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How to steam and revive your dry, old badminton shuttlecocks?

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

I recently found some old shuttles sitting in my old badminton bag in my parents' house and some of them looked pretty dry and brittle. So here's what I did to revive them and extend their life instead of just throwing them away or having them destroyed very quickly when I try to play with them.

You might know this technique as shuttle steaming.

Step 1: Get to know your old shuttles.

Normally, they would be yellow-ish and pretty brittle from their age and dryness. Fresh shuttles are normally white with supple feathers. Sometimes, you might also see discolourations on the cork leather and the feathers of old shuttles. They might look like mold but I don’t think they are.

For our shuttle sauna session today, I have some old RSL and Chao Pai shuttles which I’ve had since 2016 so they’ve aged a fair bit and you can see they've gone yellow. They also tend to stick together, which is common for old shuttles.

Step 2: Boil some hot water.

The steam from the hot water will be used to steam up the old shuttles later on.

Step 3: Pour the hot water into a cup or mug

If you have a teapot that will work too. Essentially, you need something which allows you to channel the hot steam in a specific narrow direction easily, so avoid using items with a wide mouth like large bowls or wide containers. Items that are roughly as wide as the shuttle tube works best.

Step 4: Remove one of the caps on the shuttle tube and place the end of the shuttle tube with the cap removed above the hot mug of water.

I prefer having the cork pointing upwards so that the first shuttle’s cork leather isn’t soaked in the hot water. Some people prefer to have both caps of the shuttle tube off but I prefer to have one cap on to capture all that steam in the tube.

Step 5: Do not over-steam the shuttles.

Some shuttle tubes are unlined, so be careful not to steam the shuttles for too long. Over-steaming will cause the feathers to fall off and your shuttle will become soggy. If you remove the top shuttle tube cap and you spot some steam coming out the other end, that should be good enough. Alternatively, I tend to steam them for about a minute or so per tube. Make sure you place both caps back on the shuttle tube immediately after steaming so that the humid air remains in the tube for a while.

Step 6: Leave the steamed shuttle tubes for at least two days.

This will allow some time for the humid air to rehydrate the feathers.

From experience, after steaming the shuttles, I find that they generally last much longer than the brittle, dry ones. However, I also find steamed shuttles to be slightly slower than the normal ones. They won’t be perfect like a brand new freshly made shuttle, but this technique will allow you to enjoy your old shuttles for longer.

Alternatively, to ensure that your fresh shuttles last longer, keep them in a damp environment. I know people who keep their shuttles in their bathroom, just make sure you don’t wet the entire tube!

If you have any other brilliant ideas on how to revive old, dried-up shuttles, I would love to hear about them! Just pop it down in the comments section below.

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