What’s the Best Way to Clean Brass for Reloading?


I have been reloading now since I was 16 years old, which means I have been doing it now for a total of 51 years. I started with my Stepfather and then some High school friends and even a couple State Policemen Fire Arms Instructor friends and Army Friends I have had through the years, which means I have done just about everything to clean brass. I started with a bucket and Dawn dish soap and shaking, anything I could do to get the hot water and dish soap to clean the brass. Then I discovered the dry media tumble, life was good or so I thought. About 8 to 10 years ago I got a new at the time, Hornady sonic cleaner and dry tumble was out the window! Then I got another model Hornady sonic cleaner with a built-in heater and a much longer timer! To me this was it; I knew I have crossed over into the shiny brass bridge! I didn’t even mind turning each piece of brass over on a metal rack so I could put them in the oven on low to dry for 30 minutes or so. But then one day I tried just taking them from the cleaner to rinse under hot water to a towel. Towel dried but some of the insides are still not cleaned great.I take the towel and put the brass in the middle, fold the towel over and let the brass sag a little and roll the edges up and work the towel back and forth to shake and roll and tumble the water out of the cases. After a couple minutes, I dump the brass into another towel that is dry and do it for about 3 to five minutes and the brass is dry and ready to use! I was satisfied until a friend of mine comes over to give me some 9mm and 45acp he cleaned. It looked like a brand new brass, in fact, This brass was also de primed and resized but the inside of each case looked like it has never had powder in it and It looked like he was giving me new brass. Well, I was wrong, he said he tumbled it. I tumbled brass for years and it NEVER looked like new inside and out! Current brass cleaner I have and use with 5 pounds of stainless steel media He then said, “Wet Tumble” and do it with stainless steel pins. He bought a brand new wet tumbler and as great friends do, he passed his older model to me, stainless media and all. So now I will say there is NO BETTER WAY TO CLEAN ANY USED BRASS, even the old black looking found lying in the wet grass at the range the WET TUMBLE with stainless media! I am using hot water with a little of the Hornady sonic cleaner fluid for now because I have some left, but you can use hot water and a little Simple Green or Purple Power. It's hard to see but the inside of my 223 brass is just as clean as the outside with the wet tumbler! Get one, and if you are just starting out in reloading, don’t waste time and money on dry tumbler or sonic cleaner unless you want to sonic clean gun parts. Get a wet tumbler with stainless media first and be done with it here is a link to Amazon with some of the wet tumblers they sell:



Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Hand Deprimer Tool for Standard Primer Removal for Reloading - 909283


Frankford Arsenal 2 lb Stainless Steel Tumbling Media Pins for Cleaning and Reloading


Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler Spare Drum for Cleaning and Polishing for Reloading



Founding Member
Awesome links!

I have a Hornady reloading kit that I haven't had the chance to setup yet but hopefully I will in the next couple of months. The tumbler and media is all I need to get started.


El Lobo, just out of curiosity, I wonder how it would work with a good dry tumbler but using the stainless steel pins for the media? Any idea?

The SS pins are designed for tumblers as for what they state anyway. The vibrator action doesn't work as well as the tumblers. You could totally submerge possibly? I tried wet in my dry and it worked average.


Founding Member
They look new when they come out even on the inside .
I left dry tumbling behind very soon after I started reloading (a mere 2 1/2 years ago) and went to the FART with pins. Absolutely lovely brass. That said, I picked up a large ultrasonic cleaner in January, and I've got to say...it isn't "as good" as the FART, but it is significantly less work. I've found the sooner I get fired brass into the tank, the better the result. AND I can do it right in my reloading room, which is a bedroom I took over. Much quieter, I use the same solution I used in the FART, AND I can reuse the solution by capturing it in a 1 1/2 gallon former windshield solution bottle. The dirt, dust, and carbon settle to the bottom of the container, and I can get over 75% of the clean solution out before the sediment begins to mix. I pour that out and add just a touch more newly mixed cleaning solution.

I usually tumble with pins for 3 hours when I use the FART to get the best result, but I get a really decent result from the ultrasonic in 50 minutes. I've never tried to do 3 hours in the ultrasonic. I think it would shorten the life of the tank and heating elements.

On the other hand, the best results I've ever seen and touched (but haven't attempted) was brass cleaned in a wet tumbler using ceramic media. That stuff looks absolutely new ( used brass from Ammobrass.com). They sell cleaned, deprimed and cleaned, and fully processed, all according to one's need or wallet.


Founding Member
I’m an old man, and don’t shoot much anymore. I deprime brass on a lee decapping die, run through an ultrasonic cleaner. I dry in the Arizona sun, then polish in a tumbler. Then resize. Like new.
I’m an old man, and don’t shoot much anymore. I deprime brass on a lee decapping die, run through an ultrasonic cleaner. I dry in the Arizona sun, then polish in a tumbler. Then resize. Like new.
I deprime before clean, also. If you use the process I mentioned, you'll likely find you no longer need the tumbler polish. Shiny inside and out when dry.