Dirty GLOCK (courtesy conditionyellow.com)
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A lot of our readers like to clean their guns. They find it soothing and reassuring. Me…not so much. My usual trick for cleaning my guns: get someone else to do it who liked doing 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 simplest solution.


The Hornady Hot Tub (our review here) above costs a pretty penny (about $699) but it’s way more thorough than even a TTAG writer’s best buddy’s manual labor. (Note: there are smaller, cheaper ultrasonic cleaners available, too.)

Disassemble, dunk, flip the switch. Wait a bit, rinse and reassemble. Done. What could be easier?

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  1. “The Hornady Hot Tub”

    Even guns have more fun than I do.

    “What could be easier?”

    To keep mine clean, I shower with them. Saves water.

    • Ha! Before motorcycle helmets had removable liners (and when I had hair), I would lather up my head and put the helmet on in the shower. Worked pretty good!

  2. A pretty penny for this accessory, though if you shoot alot with multiple guns, I can see how this would be handy. Does it also do degreasing as a precursor step for sandblasting before Cerakoting?

  3. IMO…An air compressor is essential for cleaning firearm components, etc. Our compressor uses 3 Phase wiring and it’s a big one however all one needs for firearms is a cheapo compressor and accessories from Harbor Freight, etc. Because cleaning time prompts one to inspect wear and tear I will hang it up when the day comes someone has to clean my firearms for me.

    • “Our compressor uses 3 Phase wiring and it’s a big one…”

      If your air compressor require a three-phase to operate, it has the capability to launch small gun parts into low-earth orbit, several orders of magnitude more than required.

      I ultrasonic first, wash mine in soapy water next, then rinse with de-ionized water, and dry in a 105C oven.

      Then into the gun cozy (secure storage).

      Warm, dry gun parts are happy gun parts. You want happy gun parts… 🙂

      • I dunno, Geoff. If the gun parts are too happy, they’ll start breeding. If you don’t stay ahead of the game, you’ll have feral guns roaming the ranch/neighborhood. Can’t have that now, can we? The feral cats around here are bad enough.

      • “If your air compressor require a three-phase to operate, it has the capability to launch small gun parts into low-earth orbit”

        Awesome line 😀

        Also woe be to anything with a nice finish as that monster sandblasts it. There’s a reason they don’t use compressed air to clean cars.

        • “There’s a reason they don’t use compressed air to clean cars.”

          Or pressure-washers, if they’re smart.

          My folks discovered that the hard way when they took their new car in for service in the late 90’s, and the dealer did a ‘courtesy’ car wash for them. Bad move. It peeled a strip of paint off the front bumper skin. They got to repaint the entire bumper on them, and got to use the next model up as a loaner while the paint cured a week.

          (It was the lowest in the model line of Lexus. Pop still drives it to this day, 25 years on. It’s just about broken-in nicely, and has had *zero* major breakdowns to-date. 🙂 )

    • Debbie,

      MAJOR congrats . . . two in a row comments that were NOT your ‘cut and paste’ rant about “all gun control is racist”. Bless you for that.

      On to the substance – I agree; at least for me, a big part of my cleaning routine is visually inspecting the gun/parts. While I am sure there are easier ways to get the job done (and unlike the author), I wouldn’t even rely on one of my shooting buddies to clean one of my guns – I’m going to have to go shoot that gun the next time I go to the range, and it needs to be RIGHT.

      Just saying, glad to have you as part of the group . . . you do sometimes have decent comments. And no one disagrees with your “gun control is racist” comments, but we’ve seen them all before, we already agree, and . . . so what? If this was your first introduction to “politicians are lying scumbags, and Dimocrat politicians in particular lie about guns”, I’m glad you at least got the message.

  4. While the parts are sitting in the ultrasonic tank- it sure does appear to be less work.

    But everything that has to be done before and after the parts sit in the tank- that’s A LOT more work than traditional cleaning techniques. Sure seems to be way more of a hassle than a help… especially if someone’s seeking to do less, instead of MORE work.

    • Peter.

      Depends on the kind of cleaning you are doing, I guess – field strip, clean, or deep clean?

      Personally, for my carry and ‘often used’ weapons, I keep track – after a range session, even an serious range session, for my ‘use’ guns, I normally do a partial takedown, a visual inspection, and a good cleaning and lubrication. Every two or three trips to the range (for any particular firearm), I won’t be satisfied with that and do a full ‘strip and clean’ – down to trigger springs, etc., which allows me to inspect and evaluate the condition of nearly everything in the gun.

      That’s just how I roll. Anyone else is welcome to their own routine.

  5. I don’t even try to keep the interior of my pistols spotless and many range trips before a fieldstrip cleaning that doesn’t take that long. I focus more on keeping lubed adequately.

    Interesting article on the “filthy 14” BCM rifle and how it ran well keeping it lubed.

