Darts maintenance is often a neglected aspect and too often you’ll see good quality darts rust and wear due to a lack of care. While the physical appearance of your darts is something you should take pride in, a poorly maintained dart can also impact your performance.
If this is something you’d never considered before and want to keep your darts in good condition, you might be wondering how to clean your darts properly and what are some of the best methods?
To clean your darts, the most common method that is suitable for darts of all material is to soak them in warm soapy water for 1 – 3 hours, give them a scrub with a soft toothbrush to remove any grease and dirt, and then wipe them dry with a soft cloth.
In this article, I’ll cover why you should clean your darts to maintain peak performance and also what some of the quickest and most effective methods are for keeping your darts looking polished and brand new.
Why Do You Need to Clean Your Darts
Something you likely won’t notice when playing darts is just how much dirt, dust, and grease can build-up on them after frequent use. Any darts that have ridges/grooves are going to quickly start to collect dirt and hold grease.
This is actually an issue for players as you need the dart to be easy to grip in order to maintain accuracy and throwing consistency. Anyone that uses wax or chalk to improve their grip during games will also find that their darts will quickly start to collect dirt and grease after use so regular cleaning is essential.
If you don’t believe how bad your darts can get and why they will desperately need cleaning, check out this video below from The Darts Referee showing just how dirty your darts can get!
How to Clean Your Darts
Below I’ve put together a list of some of the best methods you can use to clean your darts. Some are quick with a bit of manual effort whereas can take longer but are mainly hands-off (you just leave them to soak in a solution).
The method you choose will depend on the condition of your darts and also what items you have around the house.
1. Warm Soapy Water
The most common and popular method for cleaning your darts is a classic warm soapy water method. For this, you can follow two methods, either leave the dart to soak overnight (or 24hrs) to breakdown the dirt and oils on the dart or leave it for 15 -30 minutes before manually scrubbing the dart with a toothbrush.
For either method, take a small container or bowl and fill it with 25ml washing up soap and 200ml hot water. Do not use boiling water for this step as it could take off some of the darts paint through exposure to high temperatures.
Now remove your stem and replace it with an old nylon stem (this is to stop water from getting into the thread of the barrel), if using soft tip darts you can also remove the point, and fully submerge the darts into the water.
After the soaking period, remove the darts and scrub them with a soft toothbrush and cloth to remove any surface dirt still on the barrel. Rinse the darts under cold water and
2. Mild Bleach
Following a similar process to the step above of cleaning your darts with washing up liquid but instead replace the washing up liquid with a diluted/mild bleach. John Lowe used to soak his darts in bleach to clean them however you need to be careful when using bleach.
Bleach can easily remove paint from your dart, cause discoloring, and even wear down some ridges or grooves so this step should be taken with caution.
Follow the same steps above but only submerge your darts for a short period of time and then clean them with a toothbrush and cloth in the same manner.
White cleaning vinegar is a cleaning powerhouse and something people use for cleaning bathrooms, ovens, and almost any household item. It’s effective and its cleaning power can also work with darts.
When using white vinegar, keep in mind that submerging a dart in white vinegar and leaving it to soak for 2 – 3 weeks is a technique used to disintegrate a dart point for removing a broken dart point. It’s therefore a powerful solution so should only be used as a short duration cleaning method.
To clean a dart with white vinegar, replace the stem with an old nylon step and submerge the darts in 100 – 200ml white vinegar for 1 – 3 hours. You can do it overnight but it’s best to test it with a short timeframe first to see how your darts react to the liquid.
Then proceed to scrub the darts with a soft toothbrush or cloth before rinsing it with warm water and drying it fully.
4. Nail Varnish Remover
Acetone (or nail varnish remover as it’s more commonly known) is a surprising method that you can use to clean your darts. If it’s a strong enough chemical to remove nail varnish, you can believe it’s strong enough to remove oil and dirt from your darts!
Place your dart onto some tissue paper or an old towel and apply some nail varnish remover to a cotton wool swab. These are useful for hard to reach areas inside deep grooves and also allow you to apply some generous forces to remove any layers of dirt.
Buffer the dart with the cotton wool swab removing visible dirt and making sure you cover all of the barrels with an even application. Rinse the darts and wipe them clean with a soft cloth to finish.
