how to clean a gun with household items

Ultimate Guide on How to Clean a Gun with Household Items in 2024

It is not a problem to clean your gun with household items as long as you have the right items. For that reason, you need to go through this guide to discover all the necessary gun cleaning household items that will help you to keep your gun's top shape working condition. Basically, gun cleaning will not be complicated given that you have the essential household cleaning items and know the gun cleaning process. You're in luck because you can explore how to clean a gun with household items here.

Table of Contents

Doubtless, many people own guns for different reasons. Yet, one thing is similar to owners: their responsibility to keep their guns clean and work safely. However, the primary concern with gun cleaning kits is that some gun cleaning supplies are highly consumable. That’s why gun owners need to buy them repeatedly. In addition, some gun owners also work on a budget for their gun cleaning kits. Fortunately, cleaning a gun also works with household items. With that being said, knowing how to clean a gun with household items can save your gun from deteriorating and malfunctioning due to accumulated residue and debris from shooting.

Of course, it is not a problem to clean your gun with household items as long as you have the right items. For that reason, you need to go through this guide to discover all the necessary gun cleaning household items that will help you to keep your gun’s top shape working condition. Basically, gun cleaning will not be complicated given that you have the essential household cleaning items and know the gun cleaning process. 

You’re in luck because you can explore how to clean a gun with household items here. But first, you need to learn the importance of gun cleaning to be more acquainted with gun care and maintenance. After all, you don’t want your gun to malfunction only because of being dirty from gunshot residue and debris, right? Of course, your gun is worth the effort in cleaning and care. However, now is different because you will use household items instead of standard gun cleaning kits. 

So, let’s find out the benefits of gun cleaning that make it fundamentally important in gun ownership. Just keep on reading to learn all the relevant information. 

how to clean a gun with household items

Importance of Gun Cleaning

When you fire your gun, it inevitably accumulates gunshot residue, such as lead, copper, carbon, plastic—the gunshot residue leaves stubborn remnants in different gun parts, including gun bore, chamber, and barrel. In fact, even if you only shot once or twice, you can still notice tiny amounts of residue and debris on your gun. 

Aside from residue and debris, you will also acquire a small amount of gas pressure entering the gun action. By that, the gunshot residue and debris will start to spread on other parts of the gun, including the internal components. Over time, your gun can even start to rust if you let the damaging residue be on your gun. 

The more you fire your gun, the more residue starts to build up and stubbornly harden on your gun, making it harder to clean. With that being said, it is your responsibility to clean your gun from time to time to ensure that your gun will work properly and safely, promoting ideal shooting performance. Aside from that, here are the other benefits of gun cleaning why it plays an important part in gun ownership and care. Discover them below: 


When there’s nothing that can make your gun malfunction and deteriorate, your gun will be with you for a long time. In addition, guns that are already decades old and still properly working are more often maintained with regular gun cleaning. With that being said, it is not incredibly surprising that the quality of gun material is not highly critical in the long run. Instead, it is how you clean and maintain your gun that matters most for gun longevity capacity. 

Of course, it is also important to have the best gun cleaning kits. On the other hand, quality household cleaning items will do gun cleaning for gun owners on a tight budget. Nevertheless, what’s more important is that you regularly clean your gun as frequently you use it. Basically, the more often you clean your gun, the longer it can withstand shooting residue and debris, leading to incredibly high longevity. By that, you can get the utmost value of your gun. 

Moreover, immediate gun cleaning right after the shooting session is also ideal. As you will clean outdoors, what you need is not gun cleaning kits or household items. Instead, you need a bore snake for fast, precise, and immediate gun cleaning outdoors. Aside from gunshot residue and debris, you also need to take action with any build-up moisture that might cause rust and corrosion. Thus, you can guarantee better gun cleaning and maintenance for impressive gun longevity. 

gun cleaning

Know Your Gun Better

Being hands-on with gun cleaning and maintenance is an excellent way to know more about your guns. Of course, you need to know your gun better to use it better, according to how you want it to be. Truly, you don’t need to be a gunsmith to be more acquainted with your gun. One of the best tricks is to know how to disassemble your gun to clean it thoroughly and regularly. With that, you won’t need regular help from professional gunsmiths. 

