How to Clean a Golf Ball and Extend its Life

By John Cruz

Last Updated:

You need to learn how to clean a golf ball if you want to play your best golf.

Whether you’re on the course or at home, You must make it a habit to keep your golf ball clean.

You might think it’s a simple task, but there are a few tricks and tips to ensure you’re doing it right.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, keeping your golf balls in top-notch condition should be part of your routine.

It’s not just about having that extremely white ProV1 either.

It’s about improving your performance on the course and bringing those handicaps down.

It’s nothing compared to cleaning a golf bag, but it’s definitely necessary.

How to Clean a Golf Ball and Why?


Before we dive into the intricacies of how to clean a golf ball, you might want to ask yourself:

Why clean your golf ball at all?

“Tee it high and let it fly” is what I live by and having a clean golf ball shouldn’t matter.

While hitting the ball in the sweet spot is undoubtedly important, the cleanliness of the golf ball plays a critical role in your overall performance.

Let me explain why.

Every golfer strives to maximize distance and accuracy with each shot.

Believe it or not, a dirty ball impacts both of these attributes.

Accumulated dirt or grass on the ball interrupts its aerodynamics, altering your shot in unpredictable ways.

Clean golf balls fly truer and repeatable.

So far so good, but how does a clean ball affect accuracy?

The answer is pretty straightforward.

When your golf ball is dirty, it’s not just the flight that gets disturbed – its roll on the greens can also be negatively affected.

And, I’m sure we already have enough problems off the tee.

A clean ball rolls true and predictably, resulting in more holed putts, and correspondingly, lower scores.

But there’s more to the picture.

Besides affecting performance, cleaning your golf balls also prolongs their lifespan.

Dirt and debris can microscopically damage the ball’s surface over time.

By keeping your balls scrupulously clean, you not only ensure better performance during each game but also significantly lengthen the life of your beloved ProV1s.

While it may seem like a small detail in the grand scheme of things, understanding how to clean a golf ball can make a significant difference in your overall performance.

So, the essence is that clean golf balls aren’t just a preference – they’re a necessity.

Now, let’s look at some effective cleaning techniques.

The Benefits of a Clean Golf Ball

A clean golf ball is more than just a pretty sight on the green.

The benefits extend far beyond the visual appeal, directly impacting your game’s outcome, accuracy, and for those of you who want to be like Bryson, distance.

First off, when a golf ball is clean, it flies truer.

It’s a matter of aerodynamics.

Mud and grime create irregularities on the ball’s surface, affecting how air flows around it during flight.

This results in unpredictable trajectories, curving shots, and decreased distance.

But with cleaned golf balls, you enjoy a straighter flight path.

On the Green

Furthermore, a clean golf ball rolls more predictably.

When it comes to putting, the smallest nudge can make a massive difference between making or missing the hole.

A small bit of dirt trapped under the ball can alter its roll, increasing the chances you’ll miss your target.

So, a clean ball equals improved accuracy.


Lastly, one of the benefits of clean golf balls that many don’t consider is increased longevity.

Microscopic buildup can cause tiny scratches and abrasions leading to microscopic damage.

Regular cleaning prevents this damage, extending the lifespan of your pricey golf balls.

In a nutshell, keeping your golf balls clean isn’t just about the appearance.

The benefits I’ve listed emphasize that a clean golf ball is a necessity, not a preference.

The positive impact on your game can’t be overstated – from better precision to a prolonged lifespan.

So, next time you gear up for a game, give those balls a good cleaning.

Tools and Materials Needed for Cleaning

Apart from understanding, knowing how to clean a golf ball and what to use is equally important.

The best part is that It doesn’t require any high-tech gizmos, but rather what you might already have at home.

  • A Bucket: Ideally, one large enough to accommodate a handful of golf balls at a time.
  • Warm Water (not scorching): Heat helps to loosen the dirt and grime.
  • Dish Soap: It’s great for dissolving grime without harming the golf ball’s surface.
  • A Soft Cloth or Towel: To gently remove any dirt and for drying later.
  • An Old Toothbrush: Effective for scrubbing away stubborn dirt.

While there are commercial golf ball cleaning solutions available, they’re not a necessity.

A simple mix of warm water and dish soap is typically enough to get the job done.

