How To Clean Golf Balls

Many amateurs are guilty of not keeping their golf balls clean. Keeping your ball clean is important as a dirty golf ball won’t perform as well as one in pristine condition.

An added benefit of keeping your ball clean is that it will be easier to spot in the rough and see in-flight.

You will also be able to see any damage to the ball’s cover more easily if you avoid letting the ball get too dirty.

If you are lucky enough to be sponsored and get your balls for free then you probably won’t care quite so much as you’ll probably throw any used balls you have into your practice bag at the end of the round. Tour professionals will change a ball because of the tiniest mark.

Many ordinary golfers though will often make do with using balls that they found on the course so it’s useful to know how to get these balls into as playable condition as possible.

You may like to go searching for lost balls while waiting for slower players in front of you. If you can get them back into reasonable condition then you might be able to sell them to your friends or on eBay and earn some spare cash.

Knowing how to clean golf balls is going to help your game and possibly your wallet.

How To Clean Golf Balls

Why Should I Keep My Golf Ball Clean?

Because mud and dirt stuck to the ball will affect its flight. Even when you putt some specks of dirt or grains of sand might cause the ball to start off-line when you strike it with your putter.

To be honest I’m often guilty of using a ball in less than pristine condition when I’m not playing in a competition. I really should make more of an effort!

What Is The Easiest Way To Clean Golf Balls?

The golf ball washers that you see on most golf courses should be sufficient to keep your ball clean during your round.

It depends a little on how well the greenkeepers prepare them. Ideally, they need to be filled with water and detergent regularly. If you find one that’s dry then it might not do that good a job of cleaning your ball.

Can I Get My Own Ball Washer?

Yes, you can find sponge ball washers that attach to a golf bag. Personally, I’ve never seen the need since a bit of water and a golf towel should do the trick while you are out playing golf.

Is It Ok To Soak Golf Balls In Water?

It is okay to soak golf balls in water for a short period of time, however, it’s probably best not to leave them soaking for too long. Numerous studies have shown that long-term immersion in water will degrade the performance of the ball.

Vice Golf cites a study showing that being immersed in water for 12 hours reduced the distance a ball went with the driver by 5-10 yards

What Should I Soak Golf Balls In To Clean Them?

The simplest option is warm water and dish soap. Agitate them occasionally with a mop head to help loosen any dirt.

Some people use a weak bleach solution and leave the balls overnight. One of my golfing pals tends to find lots of balls when he plays golf and he leaves the most beat up and dirty ones soaking in a mild bleach solution. I’m sure he’s never bothered to check if there’s any performance degradation but he also hasn’t had to buy any balls as long as I’ve known him!

If you do use bleach then make sure to rinse the balls off thoroughly and also wear gloves when dealing with the bleach.

How Do Professional Golfers Clean Their Balls?

They have caddies to do their dirty work! Professional caddies will usually try to keep a section of the golf towel wet so they can then use that to help clean their players’ clubs and balls. Professionals and top amateurs will be starting with new balls so they aren’t likely to have gotten too dirty just during play.

Really dirty golf balls tend to be ones that you find on the course that have been embedded in the ground or in the undergrowth for a long time.

Will Bleach Damage Balls?

Leaving your balls in a mild bleach solution probably won’t make that much difference but it depends somewhat on the quality of your golf. If you are a scratch player then you will probably be better off sticking with new balls rather than messing about with balls found in water or undergrowth that need significant cleaning. Is it worth using balls that will affect your distances when you use them?

Personally, I don’t bother picking up balls on the course that aren’t reasonably decent to start with and just require a quick wipe down with my golf towel.

golf ball washer
Golf ball washer

Does Vinegar Clean Golf Balls?

Vinegar is a great general-purpose cleaning option that is much less dangerous than bleach. Use distilled white vinegar mixed in with warm water. Use 1-2 cups per bucket. Leave them to soak for around 30 minutes then rinse them off and dry. They should come out looking much better.

Vinegar is also pretty cheap too if you go for store own brand!

Can I Clean Golf Balls In A Dishwasher?

Yes, you can clean golf balls in a dishwasher. The bigger question is should you clean golf balls in a dishwasher? Personally, I wouldn’t. I don’t want to be cleaning my dishes and utensils in a machine that has been cleaning golf balls. You don’t know what chemicals and other nasties the golf ball picked up on the course. Do you want to risk leaving that stuff in your dishwasher?

Can I Clean Golf Balls In The Washing Machine?

Similar to using a dishwasher. Not something I would necessarily recommend unless you are finding balls for resale possibly. For one thing, the racket that golf balls would make in a washing machine would be pretty bad. You would want to put them in a mesh bag and also throw in a few towels as well in order to lessen the noise!

How To Clean Golf Balls: Conclusion

So just soap and water are going to do the trick more often than not. If you find some balls that have been out in the elements for a while then you might need to resort to something stronger like vinegar or bleach.

My own take is that if a ball is in really bad shape then I wouldn’t bother picking it up in the first place!

Maybe I’m just lazy but I would rather spend my time playing golf than looking for balls on the course and then cleaning them.

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