Cleaning a gun with a paper towel or just a plain old cloth towel instead of a dedicated gun cleaning cloth is just asking for trouble.
Anything with lots of moving mechanical parts should be kept free of the fuzz, lint, and paper scraps that these cleaning options are sure to leave behind, so a good microfiber or lint-free cloth is pretty essential, especially for deep cleaning.
Even better, some dedicated gun cleaning cloths have protectants and rust preventatives built in so that when you’re wiping grease, dirt, and other crap off, you’re also continuing to protect your gun from corrosion, water damage, and more that a regular microfiber cloth won’t help with.
So what are the best gun cleaning cloths out there? I’m so glad you asked.
These are the gun cleaning cloths that we use in our own lives as professional shooters and gunsmiths. They also all have excellent customer reviews on Amazon, and are all fantastic options for when you need to wipe down your gun, and all of them would make a fine addition to any gun cleaning kit.
What Are Gun Cleaning Cloths?
Gun cleaning cloths are, as you might have guessed from the name, cloths designed specifically for gun cleaning.
What does that really mean though?
They aren’t magic, but they are designed specifically for gun cleaning (or cleaning mechanical stuff in general). This means that they won’t leave behind little bits of fuzz and lint that can cause reliability issues.
The whole point of cleaning a gun is to keep it in proper working order, so using something like a cheap dish cloth or paper towel to apply your lubricating gun oil or what have you is really working at cross purposes to the overall goal because you’re just going to introduce more debris that can cause a malfunction.
With a dedicated cleaning cloth or polishing cloth, you don’t have to worry about getting CLP or gun oil all over the place, and you can use the same rag again and again.
What Are The Different Types of Gun Cleaning Cloths?
There are three main types of gun cleaning cloths.
First, there’s a standard cotton rag. This can be an old t-shirt that you didn’t quite finish cutting up to make cleaning patches out of or you can just buy a bulk pack of cotton cleaning rags, they’ll be about the same.
These rags work well but they wear quickly and they aren’t super absorbent so they aren’t as good for applying oil, but they can be good for cleaning carbon off certain parts.
Next, you have the option to go with a microfiber cloth. These are a little bit more resilient and are great for cleaning and will almost never leave behind any little fuzzies or anything like that. These are also much better for applying oil and such.
Finally, you have the option for a silicone cloth. These cloths come pre-treated with a corrosion preventative, which is great for wiping down exterior surfaces to keep them from rusting. These treatments repel water which is great, and it protects well against oils from your skin and sweat also.
How Do Gun Cleaning Cloths Work?
Gun cleaning cloths can be used to apply oil, remove water and caustic oils from your skin, and to scrub away carbon fouling from stubborn parts like a bolt face.
Beyond that, they’re just great to have on hand for cleaning and maintaining firearms as they are typically washable and much better than paper towels, both for the environment and for your gun.
The whole goal behind a dedicated gun cleaning cloth is to have something that you can use to clean your guns effectively, without a whole lot of wasted effort or leaving behind little bits of lint or scraps of paper.
With most options, you’re looking for a tight-weave cloth that won’t leave behind any of that crap whenever you wipe down your guns, and something that won’t hold on to dirt, pet hair, and whatever else that might get stuck to a regular old rag such as a terry cloth dish towel or something similar.
You also have the option of skipping applying a protectant and just going with a cloth that already has one built in!
This is an especially great option for keeping in a range bag or in your backpack when you’re hunting because you can wipe off water, dirt, or what have you in the field, and be confident in knowing that you just reapplied a protectant to keep corrosion at bay.
A cloth like this also removes fingerprints and acts as an oil remover as well, which makes it great for wiping down valuable antique firearms or other collector’s items that you want to keep presentation-ready.
Finally, you can use these cloths for other things too, such as applying wax to a stock (or your vintage muscle car) or applying oil to something like a fishing reel. They’re just handy to have around, and make a great addition to any home shop or garage toolbox.
What Do You Look For In The Best Gun Cleaning Cloths?
As a gunsmith who goes through a box of shop rags every month, I know my way around some gun cleaning cloths, so I really wanted to make sure that I was recommending cloths that I actually use here.
