repair and maintain your pool table

Pool table repair and maintenance: Where to go and how to DIY

Summary: Learn how you can repair and maintain your pool table for years of durability.

Pool table repair and maintenanceSince 1984, Games For Fun has been offering full service pool table repair and maintenance services to homeowners in Southern California. While we repair pool tables, we also want to make sure that you know how to maintain your pool table so you can preserve it for as long as possible.

A clean pool table will last longer and play better than one that is neglected, and simple maintenance is one of the best ways to protect your investment. But maintaining your pool table is more than simply putting the table cover over when you’re not using it.

While covering your pool table is an important measure, pool table repair and maintenance are also necessary. We’ll be discussing how to care for the following areas on your pool table:

  • Wood

  • Cloth/Felt

  • Pockets

  • Balls

  • Additional preventative measures

Most of the steps in pool table maintenance are simple and don’t need to be done regularly for the table to remain in great shape. The goal is for your great-grandchildren to enjoy billiards on the same table you did!

Polishing the wooden parts of your pool table (cabinets, rails, and more)

Knowing how to clean a pool table is important and not difficult to learn. The wooden supporting structure can be maintained like any other piece of fine furniture. Any visible dirt or spills should be wiped off immediately with a clean, barely damp cloth.

For the cabinet and rails of the table, regular household wood cleaners and waxes should work fine… it is a piece of furniture, after all. Use common sense (don’t use wood products on leather and vice versa).

Dust when necessary and use wood polish if it looks really dirty and needs some extra scrubbing. Polish the wood with a citrus-based polish. The frequency with which you need to do this will vary depending on how heavily used the table is. Always follow the label directions for the polish that you choose.

Brushing or vacuuming the cloth/felt

Cleaning the wooden components of your table is easy, but a little more time is required to learn how to clean pool table felt. The surface of the table becomes soiled with dirt, dust, and chalk over time and all of this is ground into the felt by the pressure of the balls.


For the typical recreational pool player, the table should be brushed and vacuumed at least once a week. The more you play, the more often you should clean the table. Soiled felt is not only unattractive, but the dirt can cause the balls to roll in unexpected ways and can even wear away their surfaces.

Using A Vacuum

Some argue that using a brush for regular table cleaning is ineffective since the brush will simply push dirt and chalk dust further into the cloth fibers, causing them to deteriorate quicker.

Whether you decide to use a vacuum or a brush is up to you. However, for those who prefer vacuuming their felt, it’s recommended to use a low powered vacuum for regular cleaning.

Using A Brush

When you purchase a pool table, it should come with a brush that is used for treating the table’s felt. For those who opt for the brush, it’s very important that you brush the felt to ensure that all dust and stray fibers are removed from the table, this process is called “training”. This is one of the only steps in pool table maintenance that needs to be done regularly for optimum playing results.

Training ensures that the felt is setting correctly and that the balls have a smooth surface to roll over.

You can buy brushes that are made just for this purpose from businesses that supply pool tables. Some sporting goods stores may also carry them. The critical feature of these brushes is that the tips of the bristles are soft, so they will not damage or tear the felt. Always brush with straight, not circular, strokes. Make two passes over the table:

  1. Begin in the center and brush out to the edges, then begin at one end and work towards the other end. Use light strokes to avoid stretching the cloth.

  1. Vacuum the felt. Use a vacuum cleaner with light suction that has an upholstery tool and a crevice tool. Vacuum the main expanse of the table with the upholstery tool to pull out all the remaining dirt and chalk, and then use the crevice tool to clean under the rails. Lastly, vacuum the pockets to remove any debris that has collected there.

  1. Any liquids that are spilled on the felt should be cleaned immediately. Use a clean damp cloth to blot, not rub, the stain. Once the stain has been absorbed, use a dry cloth to blot any remaining dampness out of the felt.

For more stubborn stains, or for occasional deep cleaning, you can use a product that is specifically made to clean pool tables. This is typically a foam cleaner that you spray on the table and allow to dry. Follow the label instructions for the best results.

If you don’t want to replace the felt, try to keep all pets off the table as much as possible.

TIP: When chalking cues, keep the tip and the chalk away from the cloth. Chalk dust is fine and abrasive, so the less you chalk, and the farther from the table you do it, the less likely it is to affect your pool table cloth.

Should you use a leather conditioner to clean the pockets?

For the table’s side pockets, you can use leather conditioner ONLY on the outside if it’s needed. You shouldn’t need to do this very often, unless the condition of the room it is being used in is not ideal (if it’s outside, if the room is unfinished, etc.). Do not apply any to the inside of the pockets; this can affect the pool balls when they are at play.

Using a mix of warm water and soap to keep the balls free from dust and dirt

When you are performing routine maintenance on your pool table, you should take a few minutes to wipe the balls. Wiping them with a cloth dampened with warm water will be enough for a quick cleaning, but occasionally give them a more thorough wash. You can also add soap to the warm water.

Keeping the ball set free from dust and dirt will not only make them play better and more consistently, but will also help keep these particulars from sullying the table. Be sure to check out the market for specialty products that will remove oils and other types of dirt that cannot be cleaned away by soap and water alone.

Additional preventative measures (pets, designated spots for "damaging" items, and investing in a cover)

Keep the furry friends away. Specific areas/parts of your pool table such as the felt, it’s legs, and the pockets are at risk if you have a pet. Your furry friend might decide to make a good scratching post! Our best suggestion would be to keep all pets away from your table if they are not fully trained — both in your best interest and that of your table.

Avoid soiling and spills. This is an important step in extending the life of your table. Keep drinks and cigarettes/cigars away from your pool table. Accidents happen, but the further away from your table a spill takes place, the less likely you are to have any damage or staining to your cloth. Shelves, tables, and ashtrays are convenient (and literal table savers) for when you have guests, their drinks, and other “damaging” items.

Invest in a cover. For the times you are not using your table, a cover protects the surface against dust and damage and prevents sunlight from fading the cloth.

When you are playing, have a rule that there is no eating or drinking at the table. Provide a small table to the side for drinks and dishes.

Related article(s): Pool Table Maintenance 101, How To Clean And Protect Your Pool Table, and How To Maintain Your Pool Table Felt

Pool table repair, maintenance, accessories, and more

Sometimes, maintenance might not be the answer. If you simply are in need of pool table repair or more parts or accessories, it might be best to find a reputable business that specializes in pool table goods.

Perhaps you need a leader in the Billiard & Home Game Room Products industry since 1984.

No matter what your situation, we’ve got what you need to complete your pool table set up and have your table looking like new.

Be sure to browse our full selection of pool table replacement parts, accessories, and supplies here!

Games For Fun