Once you’ve gathered these materials, you’re set to start the cleaning process.

The key here is to avoid scrubbing too hard as it could lead to scratches or damage.

However, it’s just as important not to be overly gentle—all the dirt and grime need to be removed for optimal performance.

Do remember: cleaning your golf balls is not a one-time task.

It’s part of regular maintenance, necessary to keep them flying true and extending their lifespan.

So, next time you head out for a round, keep this in mind and ensure that your golf balls are as clean as they can be.

Take a look at your golf balls now… do they need a cleaning?

Step 1: Rinse the Golf Ball

Okay, enough talking, let’s get our hands dirty – or rather, clean!

After gathering your materials, it’s time to kick off the cleaning process.

First thing’s first – rinsing the golf ball.

Don’t underestimate this step – it’s essential for preventing any solid grime on your golf balls from causing scratches during the scrubbing process.

You’ll want to rinse each of your golf balls under warm water thoroughly.

Don’t rush this step; give each ball a good rinse to soften and remove as much loose dirt as possible.

It’s all about setting the stage for the next steps, so make sure this initial rinse is done right.

Remember, we’re aiming for clean golf balls that fly truer and add precision to your game.

Just by rinsing, we’re already on our way.

Don’t be too gentle, but avoid using high-pressure water that could potentially damage the ball’s covering.

  • Warm water
  • Gentle pressure
  • Good rinse

That’s my mantra for this step.

The idea here is to dislodge dirt without scuffing the ball, all while letting it soak a bit.

Keep that in mind as you rinse off each golden nugget (or dirty nugget, as the case may be) in your collection.

Step 2: Scrub the Golf Ball

Once you’ve given your golf ball a good initial rinse, it’s time to scrub it down.

This is where a soft cloth or an old toothbrush will come into play.

It’s key here to be firm but gentle.

Sounds contradicting, but you know what I mean.

You don’t want to damage the ball’s surface, but you also don’t want to leave any stubborn grime behind.

Dip the toothbrush or cloth into a mixture of warm water and dish soap.

Gently scrub the golf ball, focusing on any visibly dirty or discolored spots.

It’s important to pay special attention to the grooves and divots on the golf ball, as dirt often hides in these tiny crevices.

As you clean each ball, rotate it in your hand to make sure you’re covering the entire surface.

If stubborn dirt remains, don’t be afraid to apply a bit more pressure.

Once you’ve scrubbed your golf balls clean, give them a final rinse to wash away any remaining soap.

Be sure to rinse each ball thoroughly.

Soap residue can also influence your golf ball’s performance.

Step 3: Soak the Golf Ball

Once the golf balls are well-rinsed and scrubbed, it’s time to soak them for an extended period.

In this part of the cleaning process, we’ll be immersing the balls in a solution of warm water and dish soap.

The purpose of this step is to disintegrate any stubborn dirt, grass stains, or other substances that may still be adhering to the ball’s surface.

To prepare the soaking solution, fill a bucket three-fourths of the way with warm water and add a generous squirt of dish soap.

Stir the solution to create a bubbly mixture.

The soap should be enough to make the water cloudy, but it’s not necessary to create a lot of foam.

Ease the golf balls into the soapy solution, making sure each ball is fully submerged.

Let them soak for about 15-30 minutes.

This soaking period allows time for any remaining dirt and grime to soften, making it easier to remove later.

As the balls are soaking, I recommend periodically stirring the solution.

This helps agitate the surface of the balls and encourages even more dirt to separate from the surface.

However, avoid using anything sharp or abrasive to stir the solution as this might scratch the balls.

It’s important to note that soaking time will vary depending on how dirty your balls are.

While 15-30 minutes will suffice for moderately dirty balls, heavily discolored or stained golf balls may require a longer soak.

This step is very much important not only to the cleanliness of your golf balls but also, by extension, to their performance and durability.

Clean balls, as we have seen earlier, have its benefits

There’s more to cleaning a golf ball than washing and scrubbing.

The soaking is where the deep cleaning happens.

This step is a pivotal moment in the life of a golf ball.

Better remember this: A snub at the scrub will surely flub your club.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry the Golf Ball

After breaking down embedded dirt during the soaking process, it’s time to take those golf balls for a final rinse.

