How To Brush A Pool Table (Step By Step With Pictures)

Proper maintenance of your pool table will typically entail cleaning the playing surface. This means using a brush to wipe away any dirt or dust that may have accumulated on the felt. The process of cleaning the felt cloth is a delicate one.

And needs to be done using the right kind of brush. Not all brushes are designed for cleaning pool table felt cloths. Pool table brushes usually have soft and gentle bristles. The felt material is delicate and can easily be damaged by abrasive bristles. 

So how exactly do you clean or brush a pool table surface? Here is a step-by-step guide on cleaning your pool table surface.

how to brush a pool table

How To Brush Pool Table Felt

Step one: Get the right brush.

To clean the pool table surface, you need the right brush. Pool table brushes can be acquired from pool table accessory stores. These brushes are typically made of horsehair or nylon, and their bristles feel softer than those of ordinary brushes. 

Also, they feature longer bristles at the ends with shorter and stiffer bristles in the center between the two sides of longer bristles. Before you start brushing the table remove the balls from the table and put them aside.

Step two: Clean the railings first

clean the pool table railings

Most tables will have a napped felt cloth. This means the fibers of the cloth lie in one direction. When you pass your hand down the felt cloth you should be able to feel in which direction the nap is going.

Often the nap direction will be from top to bottom. However, on the upper cushion, you need to feel the direction the nap is going. Once you know the direction of the nap start brushing the cushion and railings in the direction of the nap. 

Brush the dust and dirt into the pockets of the table. Brush the top, bottom, and side cushions and bumpers before starting on the playing surface. Make sure you brush in between the cushion and playing area. The long bristles will help with this.

Step three: Start from the center.

brush pool table from the center

The next step is to clean the playing surface. As mentioned the nap of the felt cloth runs down the table, as such brush the felt cloth from the top of the table to the bottom. When brushing ensure you move the brush downwards in a single motion.

Brush all the way to the bottom of the table ensuring the brush remains flat on the table surface. Once you do this there will be a build-up of dust at the bottom. It is always advisable to push the dust and dirt into the bottom pockets. 

Step Four: Vacuum the dirt

Vacuum the pool table

Once you have the dirt inside the pockets, the next step is to vacuum the pockets. Use a narrow nozzle attachment to vacuum the pockets. Also, vacuum the entire table surface using long strips. Do not press down the vacuum into the felt but rather use light pressure.

Also, ensure the sucking power of the vacuum is not too high as you may end up sucking up the fibers off the felt.

Step Five: Napping

Napping the Brush

For this next step, you will need a woolen cloth with a nap that runs in the same direction as the table felt cloth. Wrap the cloth around the back of the brush. You can opt to staple the cloth to the brush handle or you can just hold it to the brush with your hand.

Run the cloth down the table surface from top to bottom. This step is done to align and flatten the fibers of the felt cloth. It will also pick up any dust residue left on the surface of the felt cloth. Thus you may need to dust off the cloth after running it down the table.

Repeat this process of running the cloth down the felt cloth until you have covered the entire table. 

Step Six: Ironing the felt cloth

Ironing the tool table felt

When it comes to ironing you can use a special pool table iron box. However, if you don’t have access to these special types of iron boxes you can always use a standard one. There are a few things you need to note about using a standard iron box. 

Firstly, have one set aside for ironing the pool table, do not use the same iron box used to iron clothes. This way the underside of the box will be clean without any markings or spots. Furthermore, the iron box will not have any water in it. 

Another thing to note is that the iron box should not be too hot. A good way to test how hot the box is is by placing it on a piece of paper. If it burns or leaves a mark on the paper it is probably too hot for the felt cloth. It is advisable to use the lowest heat setting of the box. 

When ironing the felt cloth keep it moving slowly and place it at an angle instead of ironing in a straight line. This is done to avoid creating lines on the felt cloth surface. Iron the cloth in the direction of the nap, i.e from top to bottom.

Choosing The Best Pool Table Brush

Now that you know how to clean your pool table surface, what kind of brush should you use? When looking for a brush to buy, there are several things you need to consider. The main things to consider are

The Brush features

How to choose pool table brush

As already stated, pool table brushes have bristles made from either nylon or horsehair. Nylon brushes are cheaper and are not as soft as horsehair bristles. As such, they may damage the felt over time.

Horsehair bristles are gentle and soft without being too soft as to be incapable of brushing. These types of brushes are usually the best. When it comes to the brush itself, you will notice they typically have longer bristles on the edges.

These longer bristles will help you clean under the bumpers and other narrow areas. The bristles at the center are shorter. These are used for general cleaning and brushing the railings. When brushing, use both sides to have even wear of the brushes.

Materials used

Pool table brushes are usually made of a wooden handle and horsehair or pig hair bristles. Premium brushes will feature rosewood, mahogany, or other premium wood types on the handle. 

The best brushes are those made of wood and horsehair bristles. While there are cheap options with nylon bristles, they are not recommended. Some of these cheaper options also feature plastic handles. To get the best results, though, go for wooden brushes with horsehair bristles.

The size of the brush

A bigger brush will be an ideal option as it will allow you to clean a bigger surface area in a single brush stroke. However, bigger brushes tend to be pricier. Smaller brushes do not cover a wide surface area but are easier to use and are cheaper.

If you have a regulation-size pool table, then a bigger brush will be ideal. However, if you own a smaller pool table, you can opt for a smaller brusher, especially if you have a tight budget.

The shape of the brush

The shape of the brush may not seem important, but it is. How easy the brush is to use will depend on its shape. Some of the best brushes feature an ergonomic design with a handle that makes it easy to clean. Also, the shape of the bristles is essential. As mentioned, the edge bristles need to be longer to be able to get into narrow spaces.

Additional accessories available

Some brushes will come with additional accessories that will make your life easier. These extra accessories can be something like a cue shaft slicker. Also, others will come with a secondary brush. The latter will be used for cleaning under and around the railings.


To some people, the price may not be an essential point of consideration. However, if you are on a tight budget, then the price will matter. It is worth noting that generally, pool table brushes are not all that expensive. But their price can vary, with pricier brushes being more durable than cheaper ones.

Faqs About Pool Table Brush

What are pool table brush bristles made of?

Mostly horsehair or nylon. Horsehair bristles are a better option and tend to be pricier as they are more gentle on the felt than nylon bristles. Some brushes also have bristles made from pig hair which has the same quality as horsehair.

What are the end bristles used for?

The end bristles of pool table brushes are usually longer. They are used to clean the table edges and narrow edges around the railings.

What are the middle bristles used for?

The end bristles of pool table brushes are usually longer. They are used to clean the table edges and narrow edges around the railings.

What are the sizes of pool table brushes?

Pool table brushes range from 8.5 inches to 12 inches in size. The larger brushes can get the job done quicker than smaller brushes.

How often should I clean the pool table surface?

It is advisable to clean the pool table surface every time before playing on it. However, it is advisable to nap the surface once a week, while ironing can be done every once a month. 

Why do pool table brushes have more bristles on both sides?

The more bristles on both sides make it easy to clean the entire pool table and get in the narrow spaces between the railing.


The pool table brush is an invaluable tool in your pool table maintenance. And since it is an inexpensive tool, you can invest in a quality brush. Remember this is a brush you may frequently be using, so buying a good quality brush will be in your best interest. 

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