If you’ve ever had your pool table re-felted, you know that it’s a bit of an ordeal. At a minimum price of about $250, re-felting is something that’s best avoided as long as possible. But the trick is to avoid it by keeping your felt clean, smooth, and ideal for play. To do this, many people turn to the vacuum cleaner. So a common question I hear a lot is, “Can you vacuum a pool table?”
Yes, you can absolutely vacuum a pool table. But some types of vacuums and attachments can damage the felt and affect playability. A vacuum with gentle suction and a nonrevolving, soft-bristled brush will ensure cleanliness and long life for your pool table felt.
Will Vacuuming Pool Table Felt Damage It?
I want to be up-front in saying that not all felt is created equal. The cheaper/older the felt, the more likely it will be damaged by improper vacuuming. Even new and expensive felt can be damaged by using the wrong type of vacuum or attachment. Most of the time it’s easy to tell when the vacuum is damaging the felt, but sometimes it may not be apparent until you’ve vacuumed it several times.
But if you use caution and follow the tips below, you’ll be able to effectively vacuum your pool table and keep your felt in great shape for years to come.
The Best Vacuums and Attachments to Use On Pool Table Felt
You always want to use attachments on a pool table’s surface. Placing an upright vacuum on a pool table to clean it is never a good idea. Even using a stick vacuum with the floor attachment isn’t a good idea. You have less control over a stand-up vacuum and the wheels may leave divots or indents in the felt. Accordingly, you’ll always want to use attachments to clean pool table felt. And there are certain types of attachments that are ideal, which we’ll cover below.
There are two main factors to consider when using a vacuum on a pool table. The first is the power or force of suction. The second is the kind of brush or attachment. Let’s take a look at them both.
You’ll want to use the lowest setting on the vacuum for cleaning the felt. On maximum suction, the force of the air can pull the felt away from the surface underneath, which will reduce the life of the cloth.
Some vacuums don’t have different suction settings. If you have one of these, I would advise against using it on the table at all. Best not to risk it. Luckily, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a vacuum if you don’t want to. I’ve suggested a few options in the section below.
The type of attachment you use is equally as important as the low suction setting. You don’t want to use any attachment that has a rotating brush. Most attachments like this rotate with the air suction, but some also rotate as you move them along the surface of the table. Neither one of these should be used on pool table felt, because they can pull at the fibers and damage the cloth.
The best attachment is one with soft bristles or no bristles at all. If you have a soft bristle attachment, I suggest using that. But, if all you have is an attachment with no bristles at all, it is preferable to one with hard bristles or a revolving brush.
For under the bumpers, you’ll want to use a small crevasse attachment for reaching hard places. These generally don’t have any bristles at all, which is ideal.
What Vacuums Not to Use on a Pool Table
As I said before, never use a stand-up vacuum on a pool table. It will do more harm than good. You’ll also want to avoid using automatic vacuums like Roombas on pool tables, as they’re likely to damage the felt and the bumpers. Most shop vacuums should be avoided, as well, unless you have the ability to turn the suction very low. Most shop vacs are just too powerful to use on pool tables, even with soft-bristled attachments.
Ideal Vacuums for Pool Tables
Bust on a Budget – Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister Vacuum
- This affordable vacuum cleaner is excellent for cleaning pool tables. It has a soft-bristle brush, three-speed suction, and doesn’t require bags. Ideal for those who want a vacuum they can clean their floor with, as well as their pool table.
Best Stick Vacuum – Proscenic P10 Cordless Vacuum
- This cordless stick vacuum has adjustable suction modes and ideal attachments for cleaning your pool table felt. It’s lightweight and can also handle hard floors and carpet.
Tips for Vacuuming Your Pool Table Felt
Now that you know what to look for in a vacuum cleaner and attachments, here are some tips on how to best clean your pool table.
Start With a Brush
Vacuuming a table is no replacement for using a good pool table brush. In fact, it’s best to start with a brush, usually working it from the outside at the bumpers to the inside of the table. Brush in straight lines and only one direction at a time.
Clean in One Direction
Once you’ve brushed the debris and residue loose, it’s time to start vacuuming. Use the vacuum attachment the same way you used the brush. Again, all straight lines, no circles or wiggles. Most people do half of the table at a time, working their way from the bumpers toward the middle down the length of the table, then doing the same on the other side.
Clean Under the Bumpers Last
Once you have the main area of the table vacuumed, switch to a crevasse attachment and clean under the bumpers last.
Clean The Pockets
Depending on the type of pockets you have, you can use the same small attachment to vacuum the pockets. If vacuuming the pockets wouldn’t do much good, you can use a slightly damp rag or cloth to wipe out the pockets.
Get a Pool Table Cover
A pool table cover will keep your felt clean and long-lasting for many years. Anytime the table isn’t in use, it should be covered, even if no one uses the room otherwise. Years of dust and microscopic debris can take their toll on the smooth and soft fibers of pool table felt.
What to Do About Spilled Liquids
Spilled liquids on the pool table should be cleaned immediately. Using an absorbent towel, rags, or paper towels, gently blot up the liquid. Do not try to scrub the liquid out, as this will only damage the felt.
Once you have most of the liquid up, you can continue blotting using a lint-free towel damp with cold water to help absorb the rest of the spill. If the spill isn’t coming up, you could try blotting it with a mixture of one cup of water and one tablespoon of white vinegar. Dip a lint-free cloth in the solution and then blot at the stain until it lifts, rinsing out or exchanging the blotting cloth as needed.
How Often to Clean Your Pool Table
How often you clean your pool table depends on several factors. These include:
- How often you play.
- If you have a cover or not.
- How clean you keep the table.
- How much you will really clean it.
As a rule of thumb, I tell people to thoroughly clean their table every 5 to 7 sessions. This is the ideal number that will help your felt stay pristine for 10+ years. However, if you don’t have a cover that you actually use between sessions, I’d say cleaning it every week or two is best, no matter how many times you’ve played on it. The cover is that important.
You’ll want to up the cleaning schedule if you often eat or drink around your table (beer, pretzels, chips, etc). If you or other players chalk over the table, you’ll also want to clean it more often.
Finally, I think the best cleaning schedule is one that will realistically work for you. The last thing you want is to skip playing pool simply because you don’t want to clean it afterward. Don’t get down on yourself for not cleaning it every 5 sessions. Just clean it when you can and keep a pool table cover over it when not in use. You’ll be fine.
Can You Use a Lint Roller on Pool Table Felt?
Many people use lint rollers on their pool tables to keep them clean. I don’t think this is a replacement for brushing and vacuuming the table, but it’s fine to do in a pinch. Of course, you won’t be able to get the lint roller underneath the bumpers, but it works fine on the rest of the table.
Can You Wash Pool Table Felt in a Washing Machine?
This may seem like a silly question, but I’ve heard it more than once. The answer is no, you cannot wash pool table felt in a washing machine. If you go through the hassle of removing the pool table felt, you might as well just have it replaced. The best way to keep your pool table felt clean is by using a brush and a vacuum regularly.
It Pays to Vacuum Your Pool Table The Right Way
There are chemical pool table cleaners on the market, but in my experience, using the methods above have worked just as well if not better. It pays to take pride in your pool table by cleaning it regularly.
A dirty pool table not only looks bad, but it can also affect playability. Speed and direction can both be affected by dirty pool table felt. But remember that owning a pool table is fun and it shouldn’t be a chore. Clean the table when you can. The more you play, the more you should try to clean it. And once you get the hang of vacuuming the table, you’ll be able to knock it out in no time.