While mud and muck aren’t preferred conditions for a game of golf, setting out on a damp course or getting caught in the rain can quickly cause your ball to lose its snow-white color.
Even in dry conditions, golf balls can easily accumulate dirt, grass stains and other debris that can affect their trajectory, spin rate and overall performance.
That's why it's important to clean your golf balls regularly — it allows you to get the most out of your game.
We'll explain how to clean golf balls at home and on the course, share how often you should clean them and provide storage tips for optimal longevity.
How To Clean Golf Balls at Home
Have a tee time coming up? Cleaning your golf balls before you hit the green might just give you that extra edge you’re looking for. Here are the five best ways to clean your golf balls at home:
Soap and Water
One of the most common and effective methods to clean golf balls is with warm water and a mild soap or dishwashing detergent.
Simply fill a bucket with warm water and add a small amount of soap. Soak the balls for a few minutes, scrub them gently with a soft-bristled brush, then rinse them thoroughly with clean water.
Pro tip: Make sure the water isn't too hot, as hot water can damage a golf ball.
Another way to clean your golf balls in bulk is to place them in the top rack of your dishwasher and run a normal cycle with detergent.
Pro tip: Make sure you wash your golf balls separately from your dishes!
Commercial Ball Cleaners
Commercial ball cleaners typically come in spray bottles or wipes and are easy to use. Simply spray the cleaner onto the ball's surface, let it sit for a few seconds and then wipe it clean with a soft cloth.
The most common solution used is a mixture of water and a mild detergent or cleaning agent.
Vinegar and Baking Soda
For tougher stains or discoloration on a golf ball's surface, try using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.
Simply mix equal parts of white vinegar and baking soda in a bowl, dip the golf ball in the mixture and scrub the ball gently with a soft-bristled brush.
Another method for cleaning golf balls is to use bleach — with caution. Create a diluted bleach solution by mixing one part bleach with nine parts water — for example, 1 cup of bleach and 9 cups of water.
Submerge your golf balls in the solution for a few minutes, then scrub them gently with a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse them thoroughly with clean water afterward to remove any bleach residue.
Pro tip: Don’t leave your golf balls in the solution for longer than 2-3 minutes, as the bleach can end up damaging your ball if left to sit for too long.
How To Clean Golf Balls at a Golf Course
Whether you arrive at the course and realize you forgot to clean your golf balls from the last game, or you just finished 18 holes and you want to get a jump on your next outing, there are a few ways to clean your golf balls at a course.
Club Cleaning Stations
Many golf courses have club cleaning stations equipped with brushes and water. Although primarily intended for cleaning golf clubs, these stations can also be used to clean golf balls.
Towel and Water
If the course you’re playing at doesn’t have a cleaning station or machine, you can use a wet towel to clean your golf balls.
Just wet the towel with water from a water bottle or sink and wipe away dirt and debris.
Golf Ball Cleaning Machines
Golf ball cleaning machines use water and brushes to clean the balls and can be found at many golf courses and driving ranges.
To clean a golf ball, you simply place it in the basin of the ball washer. The ball should make contact with the brushes or bristles and remove dirt and grime.
What To Avoid When Cleaning Golf Balls
Steaming hot water isn’t the only thing that can damage a golf ball. While they’re perfectly suited for a day on the course, they’re (unfortunately) not indestructible. Here what to avoid when cleaning golf balls:
Abrasive materials: Harsh materials like steel wool, wire brushes or sandpaper can scratch or damage the surface of the balls.
Strong chemicals: Ammonia, solvents or chemicals like gasoline, acetone or brake cleaner can damage the ball's surface and cause discoloration.
High-pressure washers: High-pressure washers or power washers can damage the surface and alter the ball's flight characteristics.
Hot water: Hot water can cause golf balls to expand and affect their performance.
Excessive force: Applying too much force or pressure when scrubbing golf balls can damage the surface and alter the ball's flight characteristics.
Prolonged soaking: Soaking golf balls in water for extended periods can cause the balls to absorb water and affect their performance.
Rough surfaces: Cleaning golf balls on rough surfaces like concrete or asphalt can scratch or damage the ball's surface.
How Often Should You Clean Your Golf Balls?
In general, you should clean your golf balls after every round of golf or every few holes if the course is particularly dirty or wet. The exact frequency depends on how often you use them and the condition of the courses you play on.
It’s especially important to clean the dimples of your golf balls, as they affect the aerodynamics and the flight trajectory of the ball.
Does Dirt on a Golf Ball Affect Performance?
Believe it or not, playing a round with dirty golf balls can in fact affect your performance, among other factors:
Performance: A clean golf ball will fly straighter and farther than a dirty ball.
Accuracy: Dirt and debris on a golf ball can affect its trajectory and spin, leading to decreased accuracy and inconsistent shots.
Lifespan: If you’re wondering how long golf balls last, regularly cleaning your golf balls can extend their lifespan by preventing discoloration, stains and damage from accumulating over time.
Ball identification: A clean golf ball is easier to identify on the course, reducing the risk of losing a ball or mistakenly hitting someone else's ball.
Hygienic considerations: Cleaning your golf balls is also important from a hygiene standpoint. Golf balls come into contact with dirt, grass, and other contaminants on the course, and regular cleaning can help prevent the spread of bacteria and germs.
Professionalism: Keeping your golf balls clean shows a level of professionalism and respect for the game, which is important in golf culture. It demonstrates that you take the game seriously and care about your equipment and performance.
How To Store Your Golf Balls After Cleaning Them
If you don't store your golf balls properly after cleaning them, they can become damaged or contaminated, which can affect their performance on the course — i.e. your performance on the course.
To store your golf balls:
Keep them in a clean and dry place: Avoid storing golf balls in damp or humid areas, as moisture can cause them to deteriorate or become moldy.
Use a golf ball holder: A golf ball holder can help keep your golf balls organized and prevent them from getting dirty or damaged. They come in various sizes and materials, and some can be attached to your golf bag for easy access.
Label your golf balls: To avoid confusion and make sure you don’t lose your golf balls, consider labeling them with your name, initials or a unique design.
Avoid extreme temperatures: Do not expose your golf balls to extreme temperatures, like a hot car or a freezer. This can cause the balls to expand or contract and affect their performance. Believe it or not, ball speed and carry distance are impacted by the temperature of the ball.
How To Clean Golf Balls + More Golf Beginner Guides
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