How to Get Rust off Your Golf Clubs

Published on 04/20/2023 · 6 min readWant to get that rust off your clubs without damaging them? Golfing Expert Zack Pierce gives you his best tips to make your clubs look like new again.
Zack Pierce, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Zack Pierce

Photo by Cristina Anna Costello

As a golfer, when spring comes calling, and it is time to shake the rust off your golf swing, the last thing you want to see is actual rust on your golf clubs! However, golf clubs that are left in damp conditions (think garages, basements, etc.) can develop surface rust. Not good, especially if left untreated. Luckily, there are several remedies using household products that will remove rust from your clubs without using any harsh chemicals!

While WD-40 and other industrial rust removers can remove rust from iron and steel (golf club materials), they can also damage the club if not properly handled. Fortunately, the following household products work just as effectively, if not more, than harsh chemicals without the risk of damaging your clubs.

Household Product Alternatives

Photo by Nadim Shaikh

1. Vinegar and Lemon Juice

This is my go-to way to remove rust from golf clubs! White vinegar is the best option for this method because the acetic acid in this combination of pantry items dissolves rust easily. The lemon juice and vinegar mixture is a great choice because it is an inexpensive option you can pick up at any supermarket, works great, and won’t damage your golf clubs!

Instructions

  • Fill a large bucket with 3-4 inches of vinegar to cover the entire clubhead.
  • Add 1 cup of lemon juice (approximately six medium lemons).
  • BONUS TIP: If you still have some rust spots on your clubhead after soaking, you can sprinkle a generous amount of salt on one of the lemon halves you used for the juice and use it as an abrasive to scrub away that stubborn rust!

2. Dish Soap and Warm Water

Dish soap is another effective option for removing rust due to the same qualities that make it effective at removing baked-on foods from cookware. It is formulated to remove residue from any product's surface to clean it. Warm water helps create more bubbles that help agitate and lift the rust. A great option for surface rust that steel wool could not remove.

Instructions

  • Fill a large bucket with 3-4 inches of warm water.
  • Add a generous amount of dish soap.
  • Stir vigorously until you have created a bubble bath for your golf clubs.
  • Let the club heads soak for at least 5 minutes, but an hour or two is preferable

3. Coca-Cola

Wash your golf clubs in soda? It sounds crazy, but it works. Coca-Cola is a triple threat in rust removal. Phosphoric acid dissolves rust, the carbonation in soda works to lift the rust off the surface of the golf club, and citric acid is an effective stain remover. The downside to Coca-Cola is after soaking your clubs, you will still need to use some soap and water to wash your clubs due to the sticky residue left behind from the sugary soda.

Instructions

  • Fill a large bucket with 3-4 inches of Coca-Cola
  • Submerge golf clubs in soda, ensuring the entire club head is covered
  • Let club heads soak for anywhere from 5 minutes up to 2 hours

Equipment Needed

Once you select your preferred household product(s), gather the supplies listed below to ensure you have everything you need to get started!

  • Either vinegar/lemon juice, dish soap/warm water, or Coca-Cola
  • Steel wool
  • Large bucket (storage containers also work great)
  • Towel/microfiber cloth
  • Soft-bristled brush or toothbrush

Step-by-Step Guide to Remove Rust From Golf Clubs

Now that you have all the supplies needed to remove that rust from your golf clubs, let’s get started!

I usually like to do this in my garage because you can get specks of rust flying around, and I don’t mind if the floor gets wet.

Step 1: Steel Wool

Steel wool is a great household product for removing rust because it doesn’t require any liquid. The downside is you can only use steel wool for very light surface rust, especially on the club shaft. In addition, over-scrubbing with the steel wool can damage the finish, exposing more raw material to the elements, leading to more significant rust issues in the future.

If you only notice a light speckling of rust on your clubs, you can use steel wool by simply scrubbing in a circular motion and applying light pressure. Opting for very fine steel wool will prevent scratches, especially on the shaft of the club. However, if steel wool doesn’t easily remove the rust, or the rust appears to be more significant than just some light spotting, move to step 2.

Step 2: Soak the Clubheads

Fill a large bucket with 3-4 inches of your preferred household product(s) from above. Then, submerge the head of the golf clubs into your cleaning solution, and leave them submerged for at least five minutes, but you can leave them for up to an hour or even two.

Step 3: Scrub the Clubheads

At this point a significant amount of rust will be removed, but likely not all. Remove golf clubs from the bucket and scrub vigorously with a soft bristled brush until any remaining rust has been removed from the club head.

BONUS TIP: If you notice extra dirt and grime has built up in the grooves of the clubface, you can use a firm toothbrush or a groove sharpener to clean them out. Clean grooves = more spin!

Step 4: Remove Rust From Golf Club Shafts

Since it is not typically feasible to submerge entire golf shafts in vinegar or another cleaning solution, this is the method I use:

  • Submerge a hand towel or a microfiber cloth in your preferred cleaning solution, and then scrub the club with the soaked towel.
  • If you have stubborn spots on the shaft, you can wrap the towel around it tightly (use tape to secure it if necessary) and let it soak like this for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Again use a soft-bristled brush or fine steel wool to remove any remaining rust from the golf club. Be careful not to scratch and dull the finish on the shaft.

REMINDER

If you opt to use Coca-Cola, you will need soap and water to rinse any sticky residue left by the sugary soda. Leaving Coke residue on your clubs could tarnish the finish of the club shaft.

Rust Prevention Tips

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If you want to avoid having your golf clubs get as rusty as your swing does during the winter, just do a few simple things:

  • First, dry your clubs with a towel as soon as possible when they are damp after a round.
  • Second, if traveling, don’t leave your golf clubs in your travel case when returning home. Let your clubs breathe.
  • Finally, when the temperature drops and it’s time to put the clubs away for winter, keep them inside.

Extreme temperatures and damp, humid conditions will cause your clubs to rust quickly. Remember, moisture is the enemy!

Conclusion

Photo by Kindel Media

If you have explored all of these options and followed the step-by-step instructions above but could not remove all of the rust from your golf clubs, the rust may have penetrated the golf club's surface. This implies there are likely to be imperfections on the clubface and, ultimately, impaired performance of the golf clubs. At that point, it is time to invest in a new set of clubs. If you find your clubs are beyond repair, you can reach out to a Golf Expert here on Curated for any of your golf equipment needs and advice!

Take proper care of your clubs, and they will bring you enjoyment for years!

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