How to clean your table tennis paddle and why

Dirty table tennis paddle

You’ve found a great table tennis paddle that is responsive. Its rubber is grippy and loops practically do themselves. It delivers an accurate shot when playing the game and it’s comfortable in your hand. If you want the paddle to last and keep performing well, it needs to be properly maintained.

There are quite a few players who don’t realize this and they are constantly buying replacements. Here are some tips on how to clean your table tennis paddle the right way. Following this advice will help to extend the life of your paddle.

Why cleaning your paddle will make a difference?

Have you noticed how well a new paddle works compared to an old one that’s been lying around collecting dust? This is because new rubber has a springiness and better gripping ability. When it hits the ball, it delivers a clean shot that puts the ball where it’s supposed to go (if you’re a skilled player). When the rubber becomes worn, the paddle becomes smoother and the accuracy goes downhill.

Collections of dust or grime on the paddle can also interfere with the action because of inconsistencies in the grip of the surface. Dust and grime have a dulling effect and can also lead to premature deterioration of the rubber material. Paddles should be cleaned after each use for the best results. Below are the best way to clean the paddle’s rubber surface. 

Water and sponge

This is the least expensive way to clean your paddle. Use a standard kitchen sponge and warm water. Dampen the sponge and gently wipe the surface of the rubber until you notice that the dirt and other particles are coming loose. Avoid vigorous scrubbing. If there is a buildup of oils and dirt, let the moisture from the sponge gently soak it off, then wipe away. Repeat until the rubber begins to feel tacky again. Allow the paddle to air dry.

There are specialized sponges available that are made specifically for cleaning table tennis paddles. They provide good results and work more efficiently, but if you don’t want to spend the money, regular sponges will work well too.

Rubber cleaning solutions

If plain water and a sponge isn’t doing the job, you can also use a rubber cleaning solution. These products come in foams and sprays. There are several different brands out there and they do help to cut the grime that can build up, faster than plain water.

While some players recommend using these products, others report that they deteriorate the rubber faster. If you do go with this method, read the labels and find a solution that offers gentle cleaning while leaving a light conditioning residue. This can help to protect the rubber from oxidation and aging.

Toothbrush method

If you play with a pimpled rubber then one of the more effective ways is to use a toothbrush to get into hard to reach areas. You can use plain water to dampen the brush prior to use, or a rubber cleaning solution. The brushes will get into the tiny pimples and remove any debris that has collected to give you a tackier surface. When finished, allow the paddle to air dry.

What to avoid when cleaning your paddle

Some players use a small amount of detergent when cleaning their paddles, but this isn’t recommended. The ingredients in most cleaners are harsh and can be abrasive. They tend to dry out the rubber, making it brittle. This shortens the lifespan of the rubber forcing you to replace it sooner. Also, don’t use any products that contain alcohol or bleach as they will have a similar effect.

table tennis paddle gear for cleaning

A few more tips

It’s always a good idea to keep your paddle covered when it’s not in use. This will help to keep it clean and in better overall condition. Keep it out of the sun and extreme hot/cold temperatures. Even leaving it out in the air can lead to a faster breakdown of the rubber.

This is because the rubber will oxidize when in contact with the air. It is recommended that you use a plastic protective sheet to cover the rubber surface which will greatly reduce this effect.

While you’re cleaning the playing surface of the paddles, don’t forget to wipe down the handles. They get dirty too. The combination of body oils, sweat and other contaminants from your hands can eventually break down the integrity of the materials.

If you clean your paddle using any of the methods above, your rubber will last a very long time. If however you think that the rubber is just too old and beyond salvation, we have a great guide on how to choose a new paddle. You might want to check it out.

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