A Guide to Cleaning and Maintaining Your Pool Table Felt

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Pool Table Felt

Maintaining your pool table felt is crucial for ensuring the longevity and playability of your pool table.

This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about cleaning and maintaining your pool table felt, ensuring that it remains in top condition for years to come.

Key Takeaways

  • Regular maintenance is essential for preserving the quality of your pool table felt.
  • Proper cleaning techniques can prevent damage and extend the life of the felt.
  • Using the right tools and products is key to effective maintenance.

Quick Guide to Pool Table Cloth Maintenance

Maintenance ActivityDescriptionFrequency
BrushingGently remove dust and chalk residue with a soft brush.After each use
VacuumingUse a low-suction vacuum to clean the cloth.Every couple of months
Spot CleaningAddress spills and stains immediately with a gentle cleaner.As needed
IroningRemoves wrinkles and speeds up the clothIf table slows
Quick Guide to Pool Table Cloth Maintenance

Why is Pool Table Maintenance Important?

Pool table felt is typically made from a blend of wool and nylon, offering a balance of durability and smoothness.

However, it’s vulnerable to tears, burn marks, and other forms of damage.

Maintaining your pool table felt is not just about keeping it looking good; it’s crucial for several reasons that impact both the longevity of the felt and the quality of play.

Regular cleaning, brushing, vacuuming and ironing are key to maintaining the felt’s condition.

Guide to Cleaning and Maintaining Your Pool Table Felt
Guide to Cleaning and Maintaining Your Pool Table Felt

Preserving the Felt’s Lifespan

  • Prevents Premature Wear: Regular cleaning removes dust, chalk, and other debris that can grind into the felt fibers, causing them to break down over time. This debris acts like sandpaper under the balls, accelerating wear and tear.
  • Avoids Permanent Stains: Immediate attention to spills and stains prevents them from setting in and becoming permanent, which can be difficult, if not impossible, to remove without damaging the felt.
  • Reduces Stretching and Sagging: Proper maintenance includes checking the felt’s tension. Over time, felt can stretch and sag, but regular adjustments can prevent this, prolonging its tight, smooth playing surface.

Better Playability

Ensures Consistent Ball Roll

Clean and well-maintained felt provides a smooth and consistent surface for the balls to roll on. Dirt and debris can cause the balls to deviate from their intended path, affecting the accuracy of shots.

Maintains Speed

A clean and smooth felt allows for faster and more fluid ball movement, which is essential for quality play. Accumulated dirt and grime can slow down the balls, altering the game dynamics.

Improves Aesthetics and Feel

A well-maintained pool table is not only more visually appealing but also feels better to play on. This can enhance the overall experience for players.

Protecting Your Investment

  1. Extends Overall Table Life: The felt is a critical component of your pool table. Keeping it in good condition helps protect your investment, as replacing the felt can be costly and time-consuming.
  2. Avoids Costly Repairs: Regular maintenance can prevent issues that might require professional and expensive repairs, such as re-stretching sagged felt or replacing damaged areas.

Why is Regular Brushing Important?

Regular brushing is a fundamental aspect of maintaining your pool table felt.

It plays a crucial role in preserving the felt’s condition and ensuring a consistent playing surface.

Removes Dust and Debris: Regular brushing helps to remove chalk dust, dirt, and other debris that accumulate on the felt during play. These particles can embed in the felt fibers and affect the smooth roll of the balls.

Prevents Felt Wear: By removing abrasive particles, brushing reduces the wear and tear on the felt, thereby extending its lifespan.

Maintains Consistent Play: A clean and well-maintained felt provides a consistent surface for the balls to roll on, which is essential for accurate and predictable gameplay.

Enhances Aesthetic Appeal: Regular brushing keeps the felt looking fresh and clean, maintaining the aesthetic appeal of your pool table.

Types of Pool Table Brush to Use?

If you are wondering what type of pool table brush to use, you’re not alone.

It can be confusing for lots of players as there are lots to choose from, however some are more popular than others.

In general, you have three types of brush choices, each with their own advantages;

  1. Horsehair Brushes – Horsehair is one of the most well known and popular pool table brushes. They have soft and unassuming bristles that won’t damage the felt.
  2. Microfiber Brushes – Microfiber brushes are a little less well known, but offer a great way of safely removing chalk from your table’s felt. The soft bristles are very gentle and easy on the cloth’s fibers.
  3. Nylon Brushes – Nylon brushes offer a cheaper alternative than the other two. If you are on a budget, they will be fine and do the job. However, if you do have the extra few dollars, the first two choices would be the best choices.

How to Use a Pool Table Brush?

