How to Clean Tennis Balls? Everything You Should Know

Whether you’re an avid tennis player or use tennis balls as a toy for your dog, it’s a good idea to clean them from time to time. Here’s how to clean tennis balls – the right way!


Tennis balls sure can endure a lot, and we all know that. No matter how fast you serve them, how hard they hit the pavement, or how strong the pups bite them, they seem to endure. 

Perhaps this is why most of us skip an important step, which is cleaning these balls. They’re durable, sure, but getting them all nasty makes them only unhygienic, and they need cleaning every once in a while. 

As most of us don’t wash our tennis balls, we don’t know the exact steps and methods in which we can clean them easily without degrading their quality.

In this article, I’ll discuss how to clean tennis balls using 2 simple strategies along with answering some frequently asked questions.

So, let’s get started, shall we? 

How to Clean Tennis Balls: 2 Quick & Easy Ways

There are two methods that you can follow to clean tennis balls. In this section, I’ll go over each of the methods and explain to them so it’s easier for you to understand. 

1. Hand Washing Tennis Balls

This is perhaps a bit tougher, but the safest method of cleaning your tennis balls. You’ll need to follow some easy and simple steps, but you’ll need to put some effort into this.

Let’s get to the steps, shall we?

How to Clean Tennis Balls

Step 1: Get A Container and Warm Water

First, you need to get yourself a bucket. Any large container that can hold a considerable amount of water will work.

Fill the container with warm water. Coldwater won’t work, and if it’s too hot then you’ll end up burning yourself.

The key is to find an optimum temperature. Another important step is determining the water level.

The more balls you’ll be washing, the more water you’ll need. I highly discourage wastage of water, so getting the right amount is important. 

Step 2: Add Detergent or Liquid Soap

Once you’ve got the right level and temperature of the water, you’ll need to add detergent or liquid soap to it.

Trust me, buying those premium soap made exclusively for washing tennis balls isn’t necessary. You’ll do just fine using regular laundry detergent or even dishwasher soap. 

However, if you’re cleaning balls that your pet plays with, then you better use pet-friendly cleaners.

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You can make such cleaners by yourself. You just need to mix white vinegar and water in an equal ratio. 

Don’t overuse detergent or soap. Overuse will only result in wastage. Just imagine that you’re washing dishes and use the same amount that you would’ve used for cleaning dishes. 

Step 3: Let The Balls Soak

Don’t get started on washing just yet! There’s no point in increasing your work anymore. Just dump the balls into the container full of soap water and leave them there for 30 to 40 minutes. 

If they’re really dirty, then you can leave them there for a longer period even. 

Step 4: Scrub

You don’t want to scrub the balls with your hand. Take a rug or a scrub and get started with the cleaning process.

Once you take them out of the water, you’ll find that most of the dirt has gone off already. You just need to scrub off the rest by yourself. 

Step 5: Rinse

When you can see that the dirt is completely removed from the ball, then you need to rinse the ball with warm water to remove the soap.

Removing the soap from the ball is extremely important. In this stage, you can use your fingers and your palm to remove the soap from the ball. 

Step 6: Time to Dry

It’s important to dry your tennis balls instantly after washing them. I highly recommend air drying the tennis balls. You can use a hand dryer to get this job done efficiently. 

2. How to Clean Tennis Balls Using a Washing Machine

If you’re short on time, or if you’re just feeling lazy, then you can clean the tennis balls with a washing machine easily. 

Hold right there! Don’t just rush over and set the machine on whatever random setting comes to your mind.

Cleaning the balls in a washing machine comes with some risks. However, these risks can be eliminated if you’re cautious enough and if you set the machine right. 

In this section, you’ll find how to set up a washing machine for cleaning tennis balls. 

How to Clean Tennis Balls Using a Washing Machine

Step 1: Adjust Water Temperature

When cleaning in a washing machine, you don’t want to set the water temperature to hot.

