How to Clean Your Ping Pong Paddle 

We all love table tennis paddles that are clean and responsive. It really feels good to hit strong, accurate shots all over the table. But if you want your paddle to last and keep performing well, it needs to be properly maintained. This means storing it correctly in a paddle case and also cleaning your paddle regularly.

Investing in a good case is an excellent idea because it protects your paddles and balls from any physical damage, as well as prolonged sunlight or other environmental conditions. If you can commit to doing these few fairly easy and basic types of maintenance, you won’t often have to worry about buying replacement paddles. Here are some tips on how to clean your table tennis paddle the right way and extend the life of your ping pong paddles and table tennis balls.

A Clean Paddle is a Good Paddle 

Have you ever 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 you hit the ball, it delivers a clean shot that puts the ball where it’s supposed to go. When the rubber becomes worn, the paddle becomes smoother and this can have a detrimental effect on the kind of power and accuracy you can get.

Collections of dust or grime on the handle of the paddle can also affect power and accuracy because of inconsistencies in the grip. Dust and grime generally cause the paddle to look dull and dirt can also lead to premature deterioration of the rubber material and the handles. 

While you are cleaning the playing surface of the paddles, always be sure to wipe down the handles because they will almost certainly be dirty too. The combination of body oils, sweat, and other contaminants from your hands can eventually break down the integrity of the wood and other handle materials.

All of your paddles should be wiped down after each use to ensure that you are getting the best results as a table tennis player. Deeper cleaning of your paddles should also happen every month or two. Below are some of the best ways to clean the paddle’s rubber surface.

Squeezing sponge on background

A wet sponge does a pretty good job of keeping your paddle clean…just be sure not to scrub too hard!

Clean Water and a Sponge 

This is the easiest and least expensive way to clean your paddle. Use a standard kitchen sponge (or a soft cloth) and warm water to dampen the sponge and gently wipe the surface of the rubber until you notice the dirt and other particles being removed. If there is a buildup of oils and dirt, let the moisture from the sponge gently soak it off, and then wipe the residue away. 

Repeat the process until the rubber begins to feel “bouncy” again, but avoid vigorous scrubbing. Then simply allow the paddle to air dry. You should keep in mind that 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 extra money, regular kitchen sponges should work quite well too.

Using an Old Toothbrush 

If you play with a pimpled rubber paddle, an effective cleaning technique is to use a toothbrush for those areas that might be hard to reach. You can use plain water to dampen the brush prior to use, or a rubber cleaning solution (as described below). The brushes will get into the tiny pimples and remove any debris that has collected to give you a more “bouncy” surface. When finished, you can again just let the paddle air dry.

A Tablespoon of Olive Oil 

One more excellent way to add stickiness to the rubber is to use a tablespoon of olive oil. Try to avoid using too much or the paddle will get too slippery. So, simply pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a small bowl. Dip in a toothbrush and start scrubbing the paddle’s surface gently. Finally, use a paper towel or clean soft cloth to remove the excess oil and let the paddle air dry once again. 

Rubber Cleaning Solutions

If plain water and a sponge are not doing the job adequately, you can also use a rubber cleaning solution. These products come in foams and sprays. There are several different brands available and they do help reduce the amount of grime that can build up faster than plain water. While some table tennis players recommend using these products, others report that they can lead to faster deterioration of the rubber. If you do use these products, always read the labels and find a solution that offers gentle cleaning and leaves only a light conditioning residue. This can help to protect the rubber of your paddle from oxidation and early aging.

House cleaning product on wood table with green background

Everyday cleaning products can also be used…just make sure they don’t contain corrosive chemicals.

Commercial Cleaning Products

Like rubber cleaning solutions, most of these products come in a foam type or a spray, and they can enhance the natural coarse state of the actual rubber on your paddle. Apply the cleaning solution based on the instructions on the surface and then use a sponge or a soft brush with soft bristles to rub. Next, wipe it off with a clean soft cloth or paper towel and allow it to dry.

Avoid detergents or any other harsh chemicals because some of these products can damage your paddle because they contain abrasive chemicals. Those chemicals are good for removing stains or grime from your paddle, but they should really be used sparingly. Another important thing is not to use your bare hands while cleaning the paddle. Although some products claim to be totally safe for skin contact, it is best to wear gloves for your peace of mind.

Butterfly Table Tennis Racket Care Kit

Our first choice of the best cleaning product for your ping pong racket is the Butterfly Table Tennis Racket Care Kit. This kit includes Butterfly Spin Refresh and a rubber sponge. It helps remove debris and dust from the surface and gives your paddle a good amount of control.

After cleaning, the rubber will look shiny and this will allow you to perform better shots. This method involves using foam to clean your paddle. The foam is usually only to be used for the rubber part of your ping pong paddle, but that is the most important part of your paddle and so it should be taken care of as well as you can.

Besides keeping the rubber parts clean and shiny, the foam can also maintain the longevity of the rubber so you will not have to replace your paddle for a long time. If you have not used and cleaned your paddle for a long time, make sure to use the blue side of the sponge to start with a deep clean, and then simply use the yellow side to wipe down your paddles regularly. 

