A lot of our readers like to clean guns. They find it soothing and reassuring. Personally? Not so much. My usual trick for cleaning my guns: get Nick or Jon to do it. For those of you who share my aversion to carbon crud toothbrushes and solvents and can’t impose on an OCD ballistic BFF, an ultrasonic cleaner is the simple solution (so to speak). The Hornady Hot Tub above costs a pretty penny ($467.99 at Cabela’s) but it’s way more thorough than even a TTAG reviewer’s best manual labor. (Note: there are smaller, cheaper ultrasonic cleaners available.) Disassemble, dunk, flip the switch. Wait a bit, rinse and reassemble. Done. What could be easier?

64 Responses to One Simple Trick for Cleaning Your Gun!

    • Or it’s for people who don’t have enough spare time to clean them by hand. Like people who shoot many guns on a range day, or a gunshop that cleans customers guns before or after gunsmithing. This isn’t just for “rich” people, it’s also for people who value their time. It’s not even that expensive when compared to the other costs of shooting that add up quickly.

      Also, hard to clean items like suppressors that don’t come apart are a breeze to clean with cleaners like this.

      • This is the reason I see to have this: suppressors.

        Getting in there and cleaning cans that are unable to be taken apart is a huge plus. Simple hand guns, not so much. But, if I had one, I would throw everything I could inside of it.

    • My father is a machinist. He does it for a living and a hobby. I have seen him fabricate items when there is no other solution or when other solutions are not so great. But a common evaluation from him when deciding rather or not to build or buy something is “how much is your time worth?” and I think that is a fair question. Take how much you make an hour and apply it to the amount of time that you are cleaning your guns, or brass, or whatever else you are going throw in it. If it can save me 75% of the time that I am cleaning my gun (and do a better job) I could justify it in under a year.

      That being said this is a post election buy. No sense in buying this now, you should be going out and buying bullets and guns just in case Hilldog sneaks in.

      • The problem with “I make $20/hr, it takes me 1 hour to clean my guns, so…” is that I don’t clean when I could be working. I work 8-5 mon-fri. I shoot/clean my guns on the weekends or after work. I can’t turn that time into money, so I have to value my time differently.

    • I have a Hornady Hot Tub, and it cleans the nooks and crannies of my guns that I can’t possibly clean without a complete disassembly. I spend the time I save loading more ammo, so I can dirty up guns for it to clean.

    • Let’s say you are a professional- lawyer, plumber, mechanic – and you bill out at $XX per hour. If you are spending time cleaning your guns, you are losing $XX per hour.

      • Nonsense. When I am out shooting, I am not billing for my time, and when I clean my guns in the evening, I wouldn’t be working then either, so the “value” of my time is what it would cost to have someone else do it for me. Just because I am a professional doesn’t mean I work 24/7, or that if I paid someone to do a job for me, like cutting the grass,doesn’t mean I would be working then either,

    • You don’t need to be rich to get an ultrasonic cleaner. A cheap one that can be had for $40 on Amazon also works great – the only real problem is that it’s not large enough to fit some things, so you need to stick one end into it first, run the cycle, then stick the other. Obviously you can’t clean an entire gun that way – but for cleaning BCGs, it does wonders.

    • Perhaps talent, skill, intelligence? You can make more money working 4 hours doing something few can than in 40 doing something anyone can do.

    • Actually, there was a post and there were quite a few of us who enjoy taking the guns down, cleaning them, oiling them, and reassembling them.

    • I don’t know about “a lot” of readers, ROHC, but I do like to clean my guns. I find cleaning them relaxing, and the inadvertent inhalation of Hoppe’s even more so.

        • Ship them to me and I’ll clean them. I’ll only charge you 25 rounds per gun per cleaning.

          You pay shipping, though.

          *EDIT* If the NSA is listening, I follow all applicable FFL transfer laws.

        • I know this topic is old but has anyone used the new Lyman power professional Ultrasonic Cleaner yet? And yes I hate cleaning guns I’ve got too many and not enough time plus these things clean the gun better than I can spending an hour on it. Plus you still have to tear the gun down disassemble it filled strip it what have you then you need to blow it off with compressed air lubricated. I’m looking at the Lyman because it has an extra tank you can buy and you can actually sonically Lube your weapon directly after cleaning it.

    • I suppose it reminds me of the end of a weekend exercise with the Army reserves – dirty gun parts, rags, beer, pizza and a strong smell of CLP. Getting all the rifles and MGs clean enough to pass the armorer’s inspection and BSing with your friends.

      Now it tends to be just me, a beer and a movie on TV. Still a strong smell of CLP.

  1. Not having the time, knowledge, space or money to set up a reloading station, cleaning brass is a nonstarter. And I can get an awful lot of shooting for $450 if I am willing to hand clean, which it just so happens I am.

    • $450 sounds like a lot of money, but is really isn’t when a case of ammo $200-250.

      The ability of the cleaner to get the gun nearly factory clean with little time invested, is a huge deal IMO.

      Personally I own a smaller cleaner, but a cleaner large enough to fit an AR upper is on my to buy list.

