How to Clean a Golf Bag: A Simple Step-by-Step Checklist
Written by Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8

Updated on December 13, 2023

It’s not the most fun thing to do, but it’s a good feeling to know your bag is finally clean.

In this article, I will take you through each step of cleaning your golf bag, from clearing out your clubs and accessories to vacuuming every nook and cranny. Plus, I will explain why I do not recommend using a water hose to rinse your bag.


What You’ll Need

  • Golf bag
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Dish soap
  • Clean bucket of warm water
  • Clean cloth
  • Sponge or brush
  • Dry rag


A Simple Checklist for Properly Cleaning a Golf Bag

Step 1: Empty The Bag

Let me ease you into the process. The first step is to empty out your bag. Start by removing each golf club from its slot. Once they are out, remove your golf balls, tees, rain gear, and any essential accessory. Ensure that every zipper is open and nothing remains inside the pockets.

Darren Arber showcases how to efficiently clean out your bag in the video below:

Step 2: Shake Out The Sand From The Club Slots

Once your bag is cleared out, the second step requires you to remove the remaining dirt and debris from the club dividers in your bag. Tip the bag upside down to allow any matter to run down and out the bag. Give it a couple of shakes until you are satisfied that nothing remains.

Step 3: Remove The Strap and Soak It in Mild Soap Water

You can wipe the strap with some soapy-warm water if you want to. However, I prefer to give it a proper clean.

Unclip the strap from your bag, and let it soak for 2 to 3-minutes. When you notice how brown the water is, you will appreciate your effort to undertake a thorough cleaning. Grab a scrubbing or toothbrush and brush off any remaining mud or marks.

Once it is clean, place the strap in your hand, and create a fist. This helps you press excess moisture out of the material. Hang it up in the dryer room, and leave it overnight.

Step 4:Vacuum The Pockets and Interior of The Bag

Turn your attention back to the golf bag. Before scrubbing your leather, polyester, or nylon golf bag, you need to clean out the interior. Grab your vacuum cleaner and suck out any remaining sand or dust from the storage compartments.

In addition, you should vacuum between any creases in your bag’s material and the club slots. Fit the vacuum with a standard intake port, allowing it to reach the bottom of your golf bag. I suggest turning the bag on its side. That enables you to feed the intake port down the divider to suck up remaining dust and debris.

Step 5: Wipe The Loose Dirt and Dust with a Washcloth

The next step is to remove the top layer of dirt from your golf bag. I suggest attaching your rain hood to the bag for an efficient clean.

Dip a washcloth into a bucket of clean water, and squeeze excess liquid from it. Next, wipe down your golf bag from head to toe to eradicate dust particles from top to bottom. Don’t forget to wipe the base of your bag and the stand to clear it off mud and grass.

Step 6: Scrub The Golf Bag

Add a teaspoon of dish soap to your bucket of clean water and mix it thoroughly. Next, pull out your brush and gently scrub the bag from head to toe to release any deep-seated dirt. You can also add a mix of soap and water to a bottle. Spray water onto the bag and scrub as you go.

Although a soft bristle brush is suitable for nylon and polyester, I suggest using a softer material on a leather golf bag. A dishwashing sponge works well and does not scratch a leather bag. Ensure that you have covered every area before checking step 6 off the list.

Step 7: Remove The Soap From the Bag

Grab a damp microfiber cloth and wipe the remaining soap off your golf bag. Give it a solid rinse and leave it for a few moments. Some golfers suggest employing a hose to rinse off the soap, but I recommend avoiding this approach.

The excessive build-up of water from a hose can cause less durable materials to rip. It also increases the drying time because your bag becomes absolutely soaked.

Step 8: Add Stain Remover to Erase Existing Marks

Return to the bag and conduct a thorough inspection of your work. If your golf bag is as clean as a whistle, take it to the dryer room to rest. However, if your bag still carries the scars of Gatorade, beer, and ketchup spillage, you still have a job to do.

Spray a healthy dosage on the stubborn stains, and give it 30-seconds to neutralize the mark. Then employ a toothbrush and get scrubbing to remove it. There is no guarantee that you will totally remove stains, but it is worth attempting.

Some commentators mention that they have successfully removed golf bag stains using a mix of water and white vinegar. The going ratio is apparently 1:5, meaning 1 part vinegar and 5 parts warm water. I cannot comment on its effectiveness, but those I have spoken to swear by it.

Step 9: Dry Your Bag

Once the cleaning part is complete, it is time to dry it and prepare for your next round of golf. You may be tempted to leave your bag out in the direct sunlight, but try to avoid this method. It can cause the colors on your bag to fade, which is an unpleasant sight on the golf course.

Place your bag in a warm room, out of direct sunlight, and let it dry overnight. You could even throw an air dryer into the mix to expedite the process.

Step 10: Restock Your Bag

Now that your bag is clean and dry, you need to put everything back where you found it. Place your golf shafts into the club dividers, and follow the instructions from our guide on organizing a golf bag.

Store your golf balls and tees in the assigned compartment and the bottom of your bag while the rain gear moves to the apparel pocket. When the job is complete, you are ready to walk onto the course as an organized, clean golfer who looks the part.



What Can I Do If My Golf Bag Still Smells After Cleaning It?

There are 3 ways to neutralize the odor of your golf bag, namely baking soda, coffee beans, and fabric softener. Fill a bag with one of these substances and place it into the compartment responsible for the foul smell.

While I have used coffee beans to improve the smell of another bag, I have never attempted it with my golf bag. I always found that regularly cleaning it prevents these scenarios, and prevention is always the best cure.

However, my best buddy growing up had this issue at one point and employed fabric softener. It added a few extra ounces of weight to his bag, but man, it made it smell good.

How Do I Get Rid of Set-In Stains?

Spray the affected areas with your stain remover detergent or vinegar concoction. Leave it to settle on the surface of the mark for 30-seconds to 1-minute. Take out a toothbrush and activate your elbow grease. Scrub in a circular motion on top of the stain and work the detergent into the area.

Wet the brush, and remove the formula from the golf bag. Take a time out, and check to see if you are making progress. If the stain is still apparent, repeat the process until you see an improvement.

How Often Should I Clean My Bag?

I advise cleaning your golf bag at least once a month. You do not need to conduct a deep clean this frequently, but keep it tidy and shining. However, I urge you to conduct a thorough cleaning every 3 months.

This helps you avoid the build-up of dust, humidity, and mold. The latter two are difficult to rid your bag of and carry a permanent funky smell.

For starters, you can clean out your golf bag after every round. This helps you toss empty bottles, sandwich containers, or candy wrappers. You can accumulate junk rapidly, and it doesn’t take long until it becomes disgusting.

A subscriber of Darren Arber claims that he found a moldy banana and a rotten half-eaten sandwich in his bag. As disgusting as this is, it doesn’t surprise me. There are many grubby golfers among us, and constantly emptying out your bag is one way to keep it tidy.


Additional resources on cleaning your golf equipment:

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Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8