How to clean bullets?

Properly inspecting and regularly cleaning your bullets will keep them functioning effectively and firing safely. Because of the tiny explosion in the chamber every time you pull the trigger, the shells of ammunition fall down and get dirty. So the brass cases also need to be cleaned regularly before reloading to avoid dangerous malfunctions. Let’s learn how to clean the bullets using different homemade solutions, polishes, and steel cotton to give them a shiny new look. Moreover, learn how to clean the bullet shells as well.

Bullets cleaning method

Method 1. Vinegar + salt solution to clean bullets

If you have a stock of old bullets that lose their shine or purchase an old stock of antique bullets, then this method works magic for them. 

Follow these simple steps to clean the ammunition.

  1. Take a plastic water bottle, half-fill it with water, and add one cup of white vinegar and two tablespoons of salt.
  2. Agitate the contents of the bottle to make an acidic solution that will eat away the corrosion of your brass bullets.
  3. Make batches of your bullets according to sizes. Large-sized bullets take more time to clean as compared to small sized.
  4. Place the bullets you want to clean in the solution and let them soak for a minute. 
  5. As they soak, stir them up to agitate the solution and speed up the cleaning process.
  6. After a minute or more, remove the bullets from the solution and rinse them off with running water.
  7. After rinsing, dry the bullets by placing them on a clean dry towel.

Note: This method is also effective on copper-plated bullets. However, don’t leave your bullets in this acidic solution for long. Otherwise, the acid will start to eat away the material of the ammunition.

clean the bullets


Method 2. Use Baking soda solution to clean bullets

Mix two tablespoons of baking soda in two cups of water in a plastic bottle to make a solution. Soak your ammo in that solution for 10 minutes to loosen any dirt and debris out of your ammunition. After 10 minutes soak, place the bullets on a dry towel and wipe them to clean. You can also use a toothbrush to skim tough stains. Then rinse them with cold water and wipe them with a clean cloth to make them dry.

Method 3. Water + dishwashing solution to clean bullets

This method works well to remove dirt and grime from the dirty batch of ammunition.

  • Add two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in half a liter of water. Agitate the mixture to allow the soap to completely mix in the water.
  • Place your bullets in the soapy solution and let them sit there for half an hour.
  • Throw the water away, rinse the bullets with clean water, and spread them on the dry towel to air dry for a few hours.
  • To dry the cartridge casings, you can place them in a preheated oven for 5 minutes. Don’t put bullets in the oven.

Method 4. Vinegar + salt + dishwashing soap solution 

This solution works wonders for all-sized dirty or corrosive ammunition.

To clean the bullets,

  • Half fill a plastic bottle with water then add a cup of vinegar, some salt, and dishwashing liquid.
  • Place your ammo into the solution and let it soak for half an hour.
  • After soaking, rinse the ammo with clean water until all clear.
  • Air dry the casings for several days until you’re satisfied or use an oven to shorten the drying time.
  • To dry the bullets, spread them on a dry cloth and let them air dry overnight.

Method 5. Lemon Juice + Water solution 

If you don’t have access to white vinegar, you can use lemon juice alternatively. Being acidic it works well to remove dirt and stains from bullets and their casings.

  • Mix some lemon juice and water in a bowl to make a cleaning solution. 
  • Put the bullets in the bowl and let them soak for a while. The lemon juice will help break down the dirt, grease, and other residues on the surface of the bullets.
  • Rinse the bullets with clean water until all clears.
  • Use a clean cloth to wipe down the bullets.

Note: This method is effective in treating light stains but much slower in action when compared with vinegar plus salt solution.

Method 6. Use steel wool to clean and shine the bullets

This is one of the quickest methods to clean your brass bullets. Polish each bullet with steel wool until the tarnish starts to disappear. After cleaning the bullet with steel wool, wipe it down with a clean cloth to remove steel and other metallic residues. Next, rinse it off with running water to get it sparkling clean.

Method 7. Aluminum Polish 

Aluminum polish is a heavy-duty compound designed to stains and water spots from aluminum surfaces. It also works wonders for all types of bullets and their casings. To clean the bullets,

  • Start by applying some aluminum polish to the surface of the bullet by using a clean cloth and let the ammo sit for a few minutes 
  • Take a clean fabric to work on the bullets and buff them until they shine. 
  • Rinse them off with cold water and dry them off with a cloth.

Method 8. Car Polish 

It’s an effective but time-consuming method like aluminum polish.

  • Apply the car polish to the surface of the bullet. 
  • Let them sit for 15 minutes to loosen any dirt or grime.
  • Use the cloth to wipe off the polish. Be sure to get rid of all the polish, and you should be left with a clean bullet.

Invest in a Rotary tumbler to clean bullets casings

Many people do their bullet reloading. Clean cartridge casing will also make it easier for your gun to function correctly. Bullet case cleaning is a step in the reloading procedure. Most bullet casings are made from brass, making it impossible for them to rust. When you fire a bullet, the cases will get soiled.

clean the bullets

What is a rotary tumbler?

The rotary tumbler consists of a drum that sits on wheels and an electric motor that revolves around the drum. As the motor revolves, the contents within the drum agitate to give your bullets a clean and shiny glossy look. You can run the tumbler for one hour or two hours or maybe overnight depending upon the conditions of your bullets casing.

How to use a rotary tumbler to clean bullet casing?

  • Rotary tumbler makes your bullet casing more reliable and gives it a shiny finish and smooth reload.
  • Collect the cases, and remove the shells with your bullet puller. 
  • Start by adding the cases of bullets into the drum, followed by cleaning the solution and pins. 
  • Fill the drum with water for about three-quarters. 
  • Put on the lid of the drum and tighten that down to avoid leakage. 
  • Put the drum on a roller and turn on the machine. Set the timer of the machine based on the dirtiness of the bullets.
  • Remove the drum after the timer is off. Then empty the contents of the drum into a separator to sever the cleaning solution, pins, dirt, and grime from the bullets. You will get a clean bass that looks really pretty.

Drying process:

There are a few different ways to dry the bullets after cleaning them in a tumbler.

  1. The most simple and straightforward is to lay out a towel to spread your bullet cases and let them air dry.
  2. Another quicker way to dry your bullet cases is by spreading them on a cookie sheet and putting it in the oven at 120 to 130 degrees. 

That’s all about how to clean your bullets and their cases in different ways. Hope you find this article informative. I also have some giveaway tips for you that you should keep in your mind while cleaning your bullets.

Giveaway tips:

Store the bullets and their casings in a dry and dark place to avoid corrosion and degradation. 

As the bullets do not expire over time. However, moisture can make them corrosive, making them useless. You also don’t want to store your ammo in direct sunlight, as this can also cause it to degrade. So, the best place to store them is in a dark, dry place.

Don’t leave abrasive cleaners on the bullets for too long. 

This can damage the ammunition’s surface and cause discoloration in brass. The same can happen if you leave the bullets in the cleaning solution for too long.

Don’t use the wrong technique to clean the bullets

Using the wrong technique or using a cleaning solution of more than recommended quantity can damage the bullet and even your firearm. Make sure you use a method that is appropriate for the amount of damage on your bullets. So, don’t use a vinegar and salt solution where scrubbing with steel wool can work. If you are unsure about how to proceed, consult a professional bullet cleaner.

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