WD-40 for Gun Cleaning

WD-40 for Gun Cleaning: An Effective and Versatile Solution

By Damon D. Mullins

December 2,2023

When it comes to gun cleaning, finding the right products that effectively remove dirt, grime, and residue is essential for maintaining the performance and longevity of your firearms.

While there are numerous specialized gun cleaning solutions available on the market, one surprisingly versatile option often overlooked is WD-40. In this article, we will explore the use of WD-40 for gun cleaning, its benefits, and how to properly use this multi-purpose lubricant to keep your firearms in optimal condition.

What is WD-40?

WD-40 is a popular multi-purpose lubricant and penetrating oil known for its ability to displace moisture, loosen rusted parts, and provide temporary corrosion protection. Its name stands for “Water Displacement” on the 40th attempt at creating the formula. WD-40 is composed of various ingredients, including petroleum-based solvents and a proprietary blend of lubricants.

Benefits of Using WD-40 for Gun Cleaning

Using WD-40 for gun cleaning offers several benefits:

  • Effective Cleaning: WD-40’s solvents help dissolve powder residue, dirt, and grime from firearms, making it easier to remove.
  • Lubrication: WD-40 leaves behind a thin protective film that helps reduce friction and wear on moving parts.
  • Corrosion Protection: The lubricating film provides temporary corrosion protection by repelling moisture and preventing rust formation.
  • Versatility: WD-40 can be used on various firearm parts, including barrels, slides, bolts, triggers, and more.
  • Cost-effective: Compared to specialized gun cleaning solutions, WD-40 is generally more affordable and widely available.

Proper Application of WD-40 for Gun Cleaning

To effectively clean your firearms using WD-40, follow these steps:

Step 1: Preparation

  • Ensure your firearm is unloaded and perform a basic safety check.
  • Set up a well-ventilated area or use a designated gun cleaning station.
  • Gather the necessary cleaning supplies, including cotton patches, cleaning rods, brushes, and microfiber cloths.

Step 2: Disassembly

  • Familiarize yourself with your firearm’s manual to understand the disassembly process.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to disassemble your firearm into its main components.
  • Take note of any specific areas that require special attention during cleaning.

Step 3: Cleaning

  • Apply a small amount of WD-40 to a cotton patch or microfiber cloth.
  • Gently rub the surface of each component to remove dirt, residue, and grease.
  • For stubborn build-up, use a nylon brush or toothbrush with WD-40 to scrub the affected areas.
  • Pay close attention to the bore/chamber area and other hard-to-reach places where fouling tends to accumulate.

Step 4: Lubrication

  • After cleaning, apply a light coat of WD-40 to all metal surfaces using a clean cloth or applicator.
  • Pay particular attention to areas that experience friction and contact during operation.
  • Use caution not to over-lubricate as excess oil can attract dust and debris.

Step 5: Reassembly

  • Once all components are clean and lubricated, reassemble your firearm according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Cycle the action several times to distribute the lubricant evenly.
  • Perform a function check to ensure proper operation before storing or using the firearm again.

Precautions When Using WD-40 for Gun Cleaning

While WD-40 can be effective for gun cleaning, it’s important to keep these precautions in mind:

  • Avoid Plastic Components: Some plastic or polymer firearm parts may not react well with WD-40. Be cautious when applying it near these components.
  • Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation when using WD-40 as it can produce fumes in enclosed spaces.
  • Follow Manufacturer’s Recommendations: Always consult your firearm’s manual for specific cleaning instructions and any restrictions on the use of certain products.

Alternative Uses of WD-40 for Firearms

Aside from gun cleaning, WD-40 can serve other useful purposes in relation to firearms:

  • Removing Adhesive Residue: WD-40 can effectively dissolve adhesive residue left behind by stickers or tape on gun stocks or accessories.
  • Preventing Moisture Damage: Applying a light coat of WD-40 on external metal surfaces can help protect firearms from moisture damage during storage or in humid environments.
  • Removing Surface Rust: For minor surface rust on metal parts, WD-40 can be used as a quick solution to loosen and remove the rust before proper cleaning and maintenance.

Firearm maintenance is an essential aspect of responsible gun ownership, ensuring the reliability and longevity of your weapons. While there’s a plethora of dedicated gun cleaning products available, one unexpected yet highly effective solution is WD-40. In this article, we’ll explore the versatility of WD-40 for gun cleaning, highlighting its benefits and providing practical insights for optimal use.

Using WD-40 for Gun Cleaning:

1. Cleaning Power:

  • WD-40’s penetrating formula excels at breaking down and removing dirt, grime, and residue from various gun components.
  • Effectively cleans barrels, slides, and receivers, providing a thorough cleaning experience.

