How to Clean a Basketball – Expert Guide

There are various ways to clean a basketball, and it may depend on the material it is made of. You may use non-abrasive brush or wet wipes to remove deep-seated dirt, or you may just rinse it completely with water. It’s important to learn how to properly clean a basketball and be aware of the what-not’s to make sure it would last.

A basketball is meant to be played outside. No wonder it can be a host of unseen dirt and bacteria that may harm your health. As a responsible user, one way to lengthen its lifespan is through proper cleaning before use. Cleaning the basketball every use also ensures safe usage. 

There are different ways by which you can clean a basketball. Learn these methods to follow to maintain the good condition of your basketball.

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Cleaning a basketball based on its material

If you notice, basketballs are made from different materials such as rubber, natural leather, or synthetic leather. There is a notion that cleaning a ball with water and soap is already enough to eliminate the deep-seated dirt and bacteria. The truth is, the only way to properly clean it is by using an effective method based on the material from where it is made from. 

The different kinds of basketballs are created uniquely. For example, the NBA’s official basketball, Spalding, is a good example of natural leather basketballs suitable for indoor games on wooden flooring.

Synthetic leathers are the kind of balls suitable for indoor and outdoor use. If you are in search of a basketball that requires less maintenance and has wear and tear properties, this is the best option.

Knowing the material of your ball doesn’t only help in cleaning but also serves as a guide to using it correctly. You don’t want to use an indoor-use-only ball outside with chances of it getting damaged easily.

A. Rubber-made basketball cleaning

A basketball made in rubber is one of the commonly available in the market. It is the most used type that amateur or professional basketball players use. 

The elastic characteristic of basketball magnets dirt easily, so it is more prone to catching bacteria. With this, constant cleaning is required every after use. Before cleaning the basketball, it is advisable to know the proper ways on how to clean it. The rubber material is quite a high maintenance material. You don’t want to ruin its texture by cleaning it incorrectly.

  • Dissolve a mild detergent in a basin with warm water.
  • Make use of a cloth to rub the dirt and dust that are stuck on the rubber’s surface.
  • Rinse the ball with a tap water and dry it with a clean cloth.

B. Cleaning with a wipe


Some types of basketballs can only be cleaned with a wipe, especially those that are made of materials that are easily vulnerable to punctures. Brushes can sometimes damage the ball so cleaning it with wipes is a safe and better solution. Here’s how it’s done:

  • You may use instant wipes that can be purchased in grocery stores. However, most wipes contain alcohol that may ruin the ball’s surface. Choose the one that has a mild formulation. You may also use a cotton cloth.
  • When used a cotton cloth, soak it in a basin with water and mild detergent. 
  • Wipe the ball’s surface. Deep-seated dirt can be difficult to get rid off that is why exert a pressure when wiping it.
  • Since you’ve used a damp material in cleaning it, let it air dry or you may wipe it again with a dry cotton cloth before use.

C. Directly washing the basketball

If the balls aren’t used more often, it can be washed directly with water. Follow the steps below:

  • If you want to ensure that your ball is totally clean, you may wash it completely with water. Keep in mind to use lukewarm water only to avoid damaging the ball’s surface.
  • Make use of a mild detergent and mild it gently. Make sure to rinse it properly.
  • Let it air dry before use. 

D. Using a toothbrush for cleaning

The toothbrush is a go-to cleaner that is not too abrasive, unlike other cleaning tools. There are cleaning tools designated for cleaning a basketball that includes a cleaning brush. If you don’t want to spend much, a toothbrush is a handy and effective cleaner.

  • Soak the toothbrush in a basin with mild detergent and water.
  • Start brushing the basketball with extra pressure. Through the use of a toothbrush, deep-seated dirt can be removed with the right stroke and pressure. 
  • Rinse the ball. Make sure that there are no detergents left. Air dry before use.

E. Cleaning a leather basketball


The most expensive kind of basketball is those that are made from leather. One of the disadvantages of having a leather basketball is that it needs extra care and regular maintenance. Professionals often use Leather-type basketballs because of its smooth performance on the court.

When the leather is not properly cleaned, it may be damaged easily, or it may shrink slowly that may affect its performance. Here is an effective way to clean a leather-type basketball:

  • Leather basketballs are also sensitive to water, like your leather jacket. The most effective way of cleaning it is through the use of a leather cleaning solution and a cotton cloth.
  • Wet the cotton cloth using the leather solution and completely wipe the basketball with it. The rubber solution can help magnet dirt. Leave it for a couple of minutes before rinsing.
  • Rinse it with water. Since the basketball is sensitive to water, make sure to dry it immediately. It can be air-dried, or you may wipe it with a clean cloth. Never use a lather-type basketball that is wet. 

How to keep a basketball clean?

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Keep dust away

Dust buildup can make the basketball lose its grip. To get rid of the dust, dip a towel with warm water and squeeze it, so the excess water is removed. Use the towel to wipe the basketball.

Play on a clean court

When playing on any outdoor or indoor court, be careful and watch for any sharp objects around that the basketball can bounce into. Before playing, make sure the court is dusted and cleaned. Sharp objects can puncture the basketball and can eventually damage it.

Storing in the right environment

Storing the ball in hot places can affect its shape. Instead, store it in a cool and dry place. Or better use a basketball bag and have it placed somewhere safe in your room.

To keep the basketball clean and its color as good as new, avoid storing it out of direct sunlight and follow the general cleaning practices above. Also, remember to store it properly and safely after using it.


Hopefully, this guide helps you learn how to clean a basketball without damaging it. With regular care and maintenance, a basketball is always clean, and you can play with it for more years to come, regardless if it’s a rubber ball or a synthetic one.

It is important to keep the basketball clean, especially if you always use it. More than ensuring you don’t catch the dirt and bacteria hidden in an unclean basketball, cleaning it will ensure it will last long. It doesn’t take much time to wash and dry it.

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