How To Clean Golf Clubs

Written by Michael VanDerLaan 

Most golf courses have a water bucket to clean your golf clubs after hitting on the range

Some golfers like to joke that a club is only new for one shot. This may be true, but you can keep your clubs looking and performing like new for many many seasons by learning how to clean golf clubs.

This helps not only aesthetics, but the performance of the clubs. Also, properly cleaning your golf clubs can actually make them last longer.

In this article we will take a look at the basics of how to clean golf clubs - both for a little smudge here and there, as well as a deep cleaning if they’ve been neglected for a while. We will even talk about how to keep them clean throughout their lifetime.

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What Do You Need To Clean Golf Clubs?

Use a brush and a towel to get clean golf clubs and make them shine

Cleaning golf clubs doesn’t involve any magical substances or speciality products. The best place to start is just like cleaning golf hats, or anything else - with some warm, soapy water!

Really, any water, and any normal, mild soap will do. It is also best to have a towel or two, and a soft bristled brush. This is the essential equipment that you will need to clean any golf club with.

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How To Clean Golf Irons

Using a brush to clean golf clubs is one of the easiest ways to keep them clean

From game improvement irons to the more coveted players irons, golf irons are the easiest to clean, as well as the club you will be cleaning the most.

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There are several “methods” to cleaning a golf iron but they all involve the same process: water, soap, scrubbing, and drying.

The basic process is this:

  1. Dip the head of the golf iron in warm water with a small amount of mild soap (liquid  detergent is fine)
  2. Scrub the head of the club with a wet towel. If dirt does not wipe out of the grooves and numbers on the sole of the club with ease, you can use a golf tee, a soft-bristled brush, or some elbow grease with the towel to get any hard-to-reach crevices.
  3. Dry the club thoroughly with a dry towel before putting away

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If you have a really nasty job or haven’t cleaned your clubs in awhile, you could let the clubs soak for a few minutes in the soapy water. Otherwise just dip one club at a time, fully scrub and dry it, and then move on to the next. The process is the same for both forged and cast irons, and there is no special step to use for either of them!

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How To Clean Golf Woods

When cleaning golf woods, such as your driver or 3 wood, just keep in mind that they are slightly more delicate than irons. You’re going to want to make sure that any cloth you are using is completely free from debris like grit or sand to prevent scratching any part of the club head. 

Also, if you are using a brush, make sure the bristles are of a soft enough material to avoid leaving marks on the club. If there is any doubt at all, avoid using a brush altogether and just use a wet towel.

The process is the same as irons: The first pass is with a towel that has been dipped in soapy water (preferably warm, but not hot) and the second pass is with a dry rag, and you’re done.

Again make sure that the detergent you are using is mild. Any normal dish soap is a good option for stripping dirt and debris but not your club’s paint job. There is no need to use any specialized or harsh solvent or cleaners.

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How To Clean Putters

Keep your putter clean and looking like new

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The putter should require the least cleaning of any of your clubs, but when you do need to do it, just take these precautions and it will be a cinch:

There should be no need to soak your putter head as dirt should not have accumulated as deeply as it could with an old iron set. Just get a wet cloth and wipe the putter head clean, then immediately dry it off to prevent encouraging any rust formation. For a tougher job, you can warm the water or add a drop of mild dish detergent before wiping it with a wet rag.

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How To Clean Shafts and Grips

How to Clean Golf Grips

Every time you clean your clubs, you should also make sure to clean the shafts and grips of the clubs.

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Steel shafts on most irons and putters are easy. Take the same clean, wet rag you just used to clean the head of the club with, and give the shaft a good wipe, and then once again immediately dry it with a clean, dry cloth to keep any rust from forming when you store the club.

For a driver, wood, hybrid, or any other club with a graphite shaft, the same procedure is fine, except just like we would with the club heads on these clubs, make extra sure that the cloth you are using to wipe and dry is completely clean and free from any debris, grit, or sand that could scratch the paint on the shaft.

Cleaning golf grips is also easy, and can be done with the same items used to clean the rest of the club.

The process of cleaning the grips is slightly different from cleaning the club heads, although you can use the same tools - warm water with a light amount of mild soap, and a towel or two and optionally a soft bristled brush.