One of the cleaning favorites for darts is simply coke. Coke has an acidic profile that reacts with rust and metal in a similar way to bicarbonate soda, but just to a lesser extent. People have found that coke is a good cleaning agent for numerous household items when left to soak and the same is true for darts.
Place your darts (with an old nylon stem attached to the barrels) into a container with 100 – 200ml of coke, cover, and leave it to soak for 24 hours or overnight. You’ll find that the acid in Coke removes a lot of the oils left on the dart and then all you need to do is clean it with a cloth, rinse it under the tap, and thoroughly dry the dart.
The reason people like the coke method is because you can see the coke react with the dart whereas washing up liquid, bleach, and vinegar does not give the same satisfying reaction (though this has nothing to do with how effective any of them are).
6. Ultrasonic Cleaner
Finally, if you are determined to get your dart as clean as possible then you might want to consider getting an ultrasonic cleaner (check them out on Amazon here). This is going to be the most expensive option when it comes to cleaning a dart but it’s an initial investment that will keep your darts clean with minimal effort.
An ultrasonic cleaner is something used for jewelry, coins, and other small types of metal to get them clean and polished. It will act like a washing machine for your darts and you simply place your darts inside following the manufacturer’s recommended instructions and turn it on.
These machines literally blast the dirt and grease from your dart barrel giving it a clean and polished finish after you rinse and dry it.
How to Clean Rust From Darts
Dart tips can be prone to rust over time, especially if you are a player that grips your dart by the point and are prone to sweating during games. Neglected darts left out can also start to rust as they react with water in the atmosphere so keeping an eye on your points is usually recommended.
Cleaning rust from a dart is a two-step procedure. Firstly, follow one of the cleaning methods above as soaking a dart in a liquid or placing it in an ultrasonic cleaner will help to break up and remove surface-level dirt.
Once you’ve followed the first step, you’ll want to use a more physical approach. Soak a dart in your liquid of choice again for 15 – 20 minutes and now take a wire brush, steel wool, or scouring pad, and proceed to scrub away any remaining rust.
This shouldn’t be too difficult after the darts have spent some time soaking and once all the rust has been scrubbed away, rinse and wipe the dart with a soft cloth before drying it.
Which Liquid Cleans Darts the Best
The best liquid to clean your darts is usually the one you have in your utility or kitchen cupboard. If all you have from the liquids mentioned earlier is washing up liquid, then this will still do a good job.
Just to give one last example, the video below shows what happened when some old rusted darts were placed in different types of cleaning solutions.
Pay particular attention to the dart soaked in coke as you’ll notice the oils that it removes from the dart giving a very clear picture of how oily your darts might be which is definitely going to cause issues with your grip and performance.
As you can see, vinegar looks to have done the best job and could arguably be considered the best liquid to clean your darts but leaving it to soak in vinegar too long could lead to the point disintegrating and your darts becoming unusable.
Therefore, it’s best to test the liquids yourself over time and see which one you prefer based on your own darts. For your prized darts, you can beat the safe option of washing up liquid and a soft toothbrush though, just to be safe!
How Often Should You Clean Your Darts
Darts can easily become dirty just from the oils from your skin, dead skin cells, and dirt, and this process can happen each and every time you throw your darts. The longer you go without cleaning them, the worse they will get and the worse your grip will be when playing.
Therefore, I’d recommend cleaning your darts every 3-4 weeks or leaving them to soak once per month. This will vary depending on how often you play as they will be noticeably dirtier for those playing every day than those who have a casual throw once per week.
The more often you can clean them though, the better grip you’ll have and the better you’ll play so it’s not something worth ignoring.
If you want to get better at darts then you need to make sure you are doing the basic things that will help you. A dirty and oily dart that hasn’t been cleaned frequently will make it very difficult to use and get a good, secure grip.
It seems like a minor thing but if you watched any of the videos from earlier, you’ll see that darts can hold an unbelievable amount of dirt and grime. Regular cleaning is therefore recommended and soaking your darts in some liquid is an effortless task that takes a few minutes every few weeks.
As a minimum, you might want to bring some alcohol wipes with you on game days as wiping them down before and after a game will go a long way to keeping them clean if you forget to do your more regular and thorough clean!
Also check out the following in my maintenance series:
How to clean a dartboard