Moreover, hands-on gun cleaning will also allow you to explore more about the practical demonstration of how gun ergonomics work. With that advantage, you can make your gun function the way you want it, leading to better confidence when shooting. In fact, a clean gun is superior in any aspect to a dirty gun, especially with safety and performance. To top it all, knowing better about your gun by gun cleaning will give you more ease and leverage in your shooting performance, sparking incredible changes to your shooting experience.  

Reliability and Safety

What’s the use of having a gun that you can’t rely on with safe and accurate shooting performance? Admittedly, a dirty and rusty gun is genuinely useless and even dangerous to use, risking everyone’s safety, and that includes yours. Suppose that you have a gun for self and home defense. In that case, you need to ensure that your gun is safe and reliable all the time, primarily when you need it the most. 

Thankfully, you can guarantee a gun’s excellent safety and reliability by practicing regular cleaning. As already mentioned, gunshot residue that comes from bullets, ammo, and powder is what makes your gun dirty and unreliable. Undeniably, neglecting your gun cleaning responsibility will only lead to unfavorable outcomes that will make you frustrated. That’s why cleaning time can make your gun maintain its superior function with the best safety and reliability. 

Truly, only guns free from residue and damaging contaminants can acquire the trustworthy condition and performance that you need for a gun. For that reason, gun cleaning is genuinely important. Making it part of your routine after shooting will give you peace of mind about your gun’s safety and reliability. 

Save Money

Of course, you need to spend some money on gun cleaning accessories and even household cleaning items. At first, you might think that you might be spending too much on gun cleaning and maintenance. It is highly understandable, considering that you still don’t experience the need to repair your gun due to malfunction. 

See, not regularly cleaning your guns will eventually result in malfunction caused by gun residue build affecting all the gun parts, including internal components. For the worst possible outcome, you need to ask for professional help from a reliable gunsmith for repair. With that, you will spend a lot more money. 

Basically, you will feel frustrated by neglecting your gun cleaning and maintenance duties. With that being said, if you think that you will save money by not cleaning your guns, you will need to drop your thoughts about that. There’s no chance of saving money by neglecting gun care and cleaning. Instead, you can save yourself from spending on the gun repair by regular gun cleaning at home or outdoors. 

Moreover, it does not seem like it, but guns are sensitive to the environment and other factors despite being perceived as aggressive, rugged, and powerful devices. In fact, even sweat and moisture can negatively affect their condition and performance. That’s why they can quickly deteriorate and malfunction unless having regular gun cleaning and maintenance. 

In conclusion, maintaining your gun clean and in excellent condition at all times will surely save you money from repair costs down the line. More importantly, you will not need to buy a replacement gun if your gun is still in excellent condition to keep up your confidence in shooting. 

Now that there’s more than enough reason for you to be highly responsible for gun cleaning, it is time to learn a cost-effective way of cleaning your gun in the comfort of your own home by knowing how to clean a gun with household items. So, without further ado, keep scrolling to see what to learn below.  

6 Essential Items Needed for Gun Cleaning with Household Items

Before starting gun cleaning after securing the essential household items needed, you first need to do some quick preparations to ensure that you are cleaning your gun safely. Of course, you need to unload your gun before cleaning. If you think you have already unloaded your gun, you can check again for higher safety assurance. You don’t want to endanger your safety by just cleaning your gun, right? Basically, it is not a big deal if you are going to practice extra precautionary measurements. After all, accidents can happen anytime by just overlooking some basic precautionary measurements. 

After ensuring that your gun is truly properly and safely unloaded, you can now say that your gun is ready for cleaning. With that being said, you can proceed in the next step for an efficient gun cleaning process. By that, you can lay out your gun on a flat surface with a gun cleaning mat cover to protect that fragile surface beneath it. With a gun cleaning mat, you can ensure to make your work neat and less dirty as gun cleaning solvents can make an absolute mess at times. In addition, you need to keep all the gun parts close to one another to prevent misplacing them so you won’t have a hard time assembling the gun. 