What differs is that when cleaning grips, you are trying to remove more oils from your hand and subtler grime that can build up over time and not just make the grip less tacky to begin with but actually lead to the permanent deterioration and smoothing of the rubber. So even if they don’t LOOK dirty, remember that we’re not removing so much mud and grass like we are with the club heads, and go ahead and regularly clean them anyway. You might be surprised how much grime comes off on the towel and how much more tacky they feel afterwards!

So the basic process should be familiar at this point, but there are a couple of key differences: We absolutely do NOT want to soak our golf grips in water and we absolutely do not want to use piping hot water. A dip or a wipe down is enough. Soaking in water or water that is too hot can weaken, damage, and/or deform the grips possibly.

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Also, since we are dealing with oils from our hands, a detergent soap like liquid dish soap is highly encouraged for this part.

Just dip or wipe the grip with soapy water, then gently scrub it with a soft brush or sponge. It is VERY important that you then thoroughly dry the grips with a towel. Even after this step, however, it is best to let the grips air dry overnight since, once stuffed into a golf bag, the moisture has a hard time evaporating and can lead to much bigger problems down the road (such as a moldy golf bag).

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How To Keep Golf Clubs Clean

Keep your golf clubs clean by wiping them down with a wet towel after each shot

The best way to keep your golf clubs clean and maintain them for the full life of the clubs is to clean them as you go. Men's or women's clubs, it doesn't matter. Even junior clubs should be kept clean as you go!

Just like good golfers have pre-shot routines, they also have post-shot routines. This could include any number of things, but since most shots include some kind of divot, on a typical shot the club should be cleaned before it goes back into the bag.

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This actually helps with pace of play, because having to stop to clean a club or fiddle with picking dry dirt out of it with a tee before your shot is just extra time added to your group.

It will also make monthly or season maintenance and deep-cleaning of your clubs more easy and efficient.

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In order to keep your freshly polished golf clubs clean, there are a couple of “systems” you can take advantage of. The tried-and-true method is to bring a towel with you, half of it dipped in water (many courses have a water bucket available for this near the driving range, believe it or not … and it might even be warm if you’re at a high-class joint!). The key is to have half the towel wet and half dry. As soon as you get back to your bag after your shot, one wipe with the wet half and one wipe with the dry half will have you back to glistening in no time.

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Alternatively, many golf carts these days will even include a club head cleaner, which is also an option to take advantage of if available. This is a small opening with soft bristles where you “dip and scrub” the club all in one motion (or 2-3 quick swipes). There is a small container of soapy water that the club is dunked into before being pulled out past the bristles. It is a smaller version of the buckets seen at most driving ranges.

Keeping your clubs clean after each shot and after each range session is a great habit to get into, and before you know it it will be an automatic part of your routine and you’ll see how much easier it is than neglecting your clubs and having to deal with trying to pick dried dirt out of the grooves.

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Final Thoughts

Keeping your golf clubs clean isn’t just about looking good, but it’s about playing good, too. There’s the psychological aspect of being ready for each shot and confident, but even beyond that, you should never hit a shot with anything between your club face and the ball if at all possible.

Cleaning golf clubs isn’t difficult, and doesn’t require any special equipment or solutions. The only time it should take more than 1 or 2 quick wipes with a wet rag is if the clubs have been left dirty for quite some time and the dirt has dried or caked onto the club head.

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With this in mind, go ahead and get used to cleaning your club heads during your round when you are playing, and taking time to deep-clean the grips and shafts at least once a season, or more often depending on how many rounds per month you play. You will feel better taking care of your equipment, and more organized during your rounds of golf, which actually can reflect in better scoring in the long run!

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Michael VanDerLaan

Michael is an Associate Editor here at Golf Gear Advisor. He is a playing professional with a passion for finding the best equipment through product testing and evaluation. He has an intimate knowledge of the golf swing and a very effective way of communicating his knowledge to those that are interested in learning more. As an Associate Editor at Golf Gear Advisor, Michael shares his knowledge about the golf swing, fitness and finding the right equipment for your game.

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