The complete golf shoe cleaning guide

Golf Shoe Cleaning Guide for Beginners

When it comes to perfecting your golf game, every detail matters—from the precision of your swing to the quality of your equipment. But there’s one often-overlooked factor that can make or break your performance on the fairway: your golf shoes

That’s right, those dirt-caked, grass-stained foot soldiers you unceremoniously toss in your trunk post-game deserve more attention, specifically in the form of regular golf shoe cleaning.

The state of your golf shoes can significantly affect not only your comfort but also your performance on the course. In a sport where the margin for error is paper-thin, the foundation you stand on matters. A lot. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help beginners understand the ‘why,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how’ of golf shoe cleaning. 

So, if you’re searching for tips on golf shoe cleaning that can help you maintain not just your gear but also your edge in the game, keep reading. We promise, your feet—and your scorecard—will thank you.

Golf Shoe Cleaning Kit

Your Arsenal for Impeccable Golf Shoe Cleaning
Before you roll up your sleeves, let's make sure you've got the right equipment. This section focuses on the must-have tools and supplies to make your golf shoe cleaning process not just effective, but downright enjoyable.
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Soft-Bristled Brush

Ideal for gently brushing off loose dirt and debris, a soft-bristled brush is an absolute essential for golf shoe cleaning, especially for delicate materials like leather.

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Medium-Bristled Brush

Great for synthetic or more resilient materials, a medium-bristled brush will help you scrub off those stubborn mud spots without damaging the golf shoe.

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Microfiber Cloth

Perfect for applying cleaners and for a gentle scrub, the microfiber cloth is excellent for all kinds of materials and doesn’t cause scratches.

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Specialized Cleaners

Different golf shoe materials call for specific cleaners. They help to maintain the shoe’s material while also removing dirt and grime effectively.

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  • Leather: Lexol Leather Cleaner or Bickmore Bick 4
  • Synthetic: Crep Protect or Simple Green
  • Fabric/Mesh: Jason Markk or Sof Sole Cleaner
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Suede Eraser

For any suede areas or scuffs on leather, a suede eraser can lift dirt and marks without causing harm.

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  • Kiwi Suede & Nubuck Eraser
  • Shacke Suede & Nubuck 4-Way Brush Cleaner
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Shoe Trees

Helpful in maintaining your shoe’s shape as it dries, shoe trees are especially beneficial for leather shoes.

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  • Stratton Cedar Shoe Tree
  • FootFitter Cedar Shoe Tree
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Waterproofing Spray

Once your shoes are clean and dry, a waterproofing spray will help protect against future encounters with mud and water.

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  • Scotchgard Fabric & Upholstery Protector
  • Crep Protect Ultimate Rain & Stain Spray
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For leather shoes, a conditioner will help keep the material soft and supple, extending its lifespan.

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  • Saphir Renovateur
  • Leather Honey Conditioner
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Bags or Storage Boxes

For proper storage after cleaning to avoid dust accumulation and potential damage.

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  • LotFancy Shoe Bags are durable and perfect for storing and even traveling.

Arming yourself with the right tools and supplies is the first step in mastering the art of golf shoe cleaning. Once you’ve got these essentials in your cleaning kit, you’re well on your way to ensuring that your golf shoes stay as stellar as your swing.

The Step-by-Step Golf Shoes Cleaning Process

Step1 : Preliminary Dusting

Before diving into a deep clean, remove any loose dirt, mud, or sand from your shoes. Use a plastic or rubber bristle brush for this task.

  1. Remove the spikes: If your golf shoes have removable spikes, take them off using a spike wrench to get to the dirt hidden underneath.
  2. Brush off the loose dirt: Using a soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush, brush away the loose dirt and debris from the sole and upper parts of the shoes.

NB: Avoid tapping the shoes together to remove dirt; this could cause micro-fractures in the shoe soles over time.

Removing Dirt from Different Golf Shoe Materials
  • Leather: Use a soft-bristled shoe brush or an old toothbrush to gently remove dirt and debris.
  • Synthetic: A more resilient material allows you to use a stiffer brush.
  • Fabric/Mesh: Use a soft-bristled brush but be extra gentle to avoid fraying the material.

