Your favorite SOAP for washing brass cases?


August 8, 2010, 10:09 PM
I found over three hundred threads that had some mention of cleaning brass cases, but very little info on what soap reloaders use to wash their brass. I just want to wash the dirt off and remove most of the carbon before putting them into my vibratory tumbler.

Iím only interested in using soap and nothing involving acids like vinegar, etc.. Tide was suggested, but no mention whether liquid or powder was used and so on.

So if you have a favorite Iíd appreciate you steering me in the right direction - thanks.....Doc

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August 8, 2010, 10:32 PM
I would test a small batch with the soap & water first.

In the past I tried out different methods. My rule of thumb is don't handle brass any more than you have to. That includes never wetting it with water.

Pistol brass or rifle brass?

August 8, 2010, 10:36 PM
Use only laundry detergent. I use a liquid in hot water.

Jim Watson
August 8, 2010, 10:39 PM
Before I got my ceramic media tumbler set up, I washed BPCR brass with Dawn dish detergent. I still use it for soaking. I decap on the range and carry brass home in a jug of soapy water.

August 8, 2010, 10:45 PM
ERA Liquid is my fav, because that's what my wife uses to wash clothes.

It works fine.

Hondo 60
August 8, 2010, 10:47 PM
Like WNTFW I handle it as little as possible, including never getting it wet.

fireman 9731
August 8, 2010, 10:48 PM
Why only laundry detergent?

I usually use Dawn.

August 8, 2010, 10:49 PM
lemi-shine dish washing detergent does a good job

August 8, 2010, 10:52 PM
I use whatever the wife has in the laundry room. I don't think it really matters, so long as it's soap, and you rinse it well.
After a very thorough rinse, I let the cases sit in a weak water/vinegar solution for about ten minutes. Really shines them up.

August 8, 2010, 11:11 PM
I've used oxyclean and hot water before. Worked pretty good.

August 8, 2010, 11:16 PM
Simple Green. 1 part SG with 10 parts water.

August 8, 2010, 11:23 PM
Citric acid.

August 8, 2010, 11:29 PM
Simple Green or any citric-based house cleaner.

August 9, 2010, 01:31 AM
WNTFW: "Pistol brass or rifle brass?"

Pistol for now. Does it make a difference?

I should have mentioned that I've use Cascade Electric Dishwashing detergent, but the stuff never dissolved and really only got the dirt off and left plenty of carbon. After thoroughly rinsing the brass I spread it on a very large cookie sheet (Stained it the first time I used it and it became mine after Mamma-san made me replace it.) and then bake it at 250F for 30 minutes. At that temperature the cases are dry and it has never shortened case life for me.

Jim Watson: "I decap on the range and carry brass home in a jug of soapy water."

I'm going to do that too, so case prep doesn't seem so grueling since it's not done all at one time.

Greg Mercurio
August 9, 2010, 08:15 AM

August 9, 2010, 11:08 AM
I little Tide concentrated liquid, water, and a few small rags in a plastic container.
Shaken everytime I walk by during the day/night.

This soak/wash/rinse/dry often allows me to skip the tumbling.

With "help" picking up brass at matches, I once discovered a fully loaded 9mm round while RINSING brass after a 2 day soak.
The next trip to the range I put that soaked round, alone in a mag, and it went bang.

I'm not sure why some have a never get wet rule:confused:

For me, the dry cycle is just a few minutes in the sun and I have enough brass that it's a long time after cleaning, before actually reloading.

Orange Boy
August 9, 2010, 01:28 PM
+1 on the Simple Green

August 9, 2010, 02:02 PM
Dawn (or whatever dish soap is under the sink) in very hot water, let soak for 30 mins or so, stirring occasionally. Rinse super-well, shaking all the water out from inside the cases. Dry in the sun.

For those who don't like to get them wet, why so?


August 9, 2010, 02:11 PM
My favorite is just throw right in the tumbler dirty and clean them.
Thats what I bought it for.

Drying a couple hundred wet cases before you can use them is a real PITA.

I washed cases many years ago before I made my first tumbler.
I used a board with about two hundred nails driven in it as a "drying rack".
It was a PITA to use it then too.


August 9, 2010, 03:26 PM
Wow, a drying rack, a pita for sure.
The drying time in the high desert sun...minutes:D

Gadzooks Mike
August 9, 2010, 04:23 PM
I agree with rcmodel. Toss 'em in the tumbler. The most I would do before that is put 'em in a plastic bucket and give it a few shakes to get rid of the dirt that will fall right off. Corncob and other media just isn't that expensive to worry about getting some of it dirty.

August 9, 2010, 05:28 PM
Joy liquid dish detergent or just about any liquid dish detergent.

August 9, 2010, 05:56 PM
Any of the dish washing liquids is good. The secret, if you want to call it that, is using hot water. I use as hot water as I can stand to put my hands in to wash and even hotter to rinse. They practically dry themselves after the rinse when they are really hot. I also put them in a low temp oven (>150 degrees F <200 degrees F) for 15 minutes to dry. It takes a temp just over 150F to evaporate loosely coupled water molecules. No use in putting them in a hotter oven.

August 9, 2010, 07:14 PM

Reason I asked:
Pistol drains way easier than bottleneck rifle. .223 tend to not want to drain.

