How to Clean a Gun and How Often Should You Clean It?

When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

If you are a proud owner of a gun, you certainly know how important it is to clean it on a regular basis. It is a well-known fact that a clean gun is a safe gun – with a clean firearm, the chances of accidental discharge will be on the lowest possible level. So clearly, cleaning the weaponry is not something that’s based on esthetics, but on functionality and safety. 

With guns, everything is about protocol and following the exact steps, because otherwise, you risk causing physical injuries and damages of serious proportions.

So today we are going to guide you through a process of cleaning the weapons, without leaving out any detail. 

Step 1: Preparation

When cleaning a gun, you should do it in a bright room with good airflow, so you can make sure you won’t create any mistakes and that you won’t be affected by the cleaning chemicals. It would be good to do the whole procedure in some spacious corner that will provide you with enough room to work smoothly, with everything you need just in front of you.

How to Clean a Gun

The best place to do this is in a garage, or even better outside if it’s not raining or freezing. You need to use a sturdy surface, you cannot risk the foundation you work on being unstable.

And it is important not to clean your gun on a dining table, kitchen surface, or any other place where people are eating and drinking because of the risk of contamination. Gun cleaning products are based on solvents and oils, and there is also lead and carbon fouling you don’t want to end up in your food.

The next step includes removing any live ammunition from the room you are going to use for gun cleaning. It is a safety measure. That way, you will eliminate the risk of mishandling the weaponry and endangering you and other people you live with.

SO leave the ammunition in a gun safe or some other room you are not using for cleaning purposes.

Step 2: Read the Manual

Even if you already have read the manufacturer’s manual that came with the gun, now is the time to go through it again. You will find there all the necessary information and detailed explanations on how to disassemble and clean your firearm correctly.

Every gun has a specific structure and mechanism, and even though the cleaning procedure is a universal one, you will have to know how exactly your gun works in order to perform this the right way.

The manual will provide you with everything you need to know in order to disassemble, clean your gun the safest possible way, and reassemble it again. The great thing is that manuals usually come with coloured pictures that explain every step visually, so you won’t get confused at any point.

Prepare Your Tools

Step 3: Prepare Your Tools

Not all guns clean the same way and with the same tools, but in most cases, these are the things you will have to own in order to do the work properly. First, make sure you have a cleaning rod of the appropriate size, a bore brush for a specific calibre, then some double-ended brushes, mops, cleaning swabs, and cleaning jugs.

Also, you will need lint and fibre-free cleaning patches for the proper calibre, cotton swabs, a lustre cloth, bore snake, and of course, adequate cleaning products.

The fact is, you can find most of these items in kits that are designed for a specific calibre, and if you are missing something, you can always purchase it separately. Make sure to have the appropriate items for your calibre, some things are universal, but most of them are created to clean a certain calibre of a weapon only.

It would be good to get yourself a rubber mat so you can protect the outer surface of your gun from scratching when cleaning it. Also, the cleaning cradle is a good investment if you own long guns since it will keep the firearm steady and in the right position while allowing you to use both your hands for cleaning purposes.

It would be good that you do the cleaning with safety glasses on, so you can protect your eyes from springs and debris that will fly around, as well as from chemical vapours. The gloves are another thing you should consider having, the solvent-resistant ones, in order to keep your hand safe and unburned by the previously mentioned chemicals.

Related Article: Best Shooting Ear Protection

Step 4: Start With a Cleaning

We are now going to present you with basic steps to cleaning a gun safely. Of course, bear in mind that some of the details will be different depending on the type of gun you own.

Remove Magazine

First, you need to remove the magazine, and to make sure your gun is unloaded. It is an essential step, and you cannot allow yourself to be careless and forget to do that immediately. It is a matter of safety.

Clean the Barrel and the Chamber

Clean the Barrel and the Chamber

The next step includes using a bore brush to remove large pieces of carbon and metal fouling from the barrel and chamber. You need to do it in a muzzle direction. Then dip a patch that’s intended for cleaning in bore solvent and place it on the cleaning rod you want to use.

