How To Clean And Care For Your Basketball

Have you been having a lot more turnovers lately during games? Do you find your basketball slipping off your hands a lot more than it used to? If you have been using your basketball for quite a while and have not given it any cleaning, then this may be the reason why the ball has been losing its grip. Keep reading to find out what you need to do.

Why clean your basketball?

There are two very important benefits in keeping your basketball clean.

  1. A clean ball ensures optimal performance. Dust settling into the crevices of your basketball weakens the grip and makes the ball more prone to slipping off your hands.
  2. Overall hygiene. Repeated contact with the floor on either an indoor or outdoor court and passing it around from one player to another not only exposes your ball to dust and dirt. Germs and viruses can also be making their way into the ball’s surface as you dribble or pass it around during games. Disinfecting your ball reduces the presence of these harmful organisms. Of course, this isn’t a substitute for washing your hands thoroughly after every game.
how to clean and care for your basketball: man looking at a basketball

How To Clean A Basketball

Now that you know about the key reasons, let us look into the various methods on how you can clean and disinfect your basketball. Here are some quick and easy ways:

1. Quick Clean

Let’s begin with the quick clean method which you can use for any type of basketball (rubber, composite leather or leather).

Most basketball manufacturers recommend that you wipe down your ball with a rag after every use. This will help keep it clean and in good shape. You don’t have to give the ball a deep clean very often and it is not recommended as this will degrade the outer material of the ball.

2. Soap and Water

Soap and water works best for a more thorough cleaning. This will get rid of the dust and dirt which will get the grip back on your ball. This method will work with any type of basketball.

Here’s what you need:

  1. 2 towels
  2. 1 tablespoon dish soap
  3. 1 gallon water

Here are the steps that you need to follow:

  1. Add the dish soap into a 1 gallon container.
  2. Fill the container with water. Mix the soap in.
  3. Take the first towel, dip into the soapy mixture and wring out excess water.
  4. Use the wet towel to wipe down the ball for about 30 seconds.
  5. Rinse the towel with water, wring then wipe the ball again to remove excess soap.
  6. Use the second towel to dry the ball.
  7. Air the ball out overnight.
  8. For leather basketball, you can also wipe it down with a leather cleaner instead of soap and water.

You can also watch this video which talks about how you can apply this soap and water method if you prefer a more conversational approach.

3. Disinfecting

Sanitizing your items is important especially during this period. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a list of disinfectants that are recommended for use in eliminating the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). You can find the full list here. To obtain the full list, click on Launch followed by Browse All. There is also a helpful one-pager for general instructions on safe and effective disinfectant use. You can find further information on this topic on this Environmental Protection Agency page.

Which of these disinfectants are suitable for deep cleaning your basketball?

Wilson Labs has tested several disinfectants and found that the following will not impact ball performance. For composite leather basketballs like the Evo NXT Basketball, Solution Basketball, Evolution Basketball, and FIBA 3×3 Basketball, the following are recommended: 

  1. Lysol Clean & Fresh Multi Purpose cleaner (EPA reg: 777-89)
  2. Lonza Disinfectant Wipes Plus (EPA reg: 6836-336)
  3. BTC 2125 M 10% Solution (EPA reg: 1839-86)
  4. Clorox Disinfecting Wipes (EPA reg: 5813-79)

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a product from the list of disinfectants that work very well with full leather basketballs. As a workaround, you can apply a leather conditioner immediately after using one of the disinfectants mentioned above to avoid drying out the leather and degrading performance. Wilson Labs may come up with new recommendations for leather balls. You can keep track of the updates from Wilson Labs here.

Some important things to note:

  • Alcohol, bleach and hand sanitizer are not recommended unless it is in the CDC list. These will negatively impact the ball’s performance.
  • Solvent cleaners may leave a residue on the ball. Alternate with use of soap and water method to remove residue build up.
  • The disinfectants in the CDC list are most effective on hard and nonporous surfaces. The list provided is a starting point for sanitizing your basketballs but should not be assumed to be as effective since basketballs are neither hard nor nonporous.

Additional Tips For Caring For Your Basketball

Here are some more tips that will help keep your ball in best condition for a longer time:

  1. Use the right type of ball for the court that you will play in. Leather basketballs are for indoor hardwood floor courts only. Composite leather basketballs labeled for indoor and outdoor use can be used for both but pay attention to the label. Some composite leather basketballs like the Wilson Evolution can only be used for indoor play.
  2. Put in the right amount of air so you get the best bounce. An under-inflated ball will not bounce properly. Playing with an over-inflated ball may result in the tearing of the outer material and the formation of lumps.
  3. Store indoors, away from the extreme sunlight and rain. Keep away from sharp objects that may puncture the ball.
  4. Avoid squeezing the ball into tight spaces. The ball will lose the round shape over time if it is constantly being pressed down on one side.

Final Words

I have shared with you a number of good tips on how to clean your basketball and keep it in the best shape. By following these recommendations, you will get the optimal performance and ensure many hours of playing time with your basketball. Ultimately, it depends on how much time and effort you are willing to spend looking after the ball. For relatively inexpensive rubber basketballs, buying a new one may be a better option if the ball has started to lose it’s grip. You definitely want to take better care of the more costly leather or composite basketballs.

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