August 9, 2010, 07:16 PM
That's true if you don't decap the brass first. I never have problems with water staying in the cases when I decap them prior to washing them.

August 9, 2010, 07:43 PM
Decapping adds another layer of handling them. The only time I wet them is when I get range pickup that is dirty. Luckily I was getting an obscene amount of range pickup. Since it was free I didn't complain. Some had the caked on dry mud thing happening.
I have a universal decapper that I had to use last night. Other than that I just tumble, lube, size and decap at the same time.

August 9, 2010, 09:54 PM
I did something like that once. PITA. Tumbling is so much easier. I rotate my media, so everything gets a pass through the dirty media first.

If I felt I needed to again, Dawn or Simple Green and nothing else.

August 9, 2010, 09:59 PM
I only rinse with clear water on range brass only to get rid of the mud, I never wash my own brass, tumble only, why risk adding a possible variation to the mix.

August 10, 2010, 08:24 AM
This is my first post on here; I’ve been lurking in the shadows for quite some time reading all the great information. I feel on this subject I need to weigh in. I’m in the Air Force and we use to use Simple Green to clean the aircraft. We stopped using Simple Green after it was shown to weaken metal. When we used it to clean aircraft we sprayed it strait on to the aircraft without diluting it. I’m not saying to stop using Simple Green just be sure and check your brass for signs of metal fatigue.

Kevin Rohrer
August 10, 2010, 05:31 PM
Lestoil or any liquid cleaner that doesn't contain ammonia + hot water.

August 10, 2010, 07:45 PM
This is my first post on here; Iíve been lurking in the shadows for quite some time reading all the great information.Welcome. Good first post! Keep it up.

BTW, my son is in his second year at the AF Academy.

A and O
August 11, 2010, 12:34 PM
Just tumble it. If I have to wash the brass the s has htf.

August 11, 2010, 01:09 PM
Just tumble it. If I have to wash the brass the s has htf.A quick wash before a tumble does wonders for keeping the tumbling media clean and dust free (and also significantly reduces my concerns over lead in the media dust). I don't bother with drying in the over or other such things - I just heave the wet brass into the center of a towel, wrap it up, and sling it around for a bit to get most of the water out. From there, it goes straight into the tumbler.

A and O
August 11, 2010, 06:03 PM
Can't say I'm teachable if I refuse instruction. I'll give it a try on the next batch based on rbernie and others input. For what it's worth, I did learn to use fabric softener sheets cut up into 8ths here on the THR and now have standardized it in my tumbling routine.

August 11, 2010, 07:16 PM
I give mine a quick wash/rinse (won't say what I use as it contains an acidic element, and the OP specifically excluded that fromn discussion).
Shake in a towel to remove excess water. Decap wet and straight into the tumbler for an hour or so.

BTW: Dawn foamy Works and is a great hand cleaner, too.

August 16, 2010, 12:22 AM
After IDPA matches 1k or 2K cases follow me home. If it was dusty or rained that day the cases have gravel or limestone dust attached. I do the following:
Dump all brass into a plastic bin with fold-over lid. Add DAWN DW soap. Agitate with garden hose. Want lots of bubbles=cleaning. Let it set and go do something else. Agitate when remembered. Close lid,flip and let drain. Flip over, spray rinse and repeat till no bubbles. Let dry in the sun, sort later. Tumble in large corn cob and McGuire's clearer wax.

Seem to tumble faster after washing.

August 19, 2010, 07:56 PM
I've always used Dawn with any brass that I've pre-washed.

August 19, 2010, 09:19 PM
I'll have to remember these to give them a try next time I'm up for a cleaning. I have been using Bar Keeper's Friend and HOT water. Works pretty well, but I am always up for something new.

Recently tried adding a LITTLE bit of Phosphoric acid to a batch after the initial clean. Didn't experience any bad results, but no observable improvement either.

NC Cruffler
August 19, 2010, 10:53 PM
I wash mine in a mesh garment bag I got at Walmart. Load 50 to 100 depending on case size into the bag then toss it in the washer with a bunch of towels. This is best done while the wife unit is elsewhere. Gotten a bit noisier since we got the front loader.

Robert Wilson
August 19, 2010, 11:37 PM
I decap my cases as soon as they come out of the gun (it makes rapid-fire strings a bit more difficult but it's worth it) and drop them into a container full of sudsy water. I wasn't able to decide which soap was best so I use eight different kinds all mixed up together. As soon as I get them home I run them through the "sterilize" cycle in the dish washer. Then I let them soak in a container of reverse osmosis water to make sure all the soap residue is gone prior to putting them into the ultrasonic cleaner. After that I ship them to Arizona to dry naturally in the sun. When they arrive back I put them in the oven overnight to ensure no moisture remains. Then I tumble them individually, first with walnut shells, then corncob, and finally with chin hairs taken from female stags.

Frankly, the whole thing is so time consuming that I barely have time to make fun of people on the internet... but nothing is too good for my guns!

August 20, 2010, 10:47 AM
Thanks for the good laugh Robert!!

I used to use the clothes washer to clean the Active shotshell hulls. How many of you remember them?
Clean hulls went around the press fast and drop in chamber better. Always amazes me that many folks run gritty hulls into $$K guns

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