What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Gun?

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Owning a gun can be for different reasons. It may be a hobby, for security, or you just want to go to the shooting range. There is one thing that all gun owners should do and that is clean their guns.

What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Gun?

Your gun could build up carbon, lead, and copper if you don’t clean it using a dependable cleaning kit. This can affect the function of your gun and end up malfunctioning. The most common thing that can happen is your gun won’t fire.

There are more things that can happen to your gun and I’ll discuss them further. Keep in mind that not cleaning your gun is a bad thing and it could lead to damaging effects to your guns.

Close-up view gun malfunction.

Possible Effects If You Don’t Clean Your Gun

  • Rusting – if you don’t clean your gun the residue build-up could interact with moisture and humidity. This can lead to rusting in some parts of your gun. Most rust starts inside the gun where it is hard to reach and clean. Hence, it’s important you do proper cleaning.
  • Residual fouling buildup – firing your gun creates fouling residue in the barrel. If it isn’t cleaned, it could build up. The fouling could affect your accuracy and eventually your gun’s reliability.
  • Unable to Fire – as mentioned before, your gun could end up not firing when you don’t clean it. It could render your gun useless and then you will have to pay a professional to repair it.
  • Failure to feed – if you overapply lubricant and end up not cleaning it for a long time, it may cause failure to feed. This means the round won’t travel to the chamber even when activated.
  • Failure to eject – failure to eject refers to the casing jamming in the barrel. It’s less dangerous than failure to feed or failure to fire. However, it is still annoying.

Why Cleaning Your Gun Is Important

Cleaning your gun is a necessity for a responsible gun owner. It also ensures your gun will be reliable should you need it in emergencies and life-threatening situations. Here are some important reasons to clean your gun.

Gain Knowledge

Cleaning your gun also gives you insight into how your gun works. When you regularly clean something you get to know how each part functions and how they are important to the gun. It will also be easier for you to spot any fault in your gun when you use it.

Maintain Good Condition

Keeping your gun in good condition is essential. If you want to resell it, you could still retain some of its value and sell it close to the price when you bought it. It also ensures your gun will function when the time comes you need it the most.

Disassembled handgun for maintenance.

Longer Use

Cleaning your gun regularly ensures your gun will work for a very long time. Guns can oftentimes be used in your lifetime. It may be even-handed down as an heirloom to your kids. Hence, it’s essential to clean it if you want it to work longer.

Related Questions

How Long Can a Gun Go Without Cleaning?

A gun can go without cleaning for about 6 months if it was not used. It also needs to be stored properly with little to no moisture. A fired gun without cleaning can be used for about 3 to 6 months before you notice some faults.

How Often Should You Clean Your Gun?

If you frequently use your gun, it is ideal to clean and oil your gun once a week. Some people even clean it before and after using it.


Cleaning your gun regularly is essential. If you want your gun to keep working for a long time, you should get into cleaning your gun and spend some time and money on it.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created KeepGunsSafe.com with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.