How To Clean Golf Clubs and Make Them Last Longer

Our beloved game of golf requires a lot of preparation before and after your round. Cleaning your golf clubs regularly will ensure that your investment in the set of clubs will last a long time. Using clean golf clubs will also help you lower your score. 

A simple answer to the question, how to clean golf clubs is:

Once a month, you should dip your club heads into soapy water and scrub with a soft-bristled brush. Then finish by wiping off each club with a damp microfiber cloth. On the course, you can keep a golf club cleaning kit in your bag and wipe a club immediately if it gets dirty. 

Of course, there are many different ways to clean the various clubs. In this article, we will give you the low down on how to clean all golf club types: irons, woods, metal woods, wedges, and putters. 

How To Clean Golf Clubs

clean golf club

Golfers often neglect cleaning their clubs, especially irons that require regular cleaning to produce the best contact.

The cleaning process is essential for protecting your clubs and optimizing their performance. We spend a lot of money on our irons, so it makes sense to take proper care of them.

Knowing how to wash golf clubs will enable you to complete this task in a few minutes.

After all, your equipment plays a major role in your contact with the ball. You want to use every opportunity to strike the ball better and generate that explosive shot to make you the envy of your group.

Why Clean Your Clubs?

Apart from the obvious reason that they will look better, there are a few other important reasons. Regularly cleaning your clubs will extend their life. 

Importantly, it will also improve your game. This is particularly true of the grooves and more relevant to the higher lofted clubs. While any dirt or debris can hurt your shot, dirty grooves will not help your game at all.

Grooves are designed to generate spin. This is essential for control, accuracy, and distance. Dirty grooves will dramatically affect their effectiveness and will impact your game.

Without question, playing with mucky irons hurts performance. Dirt or debris on the clubhead will affect both its balance and its fluidity of flight, making your life unnecessarily difficult when it comes to striking the ball.

The biggest problems occur when it’s the grooves that aren’t cleaned. If dirt is left to build up in the grooves of your irons or wedges, it becomes almost impossible to spin the ball. Since there’s nothing for the ball to grab onto, you almost always end up with a scuffed ball flight.

Performance aside, keeping your irons clean is vitally important for their longevity. If they are always dirty, they are more likely to develop rust and other issues, leading to club breakage.

How to Clean Golf Irons

The process of cleaning golf irons is a rather simple exercise that needs to be undertaken frequently to prevent the build-up of dirt, dust, and muck that can impact the contact between the clubface and the ball, thereby lessening the effectiveness of your clubs. 

Cleaning will furthermore prevent rust and possible damage to a club’s finish.

Understanding how to clean your golf clubs may require you to invest in a golf club cleaning kit. These work extremely well and are widely available. The alternative is to simply gather up a couple of household items from the available stock in your kitchen and get started.

Some golfers clean their clubs after every round. Others do it twice, maybe three times a year. Many golfers literally never wash their clubs.

It really depends on how often you play, how mucky your course is, and how serious you take your golf. As we’ve already discussed, having dirty irons can greatly impact your performance, so ideally, they should always be spotless.

But cleaning clubs after every round isn’t realistic for most people. It takes time and effort. So really, you should just use your best judgment. If your clubs become so muddy, to the point where you look at them in horror and dread taking them out, maybe it’s time to get the soap out.

If you get in the habit of giving them a quick scrub while you’re out on the course, then it will be far less necessary to clean them with soap regularly. Otherwise, it is recommended that washing golf clubs is done at least once a month.

Golf Club Cleaning Materials

clean golf clubs

The list of materials needed to clean your clubs properly is quite simple:

  • Bucket
  • Warm water
  • Dishwashing liquid or soap
  • A soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush
  • A water source to rinse your clubs
  • A towel
  • A cloth
  • Chrome or steel polish

Step 1 – Get Sudsy

To create the foam, also known as suds, that you will require for the cleaning process you have to squirt some of the dishwashing liquid or liquid soap into the bottom of the bucket. Squirt generously as you want to create ample foam.

The next step is to add warm water to the soap in the bucket but make sure that the water is not too hot. The reason for not using hot water is to protect the ferrule used to connect the clubheads to the shaft. Hot water will loosen the glue that keeps the ferrules in place, leading to disastrous and very embarrassing situations.

Water is a scarce commodity, and to do your bit to protect the environment, only use enough water to ensure that your clubheads will be covered.

It will be beneficial to create some force from the water spraying into the bucket to create a lot of foam.

Note that this method is targeted only at cleaning your club heads. The shafts and grips are cleaned separately.

Fill a bucket with warm water, adding a couple of teaspoons of liquid soap. Ensure the water’s not too hot, as it could damage the metal (and burn your hands!).

