Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dishwasher - Fail

I have a confession to make: I have dirty balls. Mine are nowhere near the worst case I've seen or heard of, mind you... but they're dirty nonetheless and I'm looking for a good solution.

Surfing around the Internet a bit, I ran across some promising home-built contraptions like this one and added building such a thing to my "to-do" list:

The problem is, my "to-do" list is huge and growing... and with various other things on the near horizon for me, I don't see it getting much smaller anytime soon. I needed an interim solution. So I pondered and pondered... and the thought of putting my balls in the dishwasher kept coming to mind.

I didn't act on that thought right away. I asked a few friends if they ever tried putting their balls in the dishwasher. I got some strange looks and wisecracks from that question, but the answer was generally the same - that they hadn't and they never heard of anyone attempting to do it.

I searched a bit on the Internet, but didn't really find anything on the subject. I admit I didn't dig really deep -  mainly because some of the links that were coming up were a bit disturbing, to be honest.

So I thought about it a little more - what's the best case scenario? Well, my balls could come out nice and shiny clean and I'd be all happy that I found an easy, readily available way to clean my balls for years to come.

Less than best case? Well, I suppose it just wouldn't work. Dirty balls in, dirty balls out. Back to waiting for the YouTube solution to bubble up to the top of the "to-do" list.

Worst case? I figured worst case would be something like my balls exploding in the dishwasher or something, I dunno. That was the best I could come up with anyway. Now, I honestly didn't think exploding balls was a likely scenario, but it's not like the balls are stamped "dishwasher safe" yanno? Even if they didn't explode, I figured there might some possibility of them warping or the core shifting in some way or something. All of my balls (at least the ones I'd consider putting in the dishwasher) are good quality Aramith balls, so I had more confidence in them surviving the process than I would have if they were made out of other materials like polymer or polyester.

After the APA Regionals in Phoenix, I had a test subject. I bought a magnetic Aramith cue ball some time ago so I could spend some time practicing with it prior to competing in tournaments that would use that type of ball (like APA Nationals, or in this case Regionals, based on my previous experience at the same venue). Practicing with the ball prior to Regionals, I discovered that it seems to have a higher affinity for chalk than the other cue balls I normally use (Aramith Pro Cup and Aramith Red Circle). With the cue balls I usually use, it's pretty easy to wipe the chalk off with a towel or whatever. With the magnetic version, not so much. At least that's been my experience. I'm not sure why... the balls are made by the same company and supposedly out of similar materials... maybe the surface treatment is slightly different.

Anyway, after a couple of weeks practicing with the magnetic ball before Regionals, I ended up with a thoroughly spotted ball desperately needing a good cleaning.

I loaded it into the dishwasher (top rack) and ran it through a normal cycle. I'm happy to say it didn't explode, warp, or anything like that. Unfortunately, it didn't get clean either. Some of the surface grime might have washed off... but as you can see, there are plenty of chalk marks left on it.

I wish I had taken a 'before picture' for comparison purposes, but I honestly don't think the 'before' and 'after' pictures would have been very different. Both pictures here are 'after' pictures taken from slightly different angles.

I'm not sure if you'll be able to tell from the pictures, but there are spots from at least three different types of chalk on the ball. The bright blue spot near the top of the ball on the upper picture as well as the bright blue spots at the 11 o'clock and 5 o'clock positions in the lower picture are from NIR Super Professional Chalk. The black spots near the 1 and 2 o'clock positions are from Black Master Chalk. I use the black Master Chalk when I'm breaking with one of my standard 'house' cues (as I often do when I'm too lazy to pull my break cue out of my bag). If I'm using my regular break cue, I normally use NIR on it as well. Most of the lighter blue spots are probably NIR too, although there might be some Blue Diamond mixed in here and there.

So there you have it. If you ever wondered whether your dishwasher might solve your dirty ball woes... chances are it won't.

1 comment: