One of the most basic ways of extending the life of your table tennis racket is to maintain it properly. That can be achieved with its regular cleaning and in the sections which follow we will give you an exhaustive rundown of why and how to clean your table tennis rackets using inexpensive ways.
Why is it Important to Clean a Table Tennis Racket?
The most important reason to clean a table tennis racket is to ensure the quality of its rubber is maintained for a long time. As a racket is used for sustained periods, especially if you are playing with it almost every day, there are various foreign substances which begin to accumulate on it.
Look at this way.
The racket hits the table tennis balls multiple times in a match and if you are practicing and playing multiple matches every day, the racket is going to come in contact with the ball those many times too.
Balls are changed regularly but a lot of them get dirty, coming in close contact with dust and sweat, which is then passed on to the rackets.
Any kind of dirt, dust or sweat which keeps getting accumulated changes the nature of the surface of a table tennis racket; making it less responsive to spin and reducing the potency of your game.
The other reason to clean a table tennis racket is to ensure its longevity, reducing the need to change either the rubber or the racket itself regularly, thereby saving money (speaking of which, if you are a beginner looking for advice on best table tennis rackets, here’s more).
How Often to Clean a Table Tennis Racket?
The number of times one needs to clean a table tennis racket depends on how often you are playing but if you are using water and cloth to remove dust and sweat, you should be doing it as regularly as after every session of play.
If you aren’t a regular table tennis player or haven’t played in a long time, it makes sense to get your table tennis racket out every once in a while to clean it.
Do not allow the accumulation of dust on your racket because that in turn reduces its shelf life even when you aren’t using it.
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Obviously if you are ready to invest a little more money into it and can buy a commercial cleaner like the Butterfly Table Tennis Racket Care Kit, it is okay to reduce the frequency to, say, once a week.
Even then, it would make sense to use water and sponge to clean the bat every alternate day and to then use the commercial cleaner on a weekly basis.
How to Clean a Table Tennis Racket?
Other than the frequency with which you use your rackets, it’s the type of the racket rubber that decides on how you need to clean your racket.
Types of Rubber on Racket
There are four main types of rubbers which are used on a table tennis racket. These include:
- Short Pips
- Long Pips
The Smooth rubbers are used by majority of the top table tennis players because they allow them to impart the most amount of spin to their shots.
Short Pips or Pimpled rubber is usually in use by players who are restricted by their ability to get too much spin, while Long Pips rubber help players change the direction of the spin imparted on to the ball by the opponent.
The Anti-Spin rubber, as the name suggests, is used by players to try and negate the effect of spin imparted by an opponent, with the smooth surface of the racket not allowing too much spin in this case.
Each of these rubbers can need different types of cleaning.
We have explained all the ways in which any table tennis bat can be cleaned below with special mentions of the aforementioned rubbers.
The easiest and the cheapest way to clean your table tennis racket is using a dry cloth. Any clean, dry cloth at your home should do the trick, which means it would cost you nothing.
This will need you to use the cloth regularly, before and after your table tennis sessions and if you are very particular, even between games. However, make sure the cloth is devoid of any dirt or sweat, because otherwise it could prove to be counterproductive.
Also, every now and then, change your cloth, especially if you are going to be using it multiple times to clean your racket. And if you cannot change it too many times, wash the cloth and dry it before re-using it.
If possible, keep multiple, clean, dry cloth in your table tennis kit.
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Water & Sponge
The problem with using just a dry cloth is while it’s the most straightforward method, its long-term effectiveness might not be the best. Table tennis rackets endure a lot of wear and tear if you are a regular player and consequently, the sustained contact with dust and sweat and other forms of particles might be difficult to get rid of using just a dry cloth.
Regular use of a moist sponge to wipe the dirt off a racket and its handle is a good way to take care of it. You can also look to combine this method with the first one – use a dry cloth every day before and after play but every few days, use a moist sponge to gently clean your racket.
There are three ways to use a moist sponge for your table tennis rackets. They are:
- Commercial Cleaners
The method is not too different. Wet your sponge using either of these three, squeeze out any extra liquid and gently wipe out any on-surface particles and oils and other stuff. Ensure you use the same on the handle too till it’s smooth.
Water is obviously the most convenient way but you to get better results, you can also use any house detergent soaked in water and then sponge your racket clean.
What are Commercial Cleaners?
Commercial cleaners are specially produced table tennis rubber cleaning solutions which are usually sold in a kit which also consists of a sponge. Spray some of the commercial cleaner on one side of the sponge and clean the racket with it and then use the other side of the sponge to ‘dry-clean’ it.
This is obviously a costlier option than using a dry cloth or water but the best for the racket.
Using a Toothbrush
As mentioned earlier, there are table tennis rackets which have short pips and long pips and sometimes using a sponge might not be the most effective strategy for them.
These rackets can be cleaned using an old toothbrush since it can reach the edges of the pips which are so tiny they could be missed by a sponge.
Again, much like a sponge, you could do this with water, detergent or a commercial cleaner.
Can We Use Alcohol to Clean a Table Tennis Racket?
Yes, alcohol can be used to clean a table tennis racket but one needs to be careful doing this. Ensure the racket is first cleaned with a dry cloth, then put some drops of alcohol on to another clean cloth before gently rubbing on the racket surface.
Once you have cleaned the paddle with alcohol using this method, allow it to dry for a while before you use it again.
A word of caution while using alcohol here. Do not use alcohol very regularly to clean the rubber of your table tennis racket because prolonged use can prove to be damaging to the rubber. Alcohol hardens the rubber more quickly than usual and that leads to early breakage.
Things to Note while Cleaning Your Table Tennis Racket
Here’s a list of dos and donts associated with keeping table tennis rackets clean.
- When not in use, keep your table tennis rackets in a cover. There are multiple racket covers available online, most of which are inexpensive and can increase your racket’s life
- Avoid over-exposure to sunshine or extreme cold. Again, doing so could lead to an early breakage of the racket
- While it is very important to pay special attention to the racket rubber while cleaning your racket because of the obvious effect it has on your play, do not ignore the table tennis racket handle. Clean it as feverishly as the rest of the racket
- Commercial cleaners are the best for your racket but avoid inhaling them. Keep your distance
- Avoid using cleaners which are expected to increase spin. These are banned by the ITTF and could land you in trouble during competitions
- Clean the paddles and keep them to dry for a bit before you start playing