How to Clean a Basketball (for Rubber, Leather & Synthetic Leather)

As an avid basketball player, you want to perform the best you can every time you step onto the basketball court.

This capability goes beyond keeping a consistent training schedule and the right mental attitude. Keeping your tools in peak condition can also have a positive effect on your athletic performance.

Cleaning a basketball is probably the last thing on an athlete's mind. However, playing with a dirty basketball can adversely affect your gameplay and your health.

Have no fear! Your days of playing with a dirty and inefficient basketball are over. Read on for a comprehensive breakdown of everything you need to know about how to clean a basketball, whether it's rubber or leather.

Do You Need to Clean Your Basketball?

There are several reasons why cleaning your basketball is an integral part of basketball equipment maintenance.

First, residue and filth building up on the ball will make it more difficult to grip. Keeping the ball clean will allow you to handle it more effectively, thus improving your athletic performance.

There is a mental dimension to this as well. If you know that the ball is dirty, you might unconsciously feel reluctant to handle it properly, and your gameplay will suffer as a consequence.

Finally, basketballs can potentially spread germs, diseases, and infections. Thus, regularly cleaning your basketballs is not only a safeguard for your health but also a courtesy to other players.

Step by Step: How to Clean a Basketball Made of Rubber

So now you should have a thorough understanding of why keeping your basketball clean is necessary. But do you know how to clean a basketball?

If not, you've come to the right place. Read on below for a comprehensive guide to cleaning rubber basketballs. Rubber basketballs are made for outdoor play, hence they require the extra attention.

What You'll Need

  • A rag
  • A damp cloth
  • A scrubbing brush or toothbrush
  • Warm water
  • Cold water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • A bucket
  • Gloves
  • Optional: Ball cleaner

What to Do

Step 1: Make Preparations

Gather all of your materials for easy access and prepare the cleaning area in a space with access to running water. You should probably choose a location that can safely get a little wet in the process.

Make sure to select a bucket that is large enough for the basketball to fit inside it comfortably. A 6-gallon bucket is typically the recommendation.

Step 2: Eliminate Small Blemishes

Using a small brush, scrub away any smaller visible marks on the surface of the ball. A pencil eraser can also work well for this task.

Step 3: Wipe the Ball Down with Water

Next, thoroughly scrub the surface of the ball with your scrubbing brush and cold water. The water should break down the grime.

Rinsing the areas you have already scrubbed should give you an idea of how clean the ball is getting.

Step 4: Scrub the Ball with Soap

This step will help get rid of any stubborn marks. Continue scrubbing the ball while using some liquid dish soap or this ball cleaner.

Warm water might work better for this than cold water. You can also soak the basketball for a short time in warm water and soap to allow the grime to dissolve.

Step 5: Rinse the Ball

Once the ball is sufficiently clean, rinse it with water so that no soap residue remains on its surface.

If there is still some soap lingering, the ball will become sticky and unpleasant to touch.

Step 6: Dry the Ball

Wipe down the ball's surface with a towel and let it sit in a warm room or in an outdoor space protected from direct sunlight until it is completely dry.

How to Clean a Basketball Made of Natural Leather

Basketballs made of natural leather require different cleaning procedures. These balls are generally of higher quality and tend to be much more expensive than their rubber counterparts.

As such, it's essential to follow directions carefully to avoid damaging these balls while cleaning them. Let's take a closer look at the cleaning process.


What You'll Need

What to Do

Step 1: Makes Sure the Ball Is Inflated

Your basketball should be fully inflated before you begin the cleaning process. If you want to go by NBA regulations, the ball should have been 7-9 pounds per square inch of air.

The reason that inflation matters for how to clean a basketball has to do with wrinkles. If it has become deflated or flattened, the uneven surface area will create wrinkles on the ball.

Natural leather basketballs are relatively costly, so these superficial damages are best to avoid.

Step 2: Procure an Appropriate Leather Cleaning Product

You will need a natural leather cleaner to clean a natural leather basketball. You can get some here on Amazon. Avoid using leather creams and leather softeners, as these can damage the ball.

Step 3: Use a Clean Cloth to Rub the Cleaner on the Ball

Natural leather cleaner is a harsh substance, and using it directly on the surface of the basketball can cause damage.

Instead, rub a small amount of the leather cleaner on a clean cloth and rub that cloth on the basketball. You can also use a toothbrush to help scrub away visible marks.

Step 4: Rinse and Towel Dry the Ball

Next, rinse the ball with water and use a dry rag to remove the remaining cleaner. Make sure to not use any heating appliance for this step.

Step 5: Leave in an Appropriate Place to Finish Drying

Store the basketball in a dry, cool place until it is ready to use. Keep it out of heat and humidity to avoid causing any damage.

How to Clean a Basketball Made of Synthetic Leather

If you want information on how to clean a basketball made from synthetic leather, the process will be quick and straightforward.

What You'll Need

What to Do

Step 1: Rinse

First, rinse the ball with water.

Step 2: Soak

Mix warm water and soap in a bucket and submerge the ball in this mixture to allow the grime to dissolve.

Step 3: Remove Stains with Synthetic Leather Cleaner

Synthetic leather basketballs tend to accumulate tough stains over time that are difficult to eliminate.

You may need to purchase a synthetic leather cleaner from Amazon or your local sporting goods store.

Step 4: Dry

Rub the surface with a clean cloth to remove any visible marks and allow the ball to dry.

Routine Basketball Care

In addition to cleaning your basketballs regularly, some other best practices can help improve the longevity of your sporting equipment.

Make sure only to use leather basketballs on an indoor court, as undue exposure to the elements can damage them.


Spalding, the official creator of basketballs for the NBA, recommends that you always store your basketballs away from direct sunlight in a dry and cool environment.

Undue exposure to heat and humidity can have adverse consequences.

For athletes who practice every day, it's a good idea to use several different basketballs in rotation. That way, you can avoid undue stress on your only basketball from overuse.

Conclusion: Cleaning Your Basketball

Knowing how to clean a basketball is an integral part of maintaining your sporting equipment.

By following these simple steps, you can make sure your basketballs are clean and always at the ready to bolster your performance on the court.

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast