Your pool table will be damaged if you get it wet. Pool tables are delicate and aren’t designed to be waterproof. Water may stain and degrade the pool table’s felt playing surface, interfering with normal game play. The damage can be controlled but be careful not to damage the felt further while cleaning.
Liquid spills are one of the most common threats to pool tables everywhere, so if you have a pool table at home, it’ll be worthwhile to learn how to handle that kind of situation ahead of time. Then when a spill does happen, you’ll know what to do—and what not to do.
There are two main parts in every pool table: the wood and the felt. The wood can be handled like any other piece of wooden furniture, but the felt is a bit trickier. So, what do you do if the felt of your pool table gets wet?
What Happens When a Pool Table Gets Wet?
If you happen to spill a drink on the felt of your pool table or get a liquid on it some other way, the liquid will soak through the felt and then into begin soaking into the wood below. Neither the felt nor the wood underneath are designed to be waterproof, so you’ll need to act fast to prevent damage.
Felt is an extremely delicate material that’s prone to stretching, wrinkling, tearing, and wearing thin. It’s possible that the liquid on your pool table may only affect the table’s appearance by leaving a stain, but the liquid might also leave more lasting damage.
Your pool table is at extra risk if the liquid was at an extreme temperature. If left alone, felt soaked with very warm or very cold water will expand and contract in unpredictable ways. This will lead to wrinkling, stretching, or other changes to the texture and thickness of the felt. These changes will affect game play.
Things to Avoid if Your Pool Table Gets Wet
You have the best chance at preventing or removing water stains if you attend to the spill immediately. You need to be careful though—it’s easy to cause further damage unintentionally!
First, here’s what not to do.
Do Not Scrub the Stain
Scrubbing the wet felt, or any of the felt for that matter, is just about the worst thing you could do. Again, felt is extremely delicate! If you scrub the felt, you will rip it apart.
This will happen on a large scale, leaving a gash in the felt, or on a smaller scale, stretching the felt too thin and creating wrinkles. You may even wear the felt down, making it thinner in that area than in surrounding areas. All these types of damage will interfere with game play by making balls roll inconsistently.
Do Not Use Household Cleaning Products
Household cleaning products are not designed to be used on felt. The chemicals in your average cleaning solution will break the felt down, scar the wood underneath, and cause discoloration.
Do Not Apply Any Kind of Temperature to the Felt
Just like the temperature of the water itself can damage the felt, any other temperature will also cause damage. Do not try to vacuum up the liquid, steam clean the pool table, or use any kind of heat treatment.
How Do You Get Water Stains Out of a Pool Table?
Now that we know what NOT to do, we can look at the right way to address water stains on your pool table.
Blot the Wet Area With a Clean Cloth
You should absorb as much of the water as you can by blotting the area. Use a clean, dry cloth, and if the cloth gets saturated, put it aside and grab a dry one to continue. Felt can hold quite a bit of water, so it may take a while to get to the point where a dry rag won’t pick up any water.
Blot With a Vinegar Mixture
If you don’t have a cleaner designed for pool tables, the only solution you can use is a mixture of one cup water and two tablespoons vinegar. Dab this mixture onto the wet area with a cloth and then continue to blot the area.
Use a Cleaner Designed for Pool Tables
There are cleaners specifically designed for pool tables. If the vinegar mixture doesn’t get rid of your stain, get pool table cleaner; spray the cleaner onto the area and then brush it off with the provided brush. This brush is designed for use on felt and any other kind will damage the felt similarly to scrubbing.
If you follow these instructions carefully, there’s a good chance that once the area has air dried completely, your pool table will be back to normal. Most importantly, you’ll be able to play a fair game of pool on a smooth and evenly felted surface.
If you notice that balls behave unusually when you next play pool, the felt is damaged. If the interference is minimal and you don’t mind playing on the uneven surface, you’re good to go, but the only way to restore your pool table to its original usability is to replace the felt entirely.
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Keep Your Pool Table Clean
Seeing as pool table felt is so easily damaged, consistent cleaning is a good idea for every pool table owner. It’s best to take preventative measures like keeping food and drink away from your pool table. Even so, your pool table will certainly be exposed to dirt, chalk, and oils from your skin. Keeping your pool table clean will help lessen the damage in the case of an accidental spill.
The simplest way to clean your pool table is with a soft-bristle brush designed for use on felt. Lightly brush the surface of the felt in straight, even strokes. Start in the middle of the table and work your way outward, careful to avoid moving in curves or circles, which may stretch the felt.
You should also wash your pool balls occasionally since they can collect grime and press it into the table as they roll. Wipe down each ball with water and a clean cloth, letting it dry completely before using it on the table again.
Every once in a while, you should do a deep clean to get rid of all the dirt, chalk, and oil that your basic cleaning might not be able to get. Clean the felt with a small, low-suction, heat-neutral vacuum—you may want to look for one designed for pool tables.
Clean the balls with a clean cloth and a standard household cleaner. Unlike water, the cleaner will be able to break down and remove the oils that accumulate on the balls from your skin.
Everyone makes mistakes and you’re sure to face some challenges keeping your pool table in top shape. Preventative care is always good, but when mistakes happen, it’s important that you know what to do to minimize water damage to your pool table.
Remember, the felt on your pool table is extremely fragile! Keep heat, friction, and all messy substances away from your pool table. The only things that should touch your pool table are yourself and equipment designed to be used on it.
Even though pool table felt is delicate, if you’re careful about cleaning your pool table and quick to attend to spills or stains, you can expect to enjoy your pool table for years to come without any problems.