Whether for an individual club, or your complete set of irons knowing how to clean golf clubs is not only a matter of appearance but performance as well. Every time you swing your clubhead should meet the ground and take a divot*. From this divot, dirt and grass will cake on the face of the club. Without good cleaning habits, the divot debris on your golf club heads will decrease spin rates of the golf ball. Therefore, regardless if you’re a beginner or scratch golfer cleaning golf clubs should be routine!
*A golf divot is the thin layer of turf an iron, wedge, or sometimes wood scrapes off at impact. Or better yet, the divot should be in front of the spot where the impact with the ball was made.
You can invest in cleaning kits or adopt the do-it-yourself approach with common household equipment. Either way, we are going to go through the best way to clean golf clubs for super clean results.
- A Bucket – This can be an optional cleaning tool depending on your preference. It offers a place to do the cleaning. However, if you have a designated washing sink for this purpose, you can skip this tool.
- Dish Soap – A washing detergent is essential to removing stubborn stains from your club. I recommend liquid soap – it makes the wiping process easy. However, avoid using heavy detergent or bleaching agents as they can affect the texture and color of your equipment.
- Scour Pad – An appropriate sponge should do the trick. A soft one lets you hold enough water as you wipe your club without wasting too much soap in the process.
- Golf Club Brush – A golf brush allows you to clean the grooves of your club effectively. You can purchase one designated for this task such as the Frogger Golf Brush with a 2.5ft retractable cord and thin nylon bristles. It also has a golf club groove sharpener if they start to lose their edge. Alternatively, you could improvise using one of your old toothbrushes. However, in so doing, I recommend one with soft bristles.
- Polish – Depending on the design of your golf club, you will need either a metal (chrome or steel polish) or wood polish. It adds a nice finishing touch to your club, ready for your next playing time.
- Golf Towel – Any old clean towel can do the trick. However, you can get a designated microfiber golf towel. Or, this Titleist Golf Towel is a good candidate for this task.
- Water – this is the most basic of all cleaning components. Lukewarm water is recommended for the best results. Too hot of water and you run the risk of softening the ferrules to where they might slip on the shaft. Too cold of water… Well, I’m not a chemist, so here you go!
If you want to go completely spartan, you only need dish soap brush and water to clean your clubs. Don’t forget your towel, so you don’t have to remove rust from golf clubs later.
Great. You’ve got the items needed. Now it’s time to learn how to clean golf clubs like a pro.
Cleaning your Woods, Hybrids & Irons
Assuming you’re using modern technology, and your club set – woods & irons – consists of all metal heads, (Titanium, carbon steel, 17-4 steel, i.e.) the cleaning process is relatively the same. Just be careful with the paint finish on the crown of the driver, fairway and hybrid heads, along with the paint on the sole. Wire brushes, for instance, can leave some nasty surface scratches in the paint that can become annoying to look at when addressing the ball. Here’s the process we recommend:
a) Preparation –
Squirt a proportionate amount of liquid soap into the lukewarm water mix properly. In this step, you should ensure that the mixture covers only the heads – you do not want to risk causing ferrule movement. For the woods & hybrids, avoid prolonged submerging in water. While I’ve personally never had water seep into the hollow body of the head, it is apparently an issue.
If you have old persimmon woods don’t submerge the heads at all. We’re not covering care for vintage golf clubs here so the following link will take you to the best source available – Louisville Golf Care and Maintenance of Vintage Golf Clubs
b) Dip the head into the mixture –
Allow a couple of minutes to pass for the warm water to loosen the dirt and the chemicals that have accumulated over time.
c) Clean the Head –
Now use your soft bristled brush to clean each of the faces while giving some TLC all-round that show excess dirt.
- Start with the face scrubbing from hosel to toe, back and forth until satisfied.
- You can go back and forth, or circular motions. Whatever your preference.
- Next, with vertical up-down scrubs do the same scrubbing from sole to topline.
- For cavity back irons check the backside for any dirt that may be hiding in the cavity.
- You might have to get creative while cleaning these parts out.
- For woods and hybrids don’t neglect areas such as channels or weights that show. These areas can be a breeding ground for debris.
- Last, grab your golf tee and run it through the grooves, if your brush doesn’t have a groove cleaner built in and remove any problem spots still stuck.
Cleaning golf clubs should be a thorough process. But be careful with the crowns and soles of woods and hybrids with paint as you do not want to cause surface scratches. Personally, I prefer to buff dirty spots out in painted areas with a microfiber towel.
d) Rinse with Clean Water –
Once done, run the club head over tap water to rinse it off. This process involves also inspecting for any leftover dirt – if that is the case, repeat the previous step until you have a clean club head.
e) Dry & Polish –
This is the final step before storing your clubs back in the bag. Use your designated golf towel to remove any residual water or moisture from the golf sticks. For a finishing touch, show off your OCD traits and apply a polish to the club head with a chrome or appropriate polish.
