Dartboards are not the largest investment when it comes to cost but you still want to get the longest life span out of your board as possible. Regular cleaning and dartboard maintenance are therefore essential to maintain the quality of your board for as long as possible.
As dartboards are made from very specific materials though, they have very specific cleaning requirements that come with them.
How to clean a dartboard? Firstly, remove the numbered ring around your board and clean it with WD40 and a wire brush to remove dirt and rust. Next, vacuum your board to remove any build-up of dirt. Finally, take a soft and very mildly damp cloth and clean the surface of the board and dry it with a separate dry cloth.
This is just a brief overview of the steps you should take to properly clean your dartboard and in this article, I’ll run through the full step by step process to properly clean and maintain your dartboard whilst also pointing out something that you should NEVER do when it comes to cleaning a dartboard.
Why Do Dartboards Need to Be Cleaned
Most dartboards, especially bristle dartboards, are dark in color and it’s often difficult to see any signs of dirt or wear and tear at a glance. While most bristle dartboards are durable and built from good quality materials, regular play will eventually lead to your dartboard wearing out.
If a dartboard is not properly maintained, it can lead to the dartboard bulging, worn-out numbers, missing bristles, and a board that is no longer suitable for play. It’s also not too much of a time-consuming task to properly clean your board and keep it in good condition.
How to Clean a Dartboard
When it comes to dartboards, there are three materials that are most commonly used in manufacturing and as the end product of these dartboards is different, the methods to clean them will also be different.
How to Clean an Electronic Dartboard
An electronic dartboard is arguably the easiest one to clean. These boards are made entirely from plastic which is durable, hardwearing, and most importantly, easy to clean. Cleaning an electronic dartboard takes seconds and only requires you to wipe it down with a dry cloth to remove any dust or dirt.
You can also lightly vacuum these boards to remove dirt from hard to reach areas and in the most extreme cases of a dirt buildup, you can use a cotton wool swab to forcefully remove the dirt. As these boards contain electronic wiring, do not clean them with water as it can damage the board and make it unplayable.
How to Clean a Bristle or Dartboard
A bristle board is the most common board yet unfortunately, it’s also the one that is the most difficult to clean. That’s because most people assume that you can soak these boards or wipe them down with hot soapy water when this will actually ruin your board almost instantly.
You should never attempt to clean a bristle dartboard with water and I’ll cover this in more detail shortly. Instead, the process for cleaning a bristle dartboard can be done in a step by step process.
Step 1 – Remove the outer ring
Firstly, remove the metal outer ring that usually holds the numbers from your board. Depending on your brand/model the ring might also be attached to the segments in the board but regardless, remove this ring first.
As the ring is an external component of the board, it will both hold dirt and may even start to rust and it will also be a place where dirt can build up on the board so removing this will allow you to not only clean the ring but remove the dirt left on the board.
This may seem like overkill but personally, I take some WD40 and wire brush and give the ring a good clean through and polish as these rings not only get a build up of dirt but can be prone to rusting as well.
Step 2 – Wipe the board down with a dry cloth
Next, wipe down the board with a dry cloth to break up and dirt and remove any loose surface dirt. It would be a good idea to also go over your wires with the wire brush to clean away any dirt don’t use any WD40 or liquid for this step.
Step 3 – Vacuum the board to remove dirt
Now that you’ve spent some time breaking up any loose dirt you should now vacuum your board. This is the best and safest way to clean your board without causing any potential damage through the use of water or harsh cleaning chemicals.
Sisal fibers are packed together tightly on a dartboard so any dirt should be on the surface and easily removed with a dry cloth and vacuum.
Step 4 – Wipe the board with a soft, mildly damp cloth
This step is the most important one as you will wipe the board over with a very mildly damp soft cloth to remove any stains and final pieces of dirt that vacuuming didn’t quite catch. The cloth has to be so mildly damp that no water will remain on the board after wiping it down.
Step 5 – Wipe the board again with a dry cloth to remove moisture and water
As a final measure, wipe the board down with a dry cloth and place the numbered outer ring back on.
It’s a more intricate process than you might think but due to the way these boards are manufactured, getting them wet is simply not a solution so you need to use the more manual form of cleaning it which takes a few more steps than spraying it with an all-in-one spray and wiping it down like you would with a kitchen counter!
