How to clean brass casings by hand

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If you’re a handloader, then cleaning your brass is among the primary steps that you must not miss by any chance. If you don’t wash the brass casings regularly, they will wear out and in the end, you’ll have to change them out with a new version.

I’m sure tumblers are quite costly, and that’s why we have our step-by-step guide to saving cash. It will teach you how to clean brass casings by hand. This is a beginner’s guide and will show you step-by-step to make sure you comprehend the entire process and will enhance the effectiveness of hand reloading.

How to clean brass without a tumbler

To wash your brass without the use of a tumbler, you’ll need to prepare some materials before the start. These are:

Paper towels
An unbreakable glass or bowl
A strainer that you use to strain spaghetti noodles
A tin, or some other container to store your brass casings
A cleaning solution
Some soap

Additionally, you’ll need a heating source such as your oven to complete the cleaning process.


In the beginning, you should clean the brass by placing it in the strainer and running warm water over the casings. If you are using your bathroom sink, make sure you close the garbage disposal in the sink to ensure that you don’t flush lots of brass casing shavings and other dirt down your pipes.

Pour your water through brass casings for about a minute and then make use of your fingers to scrub off the majority of large dirt particles and other dirt. The casings need to appear clean at the end of this procedure.

Use your fingers to play around with them on the casings of brass. Don’t worry about cleaning any dirt from the casings, particularly oil or grease. The dirt will be broken down naturally and cleaned away in the cleaning process we’re going to describe.

Mixing Solution

Then, run your drinking water from the tap for a couple of seconds to ensure the water is hot. You want it to be as hot as you can stand much like you would use if you were shaving.

Pour a portion of the cleaning solution into the bowl made of glass or something solid and let it blend effectively over the next few minutes. Be sure the solution is approximately a 1:10 ratio of cleaning solution to water, although it doesn’t have to be precise in any way.

Place the casings in the solution

When you have your solution ready then place the strainer of clean brass casings next to the glass bowl. Place the casings into the glassful over a few handfuls and make sure that the water covers the casings you have dropped inside.

Add more solution and water in case you need to, as there should be enough quantity that the water will easily swish all around and in between the casings contained in the bowl.


It is possible to use gloves for this task to keep the cleaning solution off your hands. It depends on the kind of cleaning solution you choose to use it could or might not be required. The harsher cleaning solution can dry out your hands and cause discomfort, while other solutions do not have any adverse effects.

Utilizing either gloves or your bare hands, grab the brass casings, then agitate them in the water bowl. Change them around in random patterns, and keep the water turning. Large bowls are good not to spill some water over the edges during this stage. The brass casings should be agitated for between 1 and 2 minutes before moving on with the following step.

The next steps are repetitive, and you can perform other tasks or chores while you wait for the brass casings to be cleaned. Let the brass casings you just agitated sit in the cleaner/water bowl for about 20 minutes before agitating them again. Use your fingers to switch all the time for between one or two minutes, then allow the casings to rest until 20 mins.

The whole procedure once you begin agitating the casings will take about an hour, which includes three times of rest.


When the casings of brass have been agitated three times and been sitting in soapy water for around an hour, it is time to replace the brass casings in the strainer you used at starting of this process. Run cold water over the casings and let the water that has been contaminated drain through the strainer and into the sink.

It’s a good idea to move the casings around and then try to make sure that the cold clear water hits every part of each casing, including their interiors. The cleaning of the casings is vital, so it’s an ideal idea to wash each casing separately and wash them under the water stream.

The cleaning solution in warm water will have the effect of breaking down any grease or especially hard dirt that has accumulated on the surfaces of the brass casing. Now you can take your paper towel and clean each brass casing if you notice any obvious dirt or want to do a particularly good job. It’s not necessary if the casings were clean initially.


It is possible to make use of an oven or a natural method to dry :


Place the oven in a position to heat between 170deg to 200deg. Wait for 10 minutes till it is preheated. Pick up a cookie tray, or another oven-friendly tray, and arrange every brass casing on it in order. Be sure that the brass casings are placed in one layer, and that they aren’t overlying and separated from each other. Once the casings have been completely dry, you can take them out. The process can take up to 1 hour or more, depending on your oven.

Sun Drying

Find a space within your house that receives plenty of sunlight all day. Set up a matt or long cloth. Put the casing on the matt in such a way that they don’t touch each other and also they don’t overlap each other. The process of drying may be completed in a day or two days, upon the intensity of the sun.