2. Cleaning the Shaft
The two most common shaft material includes steel and graphite. The former is more common than the latter in iron sets, and graphite is the shaft of choice for woods. Their cleaning process also differs slightly but applies the same concept:
a) Prepare Mixture –
With your liquid soap already mixed with water, wet your scour pad with it.
b) Wipe Gently with Sponge –
Gently wipe the steel shaft clean taking care not to make a mess and splash the water all over the place. In the case of graphite shafts, avoid solvents to protect the delicate polyurethane encasing. A dampened cloth is appropriate in this case.
c) Remove Rusts –
Sometimes; simple wiping is not enough if your steel shaft is showing signs of rust. In this case, you can use a little vinegar and a 000 or 0000 steel wool. Any steel wool rougher than this can possibly scratch the shaft.
d) Dry & Wax –
Once you have cleaned the shaft, wipe it dry. For the graphite models, I recommend waxing as a polishing finishing touch. Car wax can also do the trick to bring back a nice shine.
It is also during this stage that you should inspect both shaft materials for deformities such as dents in steel or knicks in graphite. If they exist, you might want to consider replacing the shaft.
3. Cleaning the Grip
Your golf grips can easily be neglected causing dry, hard slippery pieces of rubber. The accumulated sweat, dirt, hand lotions, and even chocolate can, over time, reduce the traction of your hands during play. You have a couple choices here. One being to purchase the Lamkin Gripes Golf Stripes, or DIY to the rescue and to get a grip clean, the process is:
a) Prepare Mixture of Grip Clean Soap –
Mix liquid soap and water (that simple!). Stir to create soap suds.
b) Run Under Water –
It is recommended to run the grips under clean water first before applying soap.
Then, apply your sponge to the mixture and use it to start cleaning grips using gentle scrubbing motions.
c) Rinse –
Run through warm water to complete the process. Avoid hot water to protect the glue that holds the grips to the shaft. Check out our Golf Grip Tape Article for an in-depth discussion of grip tape and how it bonds with the shaft.
d) Dry and maintain –
Use your golf towel to dry off the rinsed surface. Do the same for excess water running down the shaft.
At this point, you can determine if your grips are still in good shape or worn out. If it is a case of the latter, you need to either sand it or replace it.
4. Maintaining the grip
If you want to maintain quality grips, then you need to adopt a vital follow-up routine:
a) Inspection –
Being the most neglected part of the golf equipment, many never notice, or deal with the cracks or worn out parts of the grips until it is too late. Avoid this by doing a routine check once you are done scrubbing and rinsing it.
b) Clean Frequently –
It is recommended to do this at least once per month. The tools required for this process are very few and easy to improvise.
c) Know Your Grip & How to Maintain It –
Wash conventional rubber grips with a soft bristle brush and hand soap. If you find this to be too tedious, window cleaners like Windex and Glass Plus can offer quick and effective ways to maintain a clean grip.
d) Sand or Replace Golf Grips –
If after cleaning your grips through the above method it is still hard to use coarse sandpaper to take off the top layer. If that does not work out, it is time for a new one.
How to Clean Golf Clubs Conclusion
Playing golf can be fun, but for you to continue enjoying that fun you need to adopt a habit of properly maintaining your equipment. Maintenance, in this case, involves both cleaning and replacing worn out parts. Knowing the proper methods of how to clean golf clubs will keep your set in the best condition to perform well and last for many rounds.
One last thing…
I noticed another article claiming that if a ferrule comes loose there is potential of the head becoming unglued. Okay, while that is a possibility, there’s probably a better scenario called ferrule movement.
I cannot tell you how many times customers have come in thinking they need a reshaft because a gap emerged from the ferrule moving due to the golf shaft epoxy bond weakening. The ferrule moved because of temperature changes in the shaft and the expanding and contracting causing a loosening effect on the plastic piece.
Just remember, the purpose of the ferrule is cosmetic, providing a transition from the edge of the club head hosel to the shaft. Sometimes, merely soaking the ferrule in hot water is enough to loosen it up again so you can push it back down. Otherwise, you can leave it be because it’s causing no harm. Or, if it’s really bothering you take it to your local repair shop where the club can be taken apart with a shaft extractor and the ferrule can be reset.
FYI, the hot water method is a better choice as opposed to using a heat gun to warm up the ferrule… Just trust me on that!