Can I Put My Bowling Ball in the Dishwasher?

can i put my bowling ball in the dishwasher

Bowling balls soak up lots of oil throughout the course of a game. In order to keep them in top-notch condition, they have to remain clean and free of oil. So, many bowlers like yourself, look for ways that are quick and effective.

You might ask, “Can I put my bowling ball in the dishwasher?” You can definitely put your bowling ball in the dishwasher as a means to clean or de-oil it, but it must be taken with caution as you may risk doing more harm than good.

It’s important to think long and hard about using your dishwasher with your bowling ball.  But, if you’re dead set on it there is a right way to go about this.

How Do You de-Oil a Bowling Ball Using the Dishwasher?

It’s quite simple to use the dishwasher to clean your bowling balls.  All you have to do is follow a few steps and make sure you don’t do something you’ll regret. The last thing you want is to damage your ball.


The max temp a bowling ball can tolerate is 140°F. So, you have to make sure the water temp will be at 140°F or less. You might be okay at 145°F, but anything beyond that will damage your ball.

You also have to shut off all heating functions, drying cycles, special settings and sani rinses.  This is because such things can warp the ball while providing heat on only one side.  The bowling ball must have even heat applied to keep the coverstock in good condition.

Also, avoid using soap. While there may not be any issues with using something like Jet Dry, soap designed for the dishwasher has bleach in it and could create raindrop-like stains of discoloration all over the ball. Plus, powdered detergents could clog up the finger holes. 

Steps for Cleaning or De-Oiling Your Bowling Ball in the Dishwasher

If still determined to use the dishwasher, and can ensure all the precautions above, here’s how you can do it:

  1. Either plug the finger holes (with tape, clay or etc) OR put the ball face down on the bottom rack so the pegs go into the holes. Don’t use the top rack, it won’t fit and it usually won’t be able to handle the weight of the bowling ball.
  2. Turn off all heating and drying cycles along with any other special cycles, including sani rinses.
  3. Set the dishwasher on a regular washing cycle and let the machine do its thing.
  4. When done, let the ball sit in the dishwasher for a couple hours before removing it.
  5. Then allow the ball to air dry, finger holes facing down, for at least 24 hours before tossing it down the lane.  This will ensure it fully dries and cools.

Did you know that most professional bowlers wipe down their bowling balls after each shot? Oil track is excess oil that is left on a bowling ball after a shot. When a lane is oiled too much, the amount of oil tracked on your bowling ball will greatly affect the way it rolls. Using a bowling ball wipe pad like this one after each shot can help keep excessive oil off of your bowling ball.

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Can Water Damage a Bowling Ball?

Water, or any other liquid, can damage a bowling ball if soaked for more than 30 minutes.  This is because it gets absorbed into the coverstock and can affect the ball’s play quality while stripping it of the oils inside.

A little water is fine, but you should ensure it doesn’t soak for longer than 15 to 20 minutes.  Anything more will cause the ball’s components to start leaching out.

What Do You Do With Balls That Get Powdered Detergent Stuck in the Finger Holes?

In the event you use detergent on your bowling ball in the dishwasher, you might find the granules lodged into the finger holes.  You can do one of two things:  either put the ball back through on a rinse cycle or use a hose (or other mode of high pressured water).

Regardless of which method, make sure the water is cool and don’t use it for more than 30 minutes.  If you find it’s wedged in there, try to scrape out the soap with a wooden stick, a cotton swab or other nonabrasive implement to get it out before using any water.

How Many Bowling Balls Can Go Into the Dishwasher at Once?

Depending on the size of your dishwasher, two to three balls can wash at one time.  However, it is advisable to do only one at a time to ensure thorough cleansing.

Why Might It Be a Bad Idea to Use the Dishwasher?

First, there are some spouses or significant others who might lose their minds at the prospect of putting a bowling ball in the dishwasher. But there are other reasons using a dishwasher to de-oil your bowling ball may not be a great idea. 

Oils Are Toxic

Because of the composition of the oils that get attached to the ball, they can transfer to the dishes in any load afterwards. These oils are toxic for people to consume. You’re putting these over the same surface where you wash dishes. 

Many dishwashers are mostly plastic and silicon. Oil is famous for getting stuck against any and all surfaces it touches in the most stubborn and frustrating ways. So, simply running a cycle with dish soap and hot water may not rid your dishwasher of it altogether, especially if you use it often to clean your ball.

All Metal Dishwashers

A dishwasher comprising all metal is more amenable because it’s easier to ensure cleaning the oil off after using it on your bowling ball.  Even still, hand cleaning may have to take place. This is so that you can be confident the next time dishes go through it.

How Do You Clean a Dishwasher After Washing a Bowling Ball in It?

To hand clean the dishwasher, use regular dishwasher soap and replace the heat and drying settings on your machine. After the run, inspect the dishwasher for stains, smudges and odors.  Even if you don’t see any visible oil anywhere inside the machine but it smells like a bowling alley, you have to hand clean the dishwasher.

Use a liquid dish soap that has degreasing features with warm water and a clean sponge.  You can use a drop of bleach if you think it is necessary.  Scrub every piece, part, nook and cranny.  Rinse everything well and run the dishwasher again with soap.

Check the dishwasher again and repeat these steps as required.  You may have to do this several times before the machine is thoroughly clean and odor-free.

Final Thoughts

If you really want to use a dishwasher to de-oil your bowling ball, it is doable. But, you should clear it with others in the house that may not find it such a good idea.  Besides, there are many other methods to clean your ball that may not present a health risk to the rest of everyone living in the household.

However, if you can ensure proper temperature while turning off erroneous cycle setting and refraining from using soap, a dishwasher will work quite well.  That said, you should be smart about how you do this and the health risks involved should you choose to do it.

If you have an all metal dishwasher or can reserve the dishwasher only for cleaning bowling balls, then use it at your leisure. But, if your spouse will have a serious conniption about it, you should find another means of cleaning your bowling ball.

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