    • That’s where I’m at. I still enjoy the disassemble and inspect part but I’ve long since realized that just wiping off the big chunks and re-oiling is actually all they need.

      • This ^^^. The hem of a t shirt and some lube is all a soldier gets in the field. And you can’t lose the t shirt, plus all that banana smell covers up the smell of your

        Anyway, it’s not rocket surgery. The increased number of parts made to resist corrosion has been increasing every decade and we have just about come to the point where most of it can get hosed with a spray can. BTW – you don’t need to scrape the bolt tail on an AR, the carbon actually helps seal the other end of the gas chamber – the one with no rings – and more gas increases the reliability. It’s counter intuitive and don’t bother trying to argue with the OCD who rarely spent a day in the field with one.

    • “A damp rag isn’t all you need??”

      That’s what an old rag soaked with Eeez-ox is for, kept in a zip-loc freezer bag…

  6. I very rarely if ever detail strip my handguns to clean. I do religiously field strip and clean my guns after every range trip. Am I doing it wrong?

    • I’ll be happy to answer your question…You are doing it right if all you intend to do is punch holes in paper. On the other hand God Forbid if you ever need to punch holes in home invaders, etc. you are doing it wrong. In other words you need firearms dedicated for this and that.

        • Deborah, something tells me I seriously doubt he will ever ‘darken your door’.

          Solves 2 problems at once, one of them being his gasoline bill… 🙂

      • Most gun owners want all their guns to go boom when they pull the trigger. Guns that punch holes in paper, will also punch holes in people, by the way.

        • cat-o a-hole…Not only are you the forum’s resident Gun Control History Illiterate you and dark clown’s cleaning, prep standards and advice are signs of incompetence in neon lights. I strongly suggest both of you bozos put your badges back in the Cracker Jack Boxes and start your association with firearms and self defense over from scratch or take up knitting.

        • Only an idiot or a dumb fukking kuunt would want or suggest a lower standard for *some* guns dedicated for “this and that.”

          All of my pistols, even the ones I shoot mainly at the range are always ready to be carried and poke holes in people, none receive lower standards of care. All rifles and my shotgun at the range or the house are always loaded and are accessible and ready at any time if needed.

          I have one set of cleaning, prep, and training standards. I doubt you could come close to meeting them.

        • Only an id10t or a dumb fuuk-in kuu-nt would want or suggest a lower standard for *some* guns dedicated for “this and that.”
          All of my pistols, even the ones I shoot mainly at the range are always ready to be carried and poke holes in people, none receive lower standards of care. All rifles and my shotgun at the range or the house are always loaded and are accessible and ready at any time if needed.
          I have one set of cleaning, prep, and training standards. I doubt you could come close to meeting them.

          Hope this makes it through moderation

      • I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here. That I shouldn’t go to the range to shoot my CCW? That I should field strip and clean my CCW every single time I carry it? That I’m not cleaning my gun enough? I honestly didn’t quite pick up what you meant

        • I shoot a lot and clean most of my guns once a year. The exceptions are my .22s (rifles and pistols) that get pretty nasty shooting suppressed. I clean my silencers every two-three range trips.

          I use Ballistol to lube my guns after each trip to range, that probably helps blast any shit out of the guns when shot the next time.

          When I do put them in the sonic cleaner (once a year) they are never caked in gunk or hard to get looking good-as-new. The dirtiest part of any of my guns is probably the bolt in my ARs. 30 minutes in a sonic cleaner with water and Ballistol and, if needed, a few minutes using a Dremel tool with a brass brush and that’s it.

          Guns don’t need to be spotless to function properly.

  7. 700 bucks to clean my gats? Nope. I clean/lube when they need it. Like most things in life I just do it🙄

  8. The son of the owner of the LGS put 20,000 rounds through a Colt M4 without cleaning. He just lubed it. No problems with operation or accuracy. Did the same with a Glock 19.

    • What I am seeing here is a bunch of gun owning slackers engaged in a circle jerk. If the lives of you and yours are based on a son of this guy and that guy and cousin of this guy and that guy firing 1,000,000 rds. without cleaning firearms they use for views you are asking for trouble.

      When sht hits the fan there are no time outs, paper doesn’t shoot back. I suggest slackers see firearms as a discipline otherwise they could be catering to some perp out there who given the chance will give them a spanking.

      • Get up on the wrong side of the bed today? Jeesh …

        Johnny didn’t say that either gun was a carry or self-defense weapon; he just offered an anecdote. I doubt that many people conceal-carry a carbine.

        How about you do yours (your gun-cleaning routine) and let everyone else do theirs?

      • just because a barrel is shot out and won’t shoot a reasonable group doesn’t mean it won’t shoot at all.