Washing machines can get the water temperature to pretty high, and the high temperature can cause the rubber of the ball to melt. 

This is why I highly recommend setting the water temperature to cold. Or you can just set the temperature to normal. 

Step 2: Turn Off The Spin Cycle

You don’t want to turn the spin cycle feature on. The washing machine can spin the balls very fast, and this can end up damaging the washing machine internally.

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Plus, it will also warp the balls in a way that you won’t be able to restore them. So, it’s recommended that you turn the spin cycle feature off. 

Step 3: Add Laundry Detergent

Make sure that you add laundry detergent to the washing machine before turning it on. Use the same amount as you’ve used if you were washing a limited number of clothes.

If the balls are used as pet toys, then you need to use pet-friendly detergent instead, but the amount of detergent used will remain the same. 

Step 4: Turn On The Washing Machine

Once these are in place, turn the washing machine on and wait for it to finish. 

Step 5: Dry

Once the washing machine is done cleaning up your tennis balls, you can dry them off using a hand drier or the built-in heater of the washing machine. 

If you use the heater, make sure you put it on a low heat setting. As the tennis balls are made of rubber, exposing them to a high level of heat can end up disfiguring them.

Don’t keep them in the heater for more than ten minutes.

Hand Washing Tennis Balls vs Using A Washing Machine: Which is Better?

These are the two methods by which you can clean your tennis balls. Both work perfectly and gets the job done but which one is better?

If you’re cleaning a small number of tennis balls, then I highly recommend cleaning them by hand. In this way, you’ll be able to clean them perfectly and without damaging them.

On the other hand, if you’re cleaning a large number of tennis balls, then using a washing machine to clean them is recommended. In this way, you’ll be able to clean a lot of these in a short time.

Other than these two, there are several other “tennis ball cleaning hacks” you’ll find on the internet. One such example is using a toothbrush and toothpaste as shown in the below video:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In this section, I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the cleaning procedure of tennis balls. Let’s get to them. 

1. Is It Safe to Put Tennis Balls in the Drier?

Often people ask me whether they can put their tennis balls in the drier or not. Sure, you can. However, there are certain things that you need to make sure to avoid damaging the tennis balls

The first thing is you should never set the temperature of the heater to high. Doing so will end up warping and badly disfiguring the balls. 

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Another thing is you shouldn’t keep them in the drier for too long. Allowing them to dry for ten minutes is enough. 

2. How to Sanitize Tennis Balls?

It’s important to sanitize tennis balls as they’re exposed to sweat and dirt with each game.

Studies proved that tennis balls are a great carrier of germs, as they’re always getting touched by different people. 

You can sanitize tennis balls by spraying them with disinfectant sprays such as Clorox or Lysol. 

3. Can You Use Cleaned Tennis Balls in A Match?

If it’s a practice match, then you can go right ahead. However, if the match has even a bit of seriousness to it, then I highly discourage you to use a cleaned ball to play it. 

No matter how lightly you’ve cleaned a ball, it’ll be regarded as an old ball. There’s enough reason for that as well.

Even the slightest of wash can make the tennis ball less bouncy, and the change is so drastic that you’ll be able to experience that easily.

This is why, if it’s a competitive match, then the entire match will be spoiled for one ball. This is why I highly recommend using a new ball for playing competitive matches. 

4. Should You Clean Your Tennis Balls or Replace Them?

Well, it depends. Even though you shouldn’t use cleaned balls for competitive matches, you can still use them for practices.

Even then, there are certain times when it’s better to replace the tennis balls that you’re using. These are:

  • When the balls are stained to a point that they seem disfigured
  • The coating on the ball is cutaway
  • It feels less bouncy than it’s supposed to be
  • The ball loses hardness and can be squeezed easily
  • Tennis ball is completely split in half

In such cases, you better replace the ball instead of cleaning them.

Final Words

There are different methods of cleaning tennis balls, and using the right method in the right situation can help you preserve your tennis balls easily.

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