How Do You Clean Rust Off of Golf Clubs?

By Nick Heidelberger

Dirty golf clubs on grass

A winter break can leave your golf game very rusty. A winter in the garage can sometimes leave your golf clubs rusty as well. Most clubs are made out of titanium and iron so they have a tendency to rust and stain. Most rust stains on golf clubs will not come off using soap and water alone. There are alternatives that can be used to have the club looking fresh and brand new once again.


Step 1

Fill a bucket with warm (not hot) water mixed with dish washing liquid or liquid soap. Soak the clubs for five minutes or so and then wipe them with a cloth. If the rust is purely on the surface, this may be sufficient to remove it and will not cause any damage to your clubs.

Step 2

Soak the clubs in a few liters of cola (which sort of cola is not important) mixed with a few liters of water. Let them soak for about five minutes, but make sure not to leave them in longer than that. Scrub all of the rusty areas with the water and cola mixture.

  • If the rust is in the grooves of the club, a toothbrush is a good alternative to a cloth, as the bristles will reach down to the bottom of the grooves and clean them.
  • If the shafts are rusted, soak some towels in the cola solution and wrap them around the shafts. Allow them to soak overnight.

Rinse the clubs thoroughly. Rub them dry with a soft cloth. Set the clubs upright on a towel on the floor.

Step 3

Purchase an acetone mixture or a rust remover from a hardware store. Put the mixture over any rusted areas and brush them clean. Again, a toothbrush will be a good brush to use for this purpose.

Cleaining golf club with toothbrush

Step 4

Avoid using anything such as steel wool to clean the clubs, as it may scratch the surface or cause further damage. However, if the above remedies have not worked, try repeating the application of a rust remover and follow that by rubbing the clubs gently with a fine steel wool. Make sure you only rub the rusted areas and be patient and resist rubbing too firmly.

Step 5

After the rust is removed, polish each club shaft and head by hand with polish and a dry cloth. Work the polish in a circular motion and pay close attention to buffing the shaft. Buff the club head and shaft dry to the desired shine.

Tips & Warnings

If all the above steps fail to remove the rust, take the clubs to your professional or to a specialist golf store and ask them to assess the damage. It may be that you will need to get badly affected clubs repaired or replaced.

If the rust has gone too deep, there may be nothing that can be done. If this is the case and the rust is only on the shafts, then consider getting a pro to re-shaft the clubs, which will be cheaper than buying a new set of clubs. However, more often than not, the rust will only be on the surface and that can be dealt with by cleaning. Avoid getting the club grips wet. This can ruin the grip.

About the Author

Nick Heidelberger is the Editor of GolfLink and an active member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA). He covers all things golf, from the professional tours to rules, equipment, style, and golf history. In the years prior to joining GolfLink, he worked for the New England Section of the PGA of America. Nick has a degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and has been an avid golfer for more than 10 years.