Easy Gun Cleaning Patches

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Like most of you I'm certain, I love to shoot my guns.  I enjoy shot after shot all day long at the shooting range… whether it is with one of my Shotguns, one of my rifles, or with my handgun… or when the crosshairs are on a big game animal in a safe shooting scenario. I love to shoot! What I don’t have the same excitement about is cleaning my gun afterwards.

Now this is not going to be gun cleaning 101 as every kit comes with its own set of directions and the internet also has a great deal of information.  But rather I am going to provide how to make your own gun cleaning patches for far less than what you can buy at your neighborhood big box sporting goods store.  And you can make them in 5 minutes or less!   

I am not a perfectionist but when it comes to cleaning my guns I want my barrels to be perfectly clean.  To do this I go through a lot of gun cleaning patches.  I want the last one coming out of the barrel perfectly clean.  Hoppes makes great gun cleaning products but I need to be cost conscious.  Most gun cleaning patches are made from 100% cotton.  One day while looking at one of my old t-shirts I noticed it was made of 100% cotton.  You cannot donate old used t-shirts to Goodwill so here is what I do…

I start by cutting off the shoulders, the neck, and the bottom hem.

T-Shirt with Neck, Shoulders, and Bottom Hem Removed

I then cut the remaining shoulder material and one side to have one open piece of material.

Open Cut T-shirt

Now using a simple ruler I measure out 3”x3” patches for shotgun needs or 1 ½” X 1 ½” patches for rifle and handgun needs and cut them using a good pair of scissors.  I can get about 75 shotgun patches out of a 44” (large) t-shirt or about 150 rifle/handgun patches out of the same.  Be certain to trim any hanging threads so to not foul your barrel.  Use them as you would any other patch.


WesternHunter's picture


After having run out of flannel material I now just go to the paint department of my local hardware store or home center and buy these 12 sheet bundles of 18x18 inch cotton cloths.  At $3 a bundle for 12 sheets they works just as well.  Take one sheet and cut in half.  One half is cut into patches to the size needed, then use the other half as a cleaning rag for the rest of the firearm. Outters also offers cotton patches of the same material for around $4 for about 225 pieces. When it comes to gun care I really don't buy into all these so-called advanced (overpriced) products being marketed today.  All these special lint-free patches, space-age greases, and advanced specially engineered gun oils, etc.  I like to keep it simple and just stick to the tried and true basics that have worked perfectly fine for shooters over the last several decades - Hoppes No.9 nitro solvent for the bore, WD-40 to clean the rest of the gun, wiped dry then followed by a final light film of a good simple gun oil like.... RemOil, FP-10, Kano Microil, or even 3 in One oil .......seems to work perfectly well for me anymore.

WesternHunter's picture

me too

I haven't bought cleaning patches in years.  I use old t-shirts too.  Just cut to size.  I also have gone to fabric stores and bought sheets of white cotton flannel for far less than patches cost at sporting goods store.  Just buy a large sheet of flannel and cut to size.  Nothing better.  I absolutley hate those synthetic patches that come in most pre-packaged cleaning kits, those things are pretty useless. 

I find that for powder/carbon fouling removal all you need to do is run a patch soaked with Hoppes No.9 through the bore and let it sit for up to 60 minutes while keeping the bore wetted.  If you do this then no brushing is usually required.  After that time frame simply swab a few newer solvent wetted patches through the bore until one comes out clean and then finish up with a dry patch.  I only use bronze bore brushes if lead is present from nonjacketed rimfire ammo or if plastic fouling is burnished on from shotgun wads.  But with some of this new shotgun ammo these days I don't notice much plastic wad fouling anymore.

COMeatHunter's picture

I do the same thing!

That's too funny.  I do exactly the same thing.  Several years ago I did it because I forgot to buy patches before I went shooting with the muzzleloader.  I decided to cut a hunk out of my t-shirt to clean the gun.  I didn't want to wait and have the corrosive powder pitting my barrel on the ride home.  It worked so well that I decided to cut up a couple of old t-shirts and make a bunch of patches for the muzzleloader, shotguns, and rifles.  Haven't looked back since!

I also use old t-shirts now to wrap the guns before putting them in their cases--kind of a cheap gun sock.  Helps to wipe them down and keep any moisture from freckling the blueing.  And if I forget patches again, I don't need to ruin the t-shirt I'm wearing.

Great tip!  Thanks!

ManOfTheFall's picture

Great tip. Since I pretty

Great tip. Since I pretty much am a bow hunter I don't so alot of gun shooting. I do like doing some target practice every now and then though. I too like you really like to have my guns clean especially since a very long time may go by before I shoot them again. This will definitely help me save a few bucks and will be a tip I will use when I'm ready to. Thanks for the tip.

hunter25's picture

Good tip. I just don't have

Good tip. I just don't have very many white t shirts around but I'll be sure to put any I do have to good use in the future. I have used quite a few cut up old socks for the outside of my guns but they get way to many loose threads to use down the barrell.

I have bought bags of patches before but they never seem to fit quite right or be cut to a good size. I'm going to round up some shirts and see how well I can do making a few of my own.

GooseHunter Jr's picture

Great tip.  That is actually

Great tip.  That is actually all I have used for years.  When a shirt is past its time it ends up in the man cave for a variety of uses. Thanks!

SGM's picture

Thanks, that make sense and

Thanks, that make sense and is cheap. I have use old T-Shirts to wipe down my weapons but never as cleaning patches.