Even when you use a pool table brush, you need to be careful with your technique.

  • Use short, straight and gentle but firm strokes.
  • Brush from the head to the foot of the table.
  • Brush the collected particles into straight lines.
  • It is a good idea to go over it a second time to make sure it is swept properly, but don’t over brush the cloth.
  • Brushing from the head to the foot of a pool table should take you no longer than a minute or two.
  • Brush your pool table felt after every use or at least once a week, depending on how frequently the table is used.
  • Ensure that the brush itself is kept clean to avoid transferring dirt back onto the felt.
What Not to Do
  1. Brush side to side.
  2. Against the nap
  3. In circular motions
  4. Brush too hard

Repeatably going over the one area of the cloth for too long, or in other way than straight lines with the nap, will cause uneven wear throughout the playing surface.

Pool Table Maintenance

Protecting the Pool Table

Using a cover when the table is not in use can significantly reduce the amount of dust and debris that settles on the felt, thereby reducing the need for frequent brushing.

In general, you want a quality cover that is both water-resistant and tear proof, especially if you have pets.

GSE’s leatherette pool table cover is a high quality cover, at an exceptional price, offering amazing value, that will protect the longevity of your pool table.

Can You Vacuum a Pool Table?

It is perfectly fine to vacuum pool table felt, in fact it should form a key part of every player’s onging maintenance, when done right.

Vacuuming the playing cloth helps remove chalk and dirt that has become embedded in the fabric, particles that are otherwise difficult to clean by just brushing alone.

It is important however to use right type of vacuum and attachments, to make sure you dont damage the cloth, which can easily happen.

Choosing the Right Pool Table Vacuum?

The type of vacuum and attachments you are going to need should have;

  1. A Non-Rotating Brush Attachment
  2. Upholstery and Crevice Attachments

When vacuuming a pool table, the type of vacuum you use is the difference between cleaning safely or damaging the felt beyond repair.

Three things to consider:

  1. Use a Handheld/lightweight Vacuum: These are much easier to manage, and should’nt need to be dragged across the playing cloth and destroy the fibers.
  2. Use One with a Soft Brush Attachment: This helps to lift dirt and debris gently without pulling on the felt fibers.
  3. Low Suction Setting: If your vacuum has adjustable settings, use the lowest suction setting (usually the wool setting) to prevent pulling the felt’s fibers.

The Eureka WhirlWind Bagless Canister Vacuum Cleaner, is one of the best vacuums for a pool table.

The budget freindly, lightweight vacuum can also be used on both hard floors and carpets around the rest of your home.

How to Vacuum Pool Table Felt?

  1. Vacuuming: Move the vacuum slowly and gently across the felt from the head to the foot of the pool table. Avoid pressing down too hard or moving too quickly, as this can stretch or tear the felt.
  2. Vacuum the Pockets: To remove the dirt and debris from the pockets you can either vacuum them, or alternatively, you can wipe them down with a damp cloth.
  3. Regular Cleaning: Regular vacuuming can help maintain the felt’s condition by removing dust and chalk residue. However, it should not replace regular brushing, which is gentler on the felt.
  4. Avoid Beater Bars: Do not use vacuums with rotating brushes or beater bars, as these can be too harsh and may damage the felt.

How Often Should You Vacuum Your Pool?

In general, if you use play daily, you should vacuum the felt at least once a month.

Casual players, that play less, can leave vacuuming for many months without the need to vacuum once the table is covered.

Ironing The Cloth

Ironing the pool table felt is not just about removing wrinkles; it’s primarily for performance and to improve the speed of the cloth.

Proper ironing can significantly enhance your playing experience.

Addressing Stubborn Wrinkles

Sometimes, standard ironing methods may not completely remove wrinkles from pool table felt, especially if they are deeply set.

In such cases, consider the following advanced techniques:

Gradual Temperature Increase

Start with a lower temperature and gradually increase it, testing the felt’s reaction to the heat.

Multiple Ironing Sessions

Spread out the ironing over several short sessions, allowing the felt to cool down between each session.

Professional Assistance

If wrinkles persist, it may be best to seek professional help.

Pool table maintenance experts have the right tools and experience to handle stubborn wrinkles without damaging the felt.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Pool Table Felt Benefits

Dealing with Spills, Smells and Tough Stains

Stains and some smells on pool table felt can be challenging to remove, and can come from a variety of sources, such as:

How Do You Get Soda Out of Pool Table Felt?

Sticky and tacky substances like beer and soda, can be difficult to deal with and leave noticeable stains on the felt, which may require special attention, especially if they are old stains.

