How to Clean Golf Clubs

Cleaning your clubs is a simple but important process

Phil Mickelson cleans off a golf club during a PGA Championship practice day
Even Phil Mickelson has to perform golf club cleaning duties. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

There are several ways to clean golf clubs. You can spend a little money on golf club cleaning kits that are available in many golf pro shops and online retailers. And those cleaning kits do work well.

Or you can simply gather up a couple household items that you probably already have handy. And the do-it-yourself method won't cost any money.

Cleaning golf clubs is a simple process, and it's important to do it periodically to prevent the build-up of gunk that can lessen the effectiveness of your clubs, and to prevent rusting or any possible damage to a club's finish.

 

01
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Gather Cleaning Materials

What do you need to clean golf clubs at home? Not much! Here is a list of cleaning materials:

  • A plastic bucket (see following note);
  • a mild dishwashing detergent;
  • an old toothbrush or other brush with soft, plastic bristles;
  • and an old towel for drying.

That's it. And you don't even need the bucket if you're willing to use a kitchen or bathroom sink instead. (We recommend the bucket if your iron heads have dirty grooves — don't want to send too much dirt down your inside plumbing.)

02
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Get Sudsy

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Squirt a little of the dishwashing liquid into the bottom of your plastic bucket, then add warm water to create suds. Make sure the water is warm, but not too hot.

(Why avoid very hot water? Most irons have plastic ferrules where the shaft enters the clubhead. Those ferrules are secured using glue, and very hot water can loosen the ferrule.)

You only need enough water in the bucket to cover the heads of your irons.

03
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Place Your Irons In the Bucket

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Place the bucket, with its water and suds, near your garden hose (if you don't have access to an outdoor water source, work inside in a deep sink or even a bathtub).

Set the bucket down, then place your irons in the bucket with the clubheads submerged. Notice in the photo how the clubs' ferrules are above the level of the water and suds.

Allow the irons to soak in the warm water for just a couple minutes. This will help loosen dirt in the grooves of the clubface, and allow the suds to begin working on oils and golf course chemicals that may have built up on the surface of the clubheads during play.

04
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Clean Out the Grooves

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After a couple minutes of soaking time, take each club in turn and use an old toothbrush (or other soft, plastic-bristled brush) to clean out the grooves on the clubface.

This is the most important step in cleaning your clubs — removing all dirt and debris from the grooves. Grooves that are filled in with caked-on dirt and debris won't perform as intended; they will lose some grip on your golf ball, which can make the ball do funny things.

Also drag the brush across the sole of the iron and over the back of the clubhead, removing dirt, grass and other debris.

A soft-bristled brush should work fine. If you've allowed dirt to build up in the grooves and harden over time, you may need to allow more soaking time and then use a stiffer-bristled brush. Never use a wire-bristled brush during cleaning, because this can scratch the surface of the clubs.

05
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Rinse Off the Clubhead

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Use your garden hose (or tap, if you are working indoors) to rinse off the clubhead. When the suds are washed away, take a look at the club to make sure all dirt is removed from the grooves. Be careful not to splash water up the shaft.

06
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Dry the Clubhead and Shaft

Dry off the shaft and clubhead after cleaning golf clubs.
Ken Redding/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Use your old towel to dry off the clubhead. Also drag the towel up the shaft of the club. This will remove any loose debris from the shaft and also ensure that the shaft doesn't go back into your bag wet.

07
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Cleaning Woods

It's a good idea not to submerge woods under water, and especially not to let them soak, because they usually have a nice, glossy finish.

Instead, quickly dip metal woods into the sudsy water, wipe down with a moist cloth, then dry with a dry cloth. If there are grooves on your metal woods' clubfaces, and those grooves retain dirt or debris after you've wiped down the clubface, it is OK to use a soft-bristled brush on the grooves only.

If you are one of the very rare golfers who still owns and plays persimmon woods, do not submerge wooden woods in water. Instead, wipe them down with a moist cloth and immediately dry.

For more about club care, see How to Clean Golf Grips and 8 Easy Ways to Take Care of Your Golf Clubs.