Bowling balls are more delicate than you think. Pack your equipment properly and bowl a perfect game with these storage tips.Bowling balls are more delicate than you think. Pack your equipment properly and bowl a perfect game with these storage tips.Storage Tips

How to Store Bowling Equipment Properly

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Bowling is a beloved pastime that has thrilled people for generations. It’s a game that brings people together for some old-fashioned fun. No matter your skill level, groups can play this game together and partake in some friendly competition. While you can rent your own bowling shoes and borrow a ball from the bowling alley, many avid bowlers prefer to bring their own professional equipment. Since these often come at a premium, how can you keep these items like new for years, especially if you have to put them in storage?

This guide will talk about the proper way to store a bowling ball and other equipment for long-term storage. What steps are needed so the ball doesn't crack? Where can you store your ball, shoes, and bowling ball bag to keep them in the best condition? Does the ambient temperature affect your bowling balls? Here are the answers to some of your biggest questions about bowling equipment storage.

Why do bowling balls crack in storage?

Bowling balls are made of special materials to create their iconic ability to spin while gliding effortlessly down the lane. Its heavy, rock-like core is made of a blend of powdered metal oxides that are mixed with a resin and hardening catalyst. Then, its outer layer is made of more elastic materials like polyester, urethane, and reactive urethane. This “springy” layer gives the ball the ability to travel down the lane and gain excellent momentum.

Naturally, this difference in materials means that when the ball is left alone in storage for a long time, it can crack. This is due to extreme fluctuations in temperatures and gravity dragging the core down to cause the weaker outer layer to crack. Since professional bowling balls can cost over $100 and even up to $250 and beyond, it’s important to keep them for their maximum shelf life of 5-10 years.

How do I stop my bowling ball from cracking?

There are three keys to stopping your bowling ball from cracking:

  1. Store it in a climate-controlled environment.
  2. Keep it clean and covered.
  3. Regularly rotate the ball.

Since bowling balls are made of two materials that react differently to extreme temperatures, it’s important to keep them in a place with a stable, moderate temperature. A climate-controlled storage unit or corner of your bedroom are both excellent places to keep your valued bowling equipment. Using any spot that gets too cold or hot during the year will lead to expansion and contraction at different rates, which results in cracks.

Bowling balls are actually in a constant state of curing long after they leave the factory, so it’s important to clean them and wrap them in plastic before you put them in storage. It should also go in a plastic bag or professional bowling ball bag. This will help it continue to cure and prevent mold from forming on the ball’s surface.

Best practices say that the owner should rotate the bowling ball a quarter turn every week. This helps relieve pressure on the softer, outer layer that comes from the heavy core weighing down on it. Leaving the ball in the same position too long will result in cracks from the heavy core.

  • Pro Tip: if you can’t attend to your bowling ball every week, store your bowling ball on multiple “points of contact” such as a ball rack, which will offset some of the core’s weight and reduce the risks of cracks.

Does cold weather affect a bowling ball?

Yes, cold weather affects your bowling ball. Cold weather can cause both the outer and inner core to contract— but at different rates. Resin is especially responsive to extreme temperatures. This leads to cracking if the ball is left alone for too long in such conditions. This is why you should not store your bowling ball uncovered at any time. You should also not store your bowling ball long-term in unstable conditions like the trunk of your car, an attic, or a humid garage.

How do you clean a bowling ball?

A clean bowling ball lasts longer in storage because it's less likely to develop mold or stains. Thankfully, cleaning a bowling ball is easy and can be done with common household items. First, wipe it down with a microfiber cloth. Then, wipe the ball gently with another soft cloth that as lightly dipped in rubbing alcohol. This removes any excess oils that developed during its use.

After the ball air dries, place electrical tape over the holes. Other types of tape can leave behind adhesive that will damage the ball. This prevents dirt from entering the bowling ball's holes during its time in storage. After you clean the bowling ball, it’s time to cover it with plastic and place it in its storage bag.

How do you control humidity levels?

Since humidity is such a big threat to your bowling ball’s integrity, it’s important to place it in a climate-controlled storage area or room. Never place it in an area without an air conditioner. If you must store it in a room without climate control, install a dehumidifier with a draining hose and automated settings. This ensures that it will continue to run while you are away. Though this scenario isn’t perfect, it’s better than nothing. Keeping the ball in an airtight container will also prevent humidity from damaging the ball in storage.

  • Pro Tip: If you don’t have access to a climate-controlled area or an airtight container, you can store the bowling ball in a bag and wipe it down with a towel every couple of weeks.

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