An air hockey table can bring you a lifetime of enjoyment with family and friends, provided that you maintain it in clean, working order. Fortunately, cleaning an air hockey table couldn’t be easier. Here’s everything you need to know on how to clean an air hockey table.
Why & When to Clean an Air Hockey Table
First, before learning how to clean an air hockey table, it’s useful to understand why and when you should keep your air hockey clean and maintained. The main reason, arguably, is that a dusty or dirty table worsens gameplay. That is, dust on the table causes a drag on the puck, preventing it from gliding fast or accurately. This slows down the game considerably and makes it much less fun to play. When enough dust or dirt accumulates to clog some of the holes on the table, it forms dead spots where the puck could come to a halt in the middle of play.
If there are crumbs or other substances on the table beside simple dust or dirt, it can also impair smooth play by causing the puck to bump, buck, jump and even fly off the table on occasion. This is a hassle and an inconvenience for sure, but, even worse, it could also damage the actual table, making chips on the surface. Once this happens, even a cleaning won’t be enough to restore perfectly smooth gameplay.
Given this, the best times to clean your air hockey table are just before and after using it. For regular maintenance, clean it at least once each week. If you only use your air hockey table seasonally, then this also includes cleaning it after first uncovering it for the season and just before covering it back up.
Turn the Fan On
First and foremost, before you even start cleaning your air hockey table be sure to switch on the air blowers. The reason for this is to prevent dust, dirt, and liquids from settling into the holes and plugging them up.
Vacuuming Your Air Hockey Table
Once the air is running, the next step to cleaning an air hockey table is to vacuum the dust off the surface. Either hold the hose slightly above the surface of the table or use an extremely light touch to avoid damaging the table with the vacuum nozzle.
Wiping the Surface
After vacuuming the table, wipe the surface down with a clean, soft cloth. The best type of cloth to use to clean an air hockey table are microfiber cloths and soft cotton cloths.
Some people advise against wiping down the sides of the table as they find that a small bit of dust in these places can assist with making bank shots. Ultimately, however, it’s a personal decision as to whether or not to include the sides of the table in your wipe-down. You can further clean out the individual air holes by using a lifting motion with a small toothpick, drill bit or another similarly-shaped item. Again, be sure to leave the fan on to help blow out the bits you dislodge.
Whether or Not to Use Cleanser
Not everyone agrees on how to clean an air hockey table. Some people believe that a damp cloth is sufficient to clean it while others believe an alcohol-based cleanser, like a dishwashing detergent or non-ammonia-based window cleaner, or even common furniture polish, is best. In spite of these differences, what all air hockey owners seem to agree on is to dry the surface thoroughly after dampening it, whatever you use. Also, avoid wetting it too much in the first place. If you do use some cleanser beyond plain water, then it’s advisable to go over it a second time with a clean rag lightly dampened with plain water just to remove any detergent or cleanser that may still be on the surface.While using gentle friction is paramount, you must also be sure to thoroughly remove any spills, stains, and globs or foreign objects from the surface, which may require using slightly greater force. Just be sure, whether it’s a cloth or a cleanser, never to use anything abrasive to clean the surface of an air hockey table. The last thing you want to do is scratch the surface. The goal, of course, is always to restore the surface to its cleanest, smoothest state possible.
What About Wax?
Some people wax their air hockey tables after cleaning. Wax is not required, although it can help to restore and retain a smooth surface for a likely longer life of optimal gameplay. The wax serves two purposes: protecting the table from future dirt and damage and smoothing even an age-worn or roughened surface. If you choose to give your air hockey table a waxing after a cleaning, simply apply a small amount of tabletop polish made specifically for air hockey tables in a thin, even coat over the entire surface. Again, use only a small amount to avoid filling up the table’s air holes with wax. After the wax dries, you will want to wipe the table’s surface down with a clean, dry cloth to buff the table and produce a shiny gloss. One option for those desiring an even quicker air hockey game from their table is to apply silicone spray lubricant in an extremely light coat similarly and then buff it.
Tips for Best Results Cleaning an Air Hockey Table
The most efficient way to help maintain a clean air hockey table is to cover it whenever it’s not in use. Covering it with a cover designed specifically for air hockey tables will help it stay as clean and dust-free as possible for when you’re ready again to use it. It also helps preserve the table if the pucks and the bottom of the pusher paddles or mallets are also maintained and kept clean in the same manner as the table. Using only clean and undamaged accessories on your table will help the table to stay clean and undamaged as well.
Remember, along these lines, that the felt pads on the bottoms of some air hockey accessories can wear and attract dirt. If your air hockey accessories get dirty or worn replace them. It’s better than eventually having to replace the entire air hockey table.