2. Rust Prevention:

  • The anti-corrosion properties of WD-40 offer a protective layer that helps prevent rust and corrosion on metal surfaces.
  • Ideal for firearms exposed to humid or wet conditions, where rust can pose a significant threat.

3. Lubrication:

  • While not a dedicated gun lubricant, WD-40 does offer basic lubrication, reducing friction on moving parts.
  • Can be applied to hinges, slides, and other friction points to ensure smoother operation.

4. Water Displacement:

  • WD-40’s water-displacing capabilities make it valuable for preventing moisture-related damage to firearms.
  • Ideal for guns used in outdoor or harsh conditions where exposure to water is a concern.

How to Use WD-40 for Gun Cleaning:

  1. Disassembly:
    • Begin by disassembling your firearm, ensuring access to all parts that require cleaning.
  2. Application:
    • Apply WD-40 liberally to metal surfaces, focusing on areas with visible dirt, grime, or rust.
    • Allow WD-40 to penetrate for a few minutes to maximize its cleaning effectiveness.
  3. Barrel Cleaning:
    • Use a bore brush or patch soaked in WD-40 to clean the barrel thoroughly.
    • Ensure proper ventilation during this process to avoid inhaling fumes.
  4. Wiping Down:
    • Use a clean cloth to wipe down the exterior of the firearm, removing excess WD-40 and loosened contaminants.
  5. Lubrication:
    • After cleaning, apply a specialized gun lubricant to critical friction points for optimal performance.
    • This step is crucial to supplement the basic lubrication provided by WD-40.

Safety Considerations:

  • Ventilation:
    • Use WD-40 in a well-ventilated area or outdoors to minimize fume inhalation.
    • Consider wearing a mask for additional protection.
  • Protective Gear:
    • Wear gloves to protect your skin from direct contact with WD-40, especially if you have sensitive skin.
  • Compatibility:
    • While generally safe for most firearms, be cautious when using WD-40 on plastic parts, as it may cause damage in some cases.

Step-by-Step Guide to Gun Cleaning with WD-40:

  1. Disassembly of the Firearm: Begin by field-stripping your firearm to access all components easily.
  2. Application of WD-40: Apply WD-40 to metal surfaces, focusing on areas with built-up dirt or rust.
  3. Cleaning the Barrel: Use a bore brush soaked in WD-40 to clean the barrel thoroughly.
  4. Wiping Down the Exterior: Use a clean cloth to wipe down the exterior, removing excess WD-40 and loosened contaminants.
  5. Lubrication Points: Apply a specialized gun lubricant to critical friction points after using WD-40 for cleaning.

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

Overuse of WD-40: While effective, using excessive amounts of WD-40 can attract more dirt and may not provide optimal lubrication.

Neglecting Proper Lubrication: After using WD-40 for cleaning, it’s essential to apply a dedicated gun lubricant to ensure proper functioning.

Using on Ammunition: Avoid using WD-40 on ammunition, as it can potentially affect performance and safety.

Alternative Uses for WD-40 in Gun Maintenance:

Removing Stuck Ammunition: WD-40 can assist in loosening stuck cartridges or casings.

Preventing Corrosion on Magazines: Apply a light coat of WD-40 on magazine exteriors to deter corrosion.

Quick Fixes for Minor Issues: WD-40 can serve as a temporary fix for minor issues, providing a quick solution until a more permanent fix is applied.

Testimonials and Expert Opinions:

Firearm Enthusiasts’ Experiences: Explore firsthand experiences from gun owners who have successfully incorporated WD-40 into their cleaning routines.

Professional Gunsmith Recommendations: Understand how professional gunsmiths view the use of WD-40 in gun maintenance.

Unlocking the Potential: WD-40 in Gun Cleaning

In the world of firearms, proper maintenance and cleaning are essential for optimal performance and longevity. While there are numerous products available specifically designed for gun cleaning, one unexpected hero has emerged – WD-40.

Widely known for its lubricating properties in various applications, WD-40 has proven to be a valuable asset for gun owners. This blog post will explore the benefits and techniques of using WD-40 in gun cleaning, debunk common misconceptions, and provide tips for incorporating it into your firearm maintenance routine.

WD-40, short for “Water Displacement, 40th formula,” was originally developed in the 1950s to prevent corrosion on missiles. Since then, it has evolved into a versatile product with countless applications. WD-40 is renowned for its ability to displace moisture, loosen rusted parts, and lubricate mechanisms. While its primary purpose is not gun cleaning, many firearm enthusiasts have discovered its effectiveness in maintaining their firearms.

a) Corrosion Prevention

One of the greatest enemies of firearms is corrosion. Moisture, humidity, and exposure to the elements can cause metal components to rust and weaken over time. WD-40’s water displacement properties make it an excellent tool for preventing corrosion. By applying a thin coat of WD-40 to metal surfaces after cleaning, you create a protective barrier against moisture and oxidation.

b) Lubrication

Proper lubrication is crucial for the smooth operation of firearms. WD-40’s lubricating properties make it an ideal choice for reducing friction in moving parts. Applying WD-40 to areas such as slides, triggers, and hinges helps ensure seamless functionality and extends the lifespan of your firearm.

c) Cleaning Power

WD-40 is also effective at removing dirt, grime, and carbon buildup from firearm surfaces. Its penetrating properties enable it to loosen stubborn debris and make it easier to wipe away. By incorporating WD-40 into your gun cleaning routine, you can achieve a thorough and efficient clean.

