If you have ever seen the state of a pool table after it’s been used by a player who is over-enthusiastic with the hand chalk, then you know how dirty a pool table can get. Over time, chalk and dirt will collect in the felt until eventually, your table is in desperate need of a cleaning.
Can you vacuum a pool table? Pool tables can be vacuumed provided the vacuum is gentle and uses a nonrotating brush so as not to damage the felt. Dust, chalk, and other debris can build up in the felt over time, so vacuuming is an important part of keeping a pool table clean and functional.
However, the felt on pool tables can be delicate, and any damage will affect how the table plays. Understanding what habits and materials to avoid while cleaning is a must, and the reason most people ask these questions to begin with. If you want to learn how to care properly for your table, including what vacuums to use and how, then keep reading.
Finding the Right Vacuum
Follow this checklist to make sure the vacuum you want to buy is right for your pool table.
1. Make sure the vacuum cleaner does not have a rotating brush. Vacuums use rotating brushes as a way to kick up dust and dirt from the carpet, allowing it to be sucked up by the machine. However, rotating brushes can pull up at the felt and ruin the smooth surface pool players desire.
2. Make sure the vacuum does not have straight suction. Straight suction can pull at the felt and rough up the surface of your pool table. The ideal vacuum is one that has a soft nonrotating brush.
3. Make sure the vacuum cleaner has an upholstery attachment. An upholstery attachment can be attached to the hose of a regular vacuum cleaner and is built to be used on couches and other furniture. Test the bristles, if they are too rough they may ruin the felt.
4. If considering a handheld vacuum cleaner, make sure the shape will work for your needs. The rails of a pool table leave awkward spaces that can be difficult to reach without an attachment. Check and see if the vacuum you are considering will be able to reach those nooks and crannies.
Odds are, the vacuum you use normally for your carpet or home has a hose that can fit different attachments. If that’s the case, check out this link here to see inexpensive, generic upholstery attachments you can buy for your pool table.
Another vacuum option is the eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister Vacuum Cleaner, which can be seen at this link. This vacuum can fit multiple attachments and does not come with a motorized rotating brush. The vacuum is also easy to use on a pool table.
Cleaning Your Pool Table
Unfortunately, cleaning the felt of your pool table is not as simple as it is vacuuming your average rug. Vacuuming your pool table is only one step in the process, and should be done with care. Look below for a detailed step-by-step process on how to properly clean your pool table of chalk and dust.
1. First, begin by using a soft bristle pool brush. This brush is necessary for any pool table owner. The brush is excellent for sweeping away chalk and dust residue that might get left on the table. Don’t have one? Check out this link to check out an affordable option.
Another option for pool brushes is the Simonis X1, which can be seen in action at this link. A company that also makes felt for pool tables designed this brush as an alternative to vacuuming and regular brushes.
2. Starting in the middle of the table and moving outward, brush the felt in even, straight lines. Be gentle with your felt. Use the brush to dislodge chalk and dust residue. Avoid moving in circular patterns, using straight lines will help keep your felt even and smooth. Check out this video here to watch someone brush their felt and explain why brushing technique matters.
3. Next, use your carefully selected vacuum to remove the chalk and dust. Use your vacuum cleaner the same way you used the brush. Move the vacuum slowly in straight lines across the felt. Move the vacuum closer, always parallel to the original line, until the entire table has been vacuumed.
4. Next, pay special attention to the felt underneath the rails. If you are using a vacuum cleaner that requires an attachment to vacuum underneath the rails, now is the time to do so. Once again, move slowly and carefully. Be sure not to jam an attachment into the rails. Doing so may damage the bumpers and affect gameplay.
5. Clean out the pockets. You can use a slightly damp cloth, or microfiber cloth, to wipe down the wooden rails and leather pockets. If debris has collected inside the pockets, you can use your vacuum to clean them.
6. Lastly, inspect the felt after cleaning. Checking your pool table after cleaning is a good way to make sure the equipment you are using is working well. If trying out any new equipment, I would recommend only cleaning a small square in a corner to start out. If you notice any pulling of the felt, stop cleaning, and get yourself a new vacuum.
There are some chemicals developed that are marketed for cleaning pool tables. Chalk Off and Quick Clean, which can be found at this link, are two similar products that are sprayed onto the felt. Shortly after, the spray foams up and can be wiped away with the chalk and other residues.
However, I would advise against using chemical products like Chalk Off. Although some individuals have had success, there are reviews of the product that warn against the chemical not applying or drying properly. I would recommend sticking with the brush and vacuuming technique.
Manually cleaning will avoid chemical mishaps or user error, and many reviews found little difference between vacuuming and using chemicals like Chalk Off.
How Often Should I Clean My Pool Table?
If you play regularly, then you should be cleaning your pool table at least once a week. The more you play, the more often you may have to clean.
You might be wondering if all this is necessary. After all, it seems like quite a bit of work for a bit of felt. The truth is regular cleaning and maintenance can almost triple the lifespan of your pool table. Plus, the longer a pool table goes without cleaning, the more chalk and dust residue will build up and begin to affect the movement of the balls.
Pool tables are made to last for quite a while. If properly maintained, the felt on a pool table should last up to ten or more years.
If left untreated, that lifespan can drop to as little as two or three. Likewise, the bumpers and rails of a pool table are made to last up to twenty years if treated well.
If you want your pool table to last and continue to provide smooth action for your shooting, then you need to be prepared to put in time and effort to care for it.
If you are still not sold, remember that the average cost of re-felting a pool table is between 300 and 400 dollars. Correctly cleaning your pool table can save you money and time in the end.
Do I Need to Clean My Pool Balls?
The answer is yes. Just like the felt, pool balls can collect chalk, dust, and oils that will affect the ball’s movement and deflect it off its intended path.
Luckily, cleaning pool balls is simple. Most of the time, chalk can be rubbed off with a cloth or rag, but there are plenty of chemicals made specifically to aid in removing stains and residue that are more stubborn. Check out this link to see one example produced by Aramith.