How to Clean Pool Table Felt

Keeping your pool table felt clean is essential for enjoying smooth, fast-paced games. Though it may seem daunting, with the right techniques and tools, cleaning felt can be easy. We’ll walk you through the entire process step-by-step.

Gather the Proper Supplies

Cleaning felt requires just a few simple supplies:

  • Pool table brush – Use a soft-bristle brush made specifically for pool table felt. The brush needs to be firm enough to dislodge dirt and debris but gentle to avoid damaging the fabric.
  • Vacuum cleaner – Any standard vacuum will work, but a shop vac with an appropriate attachment is ideal for thoroughly cleaning felt. Make sure the attachment doesn’t have rough edges that could snag or tear the fabric.
  • Felt cleaner – Look for a mild, non-toxic formula made for use on pool table cloth. Avoid household cleaners, which may be too harsh.
  • Clean cloths – Have several clean, soft cloths on hand to apply cleaner and buff the felt. Microfiber cloths work particularly well.
  • Leaf blower (optional) – A portable electric leaf blower can help remove dust and other debris from the felt’s surface before vacuuming.

Clear the Table

Before cleaning, carefully remove all balls and accessories from the table’s surface. If possible, completely remove the rails as well for full access. Disassemble and take off any lighting fixtures.

Make sure the balls are stored properly in racks to avoid damage. Remove any drinks, coasters or other items from the rails and surrounding areas.

Remove Surface Debris

Use a leaf blower (if you have one) to blow off any loose dirt or debris resting on top of the felt. This is a quick way to remove what’s accumulated since the last cleaning.

Aim the blower across the felt’s surface, not directly down. Work systematically around the table until all areas have been cleared of dust and dirt.

Vacuum Thoroughly

Now vacuum the entire surface using the appropriate attachment for your vacuum cleaner. Vacuuming helps lift dirt, dust and other debris from deep down in the felt fibers.

Work in straight overlapping lines, vacuuming lengthwise first then widthwise. Cover each section methodically. Apply consistent, even pressure as you go.

Work your way around the entire table, even vacuuming under the rails and inside the pockets. Flip up each pocket flap to access debris that may be trapped underneath.

Take your time to thoroughly vacuum all areas of the felt. Remove the vacuum bag or empty the canister when it becomes full.

Pre-treat Stains

Examine the felt for any extra dirty areas or challenging stains. Use a small brush or cloth to gently work a bit of cleaning solution directly onto those spots.

Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes before proceeding. This helps lift deep, set-in dirt before the overall cleaning.

Be extra gentle when pre-treating to avoid damaging the fibers. Don’t aggressively rub or scrub localized areas.

Clean the Entire Surface

Prepare your pool table cleaner according to the product instructions. Use a high-quality microfiber applicator cloth to work the solution over the felt’s entire surface.

Apply in straight overlapping lines using consistent, moderate pressure. Work lengthwise first then widthwise across each section.

Continue around the table, cleaning all areas of the felt. Don’t forget along the rails and inside the pockets. Ensure solution reaches into the gaps beside cushions.

Let the cleaner sit for 5-10 minutes once the entire surface has been covered. This allows time to lift dirt from the material. Don’t let the solution dry completely.

Wipe Away Dirt

Use a clean soft cloth to wipe all areas of felt and remove lifted dirt and cleaning solution. Work in straight overlapping lines using moderate pressure.

Rinse and replace the cloth frequently to prevent redepositing grime back onto the surface. Be thorough but gentle during this process.

You may need to make several passes to remove all the lifted dirt. For really dirty spots, let the cleaner sit longer before wiping.

Rinse Clean

To rinse, dip a clean cloth in plain water and wring out thoroughly so it’s barely damp. Work over the felt using straight overlapping lines.

Rinse each section thoroughly before moving on. Frequently rinse and replace the cloth to avoid leaving any residue behind.

Work your way systematically around the entire table until all cleaner has been removed. Take extra time on heavily soiled areas if needed.

Let the table air dry completely before replacing rails or using. Avoid leaving any moisture behind on the cloth.