Common Misconceptions about WD-40 and Guns

Despite its effectiveness, there are several misconceptions surrounding the use of WD-40 in gun cleaning. It’s essential to address these misconceptions to ensure proper understanding and safe usage.

a) Damage to Polymer Parts

One common concern is that WD-40 can damage polymer parts found in many modern firearms. While it’s true that certain solvents can cause degradation of polymers, WD-40 is safe for use on polymer surfaces. However, it’s always advisable to conduct a spot test on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it liberally.

b) Attracting Dust and Dirt

Another misconception is that WD-40 attracts dust and dirt, thus making firearms more prone to malfunctions. While it’s true that WD-40 can attract dust when used excessively or improperly, this can be avoided by applying a light coat and wiping away any excess residue.

c) Replacing Dedicated Gun Cleaning Products

Some gun owners believe that WD-40 can entirely replace dedicated gun cleaning products. While it is versatile, WD-40 doesn’t possess all the specialized properties of dedicated gun cleaners. It should be seen as a valuable addition to your gun cleaning arsenal rather than a complete substitute.

How to Use WD-40 for Gun Cleaning

Now that we’ve explored the benefits and debunked some misconceptions, let’s dive into how to effectively use WD-40 in your gun cleaning routine.

a) Disassembly and Safety Precautions

Before beginning any cleaning process, it’s crucial to ensure the firearm is safely unloaded and follow proper disassembly guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Taking necessary safety precautions will prevent accidents and potential damage.

b) Cleaning the Barrel

Start by using a dedicated bore cleaner or solvent to remove fouling from the barrel. Once the initial cleaning is complete, apply a small amount of WD-40 to a patch or bore snake. Run it through the barrel several times to remove any remaining residue and provide corrosion protection.

c) Removing Carbon Buildup

To remove carbon buildup from metal surfaces such as slides or bolts, spray a small amount of WD-40 directly onto the affected area. Allow it to penetrate for a few minutes before gently scrubbing with a nylon brush or cloth. Wipe away any excess residue with a clean cloth.

d) Lubricating Moving Parts

Apply a light coat of WD-40 to moving parts such as slides, triggers, and hinges. Use a clean cloth or applicator brush to ensure an even distribution of the lubricant. Be cautious not to apply excessive amounts that could attract dust or interfere with the firearm’s operation.

e) Corrosion Prevention

After completing the cleaning and lubrication process, apply a thin coat of WD-40 to all metal surfaces using a clean cloth or applicator brush. This step helps protect against moisture and oxidation during storage or periods of inactivity.

Additional Tips and Considerations

To maximize the benefits of using WD-40 in gun cleaning, consider the following tips:

a) Proper Ventilation

When using any solvent or aerosol product, including WD-40, ensure you’re in a well-ventilated area. This helps minimize exposure to potentially harmful fumes.

b) Storage and Handling

Store your WD-40 in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper handling and disposal.

c) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

When handling solvents or aerosols, it’s advisable to wear gloves and eye protection to protect yourself from potential skin or eye irritation.

d) Regular Maintenance

While using WD-40 can help maintain your firearms, it’s essential not to overlook regular maintenance procedures such as thorough cleaning with dedicated gun cleaning products.

e) Consult Manufacturer Guidelines

Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for your specific firearm model when incorporating any new cleaning techniques or products into your routine.

FAQs About WD-40 and Gun Cleaning:

Is WD-40 Safe for all Firearms? Learn about the compatibility of WD-40 with various firearm types.

Can WD-40 Damage Plastic Parts? Understand the potential impact of WD-40 on plastic components of firearms.

How Often Should I Use WD-40 on My Guns? Gain insights into the frequency of incorporating WD-40 into your gun cleaning routine.


WD-40 is an excellent option for gun cleaning because of its versatility, effectiveness, and affordability. It can effectively remove dirt, grime, and powder residue while providing lubrication and temporary corrosion protection.

By following the proper application steps and taking necessary precautions, you can maintain your firearms in optimal condition. However, always refer to your firearm’s manual for specific cleaning instructions and any restrictions on product use. With regular maintenance using WD-40, you can ensure your firearms perform reliably and last for years to come.






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