How to Clean a Spinning Reel? A step-by-step Guide to Perfect your Fishing experience

Fishing is not only a therapeutic hobby, but it also delivers a delicious treat in the form of healthy food. Fond of fishing and wants to regularly practice this hobby is aware that he needs appropriate equipment to last long.

Any kind of gear you want to use for a long time would require care and attention, and maintenance. Just in case you’re worried about the complicated stuff, don’t! Because in this particular article, we will be giving you some tips and tricks on how to clean a spinning reel so that you don’t have to call your daddy next time! 


Cleaning spinning reels is a complicated task because of their intricate mechanisms. To do it correctly, we have some tips to share that will help you clean them the right way for your product’s most efficient use for as long as possible.


The primary use of fishing reel is in water; whether salt-water or not, water causes metals corrosion. This corrosion can lead to stiffness of ball bearings and gears, which affects the reel’s performance in many ways. Yes, cleaning your spinning reels is essential otherwise.

  • Reel’s lay line gets jagged.
  • Pulling the reel back won’t be smooth.
  • Loss of cranking power.

Cleaning, lubing, or oiling your gears and ball bearings will restore their efficient functions and prepare them for long term use. The question stands, how to clean your spinning reel the right way?

Well, let’s get on with it!

Get your supplies:

To start your cleaning and maintenance process, you should have your baitcaster cleaning kit. Why didn’t we mention the spinning reel cleaning kit? Well, because it’s multipurpose! The kit should include a screwdriver, a wrench, tweezers, warm water, cleaning fluid or soap, grease, and reel oil.

Use fiber cloth:

Use a fiber cloth to clean your reel to prevent any damage.

Three parts of cleaning:

There are three parts to cleaning your reel, opening it, cleaning and polishing it thoroughly, and lubrication. You don’t have to open your spinning wheel but slightly loosen the drag knob, wash the spindle, and the spool with water and soap. You can do the necessary cleaning with the cleaning fluid and a fiber cloth, removing the oils and dirt. Let your spinning wheel dry, and then we can move on to polishing.

Polishing or coating is simple as it sounds; using a cloth wet with your reel coating, you can polish your reel for protection and polish. Some people use Aluma Guard or WD-40, but these guards are sometimes not compatible with your reel and won’t protect it for long. We advise you to get the coating, which has been suggested to you by your reel manufacturer. It is a bit bothersome but worth it.

The very final step aside for reassembling the reel is lubricating the reel. You can lubricate the reel with the reel oil that is more suited for your reel or has come with the reel. If you do not use grease, your reel will eventually rust, and you won’t fish easily as the reel won’t work efficiently.

Deep cleaning your reel:

Cleaning your reel is essential but complete disassembly of your reel. Deep cleaning is sometimes not easy to do for a beginner or any ordinary person in general. It is best to do this in the winter season when you will not use your reel. Let a professional deep clean your reel for you.

At these service centers, they disassemble your reel correctly and thoroughly. They clean the reel with an ultrasonic dunk method usually.

Examining and reassembly:

A best spinning reel has very sensitive and intricate inner-workings. After deep cleaning, the professionals test the different parts of it to examine whether the features will work and last for years or not. Some elements that should be dry are not lubricated, and others are, for their proper function.

For instance, drag materials require oiling to perform their function. Generally, drag washers replacement occurs if they seem worn out. This examination determines whether any parts need replacement or not. It ensures the better performance of the reel.

Best way to clean a spinning reel including in seawater:

Well, a lot of people have no idea how to clean a spinning reel for saltwater use. To tell you from the very beginning; The best way to clean a spinning reel starts with gently rinsing each wheel to remove the salt particles.

An important point to note is not to loosen the drags at this cleaning point and not use too much water pressure; it may force the salt and dirt into your internal components.

You can also make sure to use warm, soapy fresh water so that it can effectively salt, body oils, and silt.  After this, rinse the reel gently with your hot water in tow and wipe it dry with a clean cloth.

Another thing you can do is to clean the line as well. If possible, you can remove the spool and wash it individually under the fresh running water mentioned above. It will allow you to remove any form of gunk or salt from under the reel rotor’s spool and top.