Remove Rails and Vacuum

With the table’s surface fully cleaned, remove the rails if you haven’t already. Use the vacuum and appropriate attachment to thoroughly clean all sides and undersides of the rails.

Vacuum along the inside edges where the rails meet the felt. Debris often gets pushed into these tight areas during play.

Reinstall the freshly cleaned rails once all sides have been thoroughly vacuumed. Insert cushions and level rails following manufacturer’s instructions.

Maintain Between Cleanings

To keep your pool table felt looking great and minimize deep cleaning time:

  • Use a soft brush to routinely sweep dust and debris from the surface, ideally after every use. Pay close attention around the rails and pockets.
  • Immediately wipe up any spills, drips or condensation marks to prevent stains.
  • Have players remove watches, rings and other items that could snag or damage the fabric.
  • Cover the table when not in use to limit dust and dirt exposure.
  • Rotate and rearrange racked balls to prevent indentation or matting of the felt fibers over time.
  • Consider professional cleaning every 1-2 years for optimal results.

With proper routine care and deep cleaning when needed, your pool table felt can maintain quality for years of play.

Supplies to Gather Beforehand

Cleaning pool table felt does require having the right supplies on hand. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:

Pool Table Brush

  • A soft-bristle brush made for pool table felt
  • Firm enough to dislodge dirt but won’t harm fabric
  • Look for a brush with a wide head for efficient cleaning

Vacuum Cleaner

  • Standard vacuum or preferably a shop vac
  • Vacuum needs appropriate soft attachment
  • Attachment shouldn’t have rough edges to damage felt

Felt Cleaner

  • Mild, non-toxic formula specifically for pool table felt
  • Avoid using harsh household cleaners
  • Products are available in spray bottles or squeeze bottles

Clean Cloths

  • High quality microfiber cloths work best
  • Need several for applying cleaner and buffing
  • Soft cotton cloths also acceptable if microfiber unavailable

Leaf Blower (Optional)

  • A portable, electric leaf blower
  • Makes removing surface dust and debris quick and easy
  • Can borrow one if you don’t own your own

Other Tips

  • Have spare vacuum bags/canister available
  • Empty vacuum fully before cleaning table
  • Obtain cleaning products designed for billiards

Investing in a few key supplies makes properly cleaning pool table felt much simpler.

Preparing the Table for Cleaning

Before cleaning, take a few minutes to properly prepare your pool table:

Remove All Accessories

  • Carefully remove balls, racks, cues, chalk etc.
  • Take out any custom pool table parts
  • Remove drinking glasses, coasters etc.

Take Off Rails (If Possible)

  • Gives full access for maximum cleaning results
  • Have a second person help remove rails
  • Take care not to damage rails or felt

Check Ball Racks

  • Make sure balls are safely stored in racks
  • Prevents damage to balls during cleaning
  • Arrange neatly out of the way

Disassemble Lighting

  • Take apart and remove any lighting fixtures
  • Bulbs can break if knocked during cleaning
  • Allows access to all felt areas

Clear Surrounding Areas

  • Remove any items sitting on rails
  • Clear any clutter under the table
  • Gives you room to walk around table

Other Tips

  • Cover table when not cleaning if pets in home
  • Have a second person assist if it’s a large table
  • Handle rails carefully to avoid scratching

Taking a little time to prepare the table makes the cleaning process much easier and more effective.

Blowing Off Surface Debris

If you have access to an electric leaf blower, use it as the first cleaning step:

  • Removes loose dirt/debris on top of felt
  • Quickly clears away any dust accumulated since last cleaning

Technique with Leaf Blower:

  • Aim blower across surface, not directly down
  • Keep several inches above felt so airflow is indirect
  • Systematically work around entire table surface

Benefits of Starting with Leaf Blower:

  • Swiftly removes dusty “top layer” before vacuuming
  • Helps dislodge pet hair, crumbs and other large debris
  • Reduces time spent vacuuming overall

Tips for Using Leaf Blower:

  • Gas-powered leaf blowers too strong, use electric model
  • Wear eye protection – debris can blow upwards
  • Remove any balls/items first to avoid scattering

Alternative if No Leaf Blower:

  • Use vacuum with hose attachment on open setting
  • Swiftly pass nozzle over felt to dislodge debris
  • Or skip this step and go directly to vacuuming

Though optional, a leaf blower makes a useful addition to your pool table cleaning toolkit for easy surface preparation.

