It may feel like finding a dollar bill each time you see one on the golf course with how expensive golf balls are.
Picking up a few used golf balls the next time you head out to play could end up saving you quite a bit of money.
Sometimes these golf balls look rather dirty and discolored, but usually, all it takes is a good cleaning to have them functioning like a new golf ball.
Here are some great steps you can take to clean used golf balls and get them back into play.
How to Clean Golf Balls at Home (Step-by-Step Guide)
Step 1: Gather Supplies
To begin the process of cleaning used golf balls, you will need to gather a few supplies.
For starters, you want to make sure you have a bucket; a five-gallon bucket is a perfect size.
In addition to the bucket, here are a few other things to gather before you start the process.
- Nylon brush
- Dish soap
- Access to water
- Microfiber towel
- Large bucket
It is easiest to complete this process outside, and the golf balls tend to dry much quicker as well.
We recommend wearing something you are not worried about ruining.
One of the steps requires using a little bit of bleach, and bleach has been known to take the color out of clothing at times.
Step 2: Wash in Bucket
One of the first things you need to do is fill a bucket with soap and warm water.
It is best to add the soap as you are filling the bucket so it can start to make some bubbles in the water.
The amount of water you need to complete this process will depend on how many golf balls you are trying to clean.
Ensure that there is enough water in place to cover all of the golf balls in the bucket.
Next, you will want to add in the golf balls you are trying to clean.
When we get all of our golf balls in the bucket, we like to mix the bucket a little and encourage some movement with the golf balls and the soapy water.
Then allow the golf balls to sit in the bucket of water for at least a half-hour.
Don’t leave the golf balls in the bucket overnight as they do not need to be left submerged for this long.
Step 3: Scrub
Once the golf balls have had some time to soak, you should start removing them to clean them.
Although the soap and warm water will remove a lot of the dirt, it will not get them completely clean.
The best type of brush to use is a nylon brush.
If you use a brush with wire bristles, it could end up scratching the golf balls, and they will not be good to use and could potentially cause damage to your clubs.
Use the nylon bristle brush to clean inside the dimples of the golf ball.
This helps to really loosen up any dirt or sand that may have been stuck in the ball.
You should not have to spend too much time on each individual golf ball because the warm water will have loosened most of the dirt.
As you finish cleaning each one, do not put it back in the bucket of water, but place it on the side in another bucket or crate to wait for the next step.
Step 4: Bleach
Take the original bucket of soap and water and dump that out.
Be sure not to dump it on your grass as the soap could end up damaging the grass.
When you have dumped it out, place about a half a cup of bleach in the bottom of the bucket and then carefully fill the bucket with water.
The purpose of this last step of the process is to restore some of the bright coloring on the golf ball.
Sometimes an old ball will be stained, and it will never return to its original color, but other times, it just needs a bit of bleach to get its color back.
When you place the golf balls back into the bleach water, just let them soak for a few minutes.
You don’t need to leave them submerged for an extended period.
The bleach will do its job, and some will change to a brighter white, and others will not.
When you take the golf balls out of the bleach water, put them on a towel and move to the next step.
Step 5: Dry
Since the golf balls had some bleach and soap on them, it is best to dry them.
You don’t want to add several wet golf balls to your bag, especially if there is a chance they are still covered in some bleach.
The bleach could stain your bag, and that is not something you will be able to fix.
Step 6: Inspect for Imperfections
As you dry each golf ball, you should be inspecting them for imperfections.
Some used golf balls you find are going to be brand new and probably only hit once or twice.
Others will have seen better days, and they may be chipped or cracked.
If you can see any kind of imperfection on a golf ball, chances are you should not use it during the course of a round.
You can use the golf ball for chipping practice in the yard, but don’t use it during a round.
If you see a scuff on the golf ball that looks like it has damaged some of the dimples, it is no longer good for play.
The ball may spin and fly differently because of the imperfections in the dimples.
The same goes for any type of a cut on the golf ball.
Also, take a look at the brand name of the ball.
Many times, you will recognize the type of golf ball it is, and you may want to start organizing the golf balls.
Two-piece golf balls are great for distance, but they don’t have as much feel or spin around the greens.
Three and four-piece golf balls are considered to be the high-performance expensive golf balls.
If you find a few of these in the woods and clean them up, you are saving quite a bit of money!
Step 7: Add to the Golf Bag
Lastly, you will need to add the new/used golf balls to your bag.
Most golfers put too many golf balls in their bag and weigh it down much more than necessary.
Don’t put more than ten or twelve golf balls in your bag for a round of golf.
When you do clean up some used golf balls, it’s a perfect time to see what you have in your bag, clean them up, and then put back the good ones.
Can You Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Clean Golf Balls?
We mentioned using soap and bleach to clean your golf balls, but there are, of course, other options you can use as well.
Some people like to use hydrogen peroxide to clean their golf balls, and it does work quite well.
The hydrogen peroxide is good because it will kill any bacteria that may be on the ball.
The bleach will do the same thing, and that is one of the reasons we recommended it, but some people don’t like working with bleach.
Hydrogen peroxide is a great cleaner for a variety of things around the house, and chances are you may already have some you can use.
You can follow the same basic procedure as above as you will still need to scrub the balls with the nylon brush to get them clean enough.
Will Bleach Damage Golf Balls?
No, bleach will not damage golf balls.
Golf balls mostly get damaged by using the wrong type of scrub brush on them.
If you take a wire brush that some people use to clean shoes or golf irons, you will scratch up the golf ball’s outer layer.
The outer layer is usually what gives the ball its feel and its spin.
When you damage this layer, the golf ball is not going to be quite as effective, and you may as well consider it a practice ball.
The main purpose of the bleach in our process is to get the golf ball back to its original color.
You won’t do any damage by adding a little bleach to the water just to get color back.
Do Golf Balls Go Bad?
Golf balls can go bad after a very long time.
When a golf ball goes bad, it will most likely not fly quite as far as it once did.
The difference in performance and distance is probably going to be between five and ten yards.
For some people, this difference in distance will not matter, and they can play with used golf balls just fine.
For others, the used golf ball is not going to cut it when playing in tournaments when championships or money are on the line.
If you find a golf ball in the woods and you recognize the name and the type of golf ball, chances are the ball still has plenty of life left in it.
Take a look at the condition of the golf ball, and whether or not there are any scratches or scuffs, as this is going to be a better indication of the life left in the golf ball.
Are Used Golf Balls Any Good?
Used golf balls can be great.
If you are a beginner golfer or a high handicapper, you should seriously consider using used golf balls.
The balls are going to be much cheaper, and the impact you see on your golf game will be minimal.
If you follow our step-by-step process on how to clean golf balls, then you should have no issues with using an older or used golf ball.
Chances are it is going to end up in the hands of another lucky golfer someday very soon!
Hopefully, our guide to cleaning used golf balls has helped you realize how many golf balls you have in your bag which could still be good for play.
Used golf balls take a very long time to go bad, and they can be a great way to save some money.
Since a dozen golf balls can often sell for $30 or even $50, finding a few used balls on the course is quite like finding money!
After about half an hour or an hour of work, you can clean dozens of golf balls and have them back in your bag ready for play.
Some entrepreneurial golfers even clean up used golf balls to sell to their friends!