How to Restore and Clean Used Golf Clubs

How to Restore and Clean Used Golf Clubs So They Don’t Look Like Hand-Me-Downs!

For many golfers, especially those just getting into the game, even though they’re so tempted to buy a set of brand new, shiny golf clubs, the lure of purchasing hand-me-downs makes a lot of sense.

Just think about it for a second yourself, if used clubs were not worth considering, why would there be this huge demand and even supply of secondhand golf clubs!

No denying that new clubs, for example these sparkling new top hybrids for beginners, are like new cars but that doesn’t make the used ones useless or not fit for play.

In fact, there are enough players out there who prefer purchasing used golf clubs because of a) their affordability and b) because these clubs have been conditioned enough to deliver that much-needed real punch on the course.

And now the bad news – rust, scratches, and the like on used equipment like this. If these golf clubs are made using carbon steel, then rust formation is a given. On the other hand, stainless steel and graphite don’t rust. Either way, rust or caked mud, dirt, etc., here’s how to restore and clean used golf clubs to make them look shiny once again!

Cleaning Golf Clubs Has An Impact On Performance Indeed

Did you know that golf clubs that have not been cleaned can actually not give your shots the level of spin you aim for? Well, believe it or not, this is true. Achieving the desired stopping power on the green becomes very, very difficult when your clubs are dirty. All the more reason then to clean and also rejuvenate secondhand golf clubs!

After all, you have spent your money on these clubs, even though it’s not as much as you’d pay for brand new ones, it’s still your dough, right? So better get that money’s worth by ensuring that solid contact is made each time your golf club comes in contact with the ball.

The grooves installed on the club are what interact with the dimple pattern structured onto the surface of the ball. And it’s this particular contact that should be friction-free and clean for generating the optimal ball flight along with producing the most favorable response at impact.

Now I’ve already created a complete guide to clean and store golf clubs while the following guide is more about rehabilitating old, used clubs, and this includes restoring the grooves and cleaning the grips.

How to Refurbish Golf Clubs At Home – Removing Rust From Golf Clubs

Does rust affect golf clubs? When the clubs have rust spots on them, it doesn’t imply that they’re as good as useless. Instead, you should be cleaning off the rust, so the golf club, even though used, can go back to looking its most original self.

Now let me also bring to your attention that some rust on handed-down clubs, particularly wedges, is actually beneficial since this little rust tends to increase friction, thus boosting spin.

Whatever the case though, if you want old golf clubs to look as new as possible, here are the most effective rust-removing solutions…

An Actual Rust Remover

You can and should try other methods first and think of this one as the last resort if none of the others work. An industrial-grade rust remover has the ability, due to the inclusion of strong chemicals in it, to get rid of stubborn rust.

But then, once again, since it contains strong/harsh chemicals, consider this option only when nothing else works because the chemicals can end up damaging the metal on the golf club. In that context, make sure you follow the instructions printed by the manufacturer to the bone.

And if even this solution doesn’t eliminate rust, then maybe you should think about getting your clubs re-shafted. Re-shafting, by the way, is still cheaper in comparison to actually purchasing a whole new set. But if you’re not so thrilled about the idea, why not just seize the opportunity and buy a brand new packaged set of golf clubs.

Soapy Water

The easiest way to start is by using a blend of warm water and soap (liquid soap or dish soap). It’s a harmless method of cleaning and de-rusting clubs indeed.

A full cap of soap mixed in a bucketful of warm water. Soak the golf clubs in this bucket for at least 5-10 minutes. You can certainly go ahead and use a soft-bristled toothbrush for gently scrubbing the grooves to get the rust to come off.

But this soapy water solution only works on clubs that are not so heavily rusted.

Steel Wool

Surface rust can also be removed with the help of lightly scrubbing steel wool (the gentle ultra-fine kind) over the infested parts. Yet another method that gets rid of rust quickly, so your hand-me-downs feel restored and look shiny again.

You can also use a wire brush in place of steel wool. Only ensure that the former is not made of too strong materials.

Avoid scrubbing too hard because steel wool or wire brush can scratch and also damage the surface. And once again, just like soap and water, even this cleaning solution doesn’t work with deep-seated rust. So now how about a more heavy-duty rust-removing approach?


Time for a harsher treatment but not as harsh as using industrial-grade rust remover! And yes, you read that right – it’s Coca-Cola indeed. The phosphoric acid content in it actually dissolves rust. However, if the golf clubs are exposed to it for a long time, damage is inevitable. So soak them in Coca-Cola only for a few minutes.

Even for this one, using a small, soft brush is advisable for scraping off the rust.

Add some liters of this carbonated soft drink to a container. Just how much to fill? Now the amount you use should be enough for submerging the clubheads. Some even soak for as long as around 24 hours as this, no doubt, removes almost all of the rust. After soaking, rinse clean, and then just wipe down the golf clubs using a dry, clean microfiber cloth.

The shafts can also be cleaned this way with a microfiber towel soaked in Cola-Cola. Then rinse using clean water and wipe dry with a fresh, dry towel.

Lemon Juice or Vinegar

Even vinegar, like Coca-Cola, contains acidity, and so does lemon juice. And this very effectively pulls out rust. Do a quick vinegar or lemon juice soak to loosen all that surface rust, so then you can brush it off easily.

A cupful of lemon juice or vinegar and a gallon of water, submerge the clubheads in this rust-removing concoction for not more than an hour. And then scrub away, with the help of a soft brush or cloth, the ingrained rust.

