Golf is a stylish game. The slacks and polos, the well-kept, windswept green, and the stately clubhouses.
But it's also a dirty game. The grass stains, the dirt clods from over-swinging your golf club and pulling the tee out, and all the mud, sand, and dust can really do a number on your golf bag.
The golf bag is central to the golfer's game, providing organization and structure to keep you prepared to always do your best. For that reason, learning how to clean a golf bag is of the utmost importance. To get the best tips on keeping your golf clubs and pockets clean, what soap and rag to use, how to scrub out stubborn stains, and how to dry your golf bag, read through the following guide.
The Materials You'll Need
- Dish soap.
- If there are heavy-duty stains, you'll need a stain remover.
- A clean cloth for washing and a rag for dry wiping.
- A hose, faucet, or other water sources.
Cleaning Your Golf Bag
1. Empty out Your Golf Bag
The first thing you need to do to clean a golf bag might sound self-evident, but you'd be surprised by the number of people who unknowingly douse their golf bag with water, forgetting a piece of clothing is in one of the pockets.
Ensure you examine all the pockets in your golf bag thoroughly, and take out all your golf clubs and all other contents before cleaning it.
2. Vacuum the Inside and Pockets or Dry Wipe
You have a choice here. You can use a dry rag that you don't mind getting dirty to wipe out any crumbs, grass cuttings, or other little particles from the inside of your bag. That's an easy option if you don't have a vacuum.
If you do have a portable hand vacuum, you're sure to get a more thorough clean as you suction around the deepest main pocket, as well as the more cramped side pockets.
3. Lightly Wash the Golf Bag with Water
Once your golf bag is emptied out and free of little crumbs, you're safe to use water.
Some lightly spray their golf bag with water from a bottle, some run it under the sink, and some blast it with a hose. It all depends on what material your golf bag is made out of, how new or worn it is, and how dirty it is. Use your best judgment when deciding how to begin washing your golf bag.
4. Use a Clean Cloth to Scrub with Soap
Grab a clean cloth and daub a dime-sized amount of dish soap on it. You don't want to apply the soap directly to the golf bag, as some brands have harsh chemicals that may not react well with the leather or vinyl if they meet the material directly. Lightly scrub where you see stains and wear.
Pro tip: be mindful of the color of the cloth, as you won't want to use a deeply colored cloth against a white golf bag.
5. Thoroughly Rinse the Golf Bag with a Hose
A spray bottle won't work for this step. Run your golf bag under a faucet until completely clean. Or better yet, spray it down with a hose.
6. If you have any lingering stains, scrub with a stain remover
Now that you've done the main steps of cleaning your golf bag, prop it up and inspect it. Are there any stubborn stains that didn't seem to budge when you wiped them with a clean cloth?
Focus on those, but this time use a stain remover. This you can spray directly onto the golf bag and wipe away. Some use a bristle brush here for maximum scrubbing effect, but if you're afraid it'll compromise the integrity of your golf bag, a cloth will do.
7. After thoroughly rinsing the bag, let it dry overnight, out of the sun.
If you used stain remover, repeat the rinsing process. Once all the cleaner and suds are washed off your golf bag, it's time to dry it.
What's key at this step is to make sure all the pockets are open, prop the bag up so that it isn't tweaked or contorted, but that still allows water to dry out, and, most importantly, keep the bag out of the direct sun. Sun can cause the color of your bag to dry and fade.
Remember: don't let it fade, dry it in the shade.
8. (Optional) Protect and shine up your golf bag with a leather or vinyl protectant spray
Once you've done steps 1-7, you've completed cleaning a golf bag. You don't have to do anything more, but if you want to make sure it's in the most excellent shape it can be in, consider investing in a material-specific protectant spray.
These sprays work like wax for a car, locking in shine and blocking out stains, wear, and tear.
Do you clean golf bags made from different materials differently?
Always pay attention to the type of material your golf bag is made from. The same goes for any article of clothing or accessory that needs cleaning.
Golf bags made entirely from suede, for instance, are rare. But if you do happen to own one, under no circumstances should you run that bag underwater. When suede comes into contact with water, it can harden, contort, and shrivel. It might not look like it, but suede is just as delicate as silk and needs to be treated professionally.
Below are two material-specific guides for how to clean a golf bag.
How do you clean a nylon golf bag?
Nylon is a durable, heavy-duty material that is quite resistant to dirt, but that doesn't mean your nylon golf bag won't get dirty. If you're a golfer who keeps their clubs in a nylon bag, you don't have to do much different from the 8 steps listed above to clean.
What you might want to do differently is swap out dish soap for something called gall soap, which gives you a more powerful clean than generic store brands. Nylon won't lose its shape when cleaned with gall, even if it is more intense. One tip: with gall soap, you'll need to clean and clean again to get tough dirt stains out. That means the nylon bag-owning golfer will need to rinse and dry the bag for a longer amount of time.
How do you clean an old leather golf bag?
Leather is a similarly tough material that can stand up to a tough clean, but unlike nylon, it risks losing its shape if it isn't treated properly. How, then, should you clean a golf bag made from leather?
When considering how to clean leather, one great tip is to make sure to vacuum between the seams, as leather is stitched together. Another thing to remember is not to clean with anything that contains bleach, which can stain and degrade leather. Instead, you can use rubbing alcohol to clean the surface and interiors of a leather golf bag without bending it out of shape.
How do you get the smell out of a golf bag?
Nobody likes a stinky golfer, and it's not just your shoes and shirt that you have to watch out for. A golfer's golf bag can emanate some pretty serious odors if it doesn't get a proper and regular clean.
You can use any natural spray-on scent or air freshener to give your bag that clean smell after it's been properly washed. If you have a leather bag, essential oils can give your bag not only a pleasant smell but a nice shine when rubbed directly onto the surface.
Clean Up Your Game, Clean up Your Golf Bag
Being the best golfer you can be doesn't mean just practicing your swings and strokes with your clubs. It also means keeping your bag clean and tidy. A woman's purse, they say, tells you a lot about the woman. And the same goes with a golfer's bag.
Having a clean, tidy, and organized bag will lead to cleaner strokes, better organized games, and an overall nicer form. You don't need much more than water, soap, and a single piece of cloth. So there's not much ground for protest that it's too hard or prohibitively expensive!
When you clean up your golf bag, you clean up your game.