You’ll want to fill the bucket enough so that it will only cover your heads – don’t submerge the hosels, as the warm water might loosen the ferrules, which would eventually lead to irreparable damage to your irons.

Step 2 – Clean The Clubhead

Now that the water is ready and at the right temperature, place your clubheads into the water, ensuring that the clubheads are covered under the water. Keep the ferrules above the water and suds for long-term protection.

Soak the clubheads in the warm water for a couple of minutes to loosen the dirt and grime that may have built up in the grooves of the clubface during play. The suds will start working on oils and golf course chemicals that have possibly built upon the surface of the clubheads.

Soak your iron heads in soapy water for 5-10 minutes. If they are particularly dirty, you might want to soak them for a bit longer.

Do not place your putter and woods into the water to soak.

Step 3 – Clean The Grooves

After allowing your irons to soak, clean the clubhead with a soft-bristled brush (or toothbrush), especially getting the muck out of the grooves on the clubface.

Remember that the sole of your clubhead also makes contact with the soil or turf and requires cleaning. This may not have a major impact on the connection between the ball and the clubface but is important for long-term maintenance and to prevent rust buildup. 

For the same reason, it would be beneficial to clean out the back of the clubhead, especially when there are areas where the muck can build up.

Some of the dirt could harden over time, especially if you have missed a cleaning session. Should you still find some muck after cleaning the clubhead with the soft-bristled brush, soak them for a while longer to loosen all the dirt and debris, then clean again with the soft-bristled brush. 

Avoid using a wire bristled brush as this will scratch the surface of the club leading to additional areas that can influence the impact between ball and clubface.

Another handy trick that can be done during a game is using a golf tee to clean the grooves. Simply run it up and down each groove and wipe away any residual dirt. This is fast and extremely effective.

Make sure you get into each of the grooves. An old toothbrush might be better for this, as it should be able to reach right down into the nooks. You must get all the mud out of the grooves to reclaim maximum control of your irons.

Step 4 – Rinse And Inspect

Rinse the clubhead after cleaning the grooves with the soft-bristled brush and inspect to see if there is more muck that remained behind. Ensure that water is not splashed onto the shaft.

Step 5 – Dry The Club

Dry the clubhead with the towel and include the shaft in the drying process just in case some water has splashed onto the shaft during the rinse process. The drying process will remove any muck that may still be loose on the clubface after the cleaning and rinse.

Make sure that the clubhead and the shaft are dried properly and that no damp is on the club before replacing it into your bag.

As an optional fifth step, you could apply a touch of steel or chrome plating to your clubs. Instructions may vary from product to product, but it’s usually a simple case of gently applying it, leaving it for a minute, and then removing the polish.

While the polish isn’t necessary for maintaining your irons’ performance, it will help to give them that sparkling, good-as-new shine.

Cleaning Woods

Cleaning woods is slightly different from how you clean irons, as the heads should never be soaked underwater to protect the finish and shine of the clubhead.

Start the cleaning process by dipping the clubhead in the water for a fraction of a second before removing it and wiping it down with a damp cloth, and then drying it properly with a dry cloth.

Give the grooves on the clubface a quick brush with the soft-bristled brush to remove any muck. Once you have done so, inspect the clubface for any debris that could remain in the grooves.

Dry the club head and shaft immediately after cleaning and replace them in your bag.

Cleaning Metal Woods

Cleaning metal woods requires the same care as you would apply to your driver and other woods.

To protect the club from taking in water if there is a slight crack or damage and the glue in the ferrule, you should not leave the metal woods soaking in the water.

Dip the metal wood into the water for a brief second, then use a damp cloth to wipe the crown, face, and sole clean. Any dirt in the grooves can be removed with a soft-bristled brush. 

Cleaning the Shafts

Before cleaning, inspect the shafts for dents, nicks, or splits in the shafts.

Do not neglect your shaft during the cleaning process to avoid issues that may arise at a later stage. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the shafts and then dry it properly with a dry cloth to prevent rust from forming.

If you notice rust on the shaft, it can be removed quite easily by applying some vinegar onto the shaft and removing any rust residue by rubbing the cloth slowly across the affected area. Ensure that you dry the shaft properly after cleaning away the rust.

Read more: How To Clean Rust from Golf Clubs

How to Clean Golf Club Grips

clean golf grips

Inspect the grips for shiny areas, worn areas, or cracks.

The grip of your club is the only area where you have contact with the club and will often get dirty from sweat and wear over the years.

A clever idea would be to wipe them quickly after every shot, but this is not always possible. To prevent dirt buildup, you should clean the grips regularly.

Start the process off by using a cloth to wipe some of the foam from the bucket over the grips and gently rub it until clean.

