The Proper Way to Wash Your Golf Clubs

Playing golf is fun and interesting (some of you read this as frustrating and cruel), if it wasn’t you wouldn’t be here… yet it can be pretty tricky and daunting at the same time. Dirty golf clubs can add to this difficulty and affect your performance in the game. If the grooves of your club are filled with dirt, then you wouldn’t be able to spin the ball effectively. (You may think “Hey, I’m not good enough to spin the ball yet”, but that’s not what I mean here. The grooves on a club will cause spin that helps to lift the ball as it flies through the air.) The position of club at the time of impact might not be affected by this; however your ball flight would definitely have to bear the toll of your dirty golf clubs.

Before elaborating the remedies and techniques of cleaning your golf clubs, let us first see what makes them dirty in the first place and why cleaning them is so important.

What Makes Golf Clubs Dirty?

Dirty Golf clubs are not something rare or strange to come across. While making strokes, dirt and grass is sure to get stuck in the grooves present in your club. This is done on normal shots, and especially present on those ones that you tell your buddies “Hey! Watch this shot out of the almost dried up swamp!!”. Also, the hand grips on your golf club will begin the absorption of all kinds of moisture, oil and sweat. However, if this residue is allowed to build up and not cleaned regularly, it can have an effect on both your control and swing. The slightest slip may change the angle of the club on impact, and thus result in a bad shot. Moreover, one more less common problem occurs if iron golf clubs are left out in the open and not stored properly after use, they may be susceptible to rust.

Why Should I Clean My Golf Clubs?

First and foremost, golf clubs can be very expensive. Even a used set of golf clubs can cost you lots of money. Therefore, since you are spending plenty of money, it is important that you take care of your investment.

Bluntly put, if dirt and grass is stuck in the grooves of your golf clubs, then the entire purpose of grooves being there is annihilated.

These grooves are present there for a specific purpose. You need to remember that every year manufacturers of golf clubs spend a hefty amount of money in order to enhance the technology working behind each strike on course. They try to perfect each club so that it strikes the ball perfectly and is capable of delivering the ball to a great distance. However, when you keep your golf clubs dirty, you are defeating this very purpose.

Also, oil and sweat may accumulate at the grip of your golf club. This will not only cause a loss of control, but it is most likely to affect your swing as well. So it is not only imperative to clean the grooves of your club, but oil and grime from the grips also have to be duly removed.

If your performance is not as good as it is supposed to be then have a look at your golf club. Does it require cleaning? Yes that’s right, I’m taking away one of your excuses.

How Often Should I Clean My Golf Clubs?

Appropriate cleaning of your golf clubs should be a regular event for you. You ought to clean them regularly either before playing or after playing. Of course, how often you clean them is also determined by how often you play, and how serious you take the game.

There are professional cleaning services out there as well. But they may be expensive or you may not have access to any such service at all times. Therefore, we will now explain an effective and inexpensive way of cleaning golf clubs at home.

How to Clean My Golf Clubs?

After a vigorous playing day that involved lots of swinging, putting and chipping, your golf clubs would be ready to undergo a cleaning routine. This will not only improve your playing performance, but it would also make your club last longer.

The first step in this cleaning process would be to gather your cleaning materials.

What Cleaning Equipment will I require?

These cleaning supplies are easy to get hold of. They are listed below:

  • Dish detergent
  • A brush or scrub with small bristles (this could be an old toothbrush or a something like that)
  • A bucket or a utility sink
  • A cleaning towel or rag

Hard Wire Brush vs. Soft Bristled Brush

I searched the internet and talked to some professionals about this topic, but the results were somewhat conflicting. Some said hard bristles don’t do harm, but the majority said something along the lines of…

If you have ever thought of deploying a wire brush, rather a soft bristled brush to clean your golf clubs; then it is time you retrace your thoughts. Hard wire brushes can cause you more harm than good because of the scratches it makes and for this very reason, we recommend that you get hold of a soft-bristled brush for cleaning purposes.

Let us first see what a wire brush is and why should it be avoided. ‘A wire brush’ is comprised of two parts. One is the handle which may be made of plastic or wood and the other is the head which is made of wiry bristles (think of your barbecue cleaning brush). This brush tends to be very hard and should be avoided on golf clubs, particularly your woods, because over time they would just add to your club’s wear and tear. Instead, a soft-bristled brush is recommended, since it gets rid of all the cuffs and dings effectively without scratching or wearing down the club in any way.

Over-the-counter Cleaning Kits

Also, you can consider buying a ready-made cleaning kit from a professional golf shop or off amazon as well. These usually come with everything you need including brushes and polish. These kits usually contain a cleaning solution with which you can wipe up your golf clubs as well. They have their own specific instructions for use within, so I won’t cover those here.

