How To Get Rust Off Golf Clubs – Restore The Shine To Your Game

Written by Michael VanDerLaan 

Rusty Golf Clubs

There’s nothing quite like the look of a new, clean, shiny golf club. While that fresh out of the box feeling can’t last forever, learning how remove rust from golf clubs and keep it off is a great way to keep them looking fresh.

It’s a story that so many of us have lived out. You put the golf clubs away at the end of the season or when you have to focus on work. When you take them back out, it looks like they’ve been sitting in a pool the entire time. They’re covered in nasty, horrifying amounts of rust!

Having clubs that are well taken care of is essential for golfers trying to take the game seriously. There are lots of methods golfers use to get the rust off their golf clubs. Some are better than others, but many of them certainly work. We have used a variety of them on our clubs over the years and have found a few of them to be our favorites. 

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5 Ways To Get Rust Off Golf Clubs

Sometimes, a simple at home solution is enough to get the rust off a club. Other times, drastic measures are needed. To minimize additional wear to your clubs, we recommend you start with the most gentle methods and work your way into the ones that require more elbow grease.

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Brillo Pads

Brillo Pads

Brillo Pads and other steel wool products work great for getting rust off a golf club. The ability to scrub gently without scoring the metal too much makes for a perfect solution to some of those deeper rust spots.

Our only issue is that Brillo Pads are, by nature, abrasive. Rust is already going to cause some of the material on the your golf club to wear away. We definitely prefer to try to preserve as much metal as possible when we are taking the rust off. 

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If you choose to use a Brillo Pad, we highly recommend you scrub lightly and rinse the club intermittently. This is a great way to make sure you’re taking off the rust while not scrubbing and scraping the club excessively. 

If you use corded grips, or want to score your grips a bit to help play without a glove, a Brillo Pad is also a perfect way to clean and restore them while you’re at it!

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Soap And Water

Soap and Water will get the rust off your golf clubs in no time

For your more pedestrian, day to day rust build up, soap and water should take care of the problem. We love this solution for its simplicity and ease of access. All you have to do is plug up your kitchen sink and fill it with some dish soap and warm water!

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Let your clubs soak for 5-10 minutes in your soapy water. This gives the rust a chance to loosen up a bit. 

Using a soft bristled brush with soap and water will take off all but the worst rust spots - and it won’t do any unnecessary damage to the golf clubs.

If the soft bristled brush doesn't get all the rust off, I like to use fine steel wool. When you use fine, or even ultra fine steel wool, it almost works like a polish, not only removing the rust, but leaving a nice shiny golf club.

Soap and water is great for more than just taking the rust off, too. While you’ve got the materials out, you might as well clean your golf grips, spot clean your golf shoes, and give your hat a refresh. You’ll be the best looking player at the course the next time you head out!

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Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice works great for getting the rust off a golf club

Maybe you’re looking for a solution similar to soap and water, but the rust has had time to set in pretty deep. This is where lemon juice is a great solution. The acidity in lemons will help you to get the rust to break down, and it should come off incredibly easily.

The key to this method is to let your clubs soak. Lemon juice takes a little bit of time to interact with the rust, but after an hour or two in the bath, the rust will wipe right off with a cloth or towel.

Similarly to the soap and water method, using a nylon brush, or steel wool to lightly scrub is a great way to get every last bit of rust off a golf club. And as an added bonus, your clubs will smell lemony fresh!

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White Vinegar works really well to get rust off of golf clubs

Using vinegar to get the rust off a golf club is a similar concept to using lemon juice. You want to fill a small container and then let your clubs soak, submerged in the liquid. 

The main difference between using vinegar and lemon juice is the type of acid in each. While lemon juice is about 6% citric acid, vinegar is 4-8% acetic acid depending on the vinegar you choose. 

We found that vinegar works better and faster than lemon juice on rusty clubs, but at the cost of smell. If you’re willing to sacrifice the light and fresh smell of lemon for the more efficient vinegar, we say go for it!

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Rust Remover

Use Rust Remover to get the rust off your golf clubs

You may be asking yourself, “why do people wonder how to get rust off a golf club when rust remover is easy to find and buy?” Well, there are a lot of people who simply don’t want to spend the time and money going to get specialized rust remover, so they look for an at home solution.

