The right ping pong paddle is essential to your game. A good paddle has the right feel in your hand, the right responsiveness for your gameplay, and has the proper amount of spring and bounce. Once you’ve found the perfect paddle, it can make all the difference. But ping pong paddles can easily accumulate dust, dirt, and debris during use, along with sweat from your hands. So, what’s the best way to clean a ping pong paddle?
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need and how to do it but if you think your paddle has seen better days and you need a new one check out our guide to buying a ping pong bat here.
Why it’s important to clean your paddle
You need to clean your ping pong paddle regularly. A dirty ping pong paddle will simply not have the right amount of spring or spin, no matter how well-made it is. Taking proper care of your paddle will prolong its lifespan and need replacing less often. Since a quality paddle can cost quite a bit, it’s worth taking care of.
What to avoid when cleaning a ping pong paddle
Ping pong paddles need some care in cleaning and storage because the surface is made of rubber. Table tennis rubbers degrade over time and has a precise surface texture that can be easily damaged. Here are some things to avoid when cleaning a ping pong paddle:
Harsh cleaning products
You shouldn’t use soaps and detergents to clean the rubber of your racket. Unless they’re designed to be used on rubber they’re likely not going to do any good.
You should also steer clear of bleach and vinegar. They are very harsh and will degrade the rubber on your blade.
Never use an abrasive scrubber on your paddle. Anything like the image above should be avoided! Always use a gentle cloth or soft-bristled brush (like a soft toothbrush) for cleaning your bat. Wipe or buff gently, without any hard scrubbing. You don’t want to pull the rubber off your blade by scrubbing too hard.
What to use to clean a ping pong paddle
Here are some of the recommended products to use for cleaning a ping pong paddle:
Sponges and cloths
Always use a gentle sponge or soft cloth when cleaning your bat. If you need to scrub, you can use a soft nylon brush or an old soft toothbrush to tackle stubborn residue.
You can use cool or warm water to clean a ping pong paddle. Dip your sponge or cloth in the water and gently rub the surface of your bat but make sure it air dries completely afterwards.
You can get a special rubber cleaner that has been made specifically for cleaning rubber. You’ll find these will be very handy when cleaning more difficult stains or sticky residue without damaging the paddle.
Many table tennis manufacturers make special cleaning solutions and the right sponges just for cleaning ping pong paddles. Products like the Butterfly Table Tennis Racket Care Kit include a foam-based cleaner that doesn’t introduce excess moisture and a sponge designed specifically for cleaning and drying a paddle.
We always recommend using a kit like this to clean your bat. We use them ourselves and considering the price of a kit vs the cost of purchasing a new paddle it’s definitely worth it.
While alcohol is a great way to fight sticky residue it should not be your primary method of cleaning a ping pong paddle. Over time, alcohol will dry and degrade the rubber. So, you may use it from time to time, to manage sticky messes, but it should not be part of your regular cleaning regimen. For more info on using alcohol to clean your paddle check out this post from Ping Pong Start.
Baking soda is an excellent stain and odor-fighter and a baking soda paste can also be used from time to time to remove stains on a ping pong paddle. However, even though baking soda itself is a gentle cleanser, a baking soda scrub can be abrasive and damage the surface of a ping pong paddle. As with alcohol, it is a great option for particularly tough dirt and stains, but should be used gently and not for regular, ongoing cleaning. We like using it on the handle of our bats to remove the smell of sweat. Get a toothbrush and give it a light scrub with a baking soda paste and dry afterwards.
How to keep your paddle in the best condition
Rubber is an exceptionally durable material, after all, we use it to make car tires. However, it does degrade over time and is sensitive to a number of things:
Stop it from drying out
You’ll want to avoid leaving it in dry environments. Rubber is particularly sensitive to moisture and dyness and if left will shrink and crack. If you need to replace your table tennis rubber check our guide here.
Avoid sunlight and UV damage
Rubber is sensitive to ultraviolet light, which will bleach and dry it. It should not just be kept out of the sun, but kept well away from sunny windows and bright light.
Extreme temperatures will cause rubber to break down prematurely. In other words, a ping pong paddle should not just be cleaned regularly, but it needs to be stored properly to stay in the best condition.
Keep your table clean
As the ball makes contact with your table tennis table it picks up dirt and dust which is then transferred on to your racket. That’s why it’s important to regularly clean your table tennis table. You’ll also find you have a much better game.
Simply the best way to protect a ping pong paddle is to use a case or cover. Using a cover protects the paddle from UV damage, and keeps it from accumulating dust or debris that can be difficult to remove. When a paddle is stored in a case, it needs deep cleaning less frequently and remains in good condition for longer.
If you use your ping pong paddle a lot, in tough conditions, you may also want to use a rubber protecting product. A product like the 303 UV Protectant provides UV protection and prevents color fading and heat damage, while repelling dust and reducing stains. It’s a great way to protect and preserve a ping pong paddle in between games, particularly if you can’t store it in optimal conditions.
Whether you use a case or not, avoid storing a ping pong paddle in temperature extremes like a hot car or attic, or allowing it to freeze in a basement. Avoid excessive dryness or moisture as well, to prevent cracking or mildew.
With proper cleaning and storage, a good ping pong paddle can last for many hundreds of hours of gameplay, and still deliver great bounce, great spin, and a comfortable grip game after game. If you’ve invested in a high quality paddle, it’s important to also invest the time and attention it takes to preserve it and get the most value from it. With regular, gentle cleaning and proper storage, a ping pong paddle can be the best way to enjoy and improve your game.