Any serious table tennis player has a paddle that he is accustomed to, and would like to use for as long as possible. However, 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 enjoy using it for a long time.
The rubber of the ping pong rackets wears out the most. While the paddle’s wooden handle will not significantly influence your game style, a worn-out rubber with dramatically influence your shots’ trajectory.
If you do not clean the rubber frequently and correctly, you will notice a decrease in your performance. Constant dirt accumulation will stick to the ball and reduce the elasticity. But how do you clean the rubber?
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The standard method used to clean it using a sponge. There are many sponge brands available, some especially for cleaning ping pong rackets. Tests performed have proven that there’s no difference between all of them.
To clean, damp the sponge in warm water and rub the rubber’s surface gently, not to damage it. You can use a bit of detergent in the water, but do not exaggerate as you may damage the rubber and the glue.
Breathing On The Rubber
Some players also breath on the ping pong rackets and wipe with their hands. Even though the breath is mostly composed of water vapors if you want to use this method, then you need to wash your hands thoroughly before doing so.
If your hands are not clean, not only will this method be ineffective, but 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 is to use a toothbrush. It is highly recommended that you use a new toothbrush for this purpose.
It is a very efficient way to make sure you get all the dust particles that accumulate on the pimples, reduce the friction coefficient, and improve rubber elasticity. A low amount of friction and high elasticity is what players that use pimpled ping pong rackets outwards strive for in the first place.
More Cleaning Choices
Below are more cleaning methods that you can use to clean sticky and grippy rubbers.
You can also use clean water and cotton. Apply some water on the rubber, then wipe off all the dust and stains from the rubber surface with the cotton.
If you feel the dust is not easy to remove from the rubber, there are two solutions;
- You can get a Nittaku or Butterfly foam cleaner. Both of these foam cleaners have a specific electrostatic dust removal function. But still, they will not altogether remove all the dust. There will be a small amount of residue remain on the rubber.
- Use OPP tape. It is the most thorough and perfect dust removal method. It is also the most troublesome. Buy a large size OPP tape. After washing the rubber, wait for the water to dry, then tear some OPP tape to stick the dust. Once it is done, the rubber surface will be spotless.
Rubber protector sheet/protective film
After the rubber is dry and the dust 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 specific 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 relatively thin.
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 of making the protector sheet smaller than the rubber is to stick flat on the rubber easily. It doesn’t need to be aligned, and the edge is not easy to open.
However, the disadvantage is that the rubber’s edge looks 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.
The disadvantage is that it will be troublesome to align when 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 and don’t need cleaning. But this is not true.
The aging rubber weakens the friction on the surface, and the rubber’s aging, in turn, affects 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 out to avoid leaving any residue in between.
You can clean with water or cleaner, as long as you don’t let the rubber retain water after cleaning.
Some low-quality foam cleaners leave rubber stains and dust after cleaning. You need to be careful cause if they are not completely clean, they 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 is slightly higher 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 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 to counter your opponent’s spin effects, the best thing that you can do is not clean the rubber at all.
Regardless of the method, you choose to clean your paddle, the rubber will eventually wear out and will need changing at some point. While you can prolong the rubber’s life for some time by maintaining it properly, remember that old and worn out rubber will never have the same properties as a new one.