How To Clean Golf Balls

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Your golf equipment goes through a lot out on the golf course. Your clubs can get scuffed and coated with turf and grass from divots by the time you reach the 18th hole.

Regardless of how clean and well kept the course you play on may be, some general wear and tear of the equipment you’re using is inevitable.

You’ve probably seen golfers cleaning off their clubs and wiping them down after a game, which helps to keep them in the best condition. But what about your golf balls?

Top amateurs will probably use a golf ball for one round and toss it into the practice bag. Professional golfers don’t even do that, and have been known to change their golf ball multiple times per round!

However, the average golfer, and particularly beginners, won’t have the money to do that, or see any benefit from changing their golf ball so regularly.

So, if you’re going to use your golf balls for a longer period of time, you’ll want to consider giving them a good clean! Washing your golf balls is a great way of making sure that all of your gear performs optimally through every hole of golf that you play.

Cleaning your golf ball on the course

As an amateur, unfortunately you’re not always going to hit the golf ball where you want.

If you’re lucky enough that you don’t regularly lose golf balls out on the course, the chances are that your golf ball will end up having a few trips to the trees, bunkers and other unkept areas of the course. And this is where they get dirty!

When you’re out on the course there are a number of ways to keep your golf ball clean:

  • Golf ball cleaners – most golf courses will have stationed golf ball cleaners on the tees of each hole filled with soapy water.
  • Golf towel – make sure you carry a golf towel on your golf bag and use this to wipe any mud / dirt from your ball. There’s alway one golfer at every club that even hooks their towel to their belt so it’s always with them!
  • Golf ball bag cleaner – these aren’t the coolest things in the world, but are effective. If you’re not sure what they are, check them out here.
  • Greenside fringe – when you mark your ball on the green you can always walk to the fringe and wipe any dirt off on the short grass.
  • Trouser leg – If worst comes to worst and you have none of the options above, you can wipe the dirt off on your trouser leg like a cricketer!

Keeping your golf ball clean may seem a bit of a chore, but it’s well worth it. When the conditions aren’t great, you’ll hear professionals complaining about mud balls, where the flight of the ball is radically affected by the dirt on it. So a simple wipe of the ball can go a long way to helping your scores out on the course.

If you’ve managed to reach the 18th green with the same ball all the way round, or you’ve inherited a few lost golf balls on your round, you can clean them better when you go home, ready for your next 18.

Cleaning Your Golf Balls At Home

Whilst a simple wipe with a cloth or brush on their trouser leg is fine out on the course, if you have more time and options available, then you’re better adopting a more thorough cleaning technique at home.

This is especially true if you’re using second hand golf balls that you’ve found out on the course. When golf balls have sat plugged in the rough or have been lost for a longer period of time, they’re likely to be dirtier and require stronger methods to get them clean and playable.

Let’s take a look through a few of the finest techniques to clean a golf ball so that the next time you grab a golf ball out of your pocket, it’s a fresh one.

Method 1 – Toss them in the dishwasher

The dishwasher method is the best to start with, as it requires the least elbow grease. It’s the easiest way to clean your golf balls, and does the job in less than an hour.

Be sure to rinse the golf balls first so that there’s no clumps of mud or grass, and check that your dishwasher is completely empty before you begin tossing in grubby golf balls. 

Begin by loading your regular detergent into the appropriate compartment and then place your golf balls snugly into the slots where you’d usually put your dishes. Put them on a hot cycle with a prewash, if you have that option.

Once the cycle is over, take out your golf balls and make sure that they’re squeaky clean. If they’re not quite as spotless as you’d like them to be, leave them in and let them go through another cycle. 

Method 2 – Soak them

For this method, you’ll need to use a large container, bucket, or bathtub. Fill whatever container you decide to use with warm water. If you want a natural cleaning solution, we recommend mixing in some white vinegar.

Alternatively, some ammonia with warm water should do the trick too. Leave the balls to soak in the mixture for at least an hour and rinse them off thoroughly under clean running water.

Next, dry your golf balls with a clean towel and wait for them to completely dry before packing them away into your golf bag. 

Method 3 – Scrub them

This method is particularly effective for golf balls that have been submerged in water, ponds, or bunkers. In fact, even if you find a ball that’s been coated in grime for many years, it’s nothing that the scrubbing method can’t compete with. 

Shower your golf balls in a large tub with water. Once the embedded dirt is mostly clean, try to remove them.

Then after, use a homemade DIY golf ball cleanser solution made of baking soda and water to clean the grime, followed by a metal wire scrubber or brush. 

Wash the balls thoroughly once more. Throw some cleaning solution into a separate container (Ammonia, white vinegar, or bleach). Use hot water to dilute it. To bathe the balls, leave them in the mixture for at least two hours.

After that, wash with fresh water. Then they’ll need to be dried with a towel and let dry for another few minutes. This technique is suitable for golf balls that are exceptionally filthy.

Method 4 – Stain Removal

After continuous rounds on the course, golf balls are likely to succumb to at least some staining. During play, you may find yourself needing to mark your golf balls with permanent markers or paint, for the purpose of easy identification.

But the weather can cause staining too, as well as wet grass leaving pesky green stains on your fresh white golf balls. For golf balls in such a condition, a little extra effort is needed for spot-on stain removal treatment. 

If you’ve already tried Method 1, 2, and 3 with no avail, it’s time to try the stain removal method. Start by getting your hands on some acetone. Slowly dip in a q-tip or a cotton swab and rub the stained area thoroughly.

Once the stain has been visibly removed, rinse your golf ball with clean running water and pat it dry using a clean towel. Alternatively, sit it in direct sunlight and leave it to dry.

This stain-removal spot-on method is ideal for golf balls with particularly stubborn stains and wear and tear. 

Can I use hydrogen peroxide to clean my golf balls? 

The 4 methods listed above are the best options when trying to clean a grubby golf ball. But in the rare situations where these methods aren’t enough, it’s possible to use hydrogen peroxide to clean particularly stubborn stains.

We recommend using normal household bleach to begin with (be sure to wear rubber gloves) and see if you get any results. If this still doesn’t work, it may be time to use some hydrogen peroxide. 

If you’ve exhausted all of the above options, including the bleach and hydrogen peroxide method, then it may be time to get your hands on some new golf balls!

While scuffs don’t usually have any negative affect on performance during play, they can if they get too deep and cause your ball to crack.

If your golf balls have reached this stage, it’s perhaps best to say goodbye. Be sure to stay on top of a regular cleaning routine with your new set of balls though to save yourself any future worry and hassle.