Now, the question is, what are the household items you need for safe and effective gun cleaning? You don’t have to stress about that because there’s a list here. Get to know what’s included in the list below: 

Transmission Oil

transmission oil

Undeniably, transmission oil is highly ideal for working as a gun lubricant. That’s why it is typically and widely used for efficient cleaning of the gearboxes and other gun parts to keep them in excellent working condition. Since gearboxes can quickly accumulate carbon and other damaging wastes, transmission oil is highly suitable for clearing out impurities within the gearboxes. With that being said, this household item is surely effective in cleaning your gun. After all, transmission oil is formulated to eliminate various impurities of guns and other household items. It means that it is highly beneficial to keep a bottle at your home. 

Moreover, even the budget-friendly transmission oil will work just fine. By that, buying a transmission oil will not burden you with the price if you don’t have one. Of course, you still need to ensure the best cleaning items for your gun, even if you are on a tight budget. In addition, transmission oil features a thick consistency that you need for efficient gun cleaning. Of course, if you are going into safe and precise gun cleaning with household items, transmission oil is the highly necessary one. If you don’t have one right now, you can go for a budget-friendly one as the brand doesn’t really matter.   

Mineral Spirits

You need mineral spirits for dissolving oil. Basically, these household items are cheap, efficient, and multipurpose for other works. So, if you don’t have one in your home, you can buy them online or in a local hardware store nearby. In addition, mineral spirits are also sold as the aliphatic spirit. They are highly multipurpose, promoting a handy advantage with many cleaning works, including guns. Basically, mineral spirits are part of the gun cleaning ingredients for easy gun cleaning. 



Basically, it is extremely rare for people not to have kerosene at their house as the household item works as a general-purpose solvent. For gun cleaning, the purest forms of kerosene are suitable to do a decent job in getting rid of the purities that can negatively affect your gun’s condition and performance. 

When finding out the purest forms of kerosene, you need to find red-colored and low-odor kerosene as they tend to have fewer impurities. In addition, the 2-K type kerosene has more sulfur content, which means that it might be too strong for some sensitive gun owners. With that being said, the 1-K type kerosene is preferable as it has less sulfur content and odor. 

If there’s no other choice, another type of kerosene is still fit to do the gun cleaning job. Thus, you can go for that if you don’t mind the odor. After all, kerosene is genuinely formulated to be a reliable ally to eliminate impurities in the gun. Just ensure that you wear disposable gloves and masks for safe gun cleaning. 

Cotton Tips

cotton tips

Cotton tips are surely available in anyone’s home. After all, they are mostly used for ear cleaning. That’s why it is not hard to find cotton tips that you can use for cleaning different narrow gun parts and surfaces, such as the rails inside the chamber. By using cotton tips, you don’t have to worry about scratching the narrow and sensitive parts of your gun. 

Cleaning Rod

cleaning rod

A gun cleaning rod is highly essential in indoor gun cleaning. The gun cleaning tool is helpful in thorough cleaning of the gun’s barrel. Of course, you need to have the right size that can fit through your gun’s barrel smoothly without any chance of scratching or damaging your gun. Truly, you always need to clean the exterior until the internal components for precise gun cleaning. That’s why having a metal rod will make your job more at ease. 

Soft Cloth

soft cloth

A soft cleaning cloth is a decent alternative for gun cleaning patches for home gun cleaning. Of course, a soft cleaning cloth will help you remove residue and other contaminants in your gun. Aside from soft cleaning cloth, you can also use a microfiber cloth or professional cleaning cloths that mechanics use for better cleaning results. Since your gun comes with many parts, you need to have big and small cut-out versions of the cleaning cloth. It is better to form them into round and square shapes to make your work more convenient and fast. 

After knowing all the necessary household items you will need, let’s go straight to the step-by-step guide in gun cleaning using the household items. Explore the steps below. 

