How Often Should You Clean Your Gun?

Cleaning a glock
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How Often Should You Clean Your Gun?

Not sure how to clean your gun? Check out our guide on effectively cleaning your gun. Then, find out below how often you should be going through this process.

Whenever possible, you should clean your firearms as soon as possible after shooting them. It's simply a good gun owner habit. Whether that means wiping them down at the range or doing a thorough takedown and cleaning when you get home depends on your own needs and specific firearms.

Why Clean Your Guns After Shooting Them?

Clean your guns as soon as possible after you fire them. The sooner you clean guns after using them, the easier the clean up. The carbon and other gunk won't have had as long to build up and solidify, which makes them easier to remove. This is especially important if you're shooting a corrosive ammo.

By making this your routine, you might identify a part that's starting to wear and may need to be replaced. If you wait longer to clean your firearms, you may not know something is broken for some time — perhaps even until the next time you use your gun. If that next time happens to be for self-defense, you'll be in a pickle.

This is one of the main reasons it's important to take the time to clean your gun regularly. It isn't just about giving it a neat and tidy appearance. The main reason to clean guns is to make sure they properly function. You're not doing yourself any favors by having a gun that can't fire when you want it to.

Other Times and Reasons to Clean Your Guns

man locking pistol in safe

With that information in mind, what about guns that haven't been fired recently? Is it ok to assume that if the gun has been sitting in a safe or other storage that it's fine and doesn't need cleaning?

Even if a gun is clean and rust-free when you put it in storageit’s a good idea to check in on it periodically to make sure that moisture from the air hasn't started to surface rust your gun. A lot of gun owners have some form of a dehumidifier in their safe or case, and periodically wipe their guns down with a light oil to protect them from rusting while in storage.

Another reason to clean a gun that hasn't been fired is if it's your everyday carry gun (EDC). If you're engaging in EDC, you want to keep an eye on that gun (or guns) to ensure it's ready to fire when needed. Since you're carrying this gun every day, there's more opportunity for it to get dirty. It can collect lint from your clothes, pick up dirt and debris from daily wear, or even take damage from having been banged into while you were carrying it. Cleaning your EDC firearm regularly helps keep it working and lets you regularly assess it for potential damage.

Setting a Schedule for Cleaning Your Guns

If you haven't given much thought to the subject until now, use this as an opportunity to consider a cleaning schedule. After reading this, go ahead and clean all your guns. Then, keep an eye on them over the next few weeks. Pay attention to how much dust they collect, how often you're moving them around, and which seem to be the most in need of attention. From there, develop a set schedule of how often you should clean each firearm.

Depending upon the gun, how you keep it, or how often it's carried and/or used, you might consider one of the following options for your gun cleaning schedule.

  • Guns sitting in a safe or other long-term storage should be inspected and cleaned monthly or bi-monthly, depending on how good you feel about where they are stored.
  • Your EDC guns require more regular attention. You might want to wipe them down and give them a good once over weekly or biweekly.

Regardless of what you decide, make a plan and give it a go. As long as you're not going overboard with a daily cleaning, you can't go wrong.

Can You Overclean Your Guns?

While it's tremendously unlikely, it's within the realm of possibility that you could overclean your firearms, and there are dangers to this happening. Too much oil or abrasives can damage or degrade the finish or other working pieces of the gun over time. You can potentially ruin your barrel by over scrubbing, which could decrease accuracy and shorten the overall lifespan of the firearm. Again, this is extremely unlikely, but is something to be aware of when developing your schedule of maintenance.

The important thing to remember here is that you want your guns to function properly, and regular maintenance is key to ensuring that happens. Cleaning after every use is strongly encouraged and generally considered a best practice. In addition to that, it's also a good idea to regularly clean firearms even if they haven't been fired. A set schedule is a good habitual practice to engage in, and unless you're cleaning daily, you're probably not overcleaning. If you keep those things in mind, you'll have well-maintained, functioning firearms ready to go whenever and however you need them.

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Thank you for a detail explanation on how to care for my ccw! I ask and get different answers that don’t tell me when and why to clean my gun!
Frank A. Catalano
Great information on the cleaning
Tom McDowell
Good information. I find the more frequently I clean my guns the better they work. 22’s seem to need the most cleaning. Probably because I fire a lot more rounds through them.
Thanks for the info and reminder to set a schedule for regular firearm maintenance. All tools worth using are worth taking care of and maintaining. A DI once said, "your weapon is your friend, if you let it down, it will sure let you down."
Jimmy Collins
Gun cleaning article was very good and most helpful! Thank y’all
Jimmy Collins
Thank you
Bob Holley
Great article! Spot on!
Good info
You are right on the money. It is surprising how much dust will collect in these weapons. I check mine about monthly. My edc once a week. The pistols l have in different areas of the house, l have in a gallon storage bag to help cut down on the dust collection. Has worked out great for me.
Thomas J Metz
But what about the scenario where you only shoot a small number of shots, say , .. 1-2 or maybe 3-4-5 times ? To me, it seems like a bit much to clean a firearm after being shot just a few times... muzzle loaders being the exception... Opinions ?
Darren Elmore
Good article.
The one thing you don't want to clean is the barrel of a .22 match firearm. Cleaning actually affects its accuracy. I was told this by a former Olympic shooter many years ago, and personally proved if with one of my target pistols. It took about a box before its accuracy came back dave
Ray Howard
What you think about the rifle and pistol socks I have a few took some rifle socks and cu them down to pistol are they good protectors as advertised
William Athon
Great article.
Randy Weisling
Thankyou for posting the range 2 weeks ago an 'self acclaimed expert' at least to his buddy was saying he hasent cleaned his FN pistol in 4 or 5 Thousand rounds...and can't figure why he gets malfunctions..I laughed so hard to myself I think they heard me..where he ever got that idea..
I have a 22 Baretta bobcat I was ready to send back because it was terribly inaccurate and shot a pattern like buckshot someone told me to quit cleaning it just shoot it and wipe the crud off after 200rounds it is shooting much better I’m afraid to cheat it now.