How Often Should You Clean a Gun in Storage? | Best Practices


If you’re going to have a firearm, you undoubtedly know that you’ll need to clean and maintain it regularly. Most people insist that you should clean the gun every time you fire it, but what if you don’t use your firearm at all? How often should you clean it?

It is recommended that you clean a gun at least once every six months to keep it functioning properly. Of course, exactly how often one should be cleaned in storage depends on several factors, including the make and age of the weapon, where you have it stored, and the local climate and weather.

Undoubtedly, you won’t have to clean your gun as often as someone who uses theirs frequently. However, you still have to. This guide helps you understand everything you should know about cleaning a weapon in storage and gives some storage guidelines for your firearm, so let’s dive in. 

How Long Can a Gun Go Without Cleaning?

A gun can typically go about 6 months without cleaning if it is not being used regularly. If you use it frequently you will need to make a judgment call. Of course, anytime there is any the potential for moisture coming in contact with the gun you should clean it before storing it away.

The frequency with which you should clean your gun will depend primarily on its usage. If you’re always using your firearm, you’ll have to clean it more often to ensure its safety and longevity.  

The type of gun also influences the cleaning frequency. If your firearm uses corrosive ammo, you’ll have to clean it after every use. However, guns that use modern non-corrosive ammo can go a bit longer before they require cleaning. 

For guns that aren’t in use, the storage place will also determine how often you clean the weapon. For example, if you have the gun in an area that quickly collects dust, you’ll need to clean it more often than if it is in a less dusty area so that it keeps functioning. You could decide on a maintenance schedule that works for you. 

What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Gun?

Most gun owners are aware that they need to clean and maintain their firearms. However, not many people know what happens if you don’t. Besides keeping your firearm’s appearance, cleaning comes with several other benefits. 

Here are some of the things that could happen when you fail to clean your firearm:

  • It could malfunction- Although firearms in use are more likely to malfunction, failure to clean those in storage could also result in this. When dirt and dust accumulate in different parts of the rifle, they could cause a malfunction. For example, your gun could fail to eject when you fire it. Every time you fire a weapon, it must first extract a cartridge and eject it. This mechanism may become faulty if you fail to clean your gun.
  • It starts eroding- Every time you fire the gun, some ammo remains in the barrel. With time, the ammo starts corroding the insides of your rifle. If you store your gun without cleaning it, the ammo residue, together with the dirt buildup, corrodes the gun’s insides even faster. 

What Do I Use to Clean a Gun?

One of the essential tools for every firearm owner is a gun cleaning kit, like my recommended one found on Amazon. Usually, the kit will come with different tools that you’re going to need to clean the different parts of your gun. Although you don’t have to do it every time, you must disassemble the gun every once in a while and clean the insides. 

Gun cleaning kits are different, and you may find different supplies in each of them. However, some essential items should be included in every kit: 

  • Lubricant: You must keep the friction against the gun to a minimum when cleaning it. Therefore, you should ensure that you use a gun cleaning lubricant to break up the gun’s dirt buildup. The lubricant also helps to get rid of frictions in the bolt action, which you may notice during rechambering. 
  • Bore snake: This tool is especially useful for people who fire their guns and don’t have time to clean it after every use. The bore snake allows you to quickly clean the barrel without the hassle of disassembling the entire gun. 
  • Bore brushes: Every gun cleaning kit will contain two types of bore brushes; bronze and nylon brushes. The bronze brush removes massive carbon buildup in the barrel and is usually used first. The silver brush is designed for the more sensitive parts of the gun. 

Other tools that should be included are double-ended brushes, cleaning swabs, cleaning patches, and cleaning rods. 

Is It Bad to Clean Your Gun Too Much?

Cleaning your gun often won’t inherently cause any issues if you are doing it correctly. However, improper cleaning done frequently can lead to devastating issues if you use the wrong products and techniques. You may want to visit a local dealer and have them teach you how to clean a gun properly.

Here is a good article that explains the process.

Unfortunately, many gun owners often don’t understand that it’s possible to overclean your gun. Just like not cleaning your gun in storage has some effects, overdoing it can also cause some damage to the weapon. 

Gun owners, especially those who have their firearms in storage, tend to overclean the guns. If you have your guns on display, you undoubtedly want them to remain polished and shiny at all times. There’s not much of a problem if you’re cleaning the guns in the right way.

However, cleaning your firearms every so often can damage certain parts if you’re doing something wrong. For example, the crown and the barrel’s chamber are especially susceptible to damage when using the wrong cleaning tools. 

Pro Tip: Make sure you are using the correct solvents! If you’re using the wrong solvents to clean your gun, you could end up spoiling the gun’s finish. Continued use could even end up melting the polymer frame. 

Proper Gun Storage Guidelines

Whether your gun in storage is for home defense or aesthetic purposes, you must store it properly. 77% of accidental gun deaths occur in the homes, which increases the need for proper storage

Here are some guidelines that you should heed:

  • If possible, get a firearm that comes with trigger locks. You can get these either from the manufacturer or gun dealer. Trigger locks prevent loading and firing by unauthorized users, which lowers the chances of accidents. 
  • Find a secure place to lock the guns. You can use gun safes and cabinets or security cases. They can even be securely kept in vehicles.
  • When storing the guns, ensure that they aren’t loaded. This tip is especially helpful if you aren’t using trigger locks to increase safety. 
  • Add silica packs to the gun case when putting away the firearm for a long time. The silica helps to keep away moisture, which could damage the weapon. 
  • Avoid storing your gun in a leather case or holster as the leather releases tannic acids to the firearm. These acids accelerate corrosion. 
  • Always clean and oil your guns before storing them away for a long time. 
  • If you’re living with other people in the house, educate them on gun safety practices. Have everyone in the house know who is and isn’t allowed to access the guns. If you have kids in the house, you should ensure they understand the importance of staying away from the gun safe. 

Parting Shot

If you have a gun in storage, you may think that you don’t need to clean it because you don’t fire it often.

Whether you fire your gun every day or once a year, cleaning is essential to its proper functioning. You don’t have to do it as often if you don’t use it regularly. 

Hopefully, you now know how often you should clean your firearm. If you’re storing it for home use, be sure to practice shooting often. The last thing you want is not to know how to use it when you need to.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for reading!

For more, check out What is the Best One Gun (If You Could Only Have One)?

Jim James

Hey, I'm Jim and the author of this website. I have always been interested in survival, fishing, camping, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!

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