How to Bleed a Bowling Ball

Bleeding a bowling ball is vital for maintaining its performance, tackiness, and smoothness. This process involves removing excess oil and grease buildup on the ball’s surface, which can affect its movement and grip, ultimately resulting in a poor gaming experience. While professional services are available for de-oiling a bowling ball, there are also simple DIY methods that you can follow.

When it comes to bleeding a bowling ball, there are plenty of choices available at pro shops – from sandblasting and acid stripping to water jetting. However, these processes require specialized equipment and should always be done by professionals. For the hands-on individual, this guide will expound upon why it is important to bleed a bowling ball and provide four useful DIY techniques.

De-oiling a Bowling Ball: Why Is It Important?

As a bowling ball rolls down the lane, it absorbs oil, which affects its effectiveness over time. Excess oil buildup on the ball’s surface compromises its grip, making it challenging to control and hit the pins accurately. Bleeding a bowling ball helps restore grip, ensuring an optimal gaming experience. 

Professional bowling shops use specialized equipment to rejuvenate bowling balls, but these services can be expensive. If you want to save money and take matters into your own hands, learning to resurface a bowling ball with bleeding is also a good idea! The DIY methods discussed below offer cost-effective alternatives for maintaining your bowling ball’s performance.

Effective Ways to Bleed a Bowling Ball

1-Submerging in Hot Water

The hot water bath method involves soaking the ball in hot water to remove excess oil. Here’s the step-by-step process:

  • Fill a large container or sink with hot water (approximately 120-140°F or 50-60°C). Ensure that the water level is enough to submerge the entire ball.
  • Tape over the ball’s holes to prevent water from seeping inside.
  • Submerge the bowling ball in hot water for about 15-20 minutes. The heat will cause the oil to rise to the surface.
  • Remove the ball and wipe it with a clean towel to remove any remaining oil.
  • Repeat the process if necessary until the ball is clean and grease-free.

Precautions: Be cautious while handling hot water to avoid burns. Never use boiling water, as it may damage the ball’s coverstock.

2-Using a Dishwasher

The dishwasher method can provide a deep clean for your bowling ball. Here’s how to do it:

  • Tape over the ball’s holes to prevent water and soap from entering.
  • Place the ball on the dishwasher’s bottom rack with the holes facing up.
  • Run the dishwasher on a normal cycle without using the heat-dry or sanitize options.
  • Once the cycle is complete, remove the ball and let it air-dry for at least 20 hours.

Precautions: Do not use the heat-dry or sanitize options, as excessive heat may damage the ball.

3-Letting It Sit in a Car

This method uses heat inside a car on a hot, sunny day to de-oil the ball. Here’s how:

  • Tape over the ball’s holes to prevent dust and debris from entering.
  • Place the ball inside your car, preferably on a towel or blanket to protect the seats.
  • Leave the ball in the car for hours or until you notice oil seeping out.
  • Wipe the ball with a clean towel to remove the oil.
  • Repeat the process if necessary until the ball is clean and oil-free.

Precautions: Avoid leaving the ball in the car for extended periods or on extremely hot days, as excessive heat may damage the ball.

4-Heater method

The heater method is riskier but can yield good results when done correctly. Here’s how:

  • Tape over the ball’s holes to protect them from heat and debris.
  • Place the ball in front of a space heater or a heating vent, ensuring it’s at least 12 inches away from the heat source.
  • Rotate the ball consistently to achieve uniform heating, which helps draw out the oil evenly.
  • After approximately 20-30 minutes, remove the ball from the heat source and wipe it with a clean towel to remove any oil.
  • Repeat the process if necessary until the ball is clean and oil-free.

Precautions: Monitor the ball closely to prevent overheating, which may damage the ball. Maintain a safe distance between the ball and the heat source to avoid potential hazards.

How Often Should You Bleed a Bowling Ball?

The frequency of bleeding your bowling ball depends on the number of games played and the oil condition of the lanes. As a general rule, you should consider bleeding your ball after every 50 games when playing on super oily lanes or when you notice a significant difference in its performance. A more conservative approach is to bleed your ball three times a year, ensuring a smooth and consistent bowling experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a hairdryer to bleed my bowling ball?

Using a hairdryer to bleed a bowling ball is not recommended. Hairdryers do not provide the heat and consistency to remove oil effectively. The hot water, dishwasher, car, and heater methods mentioned in this guide are more suitable and effective options for bleeding a bowling ball.

How can I tell if my bowling ball needs to be bled?

If you are experiencing a decrease in your bowling ball’s performance, like an inability to hook or decreased reactions on the lanes, then it may be time to think about bleeding your bowling ball. Another sign that your ball may need bleeding is a visible oil ring or shiny surface on the ball. These indicators suggest oil has built up on the ball’s surface, and bleeding can help restore its original performance.

Is using household cleaning products to clean my bowling ball safe?

If you want your bowling ball to last as long as possible and perform at its best, you should only use cleaners intended for this purpose. These products are formulated to remove oil and dirt without causing damage to the ball’s coverstock. Avoid using abrasive or harsh chemicals, which may deteriorate the ball’s surface and affect its performance.


Maintaining the performance of your bowling ball is essential for an enjoyable and successful gaming experience. To maximize your bowling ball’s performance, it’s important to bleed excess oil and grease from its surface. Professional services can be expensive, but we hope this guide has provided a few simple, cost-effective methods to keep your ball in top condition and ensure an enjoyable time on the lanes.

Choose the best method for you, and remember to exercise caution when handling hot water or heat sources. Regularly bleeding your bowling ball can ensure a smooth and efficient gaming experience for years to come.

Brad Finnearty
Brad Finnearty is a passionate bowler and a retired senior who has devoted his life to the sport he loves. With decades of experience, Brad is a well-respected authority within the bowling community. He is a member of several bowling leagues, has competed in numerous tournaments, and has even won a few championships along the way.