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If you own a pool table, chances are it came with a set of cues that you keep on hand for use by guests. However, if you’re a real cue sports aficionado, then you likely have your own personal cue that is a perfect length and weight for you. Either way, there’s a good chance that one or more pool cues in your possession have become dirty over the years, both from contact with players’ hands and from chalk.
You’ll know that this is the case when your cue no longer slides smoothly through your hand when bridging. At that point, you need to consider manually cleaning it.
This guide will take you through the steps of doing that, including what you need to do when performing a “deep clean.” In all, performing routine cue cleanings like this is a proven way to keep your cue or cues in top condition through many years of use.
How to Clean a Pool Cue
Let’s jump right into talking about the process, step by step.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
First and foremost, you’ll want to start by gathering up all of the materials you’ll need to successfully clean a few pool cues. That way, you can efficiently care for an entire set of cues at once and get back to playing without delay.
Among other materials, you’ll want to have a damp rag and a dry rag on hand. You’ll also want to pick up a couple of microfiber pool cue cleaning discs. These are specialized cleaning mediums which you can pick up from a pool supply store, either online or in person.
They effectively pull dirt, oil, and chalk out of the pores of a cue stick without causing abrasion that would break down said cue’s wood structure.
Those several items are all you’ll need for a basic spot clean.
However, around once a year, you’ll also want to consider “conditioning” your pool cue. For that purpose, you’ll need a few more dry rags as well as some pool cue conditioner/cleaner. If your cue’s shaft is made from graphite or is fiberglass-coated, though, you’ll instead need a special non-abrasive conditioner.
Step 2: Wipe with Water, Dry
Once you have the right materials for cleaning your type of cue, you should start by gently wiping the entire length of your cue’s shaft with the damp towel. Do this a couple times before running your dry rag over the same surface.
Ensure that the entire shaft is dry before moving onto the next step.
This quick wipe down is designed to remove any chalk and oil hanging out on the cue’s surface. Removing it now allows the cleaning disc in the next step to more effectively target the dirt and oil that’s wedged in the cue’s pores.
Step 3: Apply Cleaning Disc
Next, you’ll want to grab out your two-sided microfiber disc to begin the cue cleaning process in earnest. To do that, follow the instructions on that disc’s packaging and apply the “rough” side of the disc to the cue’s surface.
Firmly press that disc’s surface into the cue’s shaft while paying special attention to the spots where you typically grip the shaft. These are where much of the oil and chalk tends to accumulate.
Once you’ve finished with the “rough” side, flip the disc over and begin the same process with the “polishing” side. During both steps, be sure that you are using long, straight strokes as you press the disc into the cue’s surface. This allows for the more efficient loosening and removal of dirt while also ensuring an even polishing job at the end.
If you find that your disc is becoming too dirty to use, check its packaging instructions. You may be able to wash it and continue reusing it for future cue cleaning jobs.
Step 4: Deep Clean (As Needed)
Every so often, you may find it necessary to perform a deep clean on your pool cues.
To do that, you’ll want to grab some cue conditioner liquid and apply it to your cue after performing the cleaning steps outlined above.
Be sure to follow the instructions on that conditioner’s bottle so that it has time to activate without damaging the wood cue’s surface, shape, or structure.
Mistakes to Avoid with Cue Maintenance
There are a few cue maintenance mistakes that even the most mindful owners forget about at times.
The first of these involves maintaining the ambient temperature wherever your cues are stored. Extreme heat, cold, and moisture can all cause wood shafts to warp and separate, leading to an unreliable performance in the long run.
Another mistake that’s common among new competitive players is failing to wipe down their cue after each use. This is absolutely essential because any oils or chalk on the surface after a match can begin to “set in” while stored away in a cue travel case. As such, it is important to keep a cleaning cloth in your travel case for use before storing said cue away – even for a few hours.
Also, there are many ways to prevent the need for frequent cleaning in the first place.
The first of these involves cleaning your own hands before playing. This minimizes the amount of oil and dirt that hop from your hands to the cue during play. In the same vein, try to avoid eating with your hands while playing pool. This, too, keeps particles off of your cue that can dirty it and throw off its performance.
Once you get down to it, cleaning your pool cue doesn’t need to be a laborious task. All you need is the right materials, including a cue cleaning and polishing cloth.
Once you have that, you just need to make a point to clean your cue or cues on a regular basis using the steps outlined above. That way, they’ll continue to play reliably throughout many, many rounds of pool to come.