To top the cleaning process off, you should spray some lubricating protectant onto a clean cloth and wipe over the reel. Being extra careful not to wipe the line as some lubricating products cause deterioration.

How to service a spinning reel:

Before going through your fishing trip, you should always ensure that your spinning reel runs adequately by moving the handle and checking if the drag is functioning correctly.

To ensure that all moving parts are working, We advise using one drop of Shimano Bantam oil in the maintenance port for spinning reel every two times you go fishing.

After every fishing trip, we recommend you to do essential maintenance and cleaning on your spinning reel. You can rely on a fishing reel cleaning service for that; however, if you’re a good DIY, the details are given above!

Spinning reel cleaner:

One of the best, if not the best, fishing reel cleaner available in the market at the moment, might be PENN rod and reel cleaner. It effectively removes dirt and grime from the reels while also being useful in preventing corrosion. Moreover, it also helps slow down salt built-up when using reels in salt infested waters (seawater).

The only use of the cleaner comes after the lubricating spinning reels. Not only does it claim to be excellent and used by professionals, but many reviewers also support the claim, including us.

We can confirm that not only will it clean and protect your rod; it will also leave it in a better condition than before. Many users claimed their rods to be magical and even preserving the luster rather than the expectation that it would deteriorate the shine if applied directly.

 It comes in a 12-ounce spray bottle known for its quality and durability. Hence, rest assured, your fishing equipment would be safe in the hands of a PENN rod and spinning reel cleaner.

It’s composed of the highest standard of quality products. It is even sufficient for pliers, knives, and even boat trailers, so not only great for your fishing tool but your whole fishing equipment as a whole.

How to oil a spinning reel:

To oil a spinning reel, you would need the following:

  • Reel oil
  • Reel cleaning solvent
  • Clean terry cloth pieces
  • Paper towels
  • Light bristle brushes
  • Cotton swabs
  • Lastly, your spinning reel


  1. Firstly, make yourself a comfortable workplace. Set all of your materials and a clean cloth ready to use with you in a well-lit area. We start by applying a cleaning solvent to the bail connection points and line roller parts of the reel, respectively.
  1. Following that, gently scrub respectively with a bristle brush and wipe them dry while also applying a few drops of reel oil to the ball connection points. Repeatedly open and close the bail until you feel confident that it’s mostly absorbed the oil.
  1. After this, we get prepared to clean and oil the spool. Firstly, we unscrew and remove the drag knob. We follow this up by removing the spool from the reel body and applying cleaning solvent to the drag knob, both inside the spool and other exposed areas.
  1. We use the clean cloth to wipe then and successfully remove dirt, debris, or any excess oil. We use cotton swabs to remove grime for the tough to get to crevices and follow it up with a few drops of reel oil to both the main shaft and gears. After this, we place the spool back on the reel body and reattach the drag knob to reassemble.
  1. Following this, we then move on to oiling the bearings in the reel body. By removing the screw cap on the reel body, we can then unscrew the reel handle and remove, using cotton swabs again, to wipe off dirt or old lubricant.
  1. Then, we apply one drop of reel oil to each bearing and the joints on the handle, following it with reassembling the handle and screw cap. Lastly, for added protection, we will wipe down the entire reel lightly with reel oil so it can bead of water during its hopefully prolonged use.


Does expensive spinning reels also required cleaning?

Yes! either you have a most expensive spinning reel and the best beginner spinning reel, it requires the cleaning after fishing.

Does techniques for cleaning Saltwater and Freshwater reel are same?

Yes! either you have a best freshwater spinning reel or a saltwater spinning reel, their cleaning process is same. The Kit for cleaning can be different but the basic of cleaning are same.

How to clean a spinning reel_ A step-by-step guide

Bottom Line

We have given you a guidebook on how to clean a spinning reel the right way. Use these tips and tricks, and you will enjoy using your spinning reels and get the most out of the price you have paid for it.

If you are looking for the best budget spinning reel to add to your arsenal or the one for your junior to get his hands dirty, you can read our detailed review.

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