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If you have an air hockey table, you know just how fun this game is. That said, it’s not all fun. Just like any other piece of equipment in your game room, your air hockey table will require regular maintenance and cleaning.
Today, we will talk about the latter.
Why Do You Need to Clean Your Air Hockey Table Regularly?
The main reason why air hockey tables need to be cleaned on a regular basis is to prevent the air holes from clogging or to unclog them in the event that they have already become clogged. Air hockey relies on solid and strong airflow, so those holes need to be kept clear of any and all debris.
Furthermore, to allow the pucks and mallets to glide effortlessly, the table needs to be clean and smooth. The more dirt and gunk is on that tabletop, the more friction will be created, and the slower the puck will move.
Finally, having a clean and crisp table just looks much better too.
How Often Should You Clean Your Air Hockey Table?
The general rule of thumb to keep your air hockey table in prime condition and to allow those pucks and mallets to glide smoothly across the surface is to clean your air hockey table about once per week.
If you play very often and you live in a fairly dusty environment, you may need to clean the air hockey table more frequently, maybe every four or five days. If you live in a very clean environment, you may be able to push this to about 10 days in between cleanings.
How to Clean an Air Hockey Table
Right now, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of today’s article, a detailed step-by-step guide on how to clean your air hockey table.
Step 1: Turn the Blowers On
Before you can get to cleaning your air hockey table, you first need to turn it on. This might seem counterintuitive because mostly anything else out there that requires cleaning needs to be turned off first.
This is not the case with air hockey tables. You actually need to keep them plugged in and turn them on. If air is blowing out of the many holes in the tabletop, it will prevent dust, dirt, liquid, and other particles from entering and clogging them.
Step 2: Vacuum the Tabletop
The next step to getting your air hockey table looking like new is to vacuum the tabletop. You want to vacuum the air hockey table to remove any and all cobwebs, dirt, dust, and anything in between.
Make sure to hold the vacuum nozzle just above the surface of the table, as close as you can humanly get without actually making contact. You don’t want that hard plastic or metal vacuum nozzle scratching the air hockey table’s surface. Pay special attention to the air holes and do your best to suck debris out of them.
If you want to make things a bit easier, you can cover the rim of the vacuum nozzle with some soft foam or tape. This way, you could make contact with the table without risking damage, and this way you can create an airtight seal between the nozzle and each of the airholes, thus allowing the vacuum to suck dirt out in an effective and efficient manner.
Step 3: Wipe the Table Down
The next step in this process is to wipe the air hockey table down using a soft cloth, preferably a microfiber cloth to prevent scratching the surface of the table. If you are worried about causing damage with liquid, you can try cleaning it with a dry cloth, although this probably won’t work very well.
Best is if you use a slightly damp cloth, as this will help dust and dirt stick to it. If you do want to use some sort of cleaning solution, don’t use anything that contains alcohol or other harsh chemicals, and try not to use soap that is going to create a lot of suds and bubbles.
A very slightly damp microfiber cloth with just a little bit of gentle cleaner will do fine. Make sure to not only wipe down the tabletop but the rest of it too, including the legs and the underside.
Step 4: Deal with the Air Holes
Here, you will need something like a sewing needle, a drill bit, a toothpick, a pipe cleaner, or anything else of the sort. The point here is that vacuuming and wiping down the tabletop might not be enough to remove all of the dirt and debris from the air holes, so you need to pay specific attention to each and every hole.
Here, you need to be very careful, because you need to insert a fairly long and thin object into each air hole, and then pull out as much dirt and debris as you can.
The trick is of course to pull the dirt out instead of just jamming it further down into the holes. While you do this, make sure that the blowers are still on, as this will help push dirt out and will help prevent you from causing debris to become lodged even deeper within those holes.
Step 5: Polish the Air Hockey Table
You don’t have to do this, but if you want your air hockey table to look brand new, using a specialized air hockey table polish is recommended.
Apply a thin coat of the specialized air hockey table polish and buff it into the table (or just follow the directions on the specific product as recommended). If you have a wooden air hockey table, you can use wood polish or furniture wax for the exterior of the table (but not for the tabletop).
Step 6: Finish Off with the Pucks & Mallets
The final step here is, if your pucks and mallets are rough or have damage, to sand them down.
You can use some super fine-grit sandpaper to return both the pucks and mallets to their original smoothness to help them glide effortlessly on the tabletop. If you have pucks or mallets with felt bottoms, this is as easy as replacing the felt.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
With the basics out of the way, let’s look at some extra tips that will make the process smoother:
- Never use harsh chemicals, cleaners, or alcohol on your air hockey tabletop, as these can irreparably damage the surface.
- Always use soft cloths like microfiber cloths to clean the tabletop. Never use anything abrasive like a dish sponge.
- Never clean an air hockey table with the blowers off, as this will increase the chance of you clogging the holes during the cleaning process.
- When cleaning out the holes with a long and thin object, start at the edge of the holes and then try to turn the needle (or whatever you are using), slightly sideways to pull and lift the dirt out. Simply jamming a needle right into the center of the hole will accomplish nothing but to drive the debris further down into the holes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Finally, below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about cleaning air hockey tables.
What is the Best Way to Unclog Air Hockey Table Holes?
The best way to unclog air hockey table holes is to first turn the blowers on, then vacuum them out (without touching the hose to the table if possible), and then using something long and thin to lift the dirt out of the holes.
What is the Best Way to Remove Scuff Marks from an Air Hockey Table?
The best way to remove scuff marks from your air hockey table is to get a rag or microfiber cloth, and then soak it in some alcohol- and ammonia-free cleaner, such as a gentle window cleaner, and then get to scrubbing.
You cannot use abrasive sponges or harsh chemicals as you would damage your table’s surface. As such, your only option here is to spend some time scrubbing. As long as you aren’t using anything abrasive, you don’t have to worry about applying too much pressure. It’s all in the muscle work here.
How to Fix Bubbles on an Air Hockey Table?
To fix any bubbles that may be forming on your air hockey table, you can use a thin and very sharp object to puncture them. Some people use specialized super glue to glue the bubbles back down flat to the surface.
If the bubbles are very large, severe, or numerous, you may need to replace the air hockey tabletop altogether.
Can You Wax an Air Hockey Table?
Yes, waxing an air hockey table in order to make it much smoother and friction-free is possible, just as long as you use a type of wax that is specially designed for air hockey tables.
Can You Resurface an Air Hockey Table?
It is technically possible to resurface an air hockey table, but in all reality, if the damage is bad enough to warrant resurfacing, you may as well replace the tabletop altogether, as this will likely be both easier and cheaper.
As you can see, if you clean your air hockey table on a regular basis, about once per week, then the whole process is quite easy. Realistically, it should not take longer than 10 or 15 minutes from start to finish.
On the other hand, if you don’t clean the table regularly, each and every cleaning will get that much more difficult.