Guide Steps on How to Clean a Gun with Household Items

With the right guide, you won’t find home gun cleaning a challenging task. In fact, cleaning a gun using household items will not take much of your time. With that being said, you will spend more of your time disassembling and assembling the gun parts back. 

Explained below is the guide to know how to clean a gun with household items: 

Step 1: As already mentioned above, you must ensure proper unloading of your gun before starting your work because there’s nothing wrong with securing safety. In addition, you must also properly disassemble your gun according to the manufacturer’s guide. In general, you should get different parts out in your disassembled gun, such as a bolt, barrel, frame, and chamber. Of course, you can separate them, but don’t just place them anywhere so you can still track them to avoid any misplacement. 

Moreover, it is best to place the gun parts on a clean, flat surface. A gun cleaning table or clean floor will do. Always keep in mind to keep the gun parts and the household items you need to use within your reach to save yourself from any possible trouble in cleaning your gun. More importantly, you should never disassemble your gun in a cramped and uncomfortable space as it will just make your work longer since it will cause you to misplace some gun parts and cleaning items. 

Step 2: After organizing the gun parts on a flat surface or table, you must grab the soft cloth to clean out all the gun parts. However, you don’t need to use the lubricant yet. Your goal is not to get the dirt and residue in your gun mushy because of the lubricant. After all, a soft cloth can also clean light residue on the gun without the help of a homemade lubricant. 

Moreover, you also need to use the cotton tips in cleaning dirt, debris, and residue along with the narrow spaces of your guns and the gun rails. When using cotton tips, you need to use several of them as you can already dispose of the used ones to avoid spreading the contaminants. Of course, it is best to wear disposable gloves and masks for safer gun cleaning. 

Cleaning using a soft cloth and cotton tips will allow you to rub off the light and easy-to-remove contaminants and residue your gun has accumulated from shooting. Aside from shooting, your gun can also acquire dirt and residue build-up due to storing it. With that being said, you need to clean the primary gun parts, continuing with the rest of the gun parts for thorough and complete cleaning. 

Basically, clearing out some light residue and dirt using a soft cloth and cotton tips will surely make your work more efficient and time-saving.

Step 3: The next step after cleaning the gun parts is where you can use a soft cloth and cotton tips; you need to use the cleaning rod to now clean the inside of your gun barrel. One thing you need to ensure about the cleaning rod is that it can smoothly guide the cleaning cloth inside the barrel without any issue about scratching it. 

After clearing the residue and contaminants in the gun barrel, you now need to wipe the other gun parts using a clean, soft cloth, such as the gun chamber and bolt. As already mentioned above, you need square and round cut size cleaning cloths to fit on your gun barrel for smooth and precise cleaning. After all, you don’t want to scratch your gun when you just want to clean it, right? Basically, preparing the needed household items does matter for efficient gun cleaning. 

Step 4: Next, you need to dip another clean, soft cloth in the lubricant mix. The lubricant is the equal mix of the three household items: transmission oil, mineral spirits, and kerosene. With that being said, when you use 6 oz of transmission oils, the other household items must be in the same quantity for them not to overpower one ingredient. In addition, it is best to mix all the household items in a metal container. Admittedly, a metal container offers a significant difference in mixing ingredients to form a decent and proper gun lubricant because the container helps in highly reducing evaporation.

After successfully mixing the household items to formulate the gun lubricant, dip the clean, soft cloth. By that, the cleaning cloth will be moist to efficiently clean out the dirt from the residue, debris, and contaminants. You can start from the gun bolt. Of course, you need to clean it nicely so that the dirt will not compromise the gun’s accuracy. Don’t stop cleaning the gun bolt with the moist cloth until you see a smooth, clean surface on the bolt.

Of course, when you are cleaning the gun bolt, you also need to cover the cleaning of the firing pin in the inner inside of the bolt. That’s why you need to ensure that you pay strict and special attention to cleaning the firing pin. With that being said, you must not stop cleaning the firing pin unless it already looks smooth and shiny. Basically, you must aim for a spotlessly clean gun if you want it to have the best working condition. 