Push the rod through the barrel, but do not pull it back. If you do that, you will bring the dirt right back into the bore, and you definitely don’t want to do that.

Now wait for 15 minutes so that the solvent can do its work, and after that, take the bore brush and push it inside of the barrel in order to scrub the interior of it. Keep doing that with clean and dry patches until you remove all dirt from it, and until the patch comes out entirely clean.

Now take a bore snake or any other pull-through tool that’s covered with a light lubricant, and push it through the gun barrel in order to treat the surface against corrosion. But make sure not to lubricate the bore with gun oils, unless you are not planning on using the gun soon.

In case you do that, you will have to clean the barrel and remove this substance from it before shooting the firearm next time.

Clean and Lubricate the Action

After you took care of the barrel, you need to make sure the action part that includes the pump, slide, or bolt is clean as well. In order to do that, you will have to use a dry cloth, utility brush, and action cleaner solvent.

Spray it and leave the metal and carbon debris to resolve. Make sure to use the recommended solvent for your gun type. If you are not sure which one is adequate, check that information with the gun manufacturer. Now, wait for it to dry completely.

The next step included using the needle applicator and applying lubricant drops properly, as the manual says. You need to place it at the specified points of the frame, slide assembly, and exterior of the barrel.

Don’t exaggerate with the lubricant because you may cause the dirt to collect rapidly, and that can interfere with the gun’s functionality.

Clean the Magazine

It’s important not to forget to clean the magazine as well, especially if you are using a semi-automatic weapon. You need to check the manufacturer’s manual and properly disassemble, clean, and reassemble this part if you want to make sure your gun will remain reliable and fully functioning all the time.

Make sure to wear safety glasses for this part, since the magazine followers are spring-loaded. There are specially designed brushes for that, and residue-free solvent or cleaning agents you can use.

Do not lubricate the magazine, ever, and do not use petroleum products because they can contaminate ammunition primers.

Clean the Magazine

Reassemble the Firearm

Again, given that every piece of weaponry is designed in a specific way, you need to check in the manual the exact steps on how to reassemble your gun. After you do that, you need to perform a functional check in order to make sure that the gun operates properly.

It is essential to see if the trigger and safety mechanisms are working correctly, as well as if the slide operation, magazine retention, locking, and ejection systems are fully functional.

Clean the Outside of the Gun

Don’t be lazy and forgetful about cleaning the outer side of the gun as well in the end. After every interior part is cleaned and well lubricated, it is time to make sure the same applies to the exterior.

All you need for this step is a regular gun cloth that will help you remove all the grease and impurities from the gun shell. These cloths are specially designed and pre-lubricated, so they can easily bring back the cleanliness and shininess of your gun.

The Frequency of Gun Cleaning

In order to understand why it is so important to clean your gun on a regular basis, you need to know what exactly happens when you use it. Whenever you shoot from your gun, the ammunition cartridge primer creates the flame, and that flame ignites the gunpowder.

That process always leaves small traces of gunpowder inside the barrel, but also on the internal parts of the action. Then, as the bullet goes through the barrel, the metal it is made of will also leave traces in the barrel. If you don’t clean your weapon properly, and as often as you should, all this dirt can affect its accuracy and reliability.

You risk gun malfunction that can create very dangerous situations. Besides that, the ash that is created by the gunpowder burning will collect, and over time block the moving parts of the gun. And there is even a possibility it leads to corrosion by attracting the moisture. 

So if you want to prevent this from happening, clean your firearm on regular bases. The experts recommend doing that after every shooting session. After cleaning, you should always tend to apply a thin layer of lubricant or gun oil, especially to those parts that rub against each other.

Not only will you make sure your gun is fully functional all the time if you do the cleaning process properly, but you will also prolong its lifespan for sure.


We can conclude that an essential part of owning a gun is knowing how to clean it. Yes, that takes some time, and yes, you will need to invest in cleaning products, but you need to bear in mind that the consequences of not doing that can be very dangerous and life-threatening.

The responsible gun owner will make sure his weapon is always ready to be used, reliable, and functional like it just came out of the store. It’s not about esthetics, but about safety, and that’s something you should always remember.

Related Articles