The Best Way to Clean Brass in a Rotary Tumbler

Written by kaye wagner
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The Best Way to Clean Brass in a Rotary Tumbler
Saving casings and reloading them can save you money. (bullet image by glgec from

One of the best and easiest ways to clean brass is to place it in a rotary tumbler. This is especially useful if you have a large number of small items to clean and do not want to clean them individually. Rotary tumblers are often used to clean brass bullet casings for people who reload casings on their own. The casings, or shells, tumble with media and a polishing compound until they are completely clean and polished. Purchase all of the items you'll need at a gun store or a sporting supply store.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sieve
  • Water
  • Rotary tumbler
  • Corn cob or walnut media
  • Brass casings
  • Brass polishing compound
  • Brass separator
  • Zip top plastic bags

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  1. 1

    Place the brass shells in a sieve and run them under clear water to remove most of the black powder deposits. Lay the shells out to dry.

  2. 2

    Put the tumbler on the floor. This will prevent it from shifting on a workbench and falling on the floor.

  3. 3

    Open the tumbler barrel. There will usually be a door on the side of the barrel that you can unscrew and open.

  4. 4

    Fill the barrel with media until it is half full.

  5. 5

    Put the brass casings in the media.

  6. 6

    Fill the rest of the rotary tumbler with the media.

  7. 7

    Add the polishing compound to the rotary tumbler according to the polish manufacturer's instructions and the quantity of media and brass you are using.

  8. 8

    Turn the rotary tumbler on and leave it alone for several hours. Periodically check the tumbler to see if the brass is cleaned and polished.

  9. 9

    Turn off the tumbler when the brass is completely clean and polished. This should take several hours.

  10. 10

    Pour the contents of the tumbler into the basket of the brass separator.

  11. 11

    Close the brass separator's basket top and turn the handle until all of the media is removed from the inside of the cases. Remove the cases and store them in plastic zip-top bags.

Tips and warnings

  • Clean different-sized shells in several loads to prevent smaller shells from getting stuck inside larger shells.

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