How To Clean Golf Balls

During a typical 18-hole round, golf balls are put through an unsurprising amount of torture. Not only do you beat them over and over with a clubface, but they are also subjected to various elements on the course. And they seem to have a surprising knack to find dirt, even on a well-maintained golf course. Not surprisingly, they quickly accumulate enough debris and grime to justify a good cleaning.

Sadly though, quite a large percentage of golfers do not seem to regard cleaning their golf balls as a severe issue. They think a quick rub on the pants or a swipe with a towel is enough to eliminate whatever dirt the golf ball might have accumulated. And then these same players are usually quite surprised when their golf balls react in a rather unexpected manner after a perfect stroke. Many ask how to clean golf balls, precisely what this article is about.

Why You Should Clean Your Golf Balls Regularly

The fact of the matter is that having a bag filled with disgustingly dirty golf balls doesn’t only look unprofessional; it can also dramatically affect how your balls respond during the game. Why else would top brands such as Bridgestone and Titleist feature carefully customized designs? These designs have a significant impact on the reduction of slicing and drag. And playing with a dirty golf ball could well thwart all the efforts of the designers and make your golf ball respond poorly.

Regularly cleaning your golf balls should be an essential part of ensuring that every piece of your golf equipment will perform at an optimum level during every game you play. Especially if you play at a course where a mud ball is likely to happen. Below we go over a couple of the best ways to clean golf balls at home.

What You Need To Clean A Golf Ball At Home

Let’s start with what is probably the most critical ingredient:

The suitable golf ball cleaning material

Having the suitable cleaning material at hand will make your job a lot easier. Here are some options:

Dishwashing liquid. Luckily this usually is readily available in just about every household. Dishwashing liquid is an excellent choice to clean golf balls because it doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals that might harm the ball’s coating.

Household ammonia. Ammonia is not only an excellent cleaner for household areas such as walls, shelves, and floors; it’s also surprisingly good for cleaning golf balls.

White vinegar. In the first place, white vinegar is relatively cheap so it won’t break the bank. Secondly, it is also environmentally safe. And thirdly, it contains acidic agents that make it reasonably easy to clean golf balls.

Bleach. If you are one of those people who are perpetually wondering how to clean yellowed golf balls, here is the answer you’ve been looking for. Bleach is the perfect whitener. So if you want golf balls that are so white that they blind your opponent, use bleach. But be careful when using bleach and always dilute it with 1/2 the amount of water.

Cautionary note: Just a gentle reminder that you should rather refrain from experimenting with the mixing of different cleaning materials. Individually, they might be excellent, safe cleaners, but once you mix them, you have no way to predict what will happen – unless you’re a chemical expert. Some of the above might contain reactive chemicals that, when combined, could emit harmful gasses or have other unwanted side effects.

The Rest of Your Golf Ball Cleaning Equipment 

Once you have made sure that you have the suitable cleaning materials, you can proceed to the rest of your golf ball cleaning exercise. Your list should include the following:

A cleaning bucket. You should have a cleaning bucket that will accommodate the number of balls you want to clean, plus a reasonable amount of hot water and cleaning materials. Leave some room for displacement when you put the golf balls in the water to wash them.

Scrubbing tools. Exactly what type of tools you should use to clean the balls will largely depend on how dirty they are. To get the job done correctly, you might need to use more than one scrubbing utensil. Mildly corroded balls can typically easily be cleaned with a sponge or soapy towel. Dirtier balls, however, will need a tool with added cleaning power. An old toothbrush is an excellent idea if there will be scrubbing involved. Just don’t accidentally take it back to the bathroom after you’ve finished the job. Your spouse might not appreciate their toothbrush emitting ammonia fumes later that same day.

Towel to dry and polish the golf balls with. Once you’ve completed the hard part of the job, it’s time to give your golf balls a thorough once-over with a cloth or towel before they go back into your golf bag. This is the perfect opportunity to give every ball a thorough inspection. Look carefully at the dimples to ensure that no sand, dirt, or other obstructions remain.

The Cleaning Process

Put your golf balls into the cleaning bucket before filling it halfway with warm water. Then add the cleaning material you have decided on. Finally, add the rest of the warm water. Just make sure you leave enough space for possible displacement. The water pressure itself will already start to dislodge quite a lot of the dirt. 

Depending on how dirty the balls are, leave them to soak for between 10 and 25 minutes before proceeding to the next step. Warning: Do not let the golf balls soak in any of the above solutions for a period exceeding 6 hours because that might damage the balls’ coating and change the flex in unpredictable ways.

Try always to clean your golf balls before they get too dirty. If you procrastinate too long, the job only gets more difficult since the dirt will dry and start sticking to the balls. That makes it harder to get rid of it.

The Alternative Approach – How To Clean Golf Balls In The Washing Machine or Dishwasher

If you are pressed for time, or you are just the kind of person who always looks for the easiest and quickest way to do any job, you might want to try loading your washing machine or the top rack of your dishwasher with golf balls to get the job done quickly and easily. The good news is that your golf balls will not hit hard against your washing machine or dishwasher. And there will be no need for you to get your hands wet. 

We have to point out at this stage that cleaning golf balls in a washing machine or dishwasher is not the best option in the case of severely dirty golf balls. 

We’ve heard of people who load more than 100 golf balls into their dishwasher or washing machine and then run the device normally, just as if they are washing dishes or clothes. If you encounter no opposition from your spouse, this is probably the best way to clean a large number of golf balls quickly without any need for scrubbing.

Those who’ve tried this way before say it’s OK to let the balls sit loosely in the washing machine. If this approach does not get the balls 100 percent clean, you can always give them a good rub afterward. At the very least, the dirt particles should have been loosened by the machine washing process, so they should come off quickly.

Other experts swear that dishwashers make the perfect golf ball cleaners. Beware, though – If your dishwasher’s drum is not made from high-quality material, it might get damaged when being repeatedly hit by golf balls. At least there’s no evidence of the golf balls being damaged in the process.

Conclusion

You will probably have to practice once or twice before finding the way to clean golf balls that work best for you. It’s worth it, though. Clean golf balls not only hit better, but they also fly longer, and they set with the efficiency and consistency that they were designed to do. With such a wide choice of cleaning tools and products readily available, there is no reason for any golfer to set foot on a golf course with dirty golf balls.

Sources

Golfible

Golf Balls

Golfer Solution

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