Whats a good cleaner?


True Grit
March 3, 2011, 07:04 PM
Hey guys! I just got through oiling and cleaning my 1911 and it still feals a little gritty. I'm planning on doing a take down and cleaning it real good. Whats a good spray cleaner that I can use with a staw to blast out the grit?

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March 3, 2011, 07:54 PM
I use non-chlorinated brake cleaner. You can also use Breakfree Powder blast. The Brakecleen is about $2 a can at wally world.

March 3, 2011, 08:04 PM
Like he said, brake cleaner (the environmentally friendly stuff) and/or made-for-guns scrubbing spray cleaner. But the stuff made for guns is several dollars a can more.

I've never had WalMart brand brake cleaner damage plastic or paint, but YMMV.
I'd like to hear from someone who did get some damage from a particular brand, just so we know what NOT to buy.

Aerosol carburetor cleaner messes up all kinds of plastics and paints and such.

March 3, 2011, 08:19 PM
Another vote for brake cleaner - as long as you're not talking about anything plastic and you relube afterwards

True Grit
March 3, 2011, 08:31 PM
I had thought about using either brake cleaner or starting fluid but I didn't want to do any damage so I thought I would ask first to see what you guys recommended.

March 3, 2011, 08:38 PM
Brake cleaner is good. I use the red can stuff from O'Reily's. You can also mix up a batch of Ed's Red. The stuff is cheap to make, maybe $6-7 a gallon, and works very well. You don't have to be stingy when using it.

The Ed's Red mix I use is, by volume, 25% ATF, 50% Mineral Spirits, and 25% acetone. I repace the kerosene with extra mineral spirits because I don't see there being enough difference between the two to buy both.

March 3, 2011, 09:21 PM
I make Ed's Red but I use 50% Deisel !

Cal-gun Fan
March 3, 2011, 09:25 PM
I use non-chlorinated brake cleaner. You can also use Breakfree Powder blast. The Brakecleen is about $2 a can at wally world.
Seconded. This is what my dad uses for his Kimber, and what I use when I use it.

March 4, 2011, 12:48 AM

March 4, 2011, 01:33 PM
I have used Break Free and Birchwood Casey products for years, and they have worked great. I have been in the gun industry for 14 year and in my experience non-gun cleaning chemicals are usually the cause of most guns malfunctions. Brake cleaner and WD-40 are designed for cars and other products, not guns. Gun cleaning products are specially formulated synthetic oils that won't lose viscosity, dry out or stiffen up in extreme environments - such as cold, heat, dust, dirt, humidity and even salt air - keeping equipment in ready condition for months at a time. Also using non-gun cleaning chemicals can void the warranty.

March 4, 2011, 02:09 PM
Gunscrubber is good. It smells just like brake cleaner, so I suppose that is what it is, just more expensive. But I don't use it a ton, so I just buy it. Keep in mind that it cleans EVERYTHING off, so you'll need to re-lube wherever you use it.

March 4, 2011, 02:14 PM
I clean with hoppes no. 9 and then breakfree, I always notice that when I use breakfree on a gun I bought used. after I clean it and let is sit a couple days it seems to break a lot more stuff free. no pun intended! I lube it like crazy and let it set for 24-48 hours. and once it cleans it all up only a wipe and lite scrub is needed each time I use the gun after that!

Jed Carter
March 4, 2011, 04:43 PM
Well it ain't spray on, but it won't kill brain cells, 90% isopropyl alcohol is what I use, coupled with elbow grease. Less lubricant will also prevent buildup of solids in places like the firing pin channel and slide rails. A good spray on cleaner for loose solids / powder residue is compressed air. So many VOCs ( Volatile Organic Compounds ), so few brain cells. If you can smell it, it can damage your central nervous system over time. A firearm can be cleaned without all the harmful substances, you never know it may even delay or prevent dementia later in life. At least use a respirator that can filter VOCs if you must use solvents like brake cleaner. Aerosol cleaners are also much worse than other types, as more of the VOCs are airborn. Rubber / nitrile gloves are a must too.

March 4, 2011, 04:49 PM
Hot soap & water & an old toothbrush in the kitchen sink does an excellent job.

Thats how we did it in the Army to get ready for "white glove inspections" when the Drill Sargent wasn't looking!

Just make sure you dry it completely, and re-oil everything when you get done.


o Unforgiven o
March 4, 2011, 04:50 PM
Birchwood casey gun scrubber is what I use when I blast out an action to get rid of the hard to reach crud and old lube. It won't damage anything on your gun and evaporates leaving nothing behind.

March 4, 2011, 04:53 PM
I second what Jed Carter stated; isopropyl alcohol when I need to degrease, but be sure to re-oil thereafter, because the metal will be oil-free.

I have just ordered a bottle of Ballistol (mentioned above); mineral spirits based and water soluble. It was designed by the Germans to also be used for a wound-dressing. Here is a link to a website about it:


Intriguing product, but it apparently has a recognizable odor.


March 4, 2011, 05:18 PM
Be careful with brake cleaner. Wear gloves and eye protection IMO.

I use gun solvent, personally.

March 4, 2011, 10:01 PM
Ballistol will never wash away dirt and grit like brake cleaner.