That said, rust remover is the best overall way to get rust off a golf club. There are even specialized formulas designed to protect the integrity of a golf club!

As with the other solutions to rust, simply apply the rust remover, let it set for a few minutes, and wipe it away. The rust should come right off!

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How To Clean Rusty Golf Clubs

Half of this golf club had the rust removed using vinegar

We took the rust off of half of this golf clubface using vinegar. You can really see the difference on each side of the line!

Cleaning a rusty golf club is way easier than it may seem. Simply pick your preferred method - we like lemon juice - and follow the steps below:

  1. Soak your clubs in the liquid or solution of your choice. 5-10 minutes will work, but if you can let them sit for an hour that will work better.
  2. Cleaning one club at a time, remove the club from the solution and wipe it with a rough cloth or towel. This should remove any surface rust and leave only the really deep set rust behind.
  3. Use a nylon brush or steel wool to scrub the spots where rust remains. We recommend you don’t use harsher brushes like the brass side of a golf brush as this reduces the lifespan of your clubs.
  4. Dry the club thoroughly and return it to your golf bag.
  5. Repeat with the next club!

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How To Get Rust Off Golf Club Shaft

Taking care of a rusty golf club shaft is a little more delicate. You have to be careful not to take too much rusted material off the shaft or you will compromise its strength and put it at risk of breaking the next time you take a divot.

We recommend a 3 step process to clean a rusty golf club shaft:

  1. Dampen a towel with water and use it to rub down the golf club shaft. This will take away any rust that is already flaking off.
  2. Using another towel, dampen with an acidic liquid - like lemon juice or vinegar. You should see some of the more stuck on rust starting to fall away.
  3. Spot clean any leftover rust by gently polishing with steel wool. Keep in mind, rust is effectively a breakdown of metal, so there will still be evidence of rust even after it is gone. Once the orange-red color of the rust is gone, your job is complete.

A quick note: While rust is common on steel shafts, it is not possible for graphite shafts to rust. Do not try to clean a graphite shaft with anything that could scratch it. You will damage the shaft and might even cause it to break.

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How To Get Rust Off Putters

Getting the rust off a putter can make it look brand new

Removing the rust from a putter is no different that removing it from any of your other clubs. Pick your preferred method and go to town!

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Keep in mind, though, that taking the rust off your putter isn’t necessarily a must. If the rust doesn’t interfere with the performance of the putter and you like the weathered look, then leave it! 

Jordan Speith is well known for actually admiring the way his putter has rusted over the years. Who knows, maybe that’s his secret.

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How To Keep Rust Off Golf Clubs

There are a couple different things to avoid if your goal is to only have to take the rust off your golf clubs once. 

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  1. Dry your clubs thoroughly! Whether you just cleaned them after a driving range session, or a surprise rainstorm caught you on the course, make sure to get all the water off of your clubs before it has a chance to interact with the metal. All it takes is a swipe with a dry towel.
  2. Store your golf clubs in a non-humid environment. If your significant other doesn’t want the clubs in the house, this might be tough. But even if it’s a spot in the back corner of the closet, anything is better than the garage. Storing your clubs in humid air is almost as bad as leaving them submerged in water. If push comes to shove, leaving them in the back of your car is better than putting them in the garage.

If you are already following those guidelines and your clubs are still rusting, try wiping them down with a multipurpose lubricant once every few months. The hydrophobic nature of the lubricant will help to keep water from getting to the metal in the first place.

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Final Thoughts

Having equipment that sets you up for success is step one to playing your best golf. You wouldn't play in a rainstorm without a waterproof hat, so why play with clubs that look like you pulled them out of the dollar rack at the thrift store?

Learning how to get rust off a golf club is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make it look like you’re ready to go once you arrive at the course. No one likes the look of choppy, patchy, burnt orange rust all over their clubs. Getting your clubs polished up may even help you shoot lower scores!

There are a number of methods to removing rust, from brushing with steel wool to breaking rust down on a molecular level with an acid like lemon juice. But more important is to treat your clubs in a way that rust isn’t such a common occurrence. If your goal is to break 90, 80, or even par, treat your golf clubs well and they will treat you well. 

Regardless of how you choose to do it, get those clubs shining and take on your next round of golf like a new player, because that’s how you will feel when the rust is gone!

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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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