Cartridge Cleaning Methods Explained

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The very first step in the reloading process is cleaning your scavenged cartridges. There are several ways to prepare them for reloading, so choose your favorite and add it to your reloading supplies.
Dry Tumbler

Dry Tumbling

Dry tumblers utilize a cleaning media to effectively scour your cartridges clean. This media is typically crushed walnut shells or bits of corn cob. Your cartridges are “tumbled” with this media for several hours and end up free of debris and come out shiny as well. Because it doesn’t use water, you won’t need to wait for cartridges to dry out after they’ve been tumbled. However, the media that does the cleaning will need to be replaced frequently, as it will be collecting all the dirt and debris. You’ll have to clear your brass of any media bits before you reload.

It’s also important to sort your cartridges and only run like calibers together, as they can get stuck inside one another if sizes vary. A shell sorter tray can be a handy addition to your reloading supplies for this very reason.
Wet Tumbler

Wet Tumbling

Similar to a rock tumbler, this method uses a drum filled with stainless steel pins, cleaning solution, and water to get your cartridges remarkably clean. It’s great for large amounts of brass and can get flash holes and primer pockets clean as well, if you take the time to deprime before washing. The water and solution is replaced for each cycle, but the pins won’t ever need replacing. As water is involved, the brass will need to dry completely after washing. This method also requires you to remove the pins from the cartridges, which you can accomplish by using a magnet or media separator.

The Ultrasonic Cleaner

This method is slightly different than other cleaners in this list of reloading supplies—it involves sound waves which vibrate through the cleaning mixture of detergent and water to separate the dirt and debris from your cartridges. This process is great for those who want to get a large amount of brass cleaned quickly, as it takes only a few minutes to run a cycle. The water will need to be replaced, but there will be no media to shake out of the cases. Your brass will need to be completely dry before being used for reloading.

Adding a cleaner to your reloading supplies can give you squeaky clean, like-new brass. Whichever method you choose to get your cartridges clean is up to you; the important thing is that you wash them well and let them dry appropriately before reloading. For further information or inquiries please contact Titan Reloading at 262.397.8819 or visit

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