  2. I haven’t pulled the trigger on one of these yet but I keep inching that way. I would be able to justify it because I could use it for brass, I have a couple suppressors, and I hate cleaning my guns the usual way. If anyone has one of these can you answer: How do you prevent you internals from rusting after the cleaner strips the oils off? I would assume you would still brush the barrel, before or after the soak?

    • After cleaning, I spray it clean with water, blow it dry with an air compressor, and then oil the gun for reassembly.
      With my CZ 75 Shadow, I have to be very careful. The ultrasonic cleaner destroys all the oil on the trigger bow, so it sticks on the frame, preventing trigger reset, until I get it properly oiled.

  3. I have a small Hornady ultrasonic cleaner. I use it to clean BCGs, pistol barrels, and sometimes I’ll dip the muzzle device of a rifle into it. Simple Green or a traditional gun cleaning solvent works wonders. I obsess about cleaning my suppressor (which doesn’t come apart) but the most I can manage is keeping the quick-release and first baffle somewhat clean. From what I gather that is sufficient. Everyone seems to have an opinion on cleaning suppressors.

    Be that as it may though for cleaning the parts that will fit, the ultrasonic cleaner I have is well worth the money.

    • “When used with caution and according to the instructions, Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner has been safely and successfully used to clean aluminum. Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner, Crystal Simple Green Industrial Cleaner & Degreaser, and Simple Green Pressure Washer Concentrates have been used on aircraft, automotive, industrial and consumer aluminum items for over 20 years. However, caution and common sense must be used: aluminum is a soft metal that easily corrodes with unprotected exposure to water. The aqueous-base and alkalinity of Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner can accelerate the corrosion process. Therefore, contact times for unprotected or unpainted aluminum surfaces should be kept as brief as the job will allow – never for more than 10 minutes. Large cleaning jobs should be conducted in smaller-area stages to achieve lower contact time. Rinsing after cleaning should always be extremely thorough – paying special attention to flush out cracks and crevices to remove all Simple Green product residues. Unfinished, uncoated or unpainted aluminum cleaned with Simple Green products should receive some sort of protectant after cleaning to prevent oxidation.”

      I remember when I was a tike and my father came home yelling about how they had to dispose of tons of barrels of simple green when they were determinined to have corroded arresting gear equipment on the USS Kitty hawk. New version came several days later.

      • Ultrasonic cleaning you need to use a product specially made for it or the simple green that is aircraft aluminum safe. If you soak an aluminum piece in Simple Green even if the aluminum is anodized or powder coated it will eat the powder coat or anodizing write off actually etch the aluminum surface looks like pitting all over it. It also helps if you suspend the items out of the stainless steel basket that comes with some of the units and suspend it from fishing string tied to paint stirrers that’s a little trick I discovered if you lay old shotgun barrels or old receivers against the stainless steel tray and some of the machines it will actually vibrate so badly that it will wear the finish off. Your best cleaning temperatures for doing AR-15 uppers is 110 degrees Fahrenheit the reason being is you only heat the solution and clean the solution or my bad the gun to its weakest link. On an upper receiver with an aluminum handguard and a steel barrel steel gas block stainless steel gas tube you’re Max temperature you want to hit is about 125 degrees because of the aluminum receiver attached to it and the aluminum handguard. You also need to be careful with chrome-lined barrels and your chrome-lined bolt carrier groups some of the pros that ultrasonic Lee clean professionally that I’ve spoken with say if you’re doing a cerakote upper receiver do it for 3 minutes pull out the receiver use a barrel bronze brush to scrape out the barrel once or twice with a cleaning rod wipe out all the excess powder residue out of the inside of the receiver and then put it back in for another two minutes. Just my dollar 50 worth.

  4. So you use this to clean the outside of your firearm then lub and clean the inside and outside of your firear. CLP Breakfree does all this.

  5. This apparently requires special solvent, sold as a concentrate for 62 bucks a bottle!

    Fortunately you can get 64 cleanings out of one bottle of concentrate (I couldn’t tell whether it was full-size cleanings or smaller cleanings).

    • I just use a mixture of the biodegradable Simple Green and dump it down the storm drain once it gets cloudy.

      • Can you bottle it up and take to your landfill? They take hazardous materials. The solution now has all manner of combusted chemicals plus lead that you don’t want your children drinking or going into fish and plants we eat. Waste treatment plants don’t filter out antibiotics or birth control pills either. Something to consider because these things end up in our drinking water.

      • Yeah, I’m with the guy above me on this one. Pouring an admittedly saturated solution full of lead, copper, carbon, and who knows what other combusted oil by-products into a storm drain (straight into a local water supply) is not a good idea.

    • The cleaning solvent is reusable. I filter mine, and dump it in a jug. You can easily get 3-4 cleanings out of a single amount of solution.

  6. Ultrasonic cleaners will get all kinds of things clean. Spark plugs and other car parts, tools, and most anything else that will fit in the tub. Simple green and other similar cleaners work just as well as the expensive stuff.

  7. It’ called having more money than sense, as my dad used to say.

    Half a can of WD40 works good and is faster.