Rinse the grip in water that is not hot to remove any detergent remaining from the cleaning process and dry the grip immediately after the rinse. It would be wise to check the shaft again and remove any water that may have contacted the shaft.

Here’s a guide on how to clean golf grips

Genuine Leather Grips

Refrain from using detergents on genuine leather grips. Simply moisten the towel with warm water and wipe down the grips on a routine basis.

Tips to take care of your golf clubs

To ensure that your clubs are kept in tip-top shape, follow a maintenance program.

Storage

Store the clubs indoors and refrain from leaving them in the trunk of your car, especially in extremely hot locations, to prevent the weakening of the glues on the grip. Prevent rust from forming by drying your clubs before storing them.

Golf Towel

Use a towel to wipe down the clubfaces and grips purpose-made for golf with a reinforced eyehole and fancy wicking fibers.

Remember, your towel needs a regular wash to get rid of the dirt you wipe off your clubhead.

Headcovers

To get the longest use of your driver, woods, and hybrids, use headcovers to protect them from damage.

Irons may benefit slightly less from having headcovers as they are less prone to damage.

Putters will benefit more as the putter’s face should be protected to prevent any damage.

Clean The Club Heads Between Plays

Striking the ball on and off the fairway, leads to some dirt gathering in the grooves. It is advisable to wipe the clubface with a wet towel after every shot. This prevents the build-up of dirt in the grooves.

If there are obvious signs of dirt in the grooves, you can use a cleaning brush to remove the dirt while waiting to hit your next shot.

Inspect your clubs

To play your best golf, you need your equipment in top nick. Inspect your grips, shaft, and clubhead regularly for any cracks, dents on the clubface, and damage to the shaft.

This will allow you to address any damage early and repair it before it turns into a nightmare that needs replacement. 

Cleaning Routine

Follow a regular cleaning program to keep your clubs in perfect shape. Consider a good cleaning at least every few rounds to maximize each club’s performance. It can also be good practice to scrub your clubs before storing them away at the end of the season.

A recent survey of 500 golfers found that golfers clean their clubs at different stages.

  • 50% clean their clubs during or after every round.
  • 22% clean their clubs after every few rounds. 
  • 15% clean their clubs approximately every 3-6 months. 
  • 13% clean their clubs once a year or never.

FAQs

Can You Clean Golf Clubs With Windex?

You can use Windex to clean your grips and clubhead. However, it is not advisable to soak your clubheads in Windex.

After using Windex to remove most of the dirt from your grips, you should wipe the grips down with soap and water.

What Should I Wash My Golf Clubs With?

Hot water and dishwashing liquid produce ample soap to clean your clubhead, shafts, and grips.

Can You Use Vinegar To Clean Golf Clubs?

Vinegar can be especially useful to remove the first signs of rust on your clubface and shaft.

No need to soak your clubs in vinegar, just add 2 tablespoons to the cleaning solution and wipe your shafts.

Do Clean Golf Clubs Make a Difference?

Clean clubs may not change your swing faults, but they will ensure that there is better contact between clubhead and ball.

A clean clubhead will promote consistency in the strike and distance. It will also generate spin enabling the ball to stop quickly on the green.

Knowledge on how to properly clean golf clubs will enable you to extend the lifetime of your clubs and play better golf.

Keeping Your Irons Clean On The Course

Besides giving them a proper scrub when you’re back at home, it’s recommended that you keep your irons clean as and when you use them out on the course. This is especially necessary when you’re playing in the rain, playing out of a muddy lie, or taking a divot.

For less than $10, you could pick up a golf brush club groove cleaner, giving you a quick and efficient method of cleaning your irons right after you play a shot.

They attach to your bag on a retractable zip-line and contain specialized brushes to easily scrub the dirt off your clubheads. They also have a little cleaning pin for getting the dirt out of your grooves.

Of course, you could always use golf tees instead. They’re a perfect size for getting into your grooves and scratching away the dirt.

Final Thoughts

It is essential that you know how to clean golf clubs for durability and optimal performance.

Keeping your irons clean comes in two parts: giving them a quick once over as and when you use them on the course and giving them a proper scrub with warm water and soap back at home. You don’t need to do it every time you play – only when they’ve become noticeably caked in mud.

The cleaner you keep your irons, the longer they will last, and the better you will be able to play with them.

The benefits of cleaning your clubs are self-evident and it is important to not only protect your investment but ensure that you also perform at your best potential.

Read more: The Best Looking Golf Clubs on the Market Today!

Charl Jooste Golf Span Writer Headshot
Charl Jooste
Writer | Website | + posts

Charl is an avid golfer who studied marketing and advertising. He is fascinated by new technology in golf equipment and the mechanics of the perfect swing.

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