    • Here is a link to the article about the “Filthy 14: Bravo Company Carbine Goes 31,165 Rounds”


      As of this writing, EAG students have 31,165 rounds downrange through Filthy 14. During this evaluation period, it was cleaned once (as in one time), at 26,245 rounds. The end result is that Rack #14 was—and remains—filthy. It is filthy because it has been shot at class. Only at class. Every round that has gone down that barrel has been fired at class, with an average of approximately 1,300 rounds every three days. It has been lubed generously with Slip 2000 Enhanced Weapons Lube (EWL).

      The combination of carbon and lube create (wait for it)…filth. It is so dirty that, while sitting in the rifle rack, it is almost a biohazard. The filth oozes out and contaminates other carbines adjacent to it.

      But it is still shooting—and shooting well.

      Rack #14 is a 16-inch Bravo Company Mid Length Carbine—mid length meaning that the gas system is two inches longer than the standard carbine gas system.

  9. I have the smaller version of this and works well enough for cases, jewelry, and certain parts. I just don’t care to soak steel and other particular things in water so much. CLP works just fine for quite alot. Keeps things lubricated too. I don’t use lesser quality ammo if I can help it and that is where so much of this issue is. Blazer Brass comes to mind. Every time I’ve ever use it, I end up cleaning glitter out of everything.

    I generally consider it a pleasure to go through the cleaning process. There are times when it’s a chore though. But I tend to take personal responsibility for what’s mine. Now bigger jobs like a roof replacement or getting new siding around the house would be too big for me.

  10. I have an old Kenmore dishwasher in my shop use it for a parts washer. run water based degreaser in it. Will fit a 16in upper, barely.
    the heater burned out long ago but the air hose dries things off well enough.
    Don’t really use it for guns much anyway.

    • Lol, why am I picturing a dishwasher with a feed and return to a drum of safetykleen. I also think this is pure genius and want one.

      • I originally thought about the safety clean type degreasers but didn’t think the pump and other rubber? parts would hold up for long.
        I’ve used liquid and powder water based in it for about 8 years now. water based definitely doesn’t work as well but with hot water and let it run a couple hours it does a decent job

        • For at least the last 10 years or so, SafetyKlean fluid has been basically Mineral Spirits. Back in the bad old days, the fluid would make your hands & arms turn red…and with enough exposure, your hands start looking like feet. It was hard to transition to working in gloves But I now regret not doing so much sooner.

    • Boy, if the wife ever caught me washing guns in the dishwasher, the new skillet would get dented and I’d have weird-shaped hotcakes again. But having an old dishwasher in the shop (or basement) is a great idea. We have a regular parts washer for the business, but whenever we retire and I won’t have access to this shop any more, I’ll have to give that some thought.

      As for the Safety-Kleen cleaners, we bought a used one from them when we first opened, and alternate between cleaner solution bought locally and having them come out periodically to clean and change fluid with theirs. We’ve used solvent based and water based over the years, and have never had to replace hoses or pump. Some cleaners, however, can play hob with certain plastics and finishes, so be mindful.

  11. Costco baby wipes. Mechanically clean as much as you can before you use any solvent.

    Think dirt on bottom of tennis shoes. Need to whisk if off before you rinse them otherwise you are just making mud with water.

    I use a harbor freight sonic cleaner but get the Lucas sonic cleaner- it’s oil based not water based and you don’t have to worry about flash rust (like springs in a FNP45 lower, ask me how I know)

  12. Bore Snake, GI Toothbrush,Rag and Battle Born Solvent. Easy , cheap and effective, The Battle Born stuff is non-toxic and doesn’t smell. I live in AZ, so you folks in Artic climates may need to do something different.

    If you run a range, etc. the $699 may be worth it, but to me that’s the price of a Walther PDP, so I will pass

    • Boretech Eliminator solvent. 3 wet patches a few minutes apart, let sit for 5-10 minutes, and then dry patches until the last one is clean.

  13. “One Simple Trick for Keeping Your Guns Incredibly Clean”

    judging from the sales pitch article pic, the “One Simple Trick for Keeping Your Guns Incredibly Clean” is to not let you use them.


    • Even unused guns should be oiled now and then, especially if the area where stored isn’t the best environment. Daily carry guns though should be cleaned on a regular basis although that’s generally just a quick oiled patch and some minor cleaning.

  14. Home made Ed’s Red and clean after every shooting session the way I was taught in boot. If it’s good enough for the Marines it is good enough for me.

      • Enough to make you gay? (Just kidding.)

        The funny part of the whole “Bud Light boycott” was . . . it took me a few minutes to even remember the last time I’d even had a Bud Light. I’ll drink a Sam Adams or a Kona Brewing product, if those are my choices. I wouldn’t drink a Bud Light unless I was dying of thirst.

        Most mass-produced, commercial beers are camel-piss, and I wouldn’t drink them if they were free. Bud Light isn’t the worst, but it sure as hell isn’t the best.

