Soap and water pistol cleaning - Pistolsmith

Go Back   Pistolsmith > Pistolsmith Forum > Workshop

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-17-2002, 05:10 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 2
Soap and water pistol cleaning

I have seen reference to a method for cleaning pistols with boiling water and soap. Can someone describe this cleaning method in detail? John Lawson has talked about it in a past post but did not give details. Does anyone have a copy of his instructions.
Remove Ads
Old 11-17-2002, 06:50 PM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 705
Probably not been around enough, but the only time I've ever used
soap and water was on a barrel of a muzzle loader. My pistol get brushed
out with Hopps and if there is some crub, a little crud cutter! The crub washed out everything including lubricants, so you would have to lubricate the pistol properly.

Old 11-17-2002, 07:31 PM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 109
In the service we used to clean everything in hot soapy water from sidearms to rifles to shotguns. We would just immerse, soak, scrub, and then rinse in hot, hot water, and then lube with CLP. It works great, but it is hard on the finish, and would probly destroy bluing. I don't do it anymore as now the way a firearm looks means a little more to me than it did then.
Old 11-17-2002, 09:23 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,788
There's also a method where you actually boil the gun parts in a large pot with soap.
Supposedly the crud would boil off the gun and adhere to the sides of the pot.
Old 11-18-2002, 12:58 AM   #5
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 14
Ultrasonic soap and water cleaning

When I had access to an ultrasonic bath, I used to clean all sorts of gun parts in it with a liquid dishwashing soap and water solution. Worked very well, but would lighten the bluing if left in the bath for an hour or so. Most of the cleaning is done is about 15-20 minutes.

The same method will clean the crud out of a pocketknife. Just don't clean your watch in it. One of the guys did that and it loosened every screw in the watch.
Old 11-20-2002, 10:41 AM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Tacoma, WA
Posts: 391
Military ammunition manufactured by the arsenals until 1946 used chlorate primers. During WW-I and afterward, the arsenals used mercurial primers. Bopth types were highly corrosive.
During tests in the 1920's, the Bureau of Mines was asked by the Ordnance Corps to make tests on which cleaning method would best neutralize the chlorate salts and prevent corrosion in the bores that had been subjected to these types of primer. They found that G.I. soap and boiling water cleaned the salt residue out better than any petrolleum based solvent. (Little wonder: G. I. soap was a harsh lye soap.)
The early field manuals for the 1903 rifle and the 1911 pistol stated that after firing, the weapon must be cleaned by the soap and water method for three successive days. This was a major source of displeasure during the between wars years.
The muzzle of the barrel was submerged in the boiling soap and water pot and drawn up into the tube by tight patches on a cleaning rod. This was followed by dry patches in and on the still hot barrel to remove every trace of moisture.
When the bore is found to be clean and dry, and it cools down a bit, it is advisable to apply grease (some prefer gun oil) to the bore and finiish with dry patches.
Happily, the government finally supplied a bore cleaner that killed salt residue. It smelled like creosote and ammonia. It was standard unit issue during World War II and Korea, making the soap and water method obsolete and doing away with the necessity of cleaning on three successive days.
The boiling water tank prior to blueing is not a substitute for bore cleaning. If the barrel is removed from the boiling water and detergent, regular bore cleaning solvents will usually remove more grunge from deep in the pores of the steel, sharp corners at the bottom of lands, etc. Then back into the boiling water and detergent after the dry patches come out clean.
Old 11-20-2002, 08:08 PM   #7
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 443
Wow that must of hurt: "drawing boiling water up 1911 barrell with tightly fitting patches" . I agree about sonic tank I use hot water and simple green for about 10 minutes the trick being to put parts on nice white terry cloth towels while water evaporates before CLPing. This way complicated guns dont need complete take down to get out grunge.
Old 11-20-2002, 11:36 PM   #8
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 14
Drying parts

Drying the parts on a terry cloth towel reminded me of "the rest of the story." I used to rinse the parts with clean water and then dip them in acetone after the ultrasonic cleaning. Acetone will get rid of all the water and the parts will air dry in a short time. The caution here is that the parts must be oiled to prevent rust as all oil and grease will be removed.

Acetone is available in the paint department at hardware stores. The acetone rinse can be poured back into the can and re-used.

The ultrasonic bath cleaning and acetone drying method also works well to clean resizing lube off of cartridge cases.
Old 11-21-2002, 06:08 PM   #9
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 2
I appreciate all the input so far. I am really interested in the boiling water and soap/soda cleaning method because I would like to cut down on my use of strong chemicals.
I don't have an ultrasonic tank so must use a pot on the stove and I want to make sure I know what I am doing before I ruin a good gun.
Do I just immerse the gun parts in boiling water after the fire is turned off or do I put the gun in while the water is still boiling?
Should the parts be on a rack of some kind?
How long can the parts be in the boiling water without hurting the finish?
Do I rinse in clear water as a final step?
Old 11-21-2002, 07:58 PM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,788
They method I read about called for bringing the water to a boil, and dropping the parts in.
Boil until they look clean, take out and rinse well with hot water, oil immediately.

This method called for ordinary kitchen liquid soap in the boiling water.

If it's the gun cleaning chemicals you need to stay away from,
I've often used a kitchen/garage spray cleaner to clean off the gunk. Some people even use Windex with good results.

I'd seriously try this before I started boiling guns. The chances of finish damage is rather high.

If you insist on trying this, try it on a cheap gun first, so if it's damaged you aren't hurt too bad.

Please let us know the results.

  Pistolsmith > Pistolsmith Forum > Workshop

Search tags for this page
can you wash clen your 1911 pistol with water
clean gun hot soapy water
clean rifle with boiling water
cleaning gun with soap

cleaning guns with soap and water

cleaning handgun dish
cleaning you gun in boiling water
gun cleaning hot soapy water
is it ok to clean guns with soap and water
Click on a term to search for related topics.

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Wish I could walk on water cohee Pictures 5 05-04-2010 07:28 AM
After you dye, do you dunk in water to get excess off? JoseM Holsters and Belts 3 06-08-2007 10:03 AM
Best quality pistol cleaning rod rodgers330 Workshop 1 01-09-2005 09:13 AM
Contact with salt water rijc99 Glock Pistols 3 02-11-2004 12:38 AM
Ultrasound pistol cleaning fluid? E Evans Gun Talk 3 04-24-2002 05:36 PM

Top Gun Sites Top Sites List

Powered by vBulletin 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright © 1999-2012 Pistolsmith. All rights reserved.