Get Your Oar Grip Race Ready-Right Now

An oar grip is an incredibly important place – it is where the rower meets the oar.  If that grip is not ready to race, the rower won’t be either.  Today, most (but not all) grips are made of synthetics. There are many different types of materials, sizes, and colors used. Regardless of these differences I found one commonality—if the grip is not clean it can be very difficult for the rower to have it do what she wants it to do.  Over time a grip can get dirty with such things as skin, sweat, blood, oil, plain old dirt, or aging pieces of the surface layer of the grip.  All of these can add up to cover an oar grip with a slippery coating.  Dirty grips will slip in a rower’s hand and if a dirty grip gets wet it can be extremely difficult to control.  A clean grip is easier to control, and as I wrote about before it can also cut down on infections.

What You Need To Do The Job

Cleaning an oar grip is easy (and important) and only takes a few household items.  If you are cleaning synthetic grips a bottle of Windex, a green scubby pad, and some water is all you will need.  To clean a wooden handle, water, soap, and a soft wire brush should do.

How To Do It

If you are cleaning a wooden handle (not veneer but solid wood) wash the handle with soap and water and then let dry.  Take the wire brush and gently brush the handle from the oar shaft towards the butt of the handle. Try to go 90 degrees to the grain of the wood, but not


the direction of the grain.  Once you have gently roughed up the handle, wash again, let dry and you should be fine.  Cleaning a synthetic grip is a little different

  • Wash the grip with soap and water, and then rinse
  • Spray with Windex (you can use other cleaners but I’ve had great success with Windex)
  • Rub well with scrubby
  • Rinse
  • Let dry

While cleaning look for nicks or tears in the grip.  If there are any it is probably time to replace the grip.  For a detailed description of maintaining oar handles:

That should do it.  I usually have athletes clean their own handle about twice a month. But you could certainly vary that depending on your own needs.  I hope the video helps.  Let me know what suggestions you might have.

Go fast!