        • “Most mass-produced, commercial beers are camel-piss, and I wouldn’t drink them if they were free.”

          And that’s where the tragic irony truly lies, don’t it? Alcohol actually IS the excrement (piss/feces/waste) of a fungus. The “buzz” you get from ingesting it is the result of the poisonous waste byproduct LITERALLY KILLING your brain cells. How much fun, huh?!

          And not only is fungus piss/feces NOT free- lots of folks seem happy to spend A LOT of money on it… and then BRAG about doing so.

          Ain’t humans humorous…

  15. Call me crazy, but I genuine enjoy cleaning my firearms. I love the smell of Ballistol in the morning. It smells of victory…and a little like licorice.

        • Yeah, having hot water for possum also means maybe having to run the AC, or at least a fan, which costs $$. Cold water and comfortable air temp for cheap, or warm water and having to cool the place down, it’s a tough wash either way.

  16. Been using an ultrasonic cleaner since my days as a gunsmith. Not often but the firearms that see regular use get striped down to screws and springs a couple times a year and cleaned/inspected for wear etc. The seldom used safe queens or more valuable left as is antiques don’t get the treatment. Hand clean those if only to make sure they are in working order and safe to use if desired. A bit of oil and a clean rag gets the dust off and prevents rust.


  18. Everybody has their own routine, and I’m not going to proselytize for mine – it works for me.

    On another note, one part of my favorite range experiences, when I have a good range buddy to shoot with, is going to one of our houses, setting up, breaking down our range guns, popping a few brews, and spending a few hours shooting the s*** and cleaning guns. Fun, therapeutic, and functional.

    And some of my regular range buddies have different cleaning routines than do I, but we all enjoy the after-range cleaning and bulls**t sessions. Over the course of a year or so, we probably re-enact every perennial gun debate their is – .45 vs. 9mm, 1911 vs. “Wondernine”, AR vs. AK, etc. That’s part of the fun of a range day.

    I have friends/range buddies with different routines than mine, and that’s fine with me – they aren’t my guns. They still attend our “after range” cleaning sessions if they were on the range with me/us. Since one of them is a retired Army Ranger, with ample time ‘in the s***, and can outshoot me consistently with his weak hand, I don’t argue his routine (he tends to do the ‘field strip’ after all but the most grueling range sessions).

    Unless I think someone else’s routine is actually endangering me? I STFU. I have, on more than a few occasions, packed up and left a range when I didn’t think the standard of range safety was sufficient – but that’s a “me” problem. I gave up part of a range session because I didn’t feel comfortable. I’ve never in my life gone up to another shooter on a range and asked them, “what’s your cleaning routine? You know, you really should detail your firearms after every use”.

    I’m comfortable with my practices, I’ve used them for years, and I’ve never once had a malfunction that could even remotely be attributed to defects in my cleaning routine.

    This whole discussion reminds me of the “.45 vs. 9mm” debate – interesting to talk about, and stupid in the real world. If you are the one who is going to use the firearm, why does anyone else’s opinion about how you maintain it matter? Y’all do whatever works for you, and have fun.

    Just my $0.02; feel free to tell me I’m stupid.

  19. These articles make me feel like a terrible gun owner for not cleaning them regularly. Well, there’s always next weekend.

  20. I bought a Harbor Freight sonic cleaner a few years back, appears to be the same unit as the Hornady smaller unit that was selling for $140 or so. Think I paid $85 or so. Cleans brass. And handgun parts quite well. Various solutions available for different tasks and also homebrew ones.

    • The 2.5L unit is on sale this week at Harbor Freight for $75. A bit on the small side, but HB has one twice as big (6L) with a basket for $180. They’ve gone up in the intervening years, obviously, but still a far sight cheaper than the Hornady.

  21. You can buy an Ultrasonic Cleaner for a fraction of that price.

    Is the Hornady Branding worth an extra $500?

  22. I bought a Browning Belgium Auto 5 Light 12 gauge when I was in high school in 1969. As I got a bit older it was never shot anymore but still in beautiful condition and I kept it all these years. last summer my son and I went to an outdoor range and he wanted to shoot the old Browning.

    No way did I want to detail strip it and I never had before. I took off the barrel and lightly lubed the recoil tube and then the barrel “rails” where they ride on the receiver. The I sprayed Breakfree CLP into the action and trigger area through the open bolt and left it in my cleaning stand for the excess to drip off which was not much. Went to range a week later and it shot perfectly after a half a century being idle and boy did that bring back the memories busting clays again.

  23. I’ve heard that using ultrasonic cleaners wear down your finish quicker than using the manual way of cleaning. Havnt tried them myself but that was what I have heard before from some very knowledgeable gun people (on YouTube lol)

  24. Field Strip, yeah. Detail strip, NO. You can ruin a good gun, if you don’t know what you’re doing.


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