Step 5: Once you ensure that your gun bolt and firing are already shiny and smoothly cleaned, you can now proceed to the next step: cleaning the gun chamber and the barrel. When cleaning the gun barrel, you need to use the suitable size of the soft cloth and a metal rod or stick to clean all the mess and residue. 

For gun barrel cleaning, you don’t move the metal rod with the cloth inside out the barrel because it will result in the spread of the residue that we all need to avoid. Instead of that, you need to let the cloth pass through the gun chamber’s side. More importantly, you need to repeat the cleaning process until you see that there’s no residue and dirt on the moist cloth. Of course, every time the dirty cloth has passed through the gun chamber’s side, you need to replace it with a new one. 

Step 6: Next, you must also clean the chamber’s interior and the gun frame. Like the gun bolt, you also clean them until they are shiny and free from residue and contaminants. Use the cloth dipped in lubricant to clean these gun parts until you see no residue and dirt coming out from them. 

Step 7: After thoroughly cleaning the gun parts, you can already proceed to the final step: assembling your gun. When you have stored your gun, you can still give it a final wipe of the lubricant. In addition, you also need to do a function check to see if you have assembled your gun properly and safely. With that, you can fire your gun without loading it. 

Precautions of Cleaning a Gun Using Household Items

Truly, you should also know the precautions of cleaning a gun using household items aside from just knowing how to clean a gun with household items. Listed below are some of the essential precautions best to keep in mind for better gun cleaning results: 

  • Always ensure proper disassembling of your gun; you can also check multiple times. After you are done cleaning your gun, you must assemble the parts right away because you might misplace some gun parts if you delay assembling your gun. Of course, you need to check if your gun works smoothly after assembling it. To do that, you can dummy rounds or snap caps. 
  • If you can’t clean your gun outdoors, you need to ensure that you clean your gun in a well-ventilated space and gun cleaning station where you can work comfortably. That is because the lubricant can have quick evaporation into the air that is not ideal for anyone to inhale. 
  • Cut the soft cloths in proper sizes, but not too small that they can get stuck in the chamber or the barrel. Always ensure to cut the soft cloths in the proper sizes that you need. 
  • You should only clean in a place with bright lights. After all, you need to clearly see what you are cleaning for better gun cleaning results, right?
  • Normal oil will not work for gun cleaning, meaning that the oil you can find in the kitchen is not an ideal alternative. With that being said, what you can use for your lubricant mix is only transmission oil. 
  • Take your time for gun cleaning because there’s no good reason for you to rush things because your gun can be a threat if you don’t clean it properly. After all, gun cleaning is not a day-to-day activity that you need to feel lazy about. So, sparing one to two hours of your time will highly benefit you and your gun. 
  • Always think and apply gun safety, whether disassembling, cleaning, or assembling your gun. Of course, your safety must be your top priority. 

Final Thoughts

By following the steps properly about the guide of knowing how to clean a gun with household items above, you have nothing to fear about the gun cleaning process and its cost. Even if you don’t have the essential household items you need, you can buy them at a low price. By that, you can achieve a quick gun cleaning at home at an inexpensive cost. 

When you need the best gun cleaning kits and shooting accessories, please check out all the guides at the Survival Gear Shack website. After all, there’s no wrong with finding the best gun cleaning tools and kits that will help you to ensure that your gun works properly every time you need it. Best of all, a clean gun has a better lifespan and performance than a dirty gun. 

Frequently Asked Questions

After knowing relevant information on how to clean a gun with household items, there might be some questions in your mind. Explore the detailed, frequently asked questions below and see if the question you have is there. 

What household items are best to use to clean a gun?

If you have no transmission oil, mineral spirits, or kerosene to combine to make a lubricant mix, you can opt for another option. Luckily, you can also mix hydrogen peroxide, which you can find in the bathroom, and vinegar, which is typically available in the kitchen. 

To make your gun cleaning solution, you need to mix the hydrogen peroxide and vinegar at 50/50 equal solution. The equal mixture of these two household items is enough to clean the metal deposits in your gun. Aside from metal deposits, the cleaning solution can also remove the gunpowder stain and burned metal particles on your gun, providing you with a shiny gun that is ready for your next shooting adventure. 

