Between fun games with your young nieces and nephews and the heated battle with the guys, your billiard balls are bound to show some wear. Blue chalk and oils from your hands and the table all gather on the balls, which can negatively affect the way you play. Cleaning your balls regularly can prevent these negative effects on your game and on your billiards table. There's no need to rush out to buy a fancy ball cleanser to get them looking like new again. You can renew your balls with some hot water and a little mild soap.
Resin Based Balls
If you have a dishwasher, it can do wonders on your Aramith (resin-based) billiard balls. The resin balls react like standard glass while in the washer, so they can get very clean. Use a normal strength detergent tab in your dishwasher for cleaning the balls. Any type of soap that is harsh, like those for serious stuck-on grease and pot stains, will be too rough on the balls and will damage the shiny finish. It will also leave scratches and marks on the balls. When placing the balls in the dishwasher, be sure to space them apart the width of one ball.
Polyester Based Balls
Cleaning snooker/supapro balls (polyester based) is a bit different from cleaning resin-based balls. The polyester balls require a bit more care and cautious handling since they cannot be washed in a dishwasher. Wash these balls with warm water and a bit of gentle dish soap on a clean cloth. You can use a sponge for tougher stains, but never apply too much pressure. When you've removed the stains, be sure to remove all of the soap, which can leave a filmy residue on the balls if left on. Dry the balls with another clean cloth. You can polish the balls with some ball polish applied to a microfibre cloth for the best results, but this is an optional step.
A Bit of Advice
Some sites advocate using sine car wax, like turtle wax, as a polisher, and following up the waxing with a wipe down with Clorox kitchen wipes. This kind of care may be a quick fix, but the harsh solution could damage your balls and your table. Avoid these kinds of harsh, acidic chemicals in general. They could wreck the finish and the colour of the balls. If you are a complete stickler about caring for your balls, you should consider buy a bottle of Aramith cleaner, which is specialised for cleaning billiard balls effectively without the danger of leaving residue or damaging the finish.