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After numerous seasons spent on the field, our softball equipment may start to deteriorate due to dirt, dust and sweat. When it comes to softballs, taking them back to their original bright yellow state seems to be an impossible task. However, with the right products for its leather and following some steps, you can learn how to clean a softball ball and take it back to the field as good as new.
Of course, the easiest way to clean a softball is using a baseball cleaning machine. These can scrub dozens of balls clean in a few hours, and they are very convenient for those who have to give maintenance to their softballs on a frequent basis, since they come with their own cleaning compound made of rubber to avoid adding excessive moisture to the balls. However, not all players consider it is a worthwhile investment since it doesn’t suit their needs.
You have to take into account the amount of times the balls have been used before jumping into the work, since some of them won’t be worth cleaning due to their deterioration. It is a nice detail to keep some of your oldest softballs with their scuffs and dust on them just to recall the game where you first won with your team, the numerous practices you had to go through just to achieve your current level and to always have something to look back to.
How to Clean a Softball
The methods explained below are good for cleaning your softball, but if it has an autograph you would like to keep or a stamp, some of them may not be the best options for you.
The first method you can try out is cleaning your softball with a magic eraser. This cleaning product is easy to find in the market and some players get it because of its convenience when used to remove stains from leather. Here are the steps to follow to get a clean softball with this method:
- Wet your magic eraser and squeeze to remove any excess water. It is better if you cut it into small pieces to get a better grip while you clean your softball.
- Rub the surface of the ball with the magic eraser as if you were erasing pencil from paper. You can also make circular motions while you rotate the ball to reach all the sides.
- Continue rubbing until the whole surface is clean. Be careful with the seams, as you may end up damaging them and shortening the durability of your ball. The magic eraser isn’t abrasive on leather, but the thin cottong of the seams is more prone to damage and fray. If this happens, the durability of your softball may reduce.
Cleaning with a magic eraser is fast and easy, but you may want to avoid it if you have an autograph on your softball, since the product also removes ink stains. You can try to go gently around these areas, but it may take some time to go through it. In case this method does not seem right for you, continue reading to learn how to clean a softball ball with other options.
Use dish soap
Another method o try out for cleaning your softball is dish soap and warm water. Dish soap is great for this purpose, since it isn’t abrasive and won’t damage the leather of your ball.
- Take a bowl of warm water and mix it with some soap, then take a cotton rag or a dish sponge and dampen it with the soapy water.
- Once you have wring out excess moisture, rub the surface of your softball in circular motions. Again, be careful with the seams, since the dish sponge may cause more friction to the stitches.
- It is important to note that you must avoid having your rag or sponge too wet. It can make the ball heavy and reduce its usual performance.
- When you notice your ball is as clean as it can be, take a slightly wet cloth and remove the soap, then wipe again with a dry cloth and place on top of a paper towel to absorb the remaining moisture.
This method is best for softballs that haven’t collected dirt for too much time and don’t have autographs on them. In case you want to reduce the possible damage you could cause to the seams because of the sponge, you can opt for cleaning your softball with your hands.
However, the two previous methods may not be very effective for softballs that have gone through numerous games, mud and grass stains. If the dirt and stains of your ball don’t come out no matter how much you clean it with a magic eraser or dish soap, you may want to try using bleach.
Since bleach can be very abrasive to the leather the ball is made of, you have to dilute it in a cup of warm water. Take a capful of household bleach and stir until it has completely diluted. You can also add gentle dish soap to the solution and substitute the bleach for white vinegar or rubbing alcohol, since they are leather-safe solvents.
- Take a cotton swab and dip it into the bleach solution. Squeeze the excess off to rub the surface of the ball with a light moisture. Use an old toothbrush if you want to have a better grip to clean your softball.
- Gently rub the cotton swab on the surface of your ball or an specific are of it and wipe back and forth until the stains lift away. Make sure you don’t touch any stamp or the stitches on the ball, since bleach will discolor them.
- When you have all your ball clean, wipe with a slightly wet towel. Remove all the cleaning solution from the surface. Do this as many times as you can, since leaving bleach on the ball can create long-term stains on your softball.
- In case your softball is significantly wet, do not let it air dry, since the leather may wrinkle and rip off after some usage. Instead, use a dry cloth or paper towel to remove any excess moisture from it.
This has proven to be one of the best ways to clean your softball when it hasn’t been taken care of for a long time. The bleach solution will most likely lift away any type of stain and dirt, but it is not recommended to use frequently, since it can be very abrasive for the leather.
One other way to clean your softball ball is using toothpaste. Fill a bowl with warm water and stir a little bit of toothpaste with it. Take an old toothbrush or a rag and wipe the dirt away with the mix you just made. You can let the solution sit for 5 minutes and then wipe it off with a wet cloth. Remember to remove excess water from it. Once you have your ball clean, get all the remaining moisture off it with a dry cloth or paper towel.
How to clean a softball: fast methods
Thus far, these four methods are the ones used for cleaning softballs that have a considerable amount of dirt on them. However, if you think your ball doesn’t need to go through such thorough cleaning processes, you can always learn how to clean a softball with these other options:
- Try out Clorox wipes to clean the surface of your ball. These are convenient to take to every practice and game to give your softballs a fast cleaning after a long session of use.
- Use a normal pencil eraser to remove light stains and scuffs. This method is good to maintain the bright color of your new softball on its first days of usage. Make sure to use a white eraser, or at least one that doesn’t come in any intense color. Using one with a color like blue may rub off onto your ball, leaving a much worse mark. Refrain yourself from cleaning a stain that is still wet, since the eraser will spread it onto the surface of the ball.
When cleansed, you can go over your softball with a layer of leather polish to give it a nice shine and get it ready for the next game or practice. Whichever method you choose to clean your softball, remember to avoid soaking it in too much water and be careful with the stitching of the seams. In the future, you may want to give a frequent maintenance to your softballs. This will reduce the probabilities of going through this methods and not being able to lift away all the stains.