How To Clean A Ping Pong Table [The Bottom Line]

A dirty ping pong table is visually unpleasing and also has the potential to throw off your game if patches of dust or sticky areas happen to make contact with the ball.

Depending on where you store your table, your ping pong table, can easily pick up dirt and dust over time. So here, we’ll teach you how to properly clean your ping pong table, so that it’s in good order by the time competition comes knocking.

This brief guide, can be of service to you whether you are a ping pong enthusiast, or competitive player. The good news is that this DIY guide contains no more equipment than what you likely already possess at home.

Getting Started

Ping pong tables are more delicate, than they may look, so rule #1 is to always use anti-corrosive cleaners and soft rags/sponges while cleaning.

Fortunately, you don’t need much, and a trip to the store is unnecessary in most cases. First, gather these 4 items:

  1. A rinsing bucket
  2. Vinegar
  3. Either a cleaning rag, a soft surface sponge, or a soft microfiber cloth (preferably lint-free, so by the end of your clean your table is left both lint and streak free)
  4. Screwdriver

What If I Already Have A Premixed Cleaner?

If you already have a designated ping pong table cleaner solution available, and you intend to use that, then you can just skip the vinegar and water step, unless you want to save money by allowing the net to soak in this home concoction rather than an expensive solution.

If you don’t have a bottle of pre-mixed ping pong table cleaner, but want to use one, there are many brands available online that will safely allow for you to clean your table. A good cleaner won’t have any fading impact on your table’s finish (non-abrasive), and will be VOC (volatile organic compound) free.

Avoiding bleach cleaners is generally a good rule.

Most ping pong cleaners available aren’t bleach-based, but in case you go the DIY route, this is something worth remembering. It will ideally loosen up sediment so that nothing more than a scrub on each side is needed for your table to be clean. Good products should also be streak free, and a quick glance at the reviews will usually tell you if this is the case for any product in question.

So, any ping pong table cleaner worthy of its name, should do each of the following:

  1. Dissolve sediment such as dirt and dust
  2. Remove surface-level perspiration
  3. Give the table’s surface a glossy clean look without any fade
  4. Remain streak-free after cleaning
  5. Should be VOC (volatile organic compound) free to keep you safe while cleaning, and your table tennis guests safe while playing

On To The Cleaning

Cleaning The Ping Pong Table

Once these essential few items have been gathered, you can begin disassembling your table so that it is ready to clean. Start with taking off the net, with the screwdriver.

You’ll now want to mix equal parts vinegar and water together in your cleaning bucket, ideally a couple cups of each since you’ll need to rinse in this solution several times.

Now, we’ve reached the fun part- you can begin cleaning. Take your rag or your sponge, dip it into the solution contained in your bucket, and begin cleaning your ping pong table surface area.

After dipping your cleaning rag in the solution, squeeze out any excess liquid so that it’s not overly soaked. Most ping pong tables are made from wood, and an extra wet rag may deteriorate or even warp the wood.

Make sure you cover the entire surface area. A ping pong table with some leftover dirty spots, is still a dirty ping pong table.

Once the table has been completed, you can dump your dirty solution, rinse the bucket, and then refill your cleaning bucket with fresh solution.

Cleaning The Ping Ping Net

Take the detached ping pong net, and dump it into your bucket of fresh solution. Now, let it sit for 15 minutes minimum. Make sure you give it a good rest, because these nets, like the table, can also pick up a large amount of dirt and grime over time.

After it has sat in the solution for a while, you can take a clean sponge or rag and give it a good scrub while submerged just to remove any excess particles that the solution alone may not have eliminated.

Once your net has been given sufficient time to dry, it can be reattached to the table.

What If Your Table Requires A More Thorough Clean?

Sometimes dirt and grime, are only the beginning of the messiness that’s accumulated on to your ping pong table. Ping pong tables are often, after all, stored in less than cleanly areas, where number of factors need to be addressed.

If say, glue, has somehow found its way onto your ping pong table, this definitely will require your attention. You can use the following, as a more intensive cleaning guide that will work for glue, larger patches of sediment, and other things of this nature.

Depending on what’s stuck to your ping pong table, you’ll need either a rough microfiber rag, a flat-head screwdriver, a small patch of sandpaper. If you use sandpaper, make sure it’s a fine sandpaper, so that your tables finish remains ultimately untouched.

Large patches of sediment, or even clumps of glue, can be jarred loose with a few well-placed swipes of sandpaper, or by gently leveraging a screwdriver underneath.

This process that requires extra care, because the last thing you want to do is tear away some of that fine finish on your ping pong table, compromising that “like new” status it’s in.

As bad as glue can be, the good news is that most bottles will have removal instructions on them, that you can use to get it off while keeping your table properly intact. There’s also glue removal products, available at your local retailer, in case the problem area requires significant attention.

What About Regular Maintenance?

Regular maintenance is nice because through it, you may never have to thoroughly clean your ping pong table the way most would.

The most basic way of doing so, is by using a dust rag after each use of your ping pong table. If you don’t use your ping pong table often, simply do so every month or so, or whenever you cross paths with where it’s stored. If you only use your ping pong table for occasion fun, then you may be able to get away not having to perform deep cleans by focusing on simple regular maintenance.

Like anything, regular upkeep of your ping pong table, may also help retain value over time, which will be important if you wish to sell it.

What To Avoid?

As previously touched upon, what you want to avoid generally consists of all-purpose cleaners. Ping pong table cleaners are a specific type of cleaner, which do not allow for any wear on your table. This is why white vinegar solutions, generally speaking, get the job done without being potent to a fault. The types of cleaners that do have a tendency to fade a ping pong table surface, tend to be the orange-based cleaners and traditional cleaners like 409. If you’re not careful, the same can be accomplished through the use of rough-grade cleaning rags. If you’re using a regular kitchen sponge, then the soft side is definitely the one you want to use.

What About My Paddles?

Perhaps your ping pong paddles haven’t been used recently either, and they have collected considerable dust. Just like your table, your paddles are subject to gathering dust over time, which can deter your success as a player. Or maybe, you just want to give them a quick rinse in the interest of being a better host. Cleaning your ping pong paddles is just as important, if not more important than the table, because your game can be even more directly impacted by a poorly cleaned or uncleaned paddle.

The trick is, to clean it in a way that doesn’t interfere with its natural tackiness so that you retain its strengths as defensive, offensive, or all-around player. Just like with tables, some cleaners will wear off that outer tackiness, which will serve, for lack of a better word, as a hindrance while playing.

So, you can clean your paddles with the same water/vinegar based solution you used on your table, or you can use a water/alcohol solution that consists of two parts water, to one part alcohol. Simply use a soft fiber rag, lightly soaked in the solution, and then wipe every visible surface on each of your paddles thoroughly, before setting them out to dry.

If your looking to buy a new ping pong table or ping pong paddle please check out my buyers guides.

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