Step 2: Washing Golf Shoes to Remove The Grime

Washing your golf shoes is not just a superficial chore—it's an absolute necessity that has a direct impact on your performance.

How often should you wash your golf shoes? Simply put, a basic wipe-down after each game is essential. But when it comes to deep washing, a monthly routine suffices for casual players, while avid golfers should aim for every two weeks. 

Regular washing can dramatically extend the life of your shoes and save you money in the long run.

But here’s the kicker: Your golf shoes need light cleaning after every game. Think of it as damage control, a way to prevent dirt and grime from becoming lifelong tenants.

It’s especially important that you act quickly if your golf shoes end up wet or muddy during a game.

Remove excess mud immediately with a golf tee or a brush. If you can, rinse them off with water at the clubhouse or as soon as you get home.

If the shoes are wet, use newspaper to soak up the moisture. Put the newspaper inside the shoes to help them keep their shape while drying.

The Washing Process

  1. Remove the laces and insoles if they are removable. This allows for a more thorough cleaning. Place them aside; we’ll address those shortly.
  2. Lightly rinse the shoe’s exterior to dampen it. This prepares the surface for a more effective washing.

  3. Use a cloth or a soft-bristled brush to apply the cleaner gently. For leather, perform circular motions; for synthetic materials, you can be a tad more vigorous; and for fabric or mesh, a gentle brushing action is key.
  4. Dig in with a scrubbing brush but remember—leather needs a soft touch, synthetic can handle a firmer scrub, and fabric should be treated as if it’s royalty: with extreme care.

  5. Gently rinse off the cleaning solution. Leather should be wiped with a wet cloth, synthetic can endure a light spray of water, and fabric should be dabbed gently with a moist towel.
  6. Don’t forget those laces and insoles. A simple soak in warm soapy water can rejuvenate them. Rinse and lay them out to dry naturally.

Step 3: Drying Your Golf Shoes

You've taken the time to meticulously wash your golf shoes, so don't ruin it all by drying them improperly.

Wet shoes can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. This not only leads to unpleasant odors but can also degrade the material of the shoe over time.

What Not to Do

How to Dry Golf Shoes After Cleaning

  1. Before you even think about drying, use a dry cloth or towel to wipe down the surface of the shoe. For the interior, stuff it with newspaper or dry cloth to absorb the moisture.

  2. A shoe tree, particularly one made from cedar, can be a lifesaver. Not only does it maintain the shape of the shoe, but cedar also has moisture-absorbing and odor-fighting properties.

  3. Place the shoes in an upside-down position to allow any trapped moisture to escape. 
  4. If you want to speed up the drying process, use a fan. Place the shoes in a position where they receive a gentle airflow. This promotes evaporation without risking damage.

When Should You Clean Your Golf Shoes?

Timing is everything when it comes to maintaining your golf shoes. Whether it’s a quick post-round brush down or a seasonal deep clean, knowing when to clean your shoes is just as crucial as knowing how.

Immediate Post-Round Cleanup

Just as you wouldn’t leave your clubs dirty after a round, your golf shoes also deserve immediate attention. Mud, water, and grass can quickly deteriorate your shoe material if left unattended.

Use a golf shoe cleaner brush to remove any loose dirt or grass from the outsole and sides. If you have access to a golf shoe cleaning station at the course, even better! Use it to your advantage for an effective, on-the-spot cleaning.

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The Weekly Deep Clean

Routine golf shoe maintenance is the key to longevity. No matter how diligent you are post-round, a deeper clean is needed periodically. This is especially true if you’re a frequent golfer.

This is the time to whip out your specialized golf shoe cleaning kit. A weekly deep clean is the best way to clean golf shoes, particularly if they’re made of leather. 

Use golf shoe cleaners specifically designed for the type of material your shoe is made of. Clean leather golf shoes with a leather-specific cleaner like Lexol or Saphir, followed by conditioning to maintain suppleness.

