Proper Gun Cleaning in 5 Steps

September 1, 2023

You’ve invested a lot in your new firearm, from the cost of buying the gun to the time you’ve spent learning how to shoot. Knowing how to clean a gun allows you to protect your investment and ensure its continued safe operation. 

According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), cleaning guns regularly helps ensure they operate safely and correctly while maintaining the firearm’s value. The U.S. Department of Justice points out that gun cleaning is a critical part of gun safety programs, and that these safety programs have led to a drop in gun-related accidents.

Understanding the basics of gun cleaning how-to will help you protect your firearm and the people around you. Follow these five steps to clean a gun effectively. 


1. Gather Necessary Supplies

The best way to clean a gun starts with being prepared. Gun and pistol cleaning requires the right supplies—you don’t want to use the same cleaners you’d use around the house to clean your firearm. You also need brushes and rags that can fit into a gun’s crevices with ease.

Here’s what you need to clean a gun with:

  • A caliber-specific bore brush
  • Cleaning jags
  • Cleaning rod
  • Cleaning swabs
  • Lint-free, caliber-specific cleaning patches
  • Bore mops
  • Bore solvent/cleaner
  • Action/slide cleaner
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Lubricants
  • Drip pan

Look for the highest-quality gun cleaning products you can find. While you may be tempted to substitute for regular household items, such as old T-shirts for cleaning patches or cotton swabs for cleaning swabs, it’s important to choose supplies that are designed to be used to clean a firearm. Picking the right supplies will keep lint and debris to a minimum. 


2. Put Safety First

Think safety first any time you handle a gun, including during the cleaning process. Always unload the gun before cleaning it, keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction as you remove the ammunition. Even if you think you’ve removed the ammunition already, always double-check before cleaning begins. Also, confirm that the gun’s chamber is clear of any other objects. Keep the ammunition in a separate room, locked away, while you clean the firearm. 

Choose a safe, well-lit area to clean the gun, ideally away from food preparation areas. A workshop or garage can be ideal, provided there is adequate lighting and a large, stable work area. You may decide to use a gun vice to keep the firearm stable and secure as you work. If possible, choose an area with a locking door, especially if you have young children at home. 


3. Disassemble and Inspect the Firearm

Next, you’ll need to take the firearm apart so you can clean each component individually. The process of disassembling a gun varies based on the make and model, so you’ll want to consult your owner’s manual to see how it’s done. If you no longer have a copy of the owner’s manual, you can most likely access it from the manufacturer’s website.

When you take apart a pistol, you’ll end up with the following components:

  • The barrel
  • The frame
  • The slide
  • The magazine

Carefully inspect the components, looking for excessive signs of wear and tear.


4. Clean Each Gun Component

After you’ve looked over each firearm component, it’s time to start cleaning them. Start with the gun’s barrel. Use the bore brush to dry brush the barrel, removing as much caked-on grime and metal fouling from the barrel’s bore as possible. 

Next, dip a cleaning patch into the solvent, then attach it to the end of a cleaning jag. Push the patch and jag through the barrel, starting at the back and working up to the front. Pull the patch out of the barrel, rather than pushing it back through. If you push and pull the patch back and forth within the barrel, you’ll just spread the grime through the barrel itself. 

Let the solvent soak into the barrel for about 10 minutes, then use the bore brush to scrub the interior. Run a fresh cleaning patch through the barrel to remove any particulates and soak up the remaining solvent. Repeat until the solvent is removed from the barrel’s interior.

Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the exterior of the barrel.

Once the barrel is clean, move on to the slide and frame. Dry brush or use a clean microfiber towel to wipe off the slide and frame exteriors. Use a slide or action cleaner to remove fouling and grime from the slide, but avoid getting any solvent on the frame.

Cleaning the components can be the longest part of the gun cleaning process, so be patient and take your time.


5. Lubricate and Reassemble the Firearm

Before putting the gun back together, lubricate any moving parts with gun oil. Don’t lubricate the inside of the barrel unless you’re planning on storing the gun for an extended period. The act of firing a pistol or gun creates friction, which can wear down the firearm’s mechanisms over time. Proper lubrication reduces friction and wear. 

When applying lubricant, more doesn’t mean better. Apply a few drops to areas, as directed by the manufacturer, then wipe away any excess oil. Leaving too much lubricant on the firearm can make the gun slippery and affect its performance.

After you’ve lubricated the firearm, put it back together. It’s a good idea to follow the instructions in the gun’s manual as you do so. Inspect each component carefully and remember to follow gun safety rules during reassembly, including keeping the firearm pointed away from you.


How Hot Shot’s Secret Can Help You

Simplify gun maintenance and cleaning with help from Hot Shot’s Secret. Nano Precision CLP is an all-in-one gun cleaner, lubricant and protectant. You can use it to remove metal fouling from your firearm and lubricate the moving parts after cleaning. The lubricant has excellent heat resistance and is freeze-resistant to -50 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the ideal choice for all weather conditions.

Order our one-step gun cleaner and lubricant today, or contact us with any questions.