Dirt and Rust: How to Clean Your Golf Clubs

dirty golf club and ball

Meet Jake

Jake was a competitive golfer for over a decade dating back to the days of being the Captain of his high school golf team. He has played more than 200 courses across 32 different states in the US. Now semi-retired, Jake continues to golf 3-4 days a week with a current 2 handicap, gives golf lessons to his friends and family, and provides a wealth of knowledge to Golf Circuit from his competitive playing days. Jake combines practical expertise with technical knowledge to create golfing strategies and training techniques for both beginners and scratch golfers.

How To Clean Golf Clubs

If there’s one person who immediately knows what type of golfer they are dealing with when you meet the first time, it’s your caddie. Caddies know better than anyone else that the condition of your golf clubs says more about you than you might ever realize. Clean and nice-looking golf bags and a set of clean wedges and irons say this person cares enough about the game to regularly invest time and money in his or her equipment to make sure it looks and works well.

When they see an assortment of golf bags stuffed with mud-caked old irons, wedges, and golf balls they know it’s going to be an uphill day ahead. 

We understand that you don’t regularly want to fork out a small fortune for a shiny new set of golf clubs. But every golfer, regardless of his or her financial situation, can afford to give their clubs a thorough cleaning regularly. You will need nothing more than the commitment, a few tools, and a couple of minutes. Trust us, your caddie, your golf clubs, and ultimately your scorecard will be happier for it. 

Ensuring that your golf clubs are clean and well maintained is also the key to making sure they last for much longer. Golf clubs don’t come cheap, so it’s in your own best interest to keep them in shipshape condition – unless you regularly want to replace them.

Cleaning Golf Clubs: The Basics

By now, you’re probably wondering about the best way or ways to clean your golf clubs. The answer is that it’s not as involved as you might expect. Below we show you exactly how to do it – and there’s also a bonus tip or two.

Before beginning the actual cleaning process, it’s essential to know precisely what kind of golf clubs you will be cleaning because there are different steps involved in cleaning, for example, irons or wooden clubs.

What You Will Need To Clean Your Golf Clubs

If you have all of the following ready, you will save yourself a lot of time:

– Warm water

– A bucket that holds at least one gallon (5 liters) of water

– Liquid soap or dish-washing liquid

– A soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush

– A clean, soft towel

– Steel or chrome polish

– A clean, soft cloth

The Best Way to Clean Golf Club Heads (Including Irons)

– Start by filling a bucket with warm water. You need only enough water so the club heads will be covered. Ensure the water is not too warm since that might dislodge the shaft from the club head via the ferrules that join them together.

– Next, add two or three teaspoons of mild soap or dish-washing liquid to your water.

– Submerge the dirty club heads in the warm, soapy water for between 5 and 10 minutes. Soaking the golf clubs allows the dirt on them to loosen and be easily removed during the next step. If the iron clubs are filthy and need a thorough clean, you could leave them in the warm water for up to 20 minutes.

– Remove the clubs from the bucket one by one. Then use a soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush to scrub the rest of the dirt from every clubhead.

– Do not miss certain areas of the club heads, for example, the bottom, front or back. Make sure you clean every individual groove. This step is crucial. If you don’t properly clean the grooves, they could negatively affect your next game. 

– Once all the dirt has been brushed off, make sure the shaft and clubhead are 100 percent dry; otherwise, they could quickly start to rust.

– If you would like your club heads to look brand new again, apply a little chrome or steel polish and rub it in without too much pressure. Use circular motions. Then leave it to dry for a minute or two.

– Finally, check that you’ve removed all the polish, particularly on the clubhead.

The Best Way To Clean Metal Woods

The cleaning process for metal woods such as fairway woods and drivers is somewhat different. This is because it is not advisable to submerge these types of clubs in water. Please read that again: it is not a good idea to submerge these types of clubs in water.

– Add two teaspoons of soap or dish-washing liquid into a bowl or bucket filled with warm water. 

– Dip a toothbrush or other type of brush with soft bristles into this soapy mixture, and then carefully start scrubbing the clubhead. Make sure it does not get too wet. 

– Once the clubhead is as clean as you can get it, proceed to dry it with a clean, soft towel.

Cleaning Wooden Golf Clubs

The fact of the matter is that wooden clubs are typically much older and, therefore, a lot more fragile than clubs made from metal. The number one rule is that you should not dip wooden clubs in water, and you should under no circumstances scrub them with a brush. Here are the correct steps to clean them:

– Fill a bucket with warm water

– Dip a cloth in the water, so it’s thoroughly wet

– Now slowly wipe down the wooden clubhead until you remove all the dirt

– When you don’t see any more dirt on the clubhead, dry it carefully with a soft towel

How to Clean Golf Grips Like A Pro

A golf club’s grips are more critical than most people realize. They can quickly become worn and dirty from sweat, in which case they would no longer provide the grip necessary for that perfect shot. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly clean your golf club grips, preferably after every game. 

The process is relatively simple. Just take a damp cloth and use it to wipe over the whole grip’s surface before rinsing it with water. Just don’t use hot water since that might damage the material of the grip. Afterward, dry the grip’s surface with a clean, soft towel. Make sure that no water has found its way to the shaft, and if it has, dry that too. 

The Best Way to Clean Golf Club Shafts

After you’ve cleaned your golf club heads and grips, it’s essential not to forget the shafts. Golf club shafts are prone to collect dirt very quickly. All you need to remove dirt from a shaft is a clean, damp cloth. Afterward, remember to dry it properly with a clean, soft towel. 

Cleaning the Rust Off Golf Clubs

Spending the winter months in a garage can quickly leave your golf clubs covered with a layer of rust. Most clubs are manufactured from iron or titanium, so they tend to rust more rapidly than most of us expect. The fact is, water and soap alone can not easily remove the majority of rust stains. Luckily there are other ways to get rid of the rust, and you will have your golf clubs looking brand new in a jiffy. 

Here are the steps involved:

– Fill a medium-sized bucket with warm water (not hot water!) and add some liquid soap or dish-washing liquid. Soak the golf clubs for between 5 and 10 minutes, and then use a soft, clean cloth to wipe them. If the rust is limited to the surface, this might be all that’s needed to remove it without causing any damage to the clubs. If not, proceed below.

– Soak your golf clubs in a cola/water mixture. The type of cola doesn’t matter. Leave the clubs in the mix for no more than 5 minutes. Then scrub the rusty parts thoroughly with the mixture. If the rust has entered the club’s grooves, a toothbrush will work better than a cloth since the bristles can reach down much more profound to remove every bit of rust.

– If the shafts have become rusty, soak a towel in the cola/water mixture and wrap it around each of them. Leave them to soak until the following day.

– Once there are no signs of rust, the clubs should be thoroughly rinsed and dried with a clean, soft towel or cloth. Then place a towel or towels on the floor and let the clubs stand upright.

An Alternative Way to Remove Rust From Golf Clubs 

Before calling in the professionals, your final option is to buy a rust remover or acetone mixture from your local hardware store. Rub the mixture over the areas with rust, and then use a toothbrush or another type of soft brush to remove all the rust. 

– We generally don’t recommend using steel wool to clean your golf clubs because this might easily scratch the surface. However, if the methods listed above fail to work, try applying rust remover once again and then rub the clubs softly with very fine steel wool. Rub only the rusted parts, not the rest of the club, and resist getting impatient and rubbing too harshly.

– Once all the rust has been removed, use a circular motion to polish every head and shaft manually with a dry cloth and good polish. Pay particular attention when you get to buffing the golf club shaft. 



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