Killerspin Ping Pong Paddle Rubber Cleaner 

The next way to keep your paddles in good condition is the Killerspin rubber cleaning spray. The product is made in Germany from water-based ingredients. It is also VOC-free and antistatic, so it can easily remove oil and dirt and this produces a clean surface every time. The kit has a two-sided sponge for applying the cleaner, removing dirt, and cleaning the residue effectively. Make sure you spray the right amount on the sponge to ensure that the product works effectively.

MightySpin Ping Pong Paddle Cleaner 

Another good choice is the MightySpin ping pong paddle cleaner. This set comes in a compact bag with a cleaning solution and a sponge. It helps to remove the slippery layer of the paddle and restores grip and stickiness back to the rubber. You even use this product for old paddles to improve their performance. And if you have any complaints about the product, simply contact the brand for a full 100% money-back guarantee.

JOOLA Turbo Rubber Cleaner Spray 

This 250-milliliter anti-static rubber cleaner spray bottle can protect and preserve the rubber of your paddle effectively. It can also help you remove dirt, dust, and oil, and fully restore the rubber of your paddles. By using this product regularly, you can expand the durability and firm grip of the ping pong paddle. Since this product doesn’t come with a sponge, you must buy it separately. Make sure to look for a JOOLA cleaning sponge to achieve the best results.

iNNOGLUE Table Tennis Rubber Cleaner 

This model is specially formulated with antioxidants and disinfectants to wipe away dirt and oil from the surface. It also protects and returns the rubber surface to its original condition. It is good to note that this cleaning solution doesn’t include any harmful materials. That means it is safe for skin contact, as well as safe to use with a wide range of rubbers. Like the JOOLA Turbo Spray, it doesn’t offer a cleaning sponge, so be sure to buy one.

A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you know more about some of the cleaning solutions that are available, we’ll take you through the process of cleaning your paddle in a handy step-by-step guide. Get your ping pong paddle out on your ping pong table and gather your materials together. 

  1. Start filling a dish or bowl with clean water. You have a few options, but avoid using tap water from a well. This type of water can sometimes cause damage to your paddle. It is preferable to use bottled water or distilled water. These are the two main types of clean water that can help you clean your ping pong paddle. 
  2. Squeeze a small amount of liquid detergent into your dish or bowl and mix it well. Then, dip a sponge into the dish or bowl and wring it out slightly. A soaking wet sponge can also lead to paddle damage, especially of your handle. 
  3. Start to wipe down the first side of your ping pong paddle, starting at the top of the paddle part (but not the handle). Try not to wipe any part of the paddle twice. This is so that the dirt that you start picking up will not just fall back to where you are wiping again.
  4. Once you are finished with the first side, rinse off your sponge and dip it into the soap/water mix again, and then you can repeat the process on the other side. 
  5. That is pretty much all there is to it. Always avoid drying off your ping pong paddle by wiping it down with anything. Just lay it out and let the paddle air dry in time. This will allow your paddle to come out as clean as possible.

A Few Words of Caution

Some players use a small amount of detergent when cleaning their paddles, but this is not a recommended practice. The ingredients in most cleaners are harsh and they can really be abrasive. They also dry out the rubber, which makes it a lot more brittle and shortens the lifespan of the rubber, which might force you to replace it sooner. Also, don’t use any products that contain alcohol or bleach as they will have a similar effect. 

Alcohol can crack and ruin the look of the rubber on your ping pong paddle. The one place that you can use rubbing alcohol on your ping pong paddle is your paddle’s handle. The handle (because it is made of wood) will be able to withstand alcohol without being affected, and it will allow you to effectively clean the handle. For the rubber, only using liquid detergent or one of the approved rubber or commercial cleaners that we discussed above.

It is always a good idea to keep your paddle covered or stored away when it is not in use. This will help to keep it clean and in better condition overall. Keep it out of the sun and away from extreme hot or cold temperatures. Even leaving it out exposed to the air can lead to a faster breakdown of the rubber. This is because the rubber can oxidize faster when in contact with the air. We recommend that you use a plastic protective sheet to cover the rubber surface completely. 

Cleaning the Paddle: Frequency 

The final consideration is how often to clean your ping pong paddle. That mostly depends on how often you play the game. If you use your ping pong paddle every day, regular cleaning of your paddle and rubbers should be done about once a month. But if you are not using your paddle that often, you can probably clean your paddle once every 3 or 4 months. Just think of the last time you cleaned the paddle, and that should help you decide if it’s the right time to do it again.

Generally, you might notice that your ping pong paddle will need cleaning if the paddle is dusty and not as sticky as it used to be. Keep in mind that the ping pong rubbers wear out after some time and that sometimes you can clean it as much as you like but it won’t really help. You might have to go and buy a new paddle. However, the more you maintain, protect, and clean your ping pong paddle, the longer it should last.

Buying a New Paddle

Once you have owned your old paddles for a number of years, it does not matter how much you clean them because you might simply need to get new ones after a while. Just like anything else, this is one of the easiest ways for you to own a high-quality product. There is a huge quality difference when it comes to the latest ping pong paddles, and if you do yourself a favor and buy the best paddles you can afford, and then maintain and clean it correctly, you should avoid having any performance issues with it for a long time.

Riley Draper

Avid table tennis player, world traveler, and content creator. Follow on Twitter. Connect on LinkedIn.