How to Clean Pool Table Felt

Wooden pool table with balls and sticks on red felt in contemporary room

John Keeble/ Moment/ Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 4 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Whether you call the game pool or billiards, it is played on a pool table covered with fabric that can become stained from cue chalk, dirty hands, food, and drink spills. The fabric, called the pool table felt, cloth, or cover, aids the balls in their movement.

The felt for indoor tables is made from wool and polyester fibers or wool and nylon fibers. Outdoor pool tables use felt made mainly from acrylic fibers. Felt is a type of fabric that is made by matting and compressing fibers together until they interlock creating a strong, smooth surface.

While the felt can be replaced on a pool table, it is still important to clean the surface frequently to keep it looking great and to improve the outcome of your games. Learn how to clean pool table felt with just a few steps.

How Often to Clean Pool Table Felt

Ideally, the table felt should be brushed after every game to remove chalk dust and lint that can cause balls to roll wildly. If that isn't done, the table should be brushed after every 10 hours of play or at least weekly even if the table is covered while not in use. Spills and food stains should be cleaned away immediately and the cloth should be wiped down with a damp cloth at least monthly.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Pool felt brush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose and upholstery brush attachment

Materials

  • Water
  • Gentle detergent (Woolite)
  • Commercial pool felt cleaner

Instructions

  1. Brush the Table Felt

    Use a dedicated pool table felt brush to remove chalk, dust, and lint from the felt. Begin by sweeping out any debris from creases of the cushions and around the pockets. Then move to the end of the table that has the break line, or the head of the table. It is often marked with a nameplate.

    Brush in one direction only from the head of the table to the foot. By brushing in one direction, you will efficiently cover the entire surface without missing areas and put the least amount of stress on the felt. Stretching will only occur in one direction and if your felt has a nap, it will all be lying in the same direction.

    Do not brush vigorously or use too much pressure to prevent excessive wear and stretching. Just allow the bristles of the brush to make contact with the felt surface.

    Tip

    When purchasing a pool felt brush, select one with either horsehair or nylon bristles. Brushes range in length from nine to 12 inches. A longer brush is best for a full-size pool table because you can get the task done more quickly and reach the center of the table easily.

  2. Remove Spills and Stains

    While serious players know to keep food and drinks far away from the table, accidents happen. If food solids fall on the table, lift them away with the edge of a credit card or a dull knife. Do not rub, then follow the same steps as recommended for liquid spills.

    When any type of liquid spills on the felt, immediately blot away the liquid with a lint-free microfiber cloth. Do not rub, just lightly press the cloth down on the spill. Do not use paper towels or napkins because they leave fibers on the felt.

    To help dilute the stain, press a wet microfiber cloth over the stained area. Then blot again with a dry microfiber cloth to absorb the liquid. Allow the felt to air-dry with no added heat. Do not play on the table until it is fully dry.

    If there are visible stains, mix a few drops of a gentle detergent or wool wash like Woolite with some warm water. Dip a microfiber cloth in the solution and blot the stained areas. Wring the cloth well to prevent over-saturating the felt. Rinse with a damp cloth dipped in clean water and allow the area to air-dry. Or, use a commercial pool felt cleaner and follow the label directions.

  3. Vacuuming the Felt

    Brushing the felt is much more gentle than vacuuming. However, if you want to use a vacuum, use one without strong suction. Always use the upholstery brush attachment and only allow the bristles to touch the surface of the felt. Aggressive vacuuming will result in stretching and damage to the felt surface.

Tips to Keep Your Pool Table Felt Clean Longer

  • Keep the pool table covered when not in use.
  • Regularly clean the balls, sticks, and rack.
  • Do not drink, eat, or smoke near the table.
  • Do not apply chalk to the cue directly over the table.
  • Do not wear bracelets, watches, or jewelry that can snag the felt.