man cleaning his gun

How to Use a Gun Cleaning Kit to Clean Any Firearm


Mathew R Reed
January 19, 2022

Does reading gun cleaning manuals confuse you and throw you into a panic?

Worry not; you are not alone. But you still need to learn how to use your gun cleaning kit to clean and maintain your firearm regularly.

We are here to tell you all you need to know about how to use a gun cleaning kit in a simple, understandable format.

Interested? Read on!

Why Do Guns Need Cleaning?

Why Do Guns Need Cleaning?

When firearms are manufactured, they are shipped with a lot of grease and solvent.

The manufacturer adds these products to ensure the device can withstand the time spent in transport and on the shelf.

While these products protect the gun while in transit and storage, it isn’t required for operation. And so, firearms must be cleaned before they are used.

Guns’ maintenance needs don’t end there. Once you start using any type of firearm, you must clean it regularly to ensure proper function and longevity. The reason? A buildup of debris, moisture, or elements.

Buildup is common after the gun has been used for a while. It is caused by the particles left behind after discharge, also known as fouling. The chances and speed at which this buildup forms will also depend on the type of ammunition used.

Moisture is another culprit firearm owners must watch out for. And when excess moisture isn’t removed from the gun’s components, it will surely lead to rust and corrosion.

Moisture damage can occur due to the following:

  • Storing your gun in a humid location
  • Using your gun in a moisture-rich environment and not cleaning it afterward

If your gun’s internal components are made of stainless steel, they remain safe from moisture damage for longer.

Another reason for gun damage is friction. Firearms are mechanical devices that need their parts to be in good shape for peak function. Metal parts moving against each other can create friction that naturally leads to wear and tear.

If you have an older gun, there is a greater risk of damage since these firearms contain salts inside. The salt reacts with the metal bores and causes pitting or rust to develop.

Buildup, rust, and moisture can eventually lead to the following:

  • Reduced accuracy of discharges
  • Reduced accuracy in precision rifles
  • Interruptions in shotgun firing patterns
  • Increased risk of misfiring
  • Seizing and jamming of firearm

Proper cleaning and oiling will protect your gun from moisture damage, prevent buildup, and protect the metal parts from oxidation.

How Often Do You Need To Clean Your Gun?

The frequency of cleaning your gun

The frequency of cleaning your gun depends on factors such as usage, ammunition, environment, type of gun, and more.

Guns that aren’t used very often should be deep cleaned at least twice per year. A basic cleaning routine and visual inspection should be done monthly, even while the gun is in storage.

Guns that are fired more often must be cleaned thoroughly after every use.


An everyday carry pistol (EDC) is often exposed to environmental elements. It also undergoes lots of handling and holstering activity, which can lead to a buildup of dirt and grime on its external and internal surfaces.

If the pistol is carried regularly but not used as often, a deep clean is needed at least once a month, while a visual inspection of the pistol should be performed every day.

For a pistol that is carried regularly and used often, a simple cleaning procedure should be done after every use, and a deep clean should be done once a month or weekly.


Since rifles are often used outdoors, cleaning and maintenance are critical.

You might not be firing your rifle too frequently when you go out with it, but that doesn’t mean they do not need to be cleaned as often.

Rifles must be cleaned after every use. For rifles that remain mostly in storage, a deep clean 2 to 3 times a year will suffice.

Read Also: Best AR15 Gun Cleaning Kits and Best 5 Shotgun Cleaning Kit

How To Use a Gun Cleaning Kit To Clean Any Firearm?

To make things easier for you, we’ve listed all the gun cleaning steps and products used in the order of use.

11 Steps To Clean Your Gun Using a Gun Cleaning Kit

1. Prepare

help identifying the specific parts of kit

Familiarize yourself with the cleaning kit and the gun. Use the instruction manual if you need help identifying the specific parts.

Select a well-lit and ventilated area that will be your workspace.

Wash your hands thoroughly, dry them, then put on a pair of gloves to get started. For the best protection, try a pair of black nitrile gloves.

This will help protect your hands from the cleaning solvents and lubricating oils or debris inside the barrel of your gun.