How to Restore Golf Club Grooves

#1. Sharpen Grooves

How to sharpen golf club grooves at home? Here’s how you can sharpen those grooves on your own with the help of this perfect 6-headed golf club groove sharpener. Just make sure you don’t do it too aggressively in order to prevent damaging the clubface.

  • First clean the clubface to eliminate dirt, mud, stones, and other particles.
  • After that, draw the groove sharpener across the secondhand golf club very slowly and gently, no unnecessary force or pressure is needed at this point.
  • Now you add slight pressure, meaning after drawing 4 strokes.
  • Using a lubricant is very helpful if you want those strokes to be more effortless.
  • Continue drawing strokes for at least 10 minutes.
  • And repeat the whole groove sharpening process just discussed after every 15 rounds of golf to always keep the grooves of your used club as sharp as possible.

Another way to sharpen golf club grooves is through a professional. But this is going to cost you some money. Although getting a professional to do the job is much better because he/she really knows how to go about it safely and correctly. Whereas you may have no idea, thus the chances of you damaging the grooves here are most likely.

But one thing I’d like to add just to be upfront about everything I post. No matter how effective the groove sharpener tool, don’t expect it to bring back the original condition/performance of that used golf wedge or any other club.

#2. Regroove

If you’re willing to shell out $20 or so, then consider professionally regrooving those secondhand irons and wedges. It’s the only way the clubs will revert back to original.

But then also keep in mind that the regrooving process is based on increasing the grooves’ size in each session. And you can only do that to a certain limit.

Cleaning Golf Club Grips

How to clean golf grips at home? Before I get on with that, let me tell you why cleaning the grip is so important yet it’s neglected the most. Your only point of connection with the club is through its grip.

Just like how your hand grip, if not correct, can mess with the clubface position at impact, a golf club grip that isn’t in good shape can also result in producing terrible shots. So if you’re cleaning the grooves and clubface, then also clean those grips!

  • No need for soaking the grip because it’ll then take forever to dry. Rather just use some soapy water and a proper golf club brush or even a soft, plastic bristle brush.
  • Get rid of all the stains, dirt, grease, mud, and whatnot from the grip by gently scrubbing it with soap and warm water. Then wipe clean.
  • Now, wait for these grips to dry outside in the sun, but not in direct sunlight of course as that might wear out the rubber material itself.

Now, Let’s Get to the FAQs!

Are Secondhand Golf Clubs Worth Buying?

Those new to the game of golf often purchase hand-me-downs for the simple, logical reason that they’re not yet sure if they’ll take to the sport. Golf, after all, is not everyone’s cup of tea, right? At such times, used clubs are definitely worth buying because of the affordability in comparison to costly brand new ones.

How to Prevent Golf Clubs From Rusting?

Now I know that you can’t prevent rust when your used set of golf clubs has already developed rust spots. So this one’s for those whose clubs, new or old, are not yet infected by rust, which means prevention is better than cure, right? So here we go…

  • After hitting every shot, wipe your golf club with a dry, clean towel. This is even more important when playing golf in damp or wet weather/turf conditions. Moisture accumulates quickly, which welcomes rust.
  • Once home after your game, check the clubs over. Remove unwanted particles or elements like mud, dirt, moisture, etc. If your golf clubs are wet cause you played in the rain, then wipe them and let it all dry once you get back home after your round.
  • Golf club storage should always be done in a dry and cool setting (such as your garage or basement) to keep out moisture and humidity. I hope you know that the latter can also be caused when the weather is too hot, which means your car’s trunk is not an option.
  • When you’re not going to be golfing for a long time or during off-season, keep checking up on your clubs. Because if they’re damp, due to whatever reason, you have to wipe them dry and then also change the storage location.

How to Remove Scratches From Golf Clubs?

Even after you clean your clubs, some scratches may still be visible. To be honest, not much can be done about such stubborn scratches or marks on the surface of golf clubs.

Scratches on a driver can be painted over using golf club paint.

As with irons and wedges, consider taking them to your nearest local repair store and check if the scratch is likely to affect the club’s performance. If the scratches are deep enough, they will indeed have some or other negative impact on the conduct of the golf club. But if it’s a light scratch, no need to worry about impact, performance, or anything.

You know you can keep those unwanted scratches at bay by making sure that headcovers are on when the clubs are not in use. Needless to say, this prevents further potential or accidental damage.

Should You Even Clean Golf Clubs and How Often?

After each shot you hit and then once again after you complete your round of golf – that’s how often to clean golf clubs. But this cleaning consists of just wiping them down using a microfiber towel, much like a few of these very popular golf ball cleaners/washers that clean both golf balls and clubheads.

As for deep cleaning, that you can do once a few weeks. It’s crucial to eliminate deep-seated, caked-on dirt, mud, grime, etc. if you want to create friction-free contact between club grooves and ball dimples.

That Should Be It!

So if you’re buying on a budget, you don’t have to worry about your golf clubs being secondhand. How to clean rusty golf clubs, how to refurbish used golf clubs, how to restore golf club grooves, and how to clean golf club grips. ALL OF THIS can be easily done!

Just make sure that these hand-me-downs come from a higher-end brand and not some low-quality, cheap brand.

More often than not, golfers not so crazy or enthusiastic about the latest technology, which I have come to realize is mostly just a marketing trick, prefer purchasing clubs that are not the most recent i.e. those that come from previous generations. And that is not a bad idea AT ALL in terms of affordability, value, performance, and the like.

But then golf clubs made using metal are obviously susceptible to rust. The good news, however, is that you can remove this rust using quite a few effective, quick, and easy methods – soapy water, steel wool, Coca-Cola, vinegar, lemon juice, and even industrial-grade rust remover (although this can be harsh and damaging).

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