How To Clean A Gun Safely At Home In 6 Easy Steps

Firing gun

Image via pexels

If you like hunting, whether you're an avid hunter or someone who just enjoys it occasionally, you know that keeping your guns in top shape requires some work on your part. More specifically, you need to know how to clean a gun. Guns get dirty not just from the outdoors, but also from their own mechanisms. Corrosive materials from ammunition, as well as substances like carbon, build up inside the gun and affect its function and accuracy. Eventually, you'll need to buy a new gun, or you'll have to take your gun to a gunsmith for restoration.

My husband is a U.S. Army veteran, and what he remembers most about how to clean a gun is the banners and posters all over his barracks that said, "The gun isn't clean until the patch is." His drill sergeants drove that point home every time they needed to clean their guns. Later on, when he and I bought our first hunting rifle, he hammered that point home in my head. Even though we've only ever fired that gun at a range, I can't in good conscience put it away without cleaning it. In fact, I'm so meticulous about it that I usually make sure I have two or three clean patches before I decide that the bore is clean. And that doesn't include cleaning the rest of the gun.

Because we're so meticulous about cleaning it, that rifle always fires well and true, even though we often go for months (or even years) without firing it. Knowing how to clean a gun is essential regardless of that for which you use it.

Why You Need To Know How To Clean A Gun

Keeping a gun clean, regardless of what kind of gun it is, ensures that it continues to perform at peak levels and maintain its accuracy. A dirty bore, for instance, affects the trajectory of a bullet. That makes it more challenging to shoot accurately.


The heat firing the gun creates attracts dirt and carbon, which contributes to significant wear on the gun’s moving parts. It also helps to trap other particulates and cause corrosion. At that point, your firearm is toast -- unless you know how to restore corroded guns.


If you know how to clean a gun, you can prevent all of this damage, which is better than repairing it after the fact.

How To Clean A Gun In 6 Easy Steps

3d handgun on a grunge wooden texture background

Image via Freepik

Knowing why you should clean your guns is pretty useless if you don’t know how to clean a gun. So we’ve put together six easy steps for how to clean a gun that should help make your life a little easier.


Step 1: Gather your Cleaning Supplies

No products found.

You can’t clean anything without the proper cleaning supplies. So step one for how to clean a gun is to determine what cleaning supplies you need, and then to gather them together.

You’ll need the following supplies:

  • Solvent
  • Degreaser
  • Lubricant (gun oil, not just any old oil or lubricant)
  • Dry rags to remove moisture
  • More dry rags with which to apply oil
  • Rods
  • Bore brush (that matches the caliber of your weapon)
  • Loops
  • Cotton patches
  • Foam swabs
  • Small paintbrushes
  • Cleaning cradle (long guns are difficult to hold still enough to clean properly)

You might also want a toothbrush, which gives you the ability to scrub out slide grooves and trigger parts.


Depending on how many guns you use on your hunting trips, and how often you need to clean them, you might want to consider purchasing a gun-cleaning kit. You might also find it easier to learn how to clean a gun when you don't have to worry about individual supplies. Amazon sells gun-cleaning kits at affordable prices. Your local gun shop or gunsmith will also carry them.

Step 2: Remove Any Moisture

In learning how to clean a gun, understand that moisture is your enemy. Let’s face it; if you’re out hunting, chances are you’re getting moisture in your gun. Many areas where you find good hunting are damp and that alone introduces moisture to your gun. If you have inclement weather, you have even more moisture getting into your gun. So before you do anything else, make sure your gun is as dry as possible.


Make sure your gun is unloaded. Take one of your dry rags and wipe your gun down thoroughly to ensure you’ve removed as much moisture as possible. It might seem like an unnecessary step, but drying your gun will help you with the rest of your cleaning.

Step 3: Disassemble Your Gun

The first step to disassembling your gun is to check, recheck, and then check again to be sure it's unloaded. Ideally, you did this at the beginning of step two, but you should do it again. You can never check your gun too many times.


Once you're sure it's unloaded, put it down on something stable and open the action. Unless your gun is incredibly dirty, you want to disassemble as little as possible, so only do as much as you're comfortable doing. It’s best to refer to your gun manufacturer’s manual for how to do this properly.

There are a million models of guns out there, and many of them have different parts. As such, they have different steps for disassembly. You want to be sure you execute this step properly before you do anything else. You can't learn how to clean a gun if you don't know what's unique to yours.

Step 4: Clean The Bore And Chamber

The bore and the barrel aren't the same things. A gun's bore is the interior of the barrel, from where the tip of the bullet rests all the way to the muzzle. It's the hollow space in which the bullet travels. The barrel is the tube that houses the bore.

Cleaning The Bore

Cleaning The Chamber

Step 5: Clean And Lubricate The

Action

The type of gun you have doesn't matter for most steps, but for this one, it does. A pump-action shotgun has different parts than a bolt-action rifle, which has different parts than an over-under shotgun. This information is imperative to learn how to clean a gun.

Pump Action

Bolt Action

Over-under Action

A Word On Lubrication And Moisture

Step 6: Wipe the Outside of the Gun and Store

This is probably the easiest step in how to clean a gun. At this point, you've cleaned the bore and all the moving parts of your gun. Now you need to wipe it down and prepare it for storage. Begin by wiping down the entire exterior of the gun. You may want to use a light polish for this. Make sure the whole outside of your gun is clean and free from fingerprints and other spots. Then return it to your gun case or safe.


Keep in mind that how you do this depends on how long you plan to store your guns. Part of how to clean a gun is knowing how long you want to store it, and taking the right steps to ensure your storage preparation works with that.

Bottom Line On How To Clean A Gun

gun isolated on white background

Image via Freepik

Keeping a gun clean, regardless of what kind of gun it is, ensures that it continues to perform at peak levels and maintain its accuracy. A dirty bore, for instance, affects the trajectory of a bullet. That makes it more challenging to shoot accurately.


The heat firing the gun creates attracts dirt and carbon, which contributes to significant wear on the gun’s moving parts. It also helps to trap other particulates and cause corrosion. At that point, your firearm is toast -- unless you know how to restore corroded guns.


If you know how to clean a gun, you can prevent all of this damage, which is better than repairing it after the fact.

  1. Gather your cleaning supplies
  2. Remove any moisture from your gun
  3. Disassemble it
  4. Clean the bore and chamber
  5. Clean and lubricate the action
  6. Wipe the outside of the gun and store it

When you know how to clean a gun, you know how to ensure your guns last a long time. Knowing how to clean a gun will help you mitigate the problems that adverse hunting conditions can cause. You spend less money on purchases and repairs, and you get to use a weapon with which you're increasingly familiar. Understanding how to clean a gun is a valuable preventive measure, so use it, and happy hunting.


About the author

Brandon Cox

I'm Brandon, and with a passion and love for all things hunting, I have invested much time and money bringing myself up to speed with the latest and best hunting Intel. Through my hunting website, I want to share and excite all on the intricacies of hunting whether you be an amateur or a professional.

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