Thoroughly Vacuuming the Felt

Now it’s time to bring out the vacuum for a deep clean:

  • Use appropriate soft attachment to avoid damaging felt
  • Adjust settings to high suction/power as able

Vacuum in Overlapping Lines:

  • Work lengthwise first, then widthwise
  • Apply smooth, consistent pressure
  • Lift deep dirt from fibers instead of just surface

Cover Entire Table:

  • Do table surface as well as inside rails, pockets
  • Clean under pocket flaps and rail edges
  • Remove vacuum bag/empty canister when full

Tips for Vacuuming:

  • Adjust suction higher if vacuum allows
  • Work slowly and methodically
  • Go over felt several passes
  • Clean under accessories once removed

Warning Signs:

  • Stop immediately if attachment pulls or snags felt
  • Switch to brush attachment if suction too strong
  • Avoid vacuums with very beater bars

Thorough, careful vacuuming is key to getting your pool table felt really clean.

Pre-Treating Stains and Soiled Areas

For tough stains or heavily soiled spots:

  • Use a small brush to gently apply cleaning solution
  • Avoid aggressively rubbing or scrubbing
  • Let solution soak 5-10 minutes before overall cleaning

Why Pre-Treat Stains?

  • Helps lift deep, set-in dirt before main cleaning
  • Allows cleaner extra time to work on problem areas
  • Makes entire cleaning process more effective

How to Pre-Spot Stains:

  • Lightly dampen brush with cleaning solution
  • Gently brush over stain, working cleaner into fabric
  • Use small circular motions or light back-and-forth

What to Use for Pre-Treating:

  • A mild pool table felt cleaner
  • Avoid using bleach or hydrogen peroxide
  • Don’t let cleaner dry completely before wiping

Tips for Spot Cleaning:

  • Test cleaner on inconspicuous area first
  • Take care not to over-scrub or damage fibers
  • Only pre-treat a few small areas at a time

Targeting stubborn stains first helps ensure your entire table gets uniformly clean.

Applying Cleaner to the Entire Surface

Once you’ve pre-treated any problem spots, thoroughly clean the rest:

  • Prepare cleaning solution as directed on label
  • Use a high-quality microfiber cloth to evenly apply

Technique for Applying:

  • Work in straight overlapping lines
  • Apply moderate but consistent pressure
  • Cover every inch of felt

Let the Cleaner Dwell:

  • Let solution sit 5-10 minutes once applied
  • Allows maximum cleaning power
  • But don’t let dry completely

Reapply if Needed:

  • Reapply lightly over stubborn areas
  • Avoid aggressively over-scrubbing spots
  • Be patient and let solution soak in

Tips for Overall Cleaning:

  • Use a quality cleaner made specifically for felt
  • Discard soiled cloths to avoid redepositing grime
  • Work methodically around entire table

Thorough application lets the cleaner fully penetrate and lift away built-up dirt and oils.

Wiping Away Dirt after Cleaning

Once cleaner has dwelled:

  • Use a clean soft cloth to remove dirt and cleaning solution
  • Work in straight overlapping lines with moderate pressure
  • Rinse and replace cloth frequently

Why Proper Wiping is Key:

  • Removes lifted dirt and oils for a deeper clean
  • Avoids leaving behind cleaning product residue
  • Helps lift cleaner from felt fibers

Signs Cloth Needs Replacing:

  • Visible dirt or discoloration appears
  • Cloth loses absorbency
  • Solution is redeposited, resulting in streaks

Tips for Effective Wiping:

  • May take several passes to fully remove cleaner
  • Work slowly and gently
  • Let cleaner dwell longer on tough spots

Thorough wiping is essential for ensuring all lifted grime is removed from the felt’s surface.

