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How to Clean a Basketball – Pro Maintenance Tips

Last Updated July 15, 2024 Last Updated February 28, 2024 by Brian Aquino

A basketball intends to gather dirt because it is always exposed to dust while playing. It gets dirty due to its direct connection with the ground. As a result, there will be poor grip due to unclean surface and your shots will not be accurate. Therefore, it is essential to clean your basketball from time to time. Moreover, a clean basketball will have a longer lifespan.

In case you might be wondering how to clean a basketball? The cleaning method depends on its material. A basketball is made of genuine leather, composite material, and rubber. Here, we are going to explain the un-harmful cleaning techniques of all three types. If you want to make your basketball look new, follow this cleaning guide depending on your basketball’s material.

Read a complete guide on how to clean basketball shoes.

Note: It is bad to wash a basketball in deep water. We do not recommend submerging your basketball, the water may seep inside through tiny holes and damage the bladder. Instead, pour water over it.

how to clean a basketball


Basketballs Materials

Basketballs are made of three different materials – leather, composite material, and rubber. Genuine leather balls are used for indoor games. Rubber basketballs are designed for outdoor courts because they can withstand the harsh conditions of concrete courts. And, composite basketballs can be used on indoor and outdoor courts – depending on their build quality.

It is important to know the material to clean the basketball and know where to use it. No one would want to ruin a good-quality leather ball by using it on the streets. On the other hand, a rubber basketball will bounce too much on a hardwood court and affect your performance.

Best Leather Basketball: Spalding Official Game Ball

Best Composite Basketballs: Wilson Evolution (Good for Indoors) | Spalding NBA Zi/O (Good for Outdoors)

Best Rubber Basketball: Spalding NBA Street Phantom


Things You Should Avoid while Cleaning a Basketball

There are certain precautions you should keep in mind while cleaning your basketball;

  • Do not soak the ball in water or detergent irrespective of the material, the material will decay
  • Do not wash the basketball in a washing machine
  • Avoid drying the basketball in a dryer or using any heat-emitting machine. Instead, wipe the moisture with a clean cloth and let it dry in the sun
  • Do not clean the basketball while it is deflated, always make sure to inflate it at optimum pressure before starting the cleaning process
  • Strong detergents must be avoided, no matter how hard the stains are

See how much is a basketball before replacing your damaged one.



How to Clean a Rubber Basketball

Rubber basketballs collect dirt quite easily because of the material’s nature, and they are very easy to clean also. Follow these steps to clean rubber basketballs;

  • Fill a 4ltr bucket with water (make sure water isn’t too cold, warm water would be better)
  • Add mild detergent and mix it to make some foam
  • Damp a clean cloth or towel and rub the basketball surface gently to clean soft dirt and wet some hard stains
  • Once you are done with cleaning soft dirt, repeat the process but rub it a little harder this time on hard stains
  • Take a brush to scrub the surface and take out the stuck dirt in the grooves
  • After the ball is cleaned thoroughly, rinse the ball with clean water. Make sure you pour water on it, do not submerge it
  • Use a clean dry cloth to wipe the moisture and let it dry

Read about best outdoor basketball shoes in 2024.


How to Clean a Composite Material Basketball

Composite or synthetic basketballs can be used on both courts – indoors and outdoors, depending on their construction. The synthetic basketballs for outdoor courts will require a little more effort to clean;

  • Wipe the basketball with a wet cloth for about ten minutes to soften the stains
  • Add some warm water and mild detergent in a bucket and mix well
  • Damp a piece of a clean towel or a cloth with soft grooves and rub the outer surface gently
  • Rub the cloth again and again until the surface looks look and feels non-sticky
  • If you find some hard stains to remove, use leather cleaner to scrub them off
  • Once the ball is completely clean, wipe it with a clean cloth and let it dry

Read about best looking basketball shoes in 2024.


How to Clean a Leather Basketball

Leather basketballs are used for indoor courts and do not get dirty quite often. They are easier to clean because there are multiple leather cleaners in the market. Follow these steps to clean a genuine leather basketball;

  • Wipe the outer surface nicely to clean soft dirt to apply the leather cleaner
  • Put enough amount of leather cleaner in a bowl that will be enough to clean the ball
  • Take a soft, clean cloth to apply cleanly on the surface
  • Gently rub the complete surface and make sure to remove all the stains
  • Rub the cleaner gently to nicely polish the outer layer
  • In the end, wipe the ball nicely with a dry cloth
  • Store in a dry place after you are done with cleaning

Note: Do not use water or detergent to clean genuine leather basketballs.


Tips to Take Care of Your Basketball

  • Never use a genuine leather basketball on outdoor courts, the hard concrete and gravel will damage the outer layer
  • Do not leave your basketball out in the sun for long, always store it in a dry place having normal room temperature
  • Do not store a basketball near a fireplace, heat will damage the ball and it will not perform efficiently
  • Always ensure to inflate the ball at recommended air pressure for optimum performance and ideal bounce. The under-inflated ball will take a lot of force and eventually it will affect its durability
  • Always wipe your basketball with a clean dry cloth once you are done playing with it

Read how to inflate a basketball.


Final Verdict

Cleaning a basketball restores its grip. Hence, you should clean it regularly and follow caring tips for it to perform efficiently. It is quite an easy task as you have read above. Cleaning a ball not only enhances its performance but also keeps you protected from infections and harmful diseases. Thus, we should practice it at least once a week for good hygiene. Always remember, use the cleaning method depending on the basketball’s material.

Check which are the best in ground basketball hoops of 2024.


Frequently Asked Questions: (FAQs)

Is it bad to wash a basketball?

Yes, it is bad to wash a basketball. We do not recommend soaking it in deep water or flooding it. The chances are that water will seep through the tiny cracks and holes and damage the bladder. Also, a damp bladder will not bounce as you expect it to. As a result, you will experience poor performance and the ball will decay sooner.

We have explained the technical methods of cleaning leather, composite, and rubber basketballs. Follow them to ensure durability while keeping a ball clean.


How do you clean a basketball without ruining it?

You can clean a basketball without ruining it by following a unique cleaning method depending on the material it is made. Never clean a genuine leather basketball with a detergent. Rubber and synthetic basketballs can be cleaned with mild detergents. Do not soak or wash a basketball in a washing machine.


How do you restore a basketball grip?

You can restore a basketball’s grip by cleaning it thoroughly. Add a small amount of mild detergent to a bucket of warm water. Damp a towel or clean cloth and rub the outer surface gently. Keep repeating the process until the surface is completely clean. Take a clean dry cloth to wipe the moisture and let it dry at a normal temperature. By following this method, you can clean a basketball and restore its grip.


How do I make a basketball look new?

To make a basketball look new, clean it with saddle soap. Scrub the outer surface until it is completely clean. Wipe the moisture with the help of a clean dry cloth. If it is a leather ball, you can use shoe polish to shine it and make it look new.