Can you clean a gun with alcohol?

Admittedly, rubbing alcohol works well as an alternative for gun cleaner solvents if you don’t have them and truly need to clean your gun at the moment. Rubbing alcohol is effective for gun cleaning because it is formulated for general cleaning. Aside from cleaning gunshot residue, rubbing alcohol is also great in removing water and old oil on your gun. Plus, it can quickly evaporate. 

When using rubbing alcohol as your gun cleaner, you need to apply gun oil to your gun afterward as the rubbing alcohol will strip all oil off your gun. You need to apply gun oil to your gun because it will protect your gun from any moisture and corrosion build-up, which can deteriorate its condition.

Can you clean a gun without a gun cleaning kit?

There’s no doubt that gun cleaning kits provide the easiest and most convenient advantage of cleaning your gun because they already offer the essential gun cleaning tools and chemicals you need for thorough gun cleaning. Still, you can clean without a kit by using useful household items. There’s no need to worry about using household items as long as you know how to use them properly. 

More importantly, remember that your primary goal for gun cleaning is to ensure that your gun’s functions will work properly, aside from making it aesthetically pleasing in the eyes. By that, you will achieve the gun cleaning results you want, no matter the gun cleaning tools you have. 

Can you use a toothbrush for cleaning a gun? 

Since we are on the topic of knowing how to clean a gun using household items, you might have wondered if a toothbrush is also suitable for gun cleaning. Well, the answer is yes. You can use your old toothbrush for gun cleaning, giving you decent gun cleaning results. However, you must know that only the designed gun cleaning brushes can provide you with the best gun cleaning advantage. Thanks to their impressive bristles, they are perfect for reaching all the nooks and crannies you need to clean. By that, they are great for cleaning the trigger parts.

In addition, bore brushes are also the best for cleaning the gun bore. They are purposely constructed to help you smoothen out your gun bore to make it shiny and working at its best. Meanwhile, gun utility brushes are designed to clean the exterior gun parts. These brushes are available in gun cleaning kits. Nonetheless, if you have no choice, you can use your old toothbrush for quick cleaning. 

Can you use vegetable oil to clean a gun?

Certainly, vegetable oil is not ideal for cleaning a gun. As already mentioned above, not all types of oil are useful for gun cleaning; only transmission oil can do the job right. More importantly, vegetable oil is unsuitable as an alternative gun lubricant because it will solidify and gum everything. Plus, vegetable oil will not complement the standard operation of guns because it eventually thickens and fouls. You don’t want the vegetable oil to thicken your gun action’s area and cause malfunction, right? For that reason, don’t ever use vegetable oil as an alternative lubricant.

Will vinegar remove gun bluing?

Truly, a household item that you can rely on removing your gun bluing is white vinegar. You can pour the white vinegar and cover the gun parts that have gun bluing. For effective results, you can soak them for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. After that, you need to wipe the gun to remove that oxidation. Once you see that there is still gun bluing, you can soak them again. If the white vinegar already removes the gun bluing, you must clean your gun and dispose of the household item correctly. 

Can you clean a gun in a dishwasher?

Yes, you can use some household items to clean your gun, but never clean a gun in a dishwasher because the hot water and detergent can negatively affect your gun. The dishwasher will only cause corrosion and ruin your gun. Worst, your gun will be unsafe to fire, a malfunction caused by the dishwasher and moisture in it. Thus, never clean a gun in a dishwasher if you don’t want to spend money for gun repair or buy a new gun.

How regular should gun cleaning be?

The best rule for gun cleaning is to do it after every trip to the shooting range as gunshot residue builds up on your gun, even with only one to two shots. With that, you need tools that will allow you for immediate, fast, yet precise gun cleaning; it is none other than bore snakes. On a tight budget, you can use suitable household items to keep your gun in the right and safe condition. Of course, your gun should also have regular deep and complete cleaning using the best gun cleaning kits. 

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