However, if you have assembled your at home cleaning kit yourself, then hereby we have listed down the steps which you need to follow.

Cleaning the Head

Step 1: Fill up the bucket

The first step would be to fill up your bucket or cleaning sink with almost three inches of water. This water should be warm to the touch but not scalding hot. The goal here is to cover the head of the clubs but not the little plastic ring (also known as the ferrule), if possible. It isn’t the end of the world if you do cover it, but if the water is too hot you can damage it.

Step 2: Add dish detergent

Now add a few squirts of dish detergent to this warm water (or do this before adding water, your preference here). You can use any other liquid mild soap as well. Make good lather with this detergent by stirring the water with soap.

Step 3: Soak the head in water

Now prop up your golf club in this detergent water in such a way that its head is in the water with the shaft leaning against the container’s edge. Again, only the head has to be soaked in water, not the shaft.

Step 4: Allow the head to soak for a while

Let this head stay in the water for approximately five minutes (less if your clubs aren’t very dirty) so that any accumulated layer of dirt and debris may soften up. However, if your golf club is a delicate one, say you have an old one made of wood or the like kind, then skip this step and merely dunk its head quickly in the detergent water. This also applies to your drivers (aka woods) as well, more on this in a bit.

Step 5: Scrubbing up the head

Once it has been soaked sufficiently, take hold of a small-bristled brush and start scrubbing off the remaining dirt. Scrub the head thoroughly from all sides, yet do not be harsh. Also as mentioned earlier, don’t use an abrasive hard-wired brush as it may scratch your head. If there is rust present on the head, then scrub it off with steel wool.

Step 6: Time to rinse

Rinsing your club is very easy. Just allow the water hose to run over it for a couple of minutes. But be careful that only the head is held under the running water so that the rest of the club doesn’t get wet.

Step 7: Dry up the club

After rinsing the club, dry it up with a clean towel or rag. You can also use this rag to quickly wipe down the shaft and ferrule as well.

Cleaning the Grip

Here the cleaning method deployed would be slightly different, because it is not feasible to soak up the grip in detergent water.

  • Just like the former method, take a bucket and fill it up with lukewarm water.
  • Now add a few dollops of dish detergent in it (pretend you are washing the dishes at home). Dish detergent is recommended as it can remove grease effectively. Stir the water to make a good lather.
  • Take hold of a cleaning rag now and dip it up in this detergent water.
  • The rag should be damp but not dripping with water. In order to ensure this, you can consider wringing it out.
  • Afterwards, use this damp rag to wipe the grip thoroughly. If the layers of oil and grime refuse to budge, then you may even try scrubbing them gently with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Now, wipe it down with a clean rag dipped in clean water (not detergent water) and allow the grip to dry off.

Drivers vs Irons

Your Drivers or ‘Woods’ generally come with longer shafts and as a consequence, are used to strike the ball to longer distances. They get this name because their heads used to primarily be manufactured from hardwood. These days however, most clubs have heads made from metal and thus this combination of metal and wood make what we now call metal-wood/hybrid clubs. These clubs generally hit off a tee or off the fairway, thus they should not get nearly as dirty. Plus, they don’t have the deep grooves that irons do, so they don’t collect the dirt the same way. That is why they have a slightly different cleaning procedure. You don’t have to dunk the whole head or let it soak in the water, a damp soapy cloth will suffice.

‘Irons’ on the other hand, are used primarily for propelling the ball towards the hole from shorter distances, and from all sorts of terrain. Their shafts are smaller, so are their club heads in contrast to the drivers. The head is manufactured from solid steel or iron and is usually marked with a multitude of grooves. As mentioned the cleaning method for both these golf clubs is slightly different. Since Iron clubs have lots of grooves which may be clogged with dirt and grime, therefore they have to be allowed to remain in water for some time.


Cleaning your clubs is an easy and relatively effortless procedure. You may keep this thorough cleaning routine for once or twice a month. However, if after every use or shot, you can give it a wipe with your Golf Towel, and this will make it a lot easier later.

Personally, I clean my clubs while I am watching TV so that it doesn’t feel like I am taking time out of the day just for this task. I do find it very therapeutic to wash all the bad luck off of my clubs.


Bonus Tip: If you are on the course and your clubs are getting particularly dirty, you can look for club cleaning stations at the tee off boxes. And, as a failsafe, you can always use your golf tee to clean out the grooves between shots if you don’t have a cleaning tool in your pocket!

club washing on the course

Ryan S
Author: Ryan S

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