Wash and dry

To wash tennis balls, regular detergent would do; you don’t need any special tennis ball cleaner or something. Add the same amount as if you are washing a small laundry of clothes. Once the washing process is finished, you can put your tennis balls in the dryer or can place them in a towel and let them in the sun. 

tennis balls in the dryer

Tennis Balls in the Dryer: Is it Safe?

“Will the tennis ball ruin my dryer?” If I only got a penny, every time someone has asked me this. Not only that the tennis balls will not ruin your dryer, but you might be surprised to learn that you can use them to speed up the drying process. Also, it will fluff up and soften your laundry and reduce stating lining. This is an old trick, guaranteed to work. 

Throw your tennis balls together with your other laundries, especially those with thicker fabrics, such as towels, sheets, or jeans that tend not to dry equally on all surfaces. You are going to notice a big difference and will love the result.

However, there are some things you should be cautious of just in case:

  • Some people claim that using tennis balls with the rest of your clothes, makes them smell like rubber. So it’s better to use this trick with bulky clothes or items you don’t wear. 
  • The neon dye of the tennis balls might transfer to your clothing, especially if they are brand new. 
  • The noise of the tennis balls during the drying process can be too loud, so much so that some people can’t stand it. 
  • Very high temperatures will destroy the balls. 

It’s up to you to put the tennis balls in the dryer or not, but you can at least try it. It might turn out to be your favorite laundry hack ever. 

mario testing bounce in tennis balls

Will the Tennis Balls Lose Bounce if You Wash Them?

Washing your tennis balls only means you are getting them clean, nothing more. It won’t affect their performance, whether it is for better or worse. Unless there is a literal hole in the ball, there is no way water can get inside because they are tightly sealed. 

Pressureless tennis balls will not go flat or lose their bounce. Some people claim that pressurized balls will lose pressure if you wash them, but the fact is that this process starts the very moment you open the can, so you can’t avoid it.

However, my best advice is to take your pressurized tennis balls off the washing machine immediately after the cleaning process is finished, as to not let them get cold. If you are concerned about your tennis balls’ bouncing level, you can just skip the washing machine and clean them by hand.

how long do tennis balls last

When Is Time to Replace Tennis Balls?

Unfortunately, tennis balls have a short lifespan since they tend to lose their features from the very first game. Taking proper care and cleaning them can help with using them for longer, but there is still not much that you can do. 

So, how do you know if cleaning is just not enough, and you need to replace your tennis balls with new ones? Look for these signs, and if they apply to your tennis balls, then it’s time to hit the shop. 

  • Heavy stains won’t come off, no matter how much you try to scrub them. It can also mean that the material of the ball it’s not the same anymore. 
  • Less bounce. There is no use for bounceless tennis balls on the court. It’s time for a new one. 
  • Shreddy coating. When the ball loses the fuzz, it means it is losing its features and going flat. 
  • You can squeeze it with ease. This is a tennis ball, not a children’s toy. It has lost all pressure, and it feels dead if you play with it. 

Cleaning Your Pet’s Tennis Balls

It’s very important to keep tennis balls clean for the sake of your pet’s health. Tennis balls can be a pet’s favorite toy, but they also gather a lot of bacteria naturally that can be harmful to your pet if ingested.

The cleaning process is the same as we described in this guide. You can either wash them by hand or by the washing machine. Make sure that the detergents you use are chemical-free and they don’t harm your pet. 

You can also go for the all-natural way to clean your pet’s tennis balls by adding white vinegar in warm water instead of liquid soap or detergent. Let the tennis balls soak, scrub them well, rinse them off and then let them dry. Simple, right? 

Conclusion

You made it till the end, and now you know everything about how to clean tennis balls. Hopefully, I have answered all of your questions and given clear instructions on what you should do. This information is especially useful for beginner players who are still learning how to take care of their gear. You can always come back here until you have learned everything or share this guide with someone who needs it.

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I am Mario, a professional tennis player and a USPTA certificated tennis instructor.

Here at TennisRacketBall, we differentiate ourselves from other review sites by actually purchasing and using products. We do not allow ourselves to be bribed! We are 100% honest with our reviews even when manufacturers do not like it.

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