Cleaning the rifle’s brass with Lemi Shine

Items required:

Some soap
Lemi shine
Container to keep casings
Dish Soap
A paper towel is used to clean casings
Oven (optional)

There are simple steps you can follow and at the end of which you will learn how to clean brass casings by hand with lemi shine properly:

1. Wash Brass casings completely by using hot water to wash away visible dirty brass from the casings.
2. Take out the bottle and add 1/4 teaspoon amount of lemi shine liquid into it.
3. Add one teaspoon of dish soap into the container.
4. Pour hot water until it covers the entire container.
5. Pour all brass casings into the container, and shake until you can see bubbling water. This is a sign that the soap has been blended properly.
6. Leave the setup as it is for 24 hours. During that time, shake the solution regularly at regular intervals.
7. Next day, remove the casings and place the casings in a strainer. Then pour cold water into it to remove the soap.
8. Then you can either use an oven or use the sunlight to dry the casings.
9. If you own a tumbler, you can put the freshly cleaned casings inside the tumbler, together with untreated plain walnut for a more shiny brass or you can also use fine steel wool as a polishing agent.

Do you need to clean brass casings by hand?

In this part, we will take a look at some of the scenarios where hand-washing casings can help you.

1. If you’re new to the field of reloading we suggest starting using hand cleaning because of your limited budget. Beginners don’t have the proper knowledge about purchasing a reloading tumbler, so you could start with hand-cleaning and, as you get more knowledge and experience, you will be able to purchase a tumbler that is suitable for your needs.
2. If you’re short on space, then hand cleaning can be an excellent option since it doesn’t take up lots of space, and most of the work can perform in the sink.
3. If you are a hand cleaning on occasion at least once per month, it’s not a great idea to purchase a rotary tumbler and hand washing is a great alternative. In the future, based on your preferences you can purchase a rotary tumbler.
4. If you don’t clean many brass casings at once then also you can choose hand cleaning since one of the primary reasons for people to purchase tumblers is that they can clean hundreds of casings at a time. If you grow the number of casings you clean, you will need to purchase tumblers.

Advantages to cleaning brass without a tumbler

Cleaning your brass by yourself is usually cheaper, even if you need to purchase a cleaning solution in advance. This means you’ll save some money to purchase different brass casings or use the funding for any other part of the reloading process.

Also cleaning your brass without the use of a tumbler could be beneficial since you’ll be able to examine each brass casing individually and ensure that everything is free of dirt before placing it in storage for the future.

When brass casings are cleaned inside a tumbler, they get a one-size-fits-all treatment that may or may not get rid of all the debris or grease on their surfaces. This means that some brass casings could be treated in a suboptimal manner.

Also, cleaning your brass casings using a tumbler is noisy. It is possible to wash your casings of brass by using the tools you use in your home and work in your garage, and enjoy at peace. A lot of tumblers emit an unending buzz or hum that many hobbyists find irritating. To clean by your hands all you hear will be the water of the faucet during brief intervals.

What is the right way to clean brass cases?

Cleaning is among the most important steps you must complete every time you use brass casings for the reloading process. If you do not clean the brass casings thoroughly, unnecessary remnants like debris and stones can get into the gun, which can gradually degrade the brass material. Reloaders who like to do everything fast prefer cleaning brass casings using tumblers.

Tumblers are small machines with a container top on which to put brass casings with cleaning media. With the aid of tumblers, you can quickly remove many brass cappings within a matter of a few hours. This machine can carry out the cleaning process with the aid of vibrations.

These vibrations continuously spin the casings of brass and consequently that all the dirt is removed from the casing, and in a short time, you’ll get completely clean casings. Because the process doesn’t require any supervision and you simply need to install it at once, this method is extremely popular.

Why don’t you need a tumbler?

In the end, tumblers perform the same thing that you can do using your hands, but slightly faster and not taking as much physical effort from you. The benefit of tumblers as they enable you to clean a large amount of brass in a relatively short time.

That means that even if you don’t have a massive amount of brass you need to wash – for instance, the case if you only reload on occasion or you do not fire a lot of rounds per month, then you’re not really in need of to purchase a tumbler or pay the price for the equipment.

Tumblers, in essence, do not constitute in no way the main part of cleaning brass. The real key ingredient is the soap or chemical used to remove dirt and grease.


You have clean and shiny brass casings and you’ve also come to the conclusion of our guideline that is titled “how to clean brass casings by hand”.Hand cleaning comes with its pros and cons, so it is up to you what method you prefer.


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Author - Hans Wimberly
Hans-Wimberly - the owner of Gearsadviser
When I`m not spending time with my beautiful wife and great 3 children, you will find me reloading ammo!
Doing sport shooting, or talking with my friends about (oh, yeah!) guns.

Read more about me here.

At Gearsadviser, I`m committed to ensuring that you have the best possible reloading experience. I conduct thorough research, testing, and evaluation of reloading gear, offering impartial and informative reviews to assist you in making informed purchasing decisions. My reviews are based on hands-on testing, research, and analysis of customer feedback. I regularly update my reviews to reflect changes in product availability and new information, so you can be confident that you're receiving the most current recommendations.

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