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Poll: What case cleaning method and media do you use?
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What case cleaning method and media do you use?


What case cleaning method do you use?

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Unread 03-25-2014, 10:55 AM
Gold Member
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Green River, Wyoming
Posts: 539
Re: What case cleaning method do you use?

Sweet! Thanks everyone for your input.

For what it's worth I had 19 pcs of 8x fired (without cleaning) 7RM brass that I decided to test on my new Lyman Turbo w/Walnut & Flitz Polish setup. After 3 hours they looked better than my buddies new 22-250 factory ammo that I had in the cupboard! I let them go another 3 hours just for kicks and holy smokes!! Shiny is an understatement ha ha It was jewelry-quality golden shine!

-The flexibility of your adaptability is the true measure of your intelligence-
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Unread 04-19-2014, 06:47 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Texas
Posts: 7,232
Re: What case cleaning method do you use?

Originally Posted by bdpayne2000 View Post
So I've got to ask all you STM fans don't you find the media separation, water and all that a real pain? I thought hard about it but fooling with all that then ending up with a bunch of wet brass.... Just not worth a little extra shine at least that is where I ended up with admittedly no real experience with the process other watching a couple You Tubes.
I am still on the fence on this one.

I like the fact that the brass comes out clean on the outside and in-side. and the primer pockets
also with the STM. The problem is the number of steps to end up with good results and the time rinsing and separating the pins from the brass. also if the brass is not well rinsed it will corrode very fast.

The vibratory method is easier but does not clean the inside of the case and the media gets stuck
in the primer pocket and has to be removed on some cases. Also the brass should be solvent cleaned
to remove any abrasives left on the case.

Sonic cleaners clean well but do not polish the brass (Some like the looks and feel of polished brass)

So In my opinion all three methods have there merit and may suite the needs of the reloader.

I use both the STM and the vibrator methods Depending on what I am looking for and the end results

I feel that some form of cleaning should be done no matter which method is used.

I know that this was no help but it is up to the individual to pick what method is best suited for him.

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Unread 04-19-2014, 08:17 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: S.E. Michigan
Posts: 4,120
Re: What case cleaning method do you use?


With me, it all depends on how many cases I'm cleaning and my time constraints. If I have unlimited time, I'll use the vibratory method and let them run for a day or more.

If I don't have an extended time, I use the STM but it is a PITA.

No method is 100% the pancea.
'It's not about me, it's about we'..........
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Unread 04-24-2014, 10:42 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Washington State
Posts: 491
Re: What case cleaning method do you use?

Just processed 516 556 range pickups. Zero mechanicals in this process that I developed when I shot full-auto in Idaho and had thousands of cases to clean. Tumbling would take days. This is from pickup to ready to prime, powder and seat bullets:
1)Deprime the cases in a universal deprimer die and brush the primer pockets with a RCBS pocket brush and the case necks with a one caliber larger stainless steel bore brush. Stainless brushes will scrub the crud out of the necks big time! I chuck the brushes into the drill press and drop them into a large bucket under the chuck. The brushing is very fast with a drill press.
2) Rinse with hot tap water to flush the mud away. Dump into a $1 garage sale colander. For those of you with lots of $ you can buy new a plastic colander for $6.
3) In a old Bulk Dishwasher Detergent bucket (about 1 1/2 gallon) add two tablespoons of Cascade or equivalent dishwasher detergent and enough hot water from the tap to cover the cases. My tap runs +140F because I reset the water heater. Stir with a spoon for about 2 -3 minutes. Add enough cold water to stick your hands in and rub the cases together for about 3 - 5 minutes. The water can get really dirty at this point and on some batches I do this twice. Dump into colander and back into the bucket for a hot water rinse with a lot of hot water. I use an old soup spoon to stir. Two hot water rinses. Total time at the sink at this point; <10 minutes.
4) Drying cycle: I use this method to dry cases. Dump cases onto old beach towel and pour them back and forth hammock style for about a minute. On an old cookie sheet I put a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and pour the cases onto it in a single layer with them knocked down to allow the air to circulate through the primer pockets. A batch of 300- 556 cases takes two cookie sheets. The oven is set at 170F- measured with an electronic oven thermometer- and the cases go in for exactly 1 hour. I bought an oven thermometer for my wife "to make sure the oven is set right for your world's best cookies". Feel free to use that ruse. You can pull them out to cool or just shut off the oven and let them cool over time if you don't need them right away.
5) At this point is the size- expand- trim steps, every thing you would do before primer and powder. On thing about case lube, you have to take it back off. I have used RCBS spray lube and it washes off with liquid dish soap but I switched to Hornady's One Shot as it has a very thin film and doesn't dent the case shoulders. It is supposed to not contaminate the powder or primer but who's going to risk that? I use it on pistol cases too as it makes the brass slip through the carbide sizer like poop through a goose.
6) Clean with liquid dish soap in hot water (I buy the cheapest stuff on the store shelf) stirring with the soup spoon for 2 minutes. Add cold water to lower the temp to tolerable and rub the cases together in hand fulls until you feel the lube is gone. This is a distinctive feel as when you first rub them together they are slick. They get squeaky when the lube is gone. Takes about 5 minutes start to finish for this step.
7) Hot water rinse and stir.
8) wash cycle with Cascade at about one table spoon in the bucket. Same procedure- cover with hot water and stir with spoon for about 2 minutes, then add cold and rub for 2 minutes. About 5 minutes total.
9) Two hot water rinses.
10) Citric acid wash: Two table spoons of citric acid into enough hot water to cover the cases and stir for about 2 minutes with the spoon! With the cases completely submerged walk away for 15 minutes. When you come back stir for another 2 minutes.
11) Another hot water rinse.
12) 1/2 teaspoon of Cascade in hot water and stir with the spoon. This will neutralize all remaining acid as dishwasher detergent in mildly basic. 2 minutes max, no need for more.
13) Two hot water rinses using lots of water. This step is to rinse any remaining chemicals off and ensure the brass has no contaminants remaining. Stir each rinse about 2 minutes with the spoon.
14) Drying cycle.
What case cleaning method do you use?-picture-24.jpg
This is the most recent batch before and after. The inside of the cases are as clean as the outside. No mechanicals and their associated time. Total time at the sink: <30 minutes. Wait time: 15 minutes for the acid and two hours total drying time. The cases have not been subject to abrasives and no residual grit goes through my dies or my guns.
I may upgrade this with an ultrasonic cleaner as my wife asked for one to clean her jewelry. Yes I married right and no, her sister is nothing like her and is already married.

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