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Seasonal Overhaul

At the end of every golf season, a complete cleaning overhaul is required to keep your golf shoes ready for the coming year.

This is when you should get the best golf shoe cleaner for those scuff marks, specialized cleaning agents for the outsole, and possibly even replacement spikes.

Your seasonal overhaul should be the most thorough cleaning your shoes get, leaving them looking almost as good as new. Don’t skimp on any step!

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Event-Triggered Cleaning

  • After playing in muddy conditions
  • Spilling food or beverages on your shoes
  • After walking through water hazards
In such cases, immediate cleaning is advisable. Again, use a golf shoe cleaner brush and specialized golf shoe cleaners to address the mess right away. You don’t want to leave any room for stains to set or for water to seep into materials, causing long-term damage.

Emergency Cleaning for White Golf Shoes

White golf shoes require special care due to their propensity for showing stains more clearly. An emergency clean is needed whenever they catch noticeable marks or stains.

For emergency cleaning, a white golf shoe cleaner like Jason Markk’s Quick Wipes can be a lifesaver. These are designed to lift stains and brighten the material, making your white golf shoes look pristine again.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Golf Shoes

Ignoring the Material

Your golf shoes are not just another pair of sneakers. They can be made of leather, synthetic materials, or even fabric and mesh. Each type needs a different cleaning approach.

  • Leather: A soft-bristled brush and a leather-specific cleaner like Lexol or Bickmore Bick 4 are your friends.
  • Synthetic: A more durable material like synthetic can handle something a bit more abrasive, like a medium-bristle brush and a gentle detergent.
Rushing the Drying Process

We get it. You want those shoes dry, and you want them dry now. But patience is a virtue when it comes to golf shoe cleaning.

  • What To Do: Air dry your shoes in a well-ventilated area. If you’re dealing with leather, a cedar shoe tree is invaluable for preserving their shape.

Don’t Do This: Never use direct heat sources like hair dryers or radiators. These can cause the glue to melt and your shoes to lose their shape.

Using the Wrong Cleaners

While it’s tempting to grab whatever cleaning agent is closest, the wrong cleaner can cause more harm than good.

  • What To Do: Use specialized cleaners for your specific shoe material. Jason Markk is great for fabric and mesh, while a specialized white shoe cleaner like Pink Miracle can keep those white golf shoes sparkling.

Don’t Do This: Steer clear of multi-purpose cleaners that aren’t designed for shoes, as they can discolor or degrade the material.

Skipping the Insoles and Spikes

The insoles and spikes are the unsung heroes of your golf shoes, providing comfort and grip, respectively.

  • What To Do: If your insoles are removable, take them out and clean them separately. Spikes can usually be cleaned with a toothbrush and some warm soapy water.

Don’t Do This: Never leave your insoles soggy or your spikes muddy. This could lead to odors and even fungal growth—yuck!

Over-Saturating Your Shoes

The temptation to drench those dirty shoes in water or cleaner is real, especially after a long day on a muddy golf course.

  • What To Do: Less is more. For leather, a damp cloth is often all you need, along with a leather conditioner like Leather Honey.

Don’t Do This: Avoid soaking your shoes, especially if they’re leather. Excessive moisture can cause leather to crack and synthetic materials to weaken.

Ignoring Color

Dark and light-colored shoes each have their own needs when it comes to golf shoe cleaning.

  • What To Do: For white shoes, avoid bleach or harsh detergents. For darker shoes, stick to mild detergents to maintain the color.

Don’t Do This: Never use a dark polish on a light-colored shoe, and vice versa. It’s a rookie mistake you’ll regret!

About The Author
Patrick Mahinge is a golf enthusiast and the chief editor of Golf Pitches, a website that delivers innovative and data-driven golf product reviews. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for the sport, Patrick has transformed Golf Pitches into a trusted source of information for golfers worldwide. Patrick's expertise lies in his ability to dissect complex golf equipment and present his findings in an engaging, easy-to-understand manner. His reviews are not just informative, but they are also backed by rigorous data-driven methodologies, making them a trusted resource for golf enthusiasts and professionals alike.