Rinsing the Table After Cleaning

After wiping, it’s time to rinse:

  • Use a clean cloth barely dampened with plain water
  • Wring out thoroughly so cloth is just moist, not wet
  • Rinse in straight overlapping lines

Why Properly Rinsing is Vital:

  • Removes all cleaning product residues
  • Prevents chemical buildup over time
  • Keeps felt fibers soft and supple

Signs Rinsing is Complete:

  • Cloth glides smoothly over surface
  • No streaks or white residues visible
  • Felt uniformly damp but not soaked

Tips for Effective Rinsing:

  • Work slowly and gently
  • Change rinse water frequently
  • Replace cloth before it gets too dirty

A thorough final rinse ensures your felt stays healthy and residue-free after cleaning.

Cleaning and Vacuuming the Rails

Once table surface is clean:

  • Fully remove rails if you haven’t already
  • Clean all sides and edges with appropriate vac attachment

Why Clean the Rails?

  • Debris gets pushed and trapped during play
  • Rotating the rails distributes wear
  • Helps rails slide smoothly when replaced

Vacuum Rail Edges Carefully:

  • Use brush attachment instead of harsh plastic
  • Adjust suction to low/medium setting
  • Avoid scratching or snagging cloth

Wipe Down Sides:

  • Use a clean microfiber cloth
  • For a deeper clean, also use a mild cleaner
  • Immediately dry to avoid metal corrosion

Thoroughly cleaning rails improves the look, playability and life of your pool table.

Maintaining the Table Between Cleanings

For keeping your pool table felt looking great daily:

  • Routinely brush surface, especially along rails
  • Immediately wipe up spills and moisture
  • Have players remove rings, watches etc.

Other Maintenance Tips:

  • Cover table when not in use
  • Rotate racked balls to avoid impressions
  • Clean rails every few months
  • Professional cleaning every 1-2 years

Signs it’s Time for a Deep Cleaning:

  • Noticeable dirt, stains or matting of fibers
  • Balls slow down significantly during play
  • Powdery chalk dust embedded on surface
  • Rails don’t slide smoothly

With proper care, you can keep your pool table felt clean and minimize the need for deep cleanings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some common questions about cleaning pool table felt:

How often should I deep clean the felt?

For heavy use tables, deep clean every 6 months to 1 year. With light use, 1 to 2 years is fine. Clean more frequently if you notice significant dirt buildup or slowing of the balls.

What’s the best pool table felt cleaner?

Look for a cleaner specifically made for pool table felt. Many major billiard brands make quality cleaners that are safe for the fabric. Avoid household cleaners.

Should I rotate the direction I brush/vacuum the felt?

Yes, alternating the direction helps lift debris from all sides of the fibers. Try cleaning lengthwise, then widthwise, rotating each time.

How can I remove wax or chalk stains?

Gently rub a small amount of denatured alcohol into the stain using a soft brush. Then rinse with water and let dry completely. Don’t aggressively scrub the area.

What should I do if my felt gets ripped or torn?

Carefully apply a small amount of fabric glue or clear nail polish along the edges of the tear. Press the sides together lightly. Wipe away any excess and let dry before playing.

How do I get rid of mold or mildew?

First vacuum and lightly brush the affected area. Then use a pool table mold treatment, following instructions carefully. Avoid using bleach.

With the right techniques, supplies and care, keeping your pool table felt clean doesn’t have to be a chore. Proper maintenance results in better playability and extends the life of the felt.


Cleaning pool table felt helps the balls roll smoothly and evenly during play. While it may seem daunting, just follow these steps:

  • Gather the proper supplies – soft brush, gentle vacuum, mild cleaner, microfiber cloths
  • Prepare the table by removing accessories and rails
  • Use a leaf blower to remove surface debris if available
  • Thoroughly vacuum entire surface in overlapping lines
  • Pre-treat any stained/soiled areas with cleaner
  • Apply cleaner over entire