How To Clean Tennis Balls

Written by Mark Sampson
Last updated on

Tennis balls can become dirty when used frequently. On a professional scale, tennis balls are replaced every couple of hours to ensure the quality of a pristine ball is present at every game. If you’re a recreational tennis player or an avid fan, it’s important to maintain clean tennis balls, and there are benefits to cleaning them. 

  • Tennis balls can become dirty when used frequently, so it’s important to clean them regularly.
  • There are benefits to keeping tennis balls clean, including preventing bacteria growth and extending the ball’s lifespan.
  • Materials needed to clean tennis balls include water, soap or detergent, and a rag or sponge.
  • Tennis balls can be cleaned by hand by soaking them in soapy water for 30 minutes before scrubbing them with a sponge or rag. They should then be rinsed and air-dried.
  • Another way to clean tennis balls is by using a washer and dryer on a cold cycle with laundry detergent; however, they should only be dried for 10 minutes on low heat.

Keeping tennis balls clean not only helps with their longevity but also prevents bacteria from growing on the ball’s surface. Tennis court surfaces can also wear and tear the outer material of your tennis ball, which can impact the internal pressure and affect the ball’s bounciness over time. 

Overall, keeping tennis balls clean is a great way to ensure a good game of tennis. Below you’ll find a guide for the materials, steps, and tips to help you clean your tennis balls. 

Materials needed

Keeping tennis balls clean is a relatively simple task. You’ll want to gather the essential materials and follow the steps in the cleaning process to protect your tennis ball from additional damage. Water temperature, type of soap, length of time spent in water, and drying methods are essential elements to keep in mind. 

Materials needed to clean your tennis balls: 

  • Washer/dryer, if necessary
  • A bucket, sink, or large container
  • Enough water for the container 
  • Liquid soap or detergent 
  • A rag or sponge 

While gathering your materials, it’s important to remember that tennis balls are made of rubber and felt. A regular tennis ball is usually bright yellow, and frequent use causes fading.

To retain the original color and feel of the exterior, avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals or high heat settings to clean your ball. Essentially, routinely soaking your tennis ball with basic soap and other materials will help it retain its original state. 

Step-by-step cleaning process

Cleaning tennis balls is fairly easy. If your tennis balls have been used very often and are covered with dried-out dirt or mud, you may want to repeat the cleaning process more than once. When following a step-by-step cleaning procedure, the steps can slightly vary if you’re washing by hand or using a washer and dryer. 

Either way is effective, but tennis balls with dirt and grime may benefit from the washer and dryer method. In other cases, washing by hand may be an easy solution. Here are the step-by-step procedures for cleaning your tennis balls: 

Washing by hand 

Tennis balls can be cleaned quickly by hand, but they have to soak and then be left to dry out. This method can make the process of cleaning your tennis balls more tedious than using a washer and dryer. These are the steps you should follow when washing your tennis balls by hand: 

  1. Fill your bucket or skin with warm water: The water should be lukewarm or mildly warm to soak your tennis balls. If the water is too hot, you may damage the outer portion of the ball and change its texture. Depending on how many tennis balls you are washing, make sure there’s plenty of water. 
  2. Add a liquid soap or non-harsh detergent: You can add a liquid soap or detergent to the water before soaking your tennis balls. Additionally, you can add vinegar or a pet-friendly cleaning solution if you use your tennis ball as a pet toy. 
  3. Let the tennis balls soak for 30 min: A vital step in cleaning them is to let them soak for enough time to get the dirt and grime off the felt material. You may have to repeat this step a few times to get the dirt completely cleaned off. 
  4. Scrub with a sponge or rag: If your tennis balls are still visibly dirty after soaking and cleansing, you may want to use a sponge or rag to gently scrub the felt clean. After, you’ll want to rinse them with warm water and set them aside. 
  5. Air dry the tennis balls: Once they are cleaned by hand, you can set them out to dry or toss them in the dryer to help them dry quicker. They shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes to dry.

Cleaning tennis balls by hand is an effective way to take the dirt and bacteria out of your tennis balls regularly. If you notice your tennis balls are starting to show some wear and tear, routinely cleaning them by hand may be the best choice for maintaining their longevity. Just be careful not to add harsh chemicals that can damage the felt or deteriorate the exterior. 

Using a washer and dryer 

Another simple yet quick way to clean your tennis balls is by using a washer and dryer. Following these steps can help you choose the correct settings and conditions when washing and drying your tennis balls:

  1. Prepare the washing machine with cold water: When you set up your washing machine as you normally would for clothing, be sure to select cold water. Extreme heat and hot water can cause the tennis ball to warp or melt off the material. 
  2. Add laundry detergent: While using a washing machine to clean tennis balls, adding detergent as you would during a normal wash cycle is okay. Just make sure the detergent is free of harsh chemicals or bleach. The cycle time may differ depending on the machine. You may want to remove them and rinse them with warm water again. Just be sure to remember to put them in the dryer next. 
  3. Dry them with low heat: Once your tennis balls are done washing, you can toss them in the dryer at a low heat setting. Also, don’t put them to dry this way for longer than 10 minutes. High heat for extended periods can damage your tennis balls. 

As you gather your tennis balls to clean them, inspect their current state and decide whether you’d rather wash them by hand or use a washer and dryer. If the tennis ball’s condition is terrible, it may be time to get new tennis balls to use instead. Otherwise, routinely keeping your tennis balls clean can help you avoid disposing of them more quickly. 

Tips and tricks

Cleaning a tennis ball is easy, but sometimes age or very dirty conditions can negatively affect your tennis ball’s condition. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your tennis balls clean: 

  • Wash and rinse them after they get really dirty outdoors
  • Store your tennis balls indoors when they are not in use 
  • Use a soft cloth to wipe off any visible dirt on the ball after a game 
  • Use a hair dryer with low heat to dry your tennis ball
  • Use a vacuum cleaner attachment to clean the felt on the tennis ball
  • Use a towel to dry your tennis balls after washing them 


How often should I clean tennis balls?

It may be best to practice cleaning your tennis balls whenever they show dirt or fade. Depending on how often you use them, this may be once every few months or monthly. 

Can I use any type of soap to clean my tennis ball?

You should use dish soap or detergent to clean your tennis balls. Generally, harsh soaps and chemical cleaners are too aggressive on tennis balls and can cause damage. 

Does damage affect the performance of a tennis ball?

If your tennis ball is warped, dented, or damaged in any way, this may affect its bounce and ability to perform well during a game. Any damage to a tennis ball can deplete its quality in these cases. 

When should I buy new tennis balls instead of cleaning them?

Tennis balls are pressurized on the inside to create a high-quality bounce performance. If you notice your tennis ball is losing firmness or is dented and damaged, buying new tennis balls may be the better option. 


Maintaining cleanliness for your tennis balls is important because it goes hand in hand with optimal performance and longevity. When washing by hand, be sure to use warm water and allow them to soak for half an hour. Additionally, use a rag or sponge to brush off any dirt. Then, leave your tennis ball out to dry. 

If you’re in a hurry, use a washer and dryer to clean your tennis balls by using a cold water wash cycle, adding detergent, and later tossing them to dry with low heat. Regardless of which method you use, remember to keep your tennis balls clean and consider the frequency with which you use them to determine when to clean them. This can help them last longer. 

If you enjoyed this blog post and found it helpful, continue reading Tennis Universe for more tennis info!