Always use clean, warm water as it enhances the effectiveness of the cleanup.

Just make sure it’s not too hot.

Scorching water can damage the ball’s material.

What you need to do at this stage is to remove any stubborn grime.

Rinse golf balls one by one and inspect each for residual dirt.

Once you’re confident that the ball is clean, proceed to dry it off.

This step is crucial in minimizing damage caused by trapped water.

You see I don’t advocate for air drying.

Golf balls should be carefully hand-dried using a clean, soft cloth.

It minimizes the risk of heat-inflicted damage that can occur when golf balls are left to dry under direct sunlight.

Moreover, quick hand drying prevents water from seeping into any micro-cracks, preserving your golf balls’ integrity and longevity.

Important tips in this phase:

  • Avoid using abrasive cloths that could potentially scratch the balls.
  • Never use a hair dryer or any direct heat source.

Remember, the aim here is to get rid of remaining grime and properly dry your golf balls.

I know some of you might love using Brillo pads and other rough, scouring pads, but leave that for your old stubborn pot.

Other Cleaning Methods to Consider

Having discussed the traditional way of cleaning golf balls with warm water and dish soap, it’s vital to point out several other ways you can maintain your golf balls’ integrity.

They may be considered alternative methods or can even supplement your regular cleaning routine.

One of the methods relates to golf ball cleaners.

You may have seen these commercial cleaning solutions, typically found in pro shops and golf clubs.

What makes these cleaners great is their specially formulated nature, specifically designed for golf balls.

They’re excellent at removing stubborn dirt and stains, but remember to use them as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.

There’s also the application of ultrasonic cleaners.

Typically used in jewelry stores, these machines generate high-frequency sound waves, creating microscopic air bubbles that implode upon contact with the surface of an object — in our case, a golf ball.

This process successfully kills the bacteria and lifts dirt encrusted on the ball’s surface.

However, be cautious as prolonged usage might cause damage to the ball’s coating.

Routine Ball Cleaning (on the course)

If you want to learn how to clean a golf ball, it starts on the course.

Always have a golf towel at hand.

It’s almost a universally forgotten solution but wiping your golf balls after each shot decreases the chances of a stubborn dirt build-up.

This is as simple as it gets yet so effective and your trusted golf towel should be within reach during every game.

I keep a hand towel in my pocket, with 1/4 of the towel being a little wet.

This helps to get any caked-on mud and gives your ball the type of clean you need to help your ball perform.

Cleaning each golf ball doesn’t need to be a significant chore.

By incorporating these cleaning methods, along with our previous tips on regular cleaning, your balls will remain in excellent condition for a fair amount of time.

Unless your ball decides to take a trip on the cart path, which will do more than just put some dirt on your golf ball.

Maintaining a Clean Golf Ball

In addition to regularly cleaning your golf balls, there are additional steps I’d take to maintain their cleanliness and overall quality—steps that go beyond using a bucket of warm water, dish soap, and a soft towel.

Carry a golf towel on you at all times.

Wiping your golf ball after every shot with a golf towel is a simple yet effective strategy.

This habit keeps the ball in a better condition during the game, reducing the chances of caked-on dirt affecting a key strike.

Using a slightly damp towel enables a quick clean without waiting for the ball to dry.

Maintaining the golf balls’ cleanliness is about being proactive.

Rather than waiting until dirt has accumulated, regular cleaning and the additional measures mentioned above will go a long way in preserving the optimal performance and longevity of your golf balls.

Remember, if you take care of your golf balls, they’ll take care of your game.

Conclusion – Now You Know How to Clean a Golf Ball

Learning how to clean a golf ball is half the battle, but with more course time, you will develop habits that will have your golf ball in tip-top shape.

Before you head out to the course, find a small rag that you can use to clean your ball whenever you can.

It’s no fun always to have to walk to my golf cart to use the towel on my golf bag.

Besides that, I hope you know the best way to clean a golf ball and use what works for you.

If you have any questions or would like to share something that works for you, please do share them in the comments section below.

There are many reasons why people quit playing golf, just don’t let a dirty golf ball be one of them.

About John

Dad, human, and super addicted golfer. John is our gear specialist, who can spend hours looking at new golf equipment.

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