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Liquid Wash To Clean Brass?

5235 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  unclenick
Can anybody recommend a good “wash” that I can put my pistol brass through as a preliminary cleaning? I still intend to tumble it in walnut or corn husk to do a final cleaning and polishing, but I’d like to get rid of as much of the dirt and burned powder residue from inside the cases as I can before I start to work with it.

I know there are a number of formulas out there, but I also know that you have to be VERY careful what you use. I was told most of the acid based cleaners can etch or seriously weaken the brass, so I don’t want anything to do with that.

Does anybody know of a wash that will work well but not damage the brass in any way? Somebody recommended soapy water with a touch of vinegar in it – and then a good rinse in water and baking soda to get rid of the vinegar (which I know is slightly acidic)?

I see there are some commercial formulas available, but again I’m not sure which of them might contain acid or cause a problem.

Anybody know of anything that would work well.. As I said, mostly I just want to get rid of as much dirt and black burned powder residue from the inside of the cases as I can. I know this is not necessary, but I have lots of time (retired) and I figured I might as well clean the brass up as much as I can. I do pan to tumble the brass later in corn husk or walnut to finish cleaning and polishing, but that does not usually get the crud out of the inside of the cases.

Thanks in advance for any information and comments. I appreciate your help.
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As far as I know, the acid washes are fine within normal case life. It's mainly ammonia that you want to avoid (do a web search on season cracking to learn why). The main downside to vinegar is it activates the surface, so the cases tarnish when they dry, which bothers some folks more than others. You can use a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent like Dawn or baby shampoo with vinegar without neutralizing the acid. Board member Humpy likes large quantities of Ivory dishwashing liquid, specifically, but he uses no acid.

You can try using powdered citric acid if you like a better shine, but the cleaning action is less aggressive than white vinegar. The commercial brass cleaning liquids, like Iosso case cleaner use sulfamic acid and some kind of wetting agent.

Some folks use Dawn in very high concentration and let it dry on the cases to serve as the case lube, rinsing them off after sizing. I've not tried this myself. Most greases are forms of soap, so you might try Ivory liquid hand soap?
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