Your pool table’s performance and appearance depend greatly on the condition of its felt cloth. Because of this, it is imperative that table owners pay attention to the care and maintenance of their pool table felt and the playing surface. Billiard cloth is made up of a combination of wool and nylon fibers that are either evenly sheared off as standard woolen felts are or are woven together into a worsted style of cloth. Both cloth styles can be damaged by chalk dust, dirt, liquid spills, pets and other objects impacting the cloth.
Chalk dust causes the most damage to pool table felt. It is very fine and abrasive and quickly works its way into the cloth were it begins to cut and wear on the fibers. Because everyone uses a lot of cue and hand chalk, it can build up very rapidly. There are many opinions on how to best deal with cleaning up this chalk but everyone agrees that regular felt cleaning is a must. The most important thing to remember is to do frequent cleanings before chalk has a chance to work its way deep into the cloth. A combination of brushing the felt with a soft bristle bed brush (preferably a horse hair billiard brush) and gentle vacuuming with a light powered vacuum cleaner seems to work best. Brush the cloth lightly from the center of the table toward the pocket openings. The use of a rail brush is handy for getting under table rails where the bed brush can’t reach. Brush dirt and chalk into the pocket openings where you can vacuum the accumulated dirt and chalk from inside the pockets. You can then use a light suction vacuum to go over the entire surface of the cloth to lift dust and dirt that is left over from brushing. Be sure to use light suction as you do not want to lift or stretch the cloth.
Dirt spots, liquid spills and other stains are best removed using a commercially available pool table felt cleaner. You should clean up any visible spots and stains as soon as possible before they have time to work their way deep into the cloth. It is best to follow the label instructions for the product but most have you test the product on a hidden area of the cloth first to determine color fastness and fiber compatibility. Spray or apply a light coat to the soiled area and wipe clean with a dry cloth. Be sure to turn the cleaning cloth often to prevent reapplying deposits. Do not scrub as this will deposit the soil further into the cloth. Repeat this process until soil is gone. It can take several applications to clean stubborn stains.
Follow these tips to keep your pool table felt in best condition:
1. Regularly clean, brush and vacuum your pool table felt.
2. Clean pool balls when you clean your felt.
3. Clean dirt and liquid stains as soon as they occur.
4. Keep pets, drinks and liquids away from the table.
5. Monitor and train children in proper shooting techniques.
6. Keep all hard and sharp objects off the felt such as coins, keys, etc. to prevent cuts and tears.
7. Wash hands before playing to prevent the transfer of dirt and oils onto the table and cloth.
8. Chalk pool sticks away from the table and use a minimum amount of hand chalk only where it is needed.
9. Always use a quality pool table cover when the table is not in use.