I'll also second soap and water. I have washed semi-autos in the dishwasher. I just rack the slide back and put 'em in the cup rack. They will come out dry because of the heat of the water. I just get them out spray a little oil here and there and run an oily patch down the bore.

March 5, 2011, 08:35 PM
I use Ed's Red (Ed Harris's actual formula). I do have brake cleaner here that I may use occasionally....but it's been sitting on the shelf for over ten years.

March 5, 2011, 08:53 PM
I use Ed's minus the acetone on most of my guns. I just did some polishing on a Colt DA revolver I picked up yesterday. When I was done, cleaned it with Ed's and blasted it a short blast with brake cleaner. It came out squeaky clean.....I add the acetone for a gun like an AR.

March 5, 2011, 10:22 PM
Breakfree Powder blast...+1

March 6, 2011, 01:49 PM
Well I used the Birchwood Casey stuff yesterday for the first and last time.
It took the paint off one of my white dots of my rear sight.
Back to the brake cleaner.
Cheaper too.

March 6, 2011, 03:21 PM
If Gun Scrubber took the paint off, I'd guess brake cleaner probably would, too.......I can't tell much difference in the stuff, except for the price.

March 7, 2011, 09:56 AM
Colt,I had been using the enviro friendly brake cleaner for a full year with zero issues.
The first and only time I used that Birchwood-Casey stuff this happened.
Lesson learned and some White Out to the rescue.

March 7, 2011, 11:20 AM
I don't even know what "enviro" friendly brake cleaner it....I use the cheap stuff from WalMart. I'm sure it's not too "paint friendly"...LOL.

March 7, 2011, 11:26 AM
I've used break free, g83 "gun treatment" and outer's nitro solvent and gun oil. Never had a problem with any of the three. the g83 smells like bubblegum!

March 7, 2011, 12:04 PM
About a year and a half ago or so, I sent my Kimber Ultra Crimson Carry II back to the factory to have some night sights installed.

I talked with the Kimber guy who put the sights on my gun and he let me know that they saw a little rust in the barrel :(, but took care of it.

I asked him what I should use to clean the gun with and he said to go to Walmart and pick up some Break Free CLP and that's all I would need.

I did, and that's what I've been using to clean my guns ever since

True Grit
March 7, 2011, 08:25 PM
What about the Break Free Powder Blast Gun Cleaner?

True Grit
March 15, 2011, 10:03 AM
Have any of you guys tried Sea Foam Deep Creep? I work at an auto parts store and I saw in our chemical book that it said it worked great on guns and was safe to use.

March 16, 2011, 12:09 AM
You can make a bucket of Ed's Red for cheaper than any commercial gun cleaner (CLP, Hoppe's, whatever). I have a couple gallons of the stuff mixed up.

March 16, 2011, 05:14 PM
My wife can't stand the smell of petroleum-based cleaners, but I can clean a gun with Gunzilla in the living room while she sits nearby and she doesn't mind. It has a very mild citrus smell. Most-importantly, it seems to clean normal gun grime as well and as fast as petroleum cleaners. It isn't a copper solvent, but it does act as a lubricant and rust-inhibitor. Once I use up my last little bottle of regular Hoppe's, I am only going to buy Gunzilla, copper remover, and grease for semi-auto rails.

The only down-side is it doesn't seem to be available at any of the web/mailorder places I use and most gun shops don'ty seem to stock it. It isn't cheap, but it isn't as expensive as some specialty cleaners.

I've seen at least a couple of online tests of Gunzilla anti-corrosion performance, if you want to look around. Normally, I take those with a grain of salt, but I was sold after the first time i used it.

March 16, 2011, 07:33 PM
I use and recommend non-chlorinated brake cleaner(any brand),WD-40 or where immersion is possible Dawn Dishwashing liquid in very hot but not boiling water. "Gun specific" cleaners are better suited to lightening the wallet.

True Grit
March 20, 2011, 09:14 AM
I tried the Seafoam Deep Creep. Man it broke loose so much black gunk I almost ran outa cleaning patches!!! It worked great and it lubricated everything too. Smell is the only downside but I can live with that. I will definitely use it again.

March 20, 2011, 09:32 AM
Once or twice a year, to get to the parts you are after, I stick the frame in a Harbor Freight ultra sonic cleaner filled with Ed's Red (minus the acetone). That does a good job of getting the internals clean, and leaves lube behind (from the ATF)

- where ATF stands for auto trans fluid, NOT that OTHER ATF.

March 20, 2011, 11:23 AM
I am happy user of Steel Shield / Weapon Shield. Does great job as CLP. And smells good. :)

March 20, 2011, 12:33 PM
I keep a plastic tub big enough for my largest handgun and put about 3 inches of diesel in it to soak, bathe, and clean my guns in. It is absolutely the best thing I've ever used.
Only drawback is when I come in my wife hates the smell.

March 21, 2011, 12:23 AM
Break Free CLP has always worked real good for me, but it smells terrible! Makes your diesel fuel smell like roses by comparison.

True Grit
March 21, 2011, 07:29 PM
:Haha yeah the Seafoam Deep Creep didn't smell so great either. Made me a lil loopie :p

March 21, 2011, 07:51 PM
B12 Chemtool beats brake cleaner, traditional carb cleaner, and gun products. It comes in a spray or can. It could be hard on plastics though and will remove sight paint. Just oil well after cleaning.

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