How to Clean a Wooden Dartboard
A wooden board, like the Manchester Log End board, requires a different form of cleaning and maintenance again. The reason for this is that in order to clean a wooden dartboard, you need to soak it when not in use in order to prevent the board from drying out and cracking.
As the board is soaking and softening, you don’t want to touch it while it’s in this condition as it can be quite fragile. To clean a wooden board remove it from the water and leave it to hang and dry for 30-60 minutes. Then, lightly brush away any dirt with a soft cloth or an old toothbrush.
The bristles on a toothbrush are soft enough to not damage the wood and it will allow you to keep the board looking clean and new. As wooden boards are either soaking wet or bone dry, the best time to clean them is in a 30-60 minute window when they are damp enough to respond well to cleaning methods.
How Often Should You Clean a Dartboard
The frequency for which you should clean a dartboard will vary from board to board and player to player. An electronic dartboard will likely collect more dust but is also the quickest to clean so wiping it down before or after you play should be a habit.
The same is true of a wooden dartboard, as you are soaking them in between use, it becomes difficult for dirt to build up so wiping them down before play will typically be a quick and effortless task.
Bristle dartboards take more time to clean but they also don’t get noticeably dirty either. As it takes a bit more time to clean these boards, I’d recommend cleaning them once per week if you play daily or once every two weeks if you only play occasionally.
Any time you can put aside to clean a board is better than nothing though so just try to do it as frequently as you reasonably can.
How Do You Clean a Moldy Dartboard
Mold on a dartboard is a different issue entirely and needs to be treated with caution and care. Before you reach for your strongest mold killer there are a few things you need to keep in mind…
Any harsh chemicals in a mold spray are likely to damage and discolor the dye on the board and can weaken the glue that holds the sisal fibers in place. Therefore never use any cleaning chemical or mold spray to try and remove the mold as you’ll likely ruin the board this way.
Also, don’t attempt to wipe the board down with damp cloths as this can again damage the sisal fibers.
Mold grows in damp conditions so our first step should be to place your board in a dry area (possibly sunlight) to ensure the board is dry. Once dry, it’s best to remove the mold with a wire brush or old toothbrush.
Mold can be tricky to remove from a dartboard so the best process is always prevention. Keep your dartboard away from damp/moist areas and ensure it never gets wet.
Should You Soak a Dartboard
As covered earlier, unless you have a wooden board that needs to be soaked in order to prevent it from drying out and cracking, you should not soak a dartboard to clean it.
Soaking is always a good method to break up dirt and make something easier to clean but this is the exact opposite when it comes to cleaning a dartboard. Soaking a dartboard will actually do more harm than good and in the case of a bristle dartboard, it could immediately ruin the board.
Can a Dartboard Get Wet
You can’t soak a dartboard but you also can’t allow your board to get wet either. I’ve mentioned this a few times already but getting your board wet is possibly the quickest way you could go about ruining it completely.
This is for two reasons. Firstly, the sisal fibers of the board will absorb the water (and any moisture) which will make them swell and either fall out of the board or cause your dartboard to bulge and swell.
Secondly, the glue that holds the sisal fibers in place will be weakened when wet which will again cause the fibers to fall out and leave you with a board that is unplayable. At present, there is no dartboard technology that allows you to wash dartboard and get them wet so this should be avoided completely.
Cleaning a dartboard might seem like a boring task and something that you usually don’t even consider doing (I personally don’t). My wooden log end board gets prime attention because I know it will break if I don’t maintain it but bristle boards and electronic boards don’t give that same attention for maintenance.
If you want to extend the life of your board though, cleaning them is one essential concept alongside rotating the board frequently and keeping your dart tips sharp. A good quality board like the Winmau Blade 5 is a board you are buying to last you 10+ years and therefore keeping it well maintained is crucial.
A mildly damp cloth and an old toothbrush are all you need to keep your board clean looking in good condition. Just make sure you don’t let your bristle board get wet because it might clean it quickly but you’ll then have more issues to deal with as a result!
Also check out more from my maintenance series:
How to clean your darts