Read Also: Best Non-Toxic Gun Cleaning Solvents

2. Get a Gun Cleaning Mat

prepare cleaning mat

Lay down a gun cleaning pad or mat to protect your work area from oils and solvents.

3. Unload the Gun

Remove the ammunition and place it out of reach for the duration of cleaning.

4. Disassemble the Gun

man disassembling gun

Follow the manual to learn to remove your firearm’s slide, spring, and barrel.

Depending on how thoroughly you want to clean your gun, you can field strip it to the smallest parts or just retain the bigger components. The best way to do this is to take a look at the gun and the manual side-by-side.

5. Basic Cleaning With a Bore Snake

Clear your weapon and open the action on the device. Feed the slender end of the snake through the breach and down the bore. The slender end will come out of the muzzle or the crown end.

Pull the slender end from the muzzle end and clean the bore thoroughly.

6. Clean the Feed Ramp

Apply a solvent to the brush and scrub the feed ramp thoroughly.

7. Prepare the Cleaning Rods

Connect the cleaning rods to get the desired length. The T-handle should fit into your hand, while the other end goes in through the muzzle end.

The attachments, such as bore brushes, cleaning mops, jags, and slotted tips, can be attached at the end opposite to the T-handle.

8. Use the Bore Brush

brushing inside

Begin by attaching the bore brushes to your cleaning rod. Apply some cleaning solvent to the brush and slowly push the brush end in through the muzzle to clear away the grime that’s caked in the barrel.

Note: The bore brushes are meant to pull dirt away and should not be pushed in. Pushing them will break the cleaning rods or bend the brushes out of shape.

9. Use the Bore Jag or Slotted Tips

Replace the bore brush with the bore jag—make sure to choose the right jag for the caliber of the gun. You can also replace the jags with slotted tips.

Take a cleaning patch and put some cleaning agent on it. Puncture a corner of the cleaning patches onto the pointed tip of the jag and wrap the other end of the patch around the jag. If you’re using a slotted tip, pull the patch through the slot.

Make sure to twist the cleaning rod in the same direction the cleaning patch is wrapped in. Insert the cleaning rod into the barrel through the muzzle end and push the debris towards the muzzle end, not the feed ramp. Repeat this process by twisting another cleaning patch in the opposite direction.

Take a new cleaning patch and put it on the jag. Put a drop of lubricant on the barrel to lubricate. If there is too much dirt on the patch, then continue cleaning the barrel until the patch comes off clean.

10. Lubricate the Barrel

Add a drop of lubricant in barrel

Take a new cleaning patch and thread it through the slotted tip. Add a drop of lubricant to the bore and run the dry cleaning patch through the barrel to absorb the remaining lubricant.

You can also run a cleaning mop to absorb the remaining lubricant from the barrel.

11. Clean and Lubricate the Slide/Pump/Bolt

Using a nylon brush, clear any debris and gunpowder residue from the corner of the slide.

The nylon brush is used to clean the exterior of the slide/pump/bolt and frame. You can add a drop of solvent to assist. Use the cleaning pick to chip away leftover debris caked on the slide.

Using a needle applicator, apply lubricant to the parts that must be lubricated—you should be able to find a list on the manual. Attach a dry mop onto the cleaning rod and run it through the barrel.

If possible, take apart the trigger assembly and clean the component, and oil it.

12. Clean the Magazine

Using a residue-free solving or cleaning agent, clean the magazine.

13. Reassemble the Gun

Put all the pieces back together

Put all the pieces back together after you are done.

Thoroughly check the proper functioning of the trigger mechanism, safety, slide operation, locking, magazine retention, and verify the ejection systems.

14. Clean the Frame

Give the firearm a final wipe using a gun cloth.

Things to Remember

  • Do not use wire brushes on the exterior of the firearm to prevent damage or scratches on the finish.
  • Do not use a sawing motion when cleaning the barrel.

Wrapping Up

This is all you need to know about how to use a gun cleaning kit.

We hope this guide will help you through your gun cleaning process and make it a breeze for you.

With more time and practice, you won’t need to refer to a manual or guide every time you clean your gun!


Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.