  • Step 1 – Dab the spilled soda with a dry-clean microfiber cloth.
  • Step 2 – Dampen a clean cloth with cold water and blot the spill to remove as much of the soda as possble. Do not to soak the felt you only need a damp cloth and blot.
  • Step 3 – Mix one cup of water with one tablespoon of vinegar.
  • Step 4 – Dampen a fresh cloth with the solution and dab the remaining stain until the soda has been removed. Repeat this step until you are happy it has been removed.
  • Step 5 – Allow the felt to air dry thoroughly before playing.

Short on Time?

If you are short on time, a pool table cleaner is the quickest way to clean the felt in minutes.

A dry foam like Quick Clean Pool Table Felt Cleaner work best on old stains, as the above home remedy of vinegar will struggle to clean them, because the stain will have long set in the cloth.

  • Simply spray the pool table cleaner onto the soda stained cloth.
  • Cover the entire fabric to ensure the whole surface is cleaned together in one go.
  • Once on, leave for 1–2 minutes and wipe away gently using a microfiber/lint free clot.

Never Rub Soda Spills

Rubbing pool table felt is just about one of the worst things you can do if you have spilled soda

  • Scrubbing pool table felt aggressively causes wear and tear in the cloth.
  • Rubbing and pressing down hard will also force the soda further down into the fabric.
  • You could also technically cause the fresh stain to grow by pushing the liquid further in the cloth.

How to Remove Latex Paint from Pool Table Felt?

To remove latex paint from pool table felt you will need to follow these steps below;

  1. Use a pool table brush to sweep the loose paint particles and remove as much as possible.
  2. You can also very carefully use a razor to scrape off as much of the dried latex paint as possible.
  3. Visit your local hardware store to purchase a very mild paint remover and test a small amount on a hidden part of the felt.
  4. Next dab a small amount of the paint remover directly onto the stain using a cotton ball.
  5. Dampen a clean lint free cloth with cold water to clean off the paint remover.
  6. Using a dry lint free cloth, soak up as much water from the pool table felt as possible.
  7. Leave the playing cloth to air dry – Don’t apply heat of any kind as this will damage the material.
  8. Once the material has dried, brush the cloth to restore to previous condition.

For small paint stains in the pool table cloth, it may be best to leave alone instead of putting the cloth through the extensive clean with paint remover.

Removing Chalk Dust

Cleaning chalk dust from pool table felt is an important aspect of maintaining your table’s appearance and playability.

Chalk, essential for gripping the cue ball, can accumulate over time on the tables felt, leading to a build-up that affects both the look and the performance of the table.

And it goes everywhere, inlcuding:

Dealing with Stubborn Chalk Stains

Spot Cleaning

For areas where chalk has built up into a stain, lightly dab with a damp cloth.

Avoid using too much water or rubbing vigorously, as this can damage the felt.

Specialized Cleaners

There are cleaners available specifically designed for pool table felt.

These can be effective for more stubborn chalk stains. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and test on a small area first.

Preventive Measures

Quality Chalk

Using high-quality, non-abrasive chalk can reduce the amount of dust left on the table.

Chalk Use

Encourage players to chalk their cues away from the table to minimize dust fall-out.

Removing Animal Hair

Animal hair, in particular cat hair can be particularly challenging to get out of the playing cloth.

Removing cat hair from pool table felt is very hard due to its tendency to cling to the fabric.

Sometimes, regular brushing and vacuuming might not be enough to remove it all.

Tape Method

Use wide, sticky tape to gently pat down on the felt. The tape will pick up hair without damaging the felt.

Lint Roller

A lint roller, rolled over the pool table’s surface gently is a great way to pick up hair, and is a very underated cleaning tool in my opinion.

Damp Cloth

Lightly dampen a microfiber cloth and gently pat the felt to lift the hair.

Specialized Vacuum Attachment

Use a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment designed to lift pet hair.

Fabric Softener Method

Dilute fabric softener with water (1 part softener to 3 parts water) and lightly spray it on the felt. The softener reduces static, making it easier to brush or vacuum the hair away.

Professional Cleaning

If the hair accumulation is significant, professional cleaning may be necessary. Professionals have specialized tools and techniques to thoroughly clean the felt without damaging it.

Can You Wash Pool Table Cloth?

While the idea of washing pool table cloth might seem like a straightforward solution to dirt and stains, it’s not as simple as it seems.

The material used for the felt is typically made from a blend of wool and nylon, which provides the right balance of durability and smoothness for the balls to glide over.

Wool, a key component of the felt, is particularly sensitive to moisture and can shrink or warp when exposed to it.

Can I Wash Pool Table Cloth In A Washing Machine?

