If you want to keep your ball from ripping, tearing, and leaking, make sure your playing area is free of sharp objects. If you have room, your group can play indoors. Some manufacturers recommend exclusive indoor play for their brand of big activity balls. However, most balls are sturdy enough for outdoor play. Please check with your supplier to see if the ball you’d like to purchase is appropriate for your needs. If you do play outdoors, choose a clean, grassy area rather than a dirt surface. Balls can easily be punctured by pieces of broken glass and sharp sticks.
Periodically inspect the skin of the ball to see if the stitching is holding up. The old adage, “a stitch in time saves nine,” applies here. It’s much easier to perform routine maintenance than to repair major damage, and it is possible to repair or replace damaged portions of a ball. Many balls come with an extra piece of nylon to sew onto the outer skin if it gets ripped. If the bladder of your ball gets punctured, you should replace it. With the proper care, big activity balls can last for years.
Please understand that these generic instructions have worked well for us. If your particular brand of big activity ball has specific repair instructions, please follow those instructions. The following tips apply if you have a big activity ball with an outer, nylon skin. Our preference is to use iron-on nylon patches. Turn the skin inside out and apply the patch to the inside of the skin. This way you don’t have to worry about matching the color that closely.
Set an iron on medium to medium-high heat, with no steam. Place some cotton fabric between the iron and the iron-on patch and the skin of the ball. Apply heat with the iron to melt or glue the patch to the skin. If your iron-on patch matches the skin of the ball, you can turn the skin outside out and apply a second patch to the outside of the skin.
After ironing, you can also sew the patch if you like. Our patches seem to hold up well enough without sewing.
In the past, we cleaned big, inflated cage balls with heavy canvas skins at a self-service car wash, then left them out in the sun to dry. It is possible to separate the bladder and outer skin of the new, lighter cage balls, so you can now clean them yourself at home.
Wash the bladder outside with a garden hose. Remember that this piece is vulnerable when outside of its protective skin, so make sure you clean it in an area that is free of bits of glass or sharp burrs.
The outer skin of the activity ball can be cleaned in either a personal or commercial washing machine. You may need to take big activity balls to a Laundromat. Wash the ball on a gentle cycle with cold water, unless the accompanying instructions call for warm water. After washing, hang the covering up to air dry.
This is an excerpt from Great Games for Big Activity Balls.