Wondering how to clean and maintain your air hockey table? Then you've come to the right place!
In this guide, you'll learn...
- How often you should clean your table.
- Ways to clean the surface AND the holes.
- How to keep the mallet in good shape.
- And much more.
Which Tables Are These Directions For?
These cleaning steps were designed for people with large commercial-like tables. While these steps should apply across the board, it's always best to consult any instructions that came with your specific table. These directions are conservative yet effective. This means that you'll get the maximum performance benefit without much risk of doing any damage. However, with so many tables out there, manufacturer-specific instructions are always best.
Will This Make My Table Faster?
Assuming your table isn't moving slowly because of a power or blower issue, all of these techniques will make your table faster. To keep it running at top speed, be sure to keep up with them to prevent long-term damage and to stop it from slowing down in the first place.
How Often Should You Clean Your Table?
To prevent dust build up, cleaning your table once a week is ideal. This is a general estimate and will fluctuate depending on how dusty your play environment is, but once a week is a good rule of thumb.
You don't need to go crazy with deep cleaning. A general wipe-down on the surface is ideal for weekly maintenance. This will prevents dust from building up which will not only slow down the game, potentially damage the table if it builds up in the holes over the long term.
You should also be regularly inspecting your pucks and mallets which don't need to be cleaned, but may need to be leveled out via sanding if things slow down (more on this later).
How To Clean The Surface
While there is no official air hockey table cleaner, isopropyl alcohol or a window cleaner without ammonia will deliver the best results.
Here are a few steps to follow to clean the surface of your table:
- Get some isopropyl alcohol or a window cleaner without ammonia.
- Take your cleaner and apply it directly to a soft rag and not on the table itself. This is important because you don’t want to get any excess liquid on the table. You want to use as little liquid as possible so that it evaporates quickly.
- Before wiping down the table, turn on the blowers. This helps keep dust out while you’re wiping it down.
- Proceed to do a quick wipe down the surface of your table with the rag.
What Not To Do
The above steps are all you need to do to clean the surface portion of your table (we'll cover holes next). During this process, you may be tempted to do a few things that could potentially damage your table. Here's what you should avoid.
You shouldn't clean the dust off of the rails of the table where it impacts the puck. Having a light dusting on the rails actually makes for a proper bounce.
Do not use any other cleaners other than what was specified. This especially includes any wax or silicone based products that shine or leave a "slick" surface. While this may produce a temporarily nice result, such products will cause a build up of film and drastically degrade the performance of the table over time. Additionally, these products can actually plug up the holes and mess up the air flow on the table.
How To Clean The Holes
If you're performing regular surface cleaning, you'll likely only have to clean the holes once a year. While it may seem impossible to get dust and debris out of such a tiny holes, there's actually a really clever way to do so.
- Get a drill and a drill bit that's 1 / 32" or smaller. The final sizing of the bit may depend on the holes of your table, but you don't want anything that's going to change the shape of the holes.
- Turn on the blower so that you have air flow.
- Being very careful and slow, insert the rotating drill bit into a hole. This will force the dust and debris onto the drill bit. Do not go deeper than 3/8", but you may even have to be more shallow if your table is small or has sensitive parts that you might touch.
- Repeat for all air holes.
- Be careful of using something that doesn't rotate as you may end up pushing dirt deeper into the holes.
Sandpaper on Pucks and Mallets
Sandpaper shouldn't be used on the surface of your air hockey table for general maintenance. However, sandpaper does play a key part in keeping your table running smoothly.
Rather than using sandpaper to clean the table itself, you'll want to use it on the pucks and mallets.
Pucks develop small imperfections and general wear and tear. If you notice that it's not floating smoothly on the table, you'll want to pick it up and examine it. Even if you don't visually notice anything, it's worth sanding the puck to make sure it's super smooth. We recommend using sandpaper that's ultra-fine. Manufacturers generally recommend 150 or 240 grit sand paper.
Just like the pucks, the mallets can also fall victim to minor abrasions that you may not even be able to see. You can also use the same sandpaper on the bottom of the mallets. If you've got ones with felt on the bottom, then you could also just replace the felt pads.
Here’s a some 240-grit adhesive backed sandpaper that you can conveniently store near your table. You can even use the sticky side to attach it to the table if you’d like, but manufacturers recommend sticking it on either side of the goal rather than the goal itself.
It’s convenient to have if things start to slow down during a long hockey session.
If the surface of your table got dented or damaged then there’s a chance that you can repair it with a clear epoxy. Simply use the epoxy to filly the gash so that it’s level with the rest of the table surface. Once the epoxy hardens, use an extremely fine sandpaper to level out the filled area aith the rest of the table, being as careful as possible to not actually sand the table itself.
Tip #1: If you've accidentally covered an air hole when doing this repair, you can use a 1/32" drill bit to re-open the hole.
Tip #2: To prevent the Tip #1 scenario from happening in the first place, you can insert a portion of a plastic drinking straw into the hole to keep it safe from getting filled with epoxy.
Food and Drinks
One of the most common ways that an air hockey table can get damaged is from food and drinks. As a general rule of thumb, keep both of these things as far away from your table as possible. Spilling is always a major risk and should be avoided at all costs.
In the event that you get food or liquid on your playing surface, you'll want to wipe it up immediately. Additionally, keeping the blower on can help things evaporate and help force the liquid out according to the Gold Standard guide.
Use A Cover On A Long Hiatus
If you're not going to be using your air hockey table for an extended period of time, then covering it is a good idea. That way, dust doesn't find it's way into the holes and settle there. Not only can this block the air flow, but excess dust can find its way into the motor. This can cause the motor to stress and wear prematurely resulting in costly replacement.