How To Clean Rusty Golf Clubs: 5 Ways To Get Shiny Irons!

Rusty golf clubs can ruin your game, so you’ll need to clean them now and again. You may especially notice rust on your golf clubs after letting them sit for the winter. But how can you clean them?

The best way to clean rusty golf clubs are by using soap and water. You can let them soak for 5 minutes and then use a soft cloth to wipe away the rust. If the rust is not coming off as easily, you can lightly scrub your clubs with steel wool. If your clubs are still rusty, try soaking them in cola for 24 hours or soaking them in vinegar and lemon juice for an hour or so. Or a rust remover will help remove even the most stubborn rust. 

Be warned, though! You could scratch your expensive clubs if you do this wrong. That’s why you’ll want to read the whole article to learn the process and avoid big mistakes.

Don’t panic; we’ll walk you through each method of cleaning your golf clubs. Most of you can clean them with what you have at home right now. I’ve also tried out some products like rust removers, so I’ll show you the best options if you have some rust that is tough to get off.

Let’s get started making your clubs shiny again.

How To Clean Rusty Golf Clubs


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Soap and Water

You can clean most rusty golf clubs with a simple mixture of soap and warm (not too hot) water. This solution will not risk your clubs, so those $500 or $1000 irons are safe! Here’s how to clean rusty golf clubs with soap and water:

  • Fill a bucket with warm water, and add dish or liquid soap.
  • Then, soak your clubs for five minutes or so.
  • Finally, grab a soft cloth and wipe away the rust.

If the rust has burrowed into the grooves of your club, you could grab a toothbrush. The bristles will reach right down into the grooves and should be able to brush all of the rust away.

Although some golfers like to use Clorox wipes because they have them around, the alcohol is a gentle cleanser.

Hopefully, the soap, water, and brushes will be enough to remove rust from your golf clubs. If not, it’s time to bring out the big guns.

Steel Wool

If it seems to be just a light sprinkling of surface rust, you might be able to get rid of it with some steel wool. You can quickly remove rust and restore your club’s shine by lightly scrubbing it over the affected areas.

However, be careful not to scrub too hard with steel wool, as it might scratch the surface and cause further damage. If the rust is too deep-set for the steel wool to deal with it, you’re better off moving on to other methods.


You can use America’s favorite soft drink to remove rust from your golf clubs. More of a Pepsi person? No problem. Any sort of cola will work (as long as it contains phosphoric acid).

Fill a container with a few liters of cola – enough so you can at least submerge your golf clubs’ heads.

To get the maximum cleaning effects of coke, you’ll want to soak your clubs in it for roughly 24 hours. After that time, remove your clubs and dry them with a microfiber cloth. This should eliminate most of the rust, but some remnants may be left over, so you should grab a scratch-free scrubber.

If the shafts are rusty, you can soak some towels in your cola concoction and then wrap them around your shafts. Leave them for 24 hours, then wipe them down and rinse them with water.

When you’re done, pour yourself a nice glass of Coca-Cola and toast to your newly-cleaned clubs.

Vinegar and Lemon Juice

Alternatively, if you’ve got some vinegar or lemon juice kicking about, you can use their acidity to tackle the rust on your clubs quickly.

Fill a small container with vinegar or lemon juice and submerge your clubheads – an hour or two should be enough. Then scrub away the rust with a cloth and/or a brush.

Rust Remover

If none of the above solutions work, it might be time to find a stronger rust remover. I like and trust the Golf Club Polish. It’s never harmed my clubs and gets all the rust and dirt from the grooves in my clubs. You will want to be careful just going to the hardware store and buying harsh chemicals.

I would avoid using more harsh cleansers like WD40. You can add a bit after you’ve cleaned your club, but I’d use more gentle cleansers when scrubbing your clubs. These solvents contain harsh chemicals that can damage the metal if used incorrectly, so carefully read each product’s instructions.

Read more: How To Clean Golf Grips

What If Nothing Works To Clean Your Golf Clubs?

But if nothing seems to work to clean your clubs, including industrial rust removers, then there may be nothing else that can be done. You could take your clubs to a specialist golf store and ask them to assess the damage, but the likelihood is that the rust is so deep-set that a repair simply isn’t possible.

Perhaps it’s just your shafts that are affected. In this case, you could have the clubs re-shafted, which would be cheaper than buying a new set outright. Otherwise, it’s probably time to bite the bullet and buy new clubs.

How to Prevent Golf Clubs From Rusting

Chrome Golf Club Wedge Iron Set On Rock Surface.

It’s all well and good cleaning rust from your clubs, but it would be far better to prevent them from rusting in the first place. Here are some tips to keep your clubs looking their best all year round.

  • After playing a shot with your club, dry it off with a towel before putting it back in your bag. This probably won’t be necessary on dry, sunny days, but if you’re playing in the rain or on a dew-covered course, you should know that moisture will quickly gather on your club, eventually leading to rust.
  • When you get home from your round of golf, check the condition of your clubs. Clean off the mud and dry off the moisture. If you’ve been caught in particularly heavy rain, removing all your clubs from your bag is a good idea, and letting everything dry separately.
  • Always store your clubs in a cool, dry place. Humidity is a one-way ticket to rusty clubs, so avoid anywhere that gets too hot. Basements and garages are usually the best places to store golf clubs. Never leave them in the trunk of your car.
  • Throughout the off-season or any period of time when you are not frequently playing, periodically check the condition of your clubs. If damp, dry them off and move them to a new location.

Final Thoughts

Any golf club made from metal is prone to rust, but fortunately, there are several easy, fast, and effective ways of getting rid of it. Start with some steel wool; if that’s not enough, try soap and water. And if that doesn’t work, crack open a couple of cans of Coke and watch the magic happen.

But the best way to deal with rust is to prevent it from happening in the first place. By keeping your clubs clean and dry, they’ll last a heck of a lot longer.

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Nick is the founder of GolfSpan and an avid golfer. He's not quite a pro but has over 15 years of experience playing and coaching golfers worldwide. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience when it comes to choosing the right golf gear and finding the right setup for your game.

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