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How to Clean Golf Grips

I generally like to do a lot of club repairs and modifications myself. This includes changing grips. Unfortunately COVID has impacted massively supply in the golf industry like many others. My local golf shop told me that for certain grips and shafts, delays are currently sitting at 6 months or more. I don’t change my grips quite as often as my socks, but I do like to have a few grips lying around so that I can try different things on different clubs. This shortage has certainly got a lot of golfers thinking about how to get a longer life out of their equipment and how to clean golf grips in order to keep the performing as long as possible.

How to Clean Golf Grips Quickly

Happily enough, this is actually a fairly simple task that doesn’t need any special equipment or expertise. In fact, it only really takes a few minutes and can make a real difference. You might be wondering why bother at all. I think of grips as being like the tyres on my car. In the same way that they provide the point contact between car and road, golf grips are what connects me to my club. I can drive on tyres that have lost their grip but most people would say this is a terrible idea!

Having grips that, well..grip is all about making golf easier. If you have to hold the club more firmly than usual because the grip is dirty and slick, your swing really does change. We unconsciously try to stop the club rotating/moving in our hands and this affects all the other moving parts.

As I said though, keeping them clean is simple. Now I know that some people do this after every round, but that always seems a little bit excessive to me and depending on what grip you use it feels like this could actually be contributing to wear and tear. I generally play without a glove (not sure why, gloves always feel strange to me) and so having something that is at least a little bit tacky is pretty important.

Three Steps to New Grips

Let’s’s start with the most common golf grips, those hard rubber compounds that you might find in something like a standard golf pride, karma or other. It honestly doesn’t matter which manufacturer you have. I have found that the best way to do this is in three steps.

Firstly, I put some washing up liquid (dish soap) in about half a bucket of warm water. I then stand the clubs on their grips one at a time in the bucket and simply rub them clean with a cloth. This only takes about a minute or two per club. The aim is not to get them perfectly new, but to get rid of the surface dirt. It always feels to me like this softens up the grip a little too.

For the next step, I wait until they are dry. This is fairly fast. For example, if I am cleaning an entire set, by the time I finish washing the last club the first one is dry. I then use either a piece of sandpaper or sometimes a wire brush. I go over the whole surface and scuff it up a little bit. Be careful not to over do this, you don’t want to take off too much. It is all about making the surface feel grippy and new again.

The final step is just to rinse them in warm water with no soap or detergent. This gets rid of any bits of dirt, rubber or soap that are still left. And that is it. This might seem very simple but if you do it even once a month it can really extend the grip’s lifespan. 

Other Types of Grips

There are a couple of exceptions where you might want to look at things a little differently.

The first is cord grips. The basic process is the same, but I am a lot more aggressive with the wire brush at stage two. I like cord grips because I think they are easier to hold with no gloves, but I do find they get smooth more quickly than some others. Sometimes, I will even keep a bit of sandpaper in my bag and just give them a quick roughing up before I play or even during the round.

The next type of grip that is different is basically the opposite to cord grips. These are the very soft grips like Winn Dri-tac. I used these for a while, mainly for elbow/hand issues and they are a lovely grip but the definitely wear more quickly than a harder rubber compound. If you start rubbing at these with a wire brush or whatever, you will just rub the grip away and ruin it in no time. You can still wash and rinse them but it is also important to dry them properly. I find they can go a little bit hard if you leave them wet.

Finally, there are leather grips. I haven’t tried to clean these myself simply because I haven’t used them on my clubs. However, there is no way I would be trying to rough these up with a wire brush. These grips tend to be very expensive and in all honesty, I would probably invest in a proper leather cleaning product in order to keep them in shape.

That’s all there is to it. Given that regripping an entire set of clubs can be expensive, it makes sense to keep them in shape for as long as possible. I have irons that have perfectly serviceable grips that have been on there for a year or two, sometimes far longer than that. I have classic blades which even have their original grips on them! It just takes an hour or so a month and knowing how to clean golf grips properly and you are good to go.

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