Any serious table tennis player has a paddle that he is very accustomed to and attached to and that he would like to use for as long as possible. But ping pong rackets do not maintain themselves, therefore you will need to know how to handle, clean and maintain it properly so that you will be able to enjoy using it for a long time.
The part that is subjected to wearing out most is the rubber of the ping pong rackets. While the wooden handle of the paddle will not have a major influence on your game style, a worn-out rubber with dramatically influence the trajectory of your shots.
If you do not clean the rubber constantly and properly, you will notice a decrease in your performance, as constant dirt accumulation on it will tend to grip the ball and reduce the elasticity. But how do you clean the rubber?
First of all, the most commonly used method for doing this is using a sponge. While there are many brands of sponges available, created especially for cleaning ping pong rackets, the tests performed have proven that the difference between them and a regular sponge is not that big.
Simply damp the sponge in warm water and rub the surface of the rubber gently, as not to damage it. If you want, you can use a bit of detergent in the water, but do not exaggerate with it as you may damage the rubber and the glue.
Breathing On The Rubber
Some players also use a technique that implies breathing on the ping pong rackets and wiping them with their hands afterward. However, even though the breath is mostly composed of water vapors if you want to use this method then you need to thoroughly wash your hands before doing so.
If your hands are not clean, not only will this method be ineffective, but you will also get your paddle dirtier than it was in the first place.
If you are trying to clean ping pong rackets with outward pimples, the most effective solution to your problem is using a toothbrush. It is highly recommended that you use a new toothbrush and that the toothbrush is only used for this particular purpose.
This method is a very efficient way to make sure that you get all the dust particles that accumulate on the pimples, in order to reduce the friction coefficient and improve the elasticity of rubber. A low amount of friction and high elasticity is what players that use outwards pimpled ping pong rackets strive for in the first place.
More Cleaning Choices
Other than the recommended cleaning methods for most of the rubbers, there are still more methods that you can use to clean the table tennis rubbers. Below are the cleaning methods that you can use to clean for sticky and grippy rubbers.
I will tell you the best way I know. Although most people don’t deliberately clean the rubber, there are fewer people who carefully clean and maintain the rubber.
For sticky rubbers such as DHS Hurricane 3, Yasaka Mark V or other similar rubbers, my personal advice is don’t use the cleaning kit too often. What I mean here is for the average quality of the cleaning kit. If you want to use a table tennis cleaning kit, it is recommended for you to get the foam cleaner.
If you are not used to using the cleaning kit, you can use clean water and cotton. You can simply apply some water on the rubber, then wipe off all the dust and stains from the rubber surface with the cotton.
Make sure the rubber surface is clean enough. If it is not clean, the dirt is easy to scale on the rubber surface. It will be very difficult to remove after some time which may result in less stickiness and reduced elasticity of the rubber.
If you feel that the dust on the rubber is not easy to remove, there are two solutions to cater to this issue.
- You can get a Nittaku or Butterfly foam cleaner. Both of these foam cleaners are having a certain electrostatic dust removal function. But still, they will not completely remove all the dust. There will be a small amount of residue remain on the rubber.
- Use OPP tape. This is the most thorough and perfect dust removal method, but it is also the most troublesome. You can go and buy OPP tape with a larger size. After washing the rubber, wait for the water to dry, then tear some OPP tape to stick the dust. Once it is done, you will find the rubber surface will be very clean.
Rubber protector sheet/protective film
After the rubber is dry and the dust been removed, it is time for you to place the rubber protector sheet on the rubber.
The protector sheet is the most troublesome part and required certain skills to carry out the job. It is recommended to buy thicker protector sheet because the thick film is not easy to be deformed.
It is not easy to find a thick protector sheet as most of the protector sheets available on the market is quite thin. You will need to take some time to find them.
The general protector sheet will have a size that is much larger than the rubber. My suggestion is to cut it slightly smaller than the rubber surface (the edge is about 5mm smaller).
The purpose to make the protector sheet to be smaller than the rubber so that the protector sheet can easily stick flat on the rubber. Like that, it doesn’t need to be deliberately aligned and the edge is not easy to open.
However, the disadvantage is that the edge of the rubber will get older than the inner rubber after some time.
If you are a perfectionist, you can cut the protector sheet together with the new rubber before you stick the rubber on the blade. By doing so the protector sheet will be of the same size as the rubber.
But the disadvantage for this is that it will be very troublesome to align each time you want to attach the protector sheet onto the rubber.
The protector sheet is generally sticking from the bottom of the racket. The procedure is similar to sticking the rubber. First press the bottom end and then slowly press it with the glue stick to avoid air bubbles.
Many people think that grippy rubbers are non-tacky, so it is not necessary for them to clean these types of rubbers. But this is actually not true.
The aging rubber will weaken the friction on the surface, and the aging of the rubber will also affect the surface elasticity. Therefore, cleaning the grippy rubber is also very important.
The cleaning process for grippy rubber is almost the same as the sticky rubber. You should wipe the rubber surface from inside to the outside to avoid leaving any residue in between.
You can clean with water or cleaner, as long as you don’t let water or foam remain on the rubber after cleaning.
There is some average quality of foam cleaners that can leave the stains and dust on the rubber after cleaning. You need to be careful with this cause if they are not completely clean off, they can form a film after some time which can deteriorate the rubber performance.
Just do the same as the sticky rubber.
The protector sheet used for grippy rubber needs to be self-adhesive. The price will be slightly more expensive compared to the sticky rubber. You can buy some extra sheets because you will need to replace the protector sheet from time to time.
The procedure to prepare and stick the protector sheet is also the same as the sticky rubber. Nonetheless, it all depends on you whether you want to stick the protector sheet on your grippy rubber or not.
Not Cleaning At All
On the other hand, if you are using ping pong rackets created for countering the spin effects of your opponent, the best thing that you can do is not clean the rubber at all.
The more dust and dirt that gathers on your rubber, the better, since the paddle will be able to grip the ball easier and completely counter the spin.
Regardless of the methods that you choose to clean your paddle, the rubber will eventually wear out and will need changing at some point. While you can prolong the life of the rubber for quite some time by maintaining it properly, remember that old and worn out rubber will never have the same properties as a new one.