    • Shoot. WD-40 does so many things so well it is difficult to believe. And a lot of them have nothing to do with lubrication. The solvent dissolves adhesives like it was magic. Cleans grease an oil offyour hands and makes them feel like you used hand lotion instead.

  8. *CAUTION* on Ultrasonic cleaning tanks.

    Ultrasonic cleaning can strip Parkerizing right off.

    I had an old Ruger Mk 1 that the blueing was in rough shape, so I had my local gunsmith Parkerizing it.

    It came out beautifully, a really nice, deep Parkerizing. Working graveyard shift one night, I tossed it in the lab’s ultrasonic tank, a rather powerful one.

    When I pulled it out an hour later, it stripped quite a bit of the Parkerizing off the metal.

    Now, I suspect the local gunsmith may have been negligent in the surface prep, but that’s my cautionary tale on ultrasonic tanks…

    • EDIT-

      I suspect the surface prep since the gunsmith also managed to Parkerize some of the inside of the frame where it was in contact with the bolt, making the action a bit on the ‘gritty’ side, something Dyspeptic Gunsmith warned about in his article awhile back on ‘Rust Blueing’.

      DG mentioned in that ‘Rust Blueing’ article he did that we may see a post from him on home Parkerizing at some point, and I look forward to seeing it…

  9. Sweets 7.62 solvent at the range shortly after the match and while the barrel is still warm.

    Run a dry patch to remove loose fouling, and then wet patches until the last one is white. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then run dry patches until the last one is white. Clean the bolt head and receiver rails during the 5 minutes. Takes about 20 minutes in total.

    If you have friends at the range. Have a chat while cleaning. Makes the time pass quicker.

  10. I just ordered one of the smaller versions. It’s going to clean brass, handgun barrels, bcgs, and other parts. I don’t mind saving time.

  11. The Hot Tub is not for the low income shooter as it not only costs a lot, but it costs a lot to keep it running.

    Personally, I find myself leaning towards the smaller 7L Hornady ultrasonic. Costs a little over $300 after sales taxes from Walmart and can clean your average size handgun or a lot of brass.

    • You can fill the larger ultrasonics with water, and use a smaller metal tank in the water that contains the actual solvent with little loss in cleaning power.

      In fact Hornandy sells the smaller metal tanks with dipping baskets for that purpose.

  12. Ultrasonic cleaners are the cats meow!
    It’s the same reason I have a vibratory cleaner/polisher for my brass. It’s a bit slower, but cleans my stuff way better than I can.
    I have a small handgun sized one. Wishing I had one for long guns.

  13. Sonic cleaners are very useful. There are some issues and limitations people need to keep in mind:

    1. If you just drop highly polished parts into the cleaner and allow them to rub on other parts, you could end up with some damage to the finish. If you’re going to clean highly polished pieces, put a plastic mesh or screen in the bottom of the tank or between pieces.

    2. There are some types of fouling on guns that ultrasonics tend to not remove easily. In particular, the powder/flash residue on the front of a revolver cylinder, or marks on a muzzle.

    3. Simple Green solutions work, but there are other products that work well too. LPS-1 is a light penetrating oil that I find useful to clean problems such as congealed oil on antique guns.

    • My experience is that any fouling that an ultrasonic cleaner can’t remove, came off very easily.

      One more suggestion to add to the list, I run mine for amount 5 minutes, turn the parts, run another five minutes, repeat the cycling until done. I found that this causes any fouling knocked loose to settle off the part, rather than on the part.

      • Yes, the stains on the front of a cylinder do some off more easily after a US cleaning. They still require manual intervention, tho, especially on a stainless gun.

  14. Sigh.

    If only it were that easy. I’m a big proponent of and user of US cleaning. But… they will blow off paint (like that on your sights. They’ll blow off plating (like that on your nickel-plated revolvers). And so forth.

    Great for BCGs, but you will still have to scrape some carbon. And they won’t get lead or copper out of your barrel. So you’ll still need the usual complement of cleaning gear.

  15. And oh yeah, since no one has mentioned it– Dawn works pretty much as well as anything else. Mucho cheaper too.

    I won’t bore you with the details of the right way to use an US cleaner, but do your research. It greatly affects your results. Degassing, right temp, etc.

  16. TROLLOLOLOL…

    Who was it that said they’d know TTAG had hit rock-bottom for clickbait when they posted “One simple trick for cleaning your gun”?

  17. Don’t like it.

    There is no fun in dropping your gun in a tub of juice and pressing a button.

    You have to strip it down. Inspect the parts while you do so. And cleaning the carbon off of the metals is more satisfying than popping a huge zit or working out a gargantuan blackhead. It’s about enjoying the ride here, not reaching the destination.

  18. Has anyone cleaned a sound moderator (silencer) and has the ‘dirt’ come out properly. I’m wondering if the dirt might dislodge and just get stuck in the baffles. I have some 22LR models and one model for my AR-15.

  19. Good video for cleaning guns. I have been using my Hornady machine since 2 years now and it works great for me every time i want cleaning the arms. It finely cleans all the dirt from the silencer as well and is quite while working. Nothing beats the machine when it comes to cleaning of guns.

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