Will Using Acetone on a Bowling Ball Damage It?

Whether you are a casual or professional bowler, keeping your bowling balls clean and ready for your next game is something that’s on your mind regularly. There are many opinions regarding the best way to clean a bowling ball, but will using acetone on a bowling ball damage it?

Using acetone for cleaning is a controversial topic among bowlers. Using acetone on a bowling ball will cause damage if one is not careful because it will remove more than just dirt and oils and will likely affect your bowling ball’s performance.

Some swear by it, others detest it, and some say using acetone to clean your bowling ball is okay as long as you do not use too much. Keep reading! This article will discuss why using acetone on your bowling ball can cause damage, describe the proper way to use acetone to clean a bowling ball if necessary, and offer some alternative cleaners to acetone for bowling balls.

How Can Using Acetone On a Bowling Ball Cause Damage?

Acetone is a powerful solvent that will remove bowling ball oil and dirt from your bowling ball, but it will also remove other things like the enamel, which will negatively affect the ball’s hooking potential if too much is used. Acetone can completely remove the ball’s:

  • Polish
  • Color
  • Cover stock

It can also weaken bowling balls that are filled with polyester and polyester derivatives and make them more susceptible to breakage.

Thus, acetone is best avoided or used only to remove glue, gum, or other materials that are stuck on the ball’s surface. This is because any alteration to a ball is a violation of bowling rules. However, if you need to clean your ball quickly, a little bit of acetone can help. The next section will describe how to clean your ball with acetone properly if the need arises.

How to Properly Use Acetone On Your Bowling Ball

The process for using acetone on your bowling ball involves the following steps:

  • Test a small area on the bowling ball – before you commit to using acetone on the whole ball, it is always a good idea to test it on a small part of your ball. Rub a bit of acetone on your chosen spot, wait an hour or so, and write down any changes you notice to the ball’s cover stock or overall color. You can run several tests if you are unsure of the results
  • Clean the ball with warm water and dish soap or spray-based cleaner – remove oil and dirt that has accumulated on the surface 
  • Wash off soap and water and let your ball air dry.
  • Apply acetone to the ball – pour some acetone on a rag and wait 10-15 seconds, rub it onto the bowling ball with circular strokes, then wipe it off with a clean towel when finished

Acetone should be used sparingly to avoid the damage it may do to your bowling ball, but it does get the job done in a pinch. There are several other methods you can use to clean your bowling ball that are safer and often more effective. Let’s explore some of them in the next section.

Alternatives to Acetone for Bowling Ball Cleaning

Here are some of the other ways you can clean your bowling ball that does not involve acetone.

Cleaning a Bowling Ball in Hot Water Bath

Warm water helps bring up all the residue that has built up on your bowling ball. To give the bowling ball a hot water bath, you’ll need:

  • A five-gallon bucket
  • Hot water
  • Bleach-free dish detergent
  • Two clean microfiber or paper rags or towels

Now follow the steps below:

  • Make a presoak solution – fill the bucket halfway with warm water, add detergent, and mix. Fill the rest of the bucket with water until you have a nice and soapy mixture
  • Soak your bowling ball in the hot water bath – add the bowling ball to this mixture and let it sit for 10-15 minutes or longer if needed
  • Scrub the bowling ball – after the ball has soaked, scrub it well with a towel to get rid of gunk or stains. Once done, rinse the ball in clean water
  • Thoroughly dry the cleaned bowling ball – when drying your bowling ball, do your best to get rid of all the water. If the ball is sticky after the wash, gently rub some floor cleaner on the sticky spots and wipe it dry when you’re finished

Cleaning a Bowling Ball with Bowling Ball Cleaner

Many bowlers use commercial cleaners – specialized ball cleaning machines – when their bowling ball needs a good cleaning, and they are not confident in their ability to use home remedies. Depending on the instructions on the cleaner, you may have to dilute it in water before applying it to your ball. Some bowling ball colors may bleed when cleaned with Dawn™, so be careful and remove your ball from the solution if necessary.

Dawn Dish Soap is the top choice, as a bowling ball oil remover

Dawn is the top choice among bowlers for cleaning bowling balls because it is less harsh but still does a great job removing oils. Use ¼ cup of Dawn, a pinch of ammonia, and mix with warm water. Wash your ball in this solution and watch it come out looking brand new.

Cleaning a Bowling Ball with Windex™

Bowlers will also use Windex to give their ball a shiny quality. It is great for cleaning the surface of the ball but is not effective at removing oils. Get the oil off by soaking your bowling ball in hot water as described above, and apply Windex afterward. Windex is designated an approved bowling ball cleaner by the US Bowling Congress.

Rubbing Alcohol is an effective bowling ball oil remover

Rubbing or isopropyl alcohol is the most effective cleaning material for removing oil stains. Do not submerge the bowling ball in the alcohol; simply apply some to a towel and rub it on. Another way to use rubbing alcohol is to dilute it in a 1:1 solution with water and spray some onto the bowling ball surface.

These are just some of the many ways you can clean a bowling ball without using acetone. Whether you use one of these or another method, you are sure to find one that fits your needs and gives you the clean you want.

How to clean the bowling ball’s finger holes.

Final Thoughts

Acetone is not the best bowling ball oil remover. Acetone can be used to remove bowling ball oil, but it can also damage a bowling ball’s performance and hooking potential, not to mention strip the color if too much is used. However, it is useful for removing stuck-on gunk in small amounts, and there is a proper way to use it.

You can also use several other solutions to clean your bowling ball, such as hot water, rubbing alcohol, commercial cleaners, and Windex. One way or another, you will end up with a sparkling-clean bowling ball.

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