Slippery Basketball? Get The Grip Back In 5 Steps

By Alex Mercer

June 29, 2021

When you play a game outside in the rain and dust, your basketball will eventually become almost impossible to dribble or catch. A slippery basketball can be a pain, especially as you start failing to make shots and lose control of the ball across the court.

You must clean the basketball with a wet cloth and soapy water, ensuring that you move in circular motions to get between the dots on the ball. If you have a leather ball, you must dry it and apply the leather cleaner, while rubber balls can dry before using them again.

As easy as it may sound, people learn a few things through only practice and making mistakes while cleaning their basketballs. Because of the relatively high cost of some basketballs, we need to ensure you are not damaging the surface while cleaning the ball.

How To Get the Grip Back On A Leather Basketball

Leather basketballs are what you will find being used in official games, most school gymnasiums, and, if you are lucky, in your court. These balls are all handmade and cost a significant amount more than their composite rubber counterparts, which is why they require more care.

Many pro athletes have made it clear that these basketballs feel significantly different from the other and are generally better.

Understanding how to clean a leather basketball will be the difference between having it for a lifetime or having a cracked mess within a year. A basketball with a grip will give you more control and help you palm it.

Find A Flat Surface

To start the process, find a clean flat surface that can get wet and place the leather basketball on it, preferably something on the ground.

Ensure that you can hold the ball in place with one hand so that the ball won’t roll away and get dirty again later on.

Many people try to do this on a table or work surface that they have access to, only to find that the table needs to be cleaned once the process is done.

When using a clean surface on the ground, either a garage floor or just a patio, you can sweep away or hose away from any residue that stays behind.

Hold The Ball Steady

This is, ironically, the most challenging part of the process because the ball will get highly slippery before you can get a proper grip on it.

Many people recommend deflating the ball slightly to ensure it is easier to grip while initially washing it before applying the leather care.

You should ensure that you can grab onto the ball simultaneously, ensuring that the ball cannot randomly slip out of your hand while cleaning.

Getting a good grip on the ball means that you are not pushing it down too hard or that you may lose your grip on the ball.

Use Rag and Dish Soap

This will be the first stage of cleaning the ball; the leather will be damaged if you dunk the ball into the water or use too much.

We recommend that you get a rag and soak it in mildly hot water, spreading a few drops of dish soap onto the rag instead of the ball.

Using the rag, you should start cleaning the ball in a circular motion, turning it around, so you get every part of the ball. If the rag is too wet or you have too much soap, a residue will be left behind; after everything is cleaned, use a dry cloth to wipe away any excess water and soap.

See Our Complete List Of Helpful Basketball Articles Here.

Add Leather Cleaner

basketball cleaner

This step will not be required every time and should only be done once the ball is older than a year. After you have cleaned the entire surface of the ball and it has dried completely, you need to move it to a dry surface and start treating the leather.

You cannot simply use any leather cleaner; most sports equipment stores will have the right leather cleaner and treatment for leather basketballs.

If you use the wrong type, you can cause the ball to be more slippery than ever, ruining the ball almost permanently. If you’re looking for a leather cleaner, we like this one.

Use Circular Motion

The most crucial part about cleaning the basketball is moving in a circular motion, ensuring that you get into the grooves of the ball. The circular motion will clean between the dots of the ball, ensuring that it is spotless before applying anything else.

When drying the ball, you need to follow the same motion, ensuring no moisture is trapped between the dot and the grooves of the ball.

If you apply leather treatment or cleaner, you need to follow the motions to ensure it gets everywhere.

Get The Grip Back On A Plastic Or Rubber Basketball

Plastic, rubber, or composite balls vastly differ from the leather basketballs used in professional games. These balls are significantly less expensive than their counterparts and are a lot easier to clean than leather basketballs have ever been.

The steps may seem similar to what they are for leather basketballs, but they are not nearly as complicated. Many people enjoy these balls when practicing and having fun because they are easier to clean and allow you to care a bit less about how and where they are used.

Add Water And Soap In Sink

The most significant difference is that we wash these balls in the sink, either in the kitchen, the bathroom, or the sink used in the washroom. Because the material is not sensitive to excessive water and soap, you can be rougher and more thorough when cleaning.

Usually, filling the sink with an inch or two of hot, soapy water will be enough to clean every part of the basketball thoroughly.

This provides enough water to do everything needed, and the hot water will aid in cleaning off any substances like oil, sweets, or cooldrink on the surface.

Cover The Entire Ball with Soapy Water

Before cleaning the ball thoroughly, we recommend turning it around in the water for a few minutes, ensuring that every part has soaked in the water. This will make it easier to start scrubbing, having water everything, and the loose dirt and dust away to reveal the stains.

Rubber and composite materials can be stained with more stubborn dirt and fluid, almost absorbing it into the fabric. To clean these stains, you need to have the water-soaked onto the surface of the basketball, not merely splashed or on the surface.

Wash With a Rag or Brush

Now that the ball is wet and hot, you can grab a brush or rag and start scrubbing away, moving in any way you are comfortable. You do not have to be too careful as the materials are resilient and are not easily damaged by your motions while cleaning them, even in hot water.

A brush is an easy way to get into the grooves of the basketball, while the rag is perfect for cleaning the dots and more expansive surfaces of the ball. To ensure that you are not having a problem cleaning the ball, we recommend doing this with one hand holding onto the ball while the other brushes.

Leave In a Sunny or Windy Area

Unfortunately, plastics, rubbers, and composite materials never clean when towel-dried. You will have to leave the ball in a slightly sunny indoor area or with a fan on it to get it dry entirely, usually going it for half a day or more.

This ensures that the surface is not wet when you start dribbling the ball on the courts, which will cause more problems as the wetness soaks up dust and dirt. We highly recommend that you make sure it is dry; otherwise, you will have to start from the beginning again.


Basketballs may be inexpensive or extremely expensive, but they will always be easy to clean, with only leather basketballs requiring extra attention to how you are cleaning them.

We recommend following these steps to ensure you can perfectly dunk on anyone that challenges you.

Whatever you do, please don’t let a leather basketball soak in water for more than a few minutes!

About the author

Hey There! My Name is Alex and I run Get Hyped Sports. I created this platform to help people find their love for sports and gaming.

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