When choosing a gun cleaning cloth for you own use, you need to think about your own needs. Are you looking for something cheap and disposable, or do you want something you can wash and reuse for a while?
Most importantly, are you looking for something that comes with a protectant built in so you can keep guns free of corrosion and working well in the field, or are you looking for something to aid the deep cleaning in the garage and make that process a little smoother?
Whatever you’re looking for, there’s an option on this list for you.
Best Gun Cleaning Cloths Reviewed
Of all the gun cleaning cloth options I’ve used over the years, there were several that stood out as being a better choice than the rest, and of those I picked the ones that have served me the best and have the best Amazon reviews.
Hoppe’s No. 9 Silicone Gun And Reel Cloth (Our Top Pick)
As soon as you saw “gun cleaning” in the title, you had to know Hoppe’s would have an entry on the list.
Hoppe’s is probably the most recognizable name in gun cleaning, and with good reason. Their big sellers are the bore cleaners and gun oil, but their Silicone Gun and Reel Cloth is also excellent!
They’re cheap, made of a high-quality microfiber flannel, and they come treated with a silicone lubricant that works well on anything with lots of moving parts, particularly firearms and fishing reels, hence the name.
If you’re looking for an affordable, multi-purpose option that will work well for cleaning in the garage or for protecting your rifle while on a hunt, this is a great choice.
Won’t leave lint behind
Excellent silicone lubricant also offers protection from water and removes caustic skin oils and fingerprints
Not washable (it’ll remove the silicone treatment)
If you’re looking for something cheaper that’s a little more reusable, or something you can just throw away once it gets too dirty, then the Axtion Products Cotton Cleaning Cloths are a great choice.
They make a good general-purpose shop towel for metalwork, and they’re great for any application where you don’t want to leave dust or lint behind, or transfer them to another surface. They’re cheap enough that you won’t mind ruining them scrubbing an AR-15 bolt carrier, and you can always attempt to wash them.
All in all, a good, high-quality, finely-woven cotton shop rag is never a bad choice.
Good multi-purpose cloth
Lots of applications for gun cleaning, including the ability to be cut up for cleaning patches
Otis Technology Microfiber Gun Cloth (Best High End)
Otis Technology is another well-known name in the gun cleaning and maintenance world, and they make some of my favorite gunsmithing products as well. The Otis Technology Microfiber Gun Cloth is one of them.
These are absolutely great for cleaning guns, knives, tools and machinery, and even optics, making them perfect for gun enthusiasts or hobby gunsmiths. Even the pros use these religiously, and they’re never a bad investment.
Personally, I keep one of these in my hunting backpack and one in my range bag at all times. They’re great for touching up the lens on my optic, and they can be used to clean or wipe things down as needed.
Excellent microfiber cloth is perfect for cleaning optics
If you’re looking for an alternative to the Hoppe’s cloth, the Pro Shot Gun Care Silicone Cleaning Cloth is a great choice.
This is an American-made product that is 100% cotton flannel, and it’s treated with a double shot of silicone protectant. It can easily remove fingerprints, dust, lint, excess oil, and other debris, and leaves behind a thin layer of the silicone protectant to keep your gun safe from caustic skin oils and moisture.
This is a great choice for keeping in a hunting pack in case of rain, or if you’re expecting to be trekking through a particularly wet area. If you’re a duck hunter, you have no reason not to own something like this.
Remington’s MoistureGuard Cloth is practically legendary when it comes to protecting a firearm from water damage. The volatile corrosion inhibitor treatment it leaves behind is one of the strongest and longest lasting rust-preventatives you can get in a treated gun cleaning cloth like this.
This cloth is great for wiping down guns, knives, or really anything that’s made out of metal and it instantly protects on contact. Best of all, the cloth itself is a high-quality microfiber that won’t leave behind fuzzies or collect lint and what have you.
This is another great option to leave in a hunting pack or range bag as it can quickly and easily wipe down and protect your guns while in the field. It’s also a good final step in the cleaning process if you want to remove fingerprints from bluing or other surfaces to protect them.