Be An Expert Ping Pong Paddle Cleaner

Ping-Pong Equipment Maintenance

Table Tennis Racket And Ball On Table
Olaf Herschbach / EyeEm / Getty Images

Serious ping-pong players are known to be a bit fanatical when it comes to choosing their equipment, often spending many hours discussing and playing with gear. That's why players need to learn the basics of ping-pong paddle cleaning.

Cleaning Your Table Tennis Rubbers

While each rubber will be nice and clean when it comes out of its packet, once you start playing it won't take long for dust and other grime to get on the playing surface. Once that happens, you can expect the performance of your rubber to drop, because the dirt will prevent the rubber from gripping the ball properly. You need to get that dirt off, without hurting the rubber in the process. How can you do that?

As it turns out, there are a number of ways of doing this, depending on your preferences (and wallet size).

  • Sponge and water. Use a Slurpex sponge (now called an Absorb 'N Dry Vacuum Sponge Block), which comes in a yellow plastic container that helps keep the sponge damp and protects it from getting dirty. A regular kitchen sponge in a small plastic container works pretty well too if you can't get hold of a Slurpex easily.
  • Rubber Cleaning Foam / Spray. A number of manufacturers have their own versions of these rubber cleaning solutions, which are applied to the rubber before cleaning it with a sponge. The Butterfly and Nittaku rubber cleaning foams worked fine, but not so much better than a damp sponge. 
  • Detergent. Some players swear by adding a drop or two of detergent to water before dampening their sponge with it. 
  • Spinmax: This rubber cleaning solution is a bit different from most other rubber cleaning foams, in that it doesn't just clean the rubber, it actually leaves a noticeable residue on the rubber that helps improve the grip of the rubber. 
  • Breath and Hand Wipe: You may have seen table tennis videos showing some of the top players cleaning their rubber by breathing on it, then wiping the rubber with their hand. Apparently, our breath is supposed to contain pure water vapor that can be wiped by your hand to remove any dust from a racket. You may not want to use this technique on a nearly new rubber, because it may smear oils from your hand onto the rubber.
  • Toothbrush: This technique is used by players who want to keep the rubber tips and sides of the pimples clean in order to get the maximum grip when the pimples bend. A damp toothbrush allows the pimples to be cleaned thoroughly, and it can be dipped in Spinmax or rubber cleaning foam if you are obsessive enough to bother. 
  • Nothing. Some players who use antispin or long pimples never clean their rubber, since they feel the more dirt and dust on the rubber surface, the more effective their equipment will be! This can be quite effective, although theoretically, a rubber is illegal to use if it has changed from its original playing characteristics.

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