If you’re lucky enough to own your own air hockey table, maintaining it for long-term quality use should be a priority. Air hockey tables are not cheap machines by any stretch so most people want to keep them in good working condition and one of the easiest steps you can take to achieve this is with a regular cleaning routine.
Cleaning doesn’t need to be extensive but if you’ve noticed your puck keeps stopping during play or is traveling much slower than it should, there’s a good chance the airflow is blocked. This is usually the result of neglecting a cleaning routine.
Due to it’s importance for table maintenance, in this article, we’ll cover how to clean an air hockey table. It’s not the most fun task but something that is essential to keep your table in good working condition.
How to Clean an Air Hockey Table
Cleaning your air hockey table isn’t difficult and, as long as you do it regularly, won’t be time-consuming. If you can observe caution, it’ll be a breeze to do. There are steps you can take to clean an air hockey table quickly and effectively which are:
- Turn on the air pump
- Vacuum the surface of the table
- Wipe the table to remove excess dust and debris
- Clean out all air holes to prevent blockage
- Polish the table
- Clean the pucks and mallets
- Turn off the air pump and cover the table
Follow the simple steps below to clean your air hockey table.
Step 1 – Turn on the Air Pump
Before you begin any cleaning, turn the fan or blowers on. This will prevent further dust and debris from clogging and attracting dirt while you clean. It will also push away any dust or debris it collected. Leave this on for the entire time you clean.
Step 2 – Get a Vacuum Cleaner
Once you have the dirt and debris blowing off and away from the air holes, use a vacuum to ensure you remove all the dust and particles. Using a vacuum with some attachments for narrow spaces is ideal. You can get into nooks, corners, and crannies with ease.
A vacuum is by far the most efficient cleaning method for air hockey tables. With all the holes and gaps on the table, it would take an unreasonable amount of time to try cleaning it manually. While a hand vacuum works well when cleaning regularly, for neglected tables you might need to pull out a full power vac.
Step 3 – Wipe the Table Down
With a clean microfiber towel or soft cotton lint-free cloth, wipe the table down. You can use it either slightly damp or with a cleaner. However, the cleaner should be alcohol-based or a dishwashing liquid. Do not use wood cleaners, multipurpose abrasive cleaners, or others that contain ammonia.
How to Use a Cleaner
When using a cleaner, apply it directly to the cloth and not the table. Use this in very sparing amounts. You want it to dry and evaporate quickly. Only press hard enough to lift off any stuck-on gunk, grime, and dirt. Don’t forget to wipe down the table’s exterior, this includes the legs.
When it comes to the inner side rails of the table, your personal preferences come into play. Many owners suggest not wiping this off because the dust helps give the puck some bounce, which increases the chance of making bank shots.
Step 4 – Clean Out the Air Holes
Arguably the most important (and time-consuming) aspect of cleaning an air hockey table is cleaning out the individual air holes. Blocked air holes will create dead spots on the table and negatively impact your playing experience.
As there are so many holes though, you’re going to have to take a very manual and methodical effort to clean any blockages….
If vacuuming the table doesn’t do enough to clean out all the debris from inside the air holes of the table, they will need special attention. You can use toothpicks, cotton swabs, pipe cleaners, a drill bit or the end of a paperclip.
Go Slow and Gentle
With great amounts of care, insert your chosen implement into each hole, one at a time. Be methodical and slow about this so as not to damage anything. You also want to ensure you don’t push dirt further down into the hole. It may be a good idea to go over the table with the vacuum again when finished with the air holes.
Step 5 – Polishing the Table
While this isn’t necessary every time you clean your table, you should polish it on occasion. This will help retain and restore the table’s smooth surface, deter dust buildup and provide optimal gameplay. Plus, it will help to extend the table’s life span.
Older vs. Newer Air Hockey Tables
Unless you have a traditional old-school air hockey table, don’t use furniture or other wood polish or wax. For newer tables, use a waxing product specifically designed for air hockey tables. A little goes a long way, you only need a very thin layer to coat the surface. Too much can clog the air holes.
Once you allow the polish or wax to set and dry, wipe down the table with a clean, dry microfiber towel. This will provide the surface with a nice shiny gloss that encourages the smoothness of the table’s surface.
Step 6 – Puck and Mallet Care
You want to check the pucks and mallets once in a while as well. Not only can a dirty table affect gameplay, but so can wear and tear on the pucks and mallets. With time and use, these will develop imperfections. While they aren’t usually a serious problem, they can severely affect the game.
Use Ultra Fine Sandpaper
So, to fix this, you can use ultra-fine sandpaper on the surfaces of the mallets and pucks. But, you should exercise the utmost care and gentleness when doing this. However, this may not work if your mallets have felt undersides. In this case, you will have to simply replace the felt.
When you don’t have sandpaper or are in doubt about your ability to use a gentle touch, you can take them to a pro shop. Places that feature bowling or hockey maintenance and repair are ideal.
Step 7 – Turn off the Air Pump
When you have completed cleaning the air hockey table, don’t forget to turn the fans or blowers off. Once off, check the table to see if there is any leftover debris, dust, or dirt that landed on the surface. Either use your vacuum to remove this or use a little pressurized canned air.
Tip: Use a can of pressurized air after playing to keep the air holes clear.
How Often Should You Clean an Air Hockey Table
Depending on the frequency of use and where/how you store an air hockey table, cleaning could be done quickly once per week and extensively once per month.
The most effective way of reducing how frequently you need to clean an air hockey table is to keep it covered when not in use. Dust can build up quickly on the surface of an air hockey table which is usually 24 – 48 hours and as soon as dust builds up, it can start to block the air holes and airflow.
By keeping it covered you’ll immediately reduce the frequency that you need to clean an air hockey table. Other quick tips include keeping your pucks and mallet dust-free before use. Dust from these can quickly be transferred to the table during play and block up holes without you realizing it.
If you want to minimize dead spots, have better airflow, have a more enjoyable game of air hockey, and make your air hockey table last longer you need to adopt a regular cleaning routine. Keeping your air hockey table clean is one of the most important aspects of air hockey table maintenance and is not one you should neglect.
Cleaning an air hockey table only requires you to vacuum the surface, wipe it down with a microfiber cloth, unblock any air holes, polish, and finally cover the table.
Ok, that’s quite a lot of steps that I’ve just skimmed over but once you get the hang of quickly unblocking any air holes, the rest of the cleaning process is relatively routine and should only take you 10 – 15 minutes each week to completely clean your air hockey table.