No, you should never wash pool table cloth in a machine, becuase it is primarily made of wool and It’s never a good idea to saturate and soak fabrics made of wool.

Risks Associated with Washing Pool Table Felt

  • Machine washes can leave the cloth misshapen and it’s fibers over stressed.
  • The agitation and spin cycles in washing machines can cause the cloth to stretch, shrink or tear.
  • Detergents can leave a residue that affects the cloth’s smoothness and gameplay.
  • The dyes used in pool table felt can run or fade when washed, especially with detergents or harsh chemicals.
  • The heat and mechanical action can lead to shrinkage and color loss.
  • Washing can alter the texture of the felt, affecting the nap and smoothness, which are crucial for consistent ball movemen

Recommended Washing Techniques

Spot Cleaning: For small stains, spot cleaning with a mild detergent and water is advisable. Avoid saturating the cloth.

Pool Table Cleaners: For deep cleaning, Quick Clean Pool Table Felt Cleaner lifts dirt and grime in a matter of minutes.

Repairing the Cloth

Knicks in the playing cloth is common complaint among pool table owners, and can happen for any number of reasons.

The first thought of many people is too replace the playing cloth. There are ways to make big savings on the cost of pool table felt replacement, however you may be able repair the cloth.

Knicks and cuts can be fixed sometimes, and even flipped depending on the type of playing cloth, the size and severity of the damage.

Minor Knicks and Small Tears

  1. Felt Repair Kits: For small knicks or tears, felt repair kits are available. These typically include a patch of felt and adhesive. The key is to carefully match the color and texture of the existing felt.
  2. Glue Repair: A small amount of special fabric glue can be used to close a tiny nick. It’s important to use a glue that is flexible and won’t harden excessively, as this can affect the play area.
  3. Precision and Care: When repairing a knick, it’s crucial to be precise and gentle to avoid further damage. The repaired area should be as smooth as possible to not disrupt the roll of the balls.

Larger Knicks and Tears

Professional Assessment

For larger knicks or tears, it’s advisable to consult a professional. They can determine if a simple repair will suffice or if re-felting the table is necessary.

Patch vs. Replace

Sometimes, patching a larger knick might be possible, but it could affect the aesthetics and playability of the table.

In such cases, replacing the felt might be a better option.

Considerations When Repairing

  • Impact on Gameplay: Any repair on the felt should be done with the consideration of how it will affect the gameplay. Even a small bump or hard spot can change the direction and speed of the balls.
  • Aesthetics: Repairs should blend in with the existing felt as much as possible. A noticeable repair can be an eyesore and detract from the overall look of the table.
  • Longevity of Repair: Understand that repairs, especially DIY ones, may not be as durable as professional work or replacing the felt entirely.
  • Gluing or Stapling the Felt: You should use the same method of securement that was originally used, which can affect if the repair can be made successfully.
Simonis 860 premium pool table felt

Long-Term Care and Replacement

Use a Pool Table Cover

  1. Dust and Debris: A cover protects the felt from accumulating dust, pet hair, and other debris when not in use.
  2. Spills and Stains: It also guards against accidental spills and stains, which can be difficult to clean and may cause permanent damage.
  3. UV Protection: If your pool table is in a room with natural light, a cover can prevent fading and degradation caused by UV rays.

Control the Environment

  1. Humidity and Temperature: Maintain a stable environment with controlled humidity and temperature. Extreme changes can cause the felt to stretch or contract, leading to wrinkles or sagging.
  2. Avoid Direct Sunlight: Position your pool table away from direct sunlight to prevent fading and drying out of the felt.

Proper Usage and Handling

  1. Avoid Sharp Objects: Discourage players from using sharp objects or accessories that can snag or tear the felt.
  2. No Sitting or Leaning: Ensure that no one sits on the edges of the table or leans heavily on it, as this can stretch the felt and damage the rails.
  3. Proper Cue Handling: Educate players on proper cue handling to avoid punctures or tears caused by miscues or jabbing the felt.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

  1. Brushing: Regularly brush the felt with a soft pool table brush to remove chalk and dust.
  2. Vacuuming: Use a handheld vacuum with a soft brush attachment for deeper cleaning, being careful not to stretch or pull the felt.
  3. Spot Cleaning: Address spills immediately by blotting (not rubbing) with a dry, absorbent cloth.

When to Consider Replacing the Cloth

Even with meticulous care, pool table felt will eventually need replacing.

Signs that it’s time for a new felt include:

  1. Persistent wrinkles that don’t iron out
  2. Fading or discoloration
  3. Torn or damaged areas
  4. Playability changes
  5. Piling of the cloth
  6. Change in ball movement
Simonis 860 premium pool table felt






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