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How to Clean Fishing Reels – Complete Guide of All Four Types

If you want your reel to work well for the long term, you must keep them clean. Not just that, but it’s also essential to keep your fishing equipment in check. Otherwise, your reels will stop working sooner than your expectations. However, cleaning them is not a simple task. So, the question we are answering here is, “how to clean fishing reels properly?” 

How to Clean Fishing Reels

As I mentioned before, it is not an easy task. It requires disassembling the equipment, cleaning it from the outside, and maintaining it with oil from the inside. However, it is not that complicated too. Once you follow the proper steps and learn everything, you’ll clean your fishing reels in no time. 

In this guide, we’ll talk about the proper steps involved in the process of cleaning a fishing reel. So if you don’t know anything about this, start reading. We’ll walk you through every critical step of how to clean fishing reels. Without further ado, let’s begin. 

How to Clean Fishing Reels – All Four Types

We all are aware of the importance of fishing reels. Without them, we probably won’t be able to catch big fish. So, we have to check in on our reels. We don’t know what kind of reels you prefer, so we added a portion for all of them. This article includes a cleaning guide of spinning, baitcasting, spin casting, and fly reels. Let’s start reading.

1. Spinning Reel

Spinning Reel

In this portion, we’ll be answering a very important question, “How to clean a spinning reel?”. Here is a step-by-step guide for that purpose. 


  • First of all, you have to clean the outer surface of the reel. Wipe off any sand, salt, or dirt deposits with water. 
  • The second step involves screwing off the cap and removing the spool.
  • The third step is all about removing the dust particles from the inside of the spool. Also, clean the drag washers. From here on, things will get a bit complicated. 
  • After removing all the dust particles, add oil to the spool base and distribute it well in the shaft. 
  • Now’s the time to put the spool back and screw it on. 
  • Remove the handle and clean it from sand and dirt. 
  • Oil the front of the handle(that inserts the reel) so it won’t stick.
  • Remove the bail arm and roller of the spinning reel. Clean the roller with a Q-tip and clenzoil. 
  • Put it back on and start cleaning the frame from dirt. 

That’s pretty much it. You don’t need to spend hours just cleaning. However, cleaning your best spinning reel is a very important task, and it requires focus. Carefully unscrew and disassemble the reel. Then after cleaning it, reassemble it with perfection. You can also clean your offshore spinning reel in the same way. 

2. Baitcasting Reel

Baitcasting Reel

Cleaning a baitcasting reel is more challenging and requires more time and care than spinning reels. These reels have a totally different structure and design, which makes them a bit technical to clean. Luckily, we brought you a complete guide about cleaning the baitcasters. Let’s get on with it. 


  • The first step is to start cleaning the outside of the reel with a towel or a clean cloth. Clear all the dirt and sand deposits with water. 
  • After cleaning the outside properly, open the cover and take out the spool. Then clean the body from the inside just like before. Make sure to clean every last dust deposit. 
  • Soak the line and spool in warm water for a few minutes, then dry them. 
  • After the spool is dry, start oiling it. In this way, your spool will work better and smoothly. 
  • Now is the time to put Q-tips in action. Dip them in alcohol and start cleaning the inside part with great focus so that you won’t forget any spots. Carefully remove all the dirt from the inside. 
  • After cleaning your reel correctly, lubricate your reel bearings with a lubricating gel. This process will increase your reel’s life by reducing the chances of corrosion. Moreover, it’ll also make the reel better and smoother than before. 
  • Remove the handle and soak it in warm water. After that, allow it to dry. Then clean the handle with oil to increase its durability. 
  • Let the cleaned parts dry, and then reassemble the reel in the same way you disassembled it. 

Cleaning a baitcaster not only makes it new and shiny again but also increases the durability of the reel. Do not forget to use clean tools for the process, or else it will get worse. Make sure your reel is carefully reassembled and, this is how you clean fishing reels. 

3. Spin Casting Reels

Spin Casting Reels

Cleaning your best spincast reel is very important. It allows your reel to work well and smoothly and live longer than expected. Even more, cleaning also makes your reel look like new, no matter how old it is. However, disassembling a spin casting reel is way more complicated than baitcasting and spinning reels. So I suggest you be very careful.


If you can’t take it apart, then take advice from professionals or experienced ones. Here is a way to clean your spin casting reel properly. 

  • First of all, you have to put your spincast reel in freshwater for soaking. The water will get inside the reel and soften any buildup. 
  • Now remove the covers gently. Then remove the spool, center shaft, crank bearing, washers, crank handle, and clutch ring. A word of advice, be cautious.
  • Now that the reel is disassembled, you can start cleaning it with a toothbrush or anything that cleans dirt. You should clean the outside first. After you’re done with it, clean the inside part. 
  • Carefully clean every component of the reel. Make sure there’s no dirt remaining. Check every corner of every blindspot, so you don’t miss anything. 
  • After removing all the dirt from the inside, clean the reel with a cloth. In this way, every dust particle will be escorted out quickly. 
  • Now that you’ve cleaned your spincast reel, it’s time for lubricating. Add grease in crank gears and shaft, pick-up arm, washers, and bushings. Also, add oil to the arm lever, ball bearings, spool, and clutch ring. 
  • Reassemble the reel after the lubricating process. Make sure to place everything back nicely. I believe you won’t face any problem in reassembling parts. 

As I mentioned before, disassembling a spincast reel is much more complicated than baitcasting and spinning reels. If you don’t feel good about it, ask for help. Once someone helps you with disassembling, start cleaning it by following our steps. In this way, you will have a nice and clean spin caster in your box. 

4. Fly Reels

Fly Reels

Cleaning a fly reel is not a very difficult task, but it is different. The construction of the reels can vary between manufacturers. However, disassembling them is more manageable than spin casting reels so that you won’t have any problems. Let’s get on with the cleaning process. 


  • First things first, you will start with the disassembling process. Start off by removing the arbor of your reel. Slide the spool off the frame. 
  • Completely disassemble the remaining parts and label them for your convenience. 
  • Now leave your fly reel in freshwater for a few minutes. After that, start cleaning with a toothbrush or any suitable alternative. 
  • Carefully wipe away all the dirt and old grease from all the reel parts. The roller bearing will take time and energy, but removing dirt and old lubricant from it is very important.
  • After cleaning everything, leave them to dry. It is crucial for the lubricating process. 
  • Now apply a light coating of grease with a cotton swab onto the main shaft of your reel. Also, do the same with bearings. Make sure your bearings receive a sufficient amount of grease. 
  • The lubricating increases the reel’s life and allows it to work more smoothly. 
  • Now put everything back and reassemble the reel. Make sure to do it properly. If you forget something, don’t act independently. Ask someone for help. 

As you’ve noticed, cleaning fly reels is different but more straightforward than other reels. However, the disassembling and reassembling must be done correctly. Other than that, there’s nothing to worry about. Follow these steps for getting an answer to “how to clean fishing reels?”

Spinning Reel Maintenance

Spinning reels are the best fishing equipment. Their versatile nature allows you to use them in almost all conditions. Until now, we’ve answered the question, how to clean a spinning reel? Now we are heading towards some maintenance tips that will improve your reel’s life. 

You should perform essential maintenance at least once a week. Don’t overdo it. However, if you have a saltwater spinning reel and fish in harsh environments, you should do it after every trip. Here are some essential maintenance tips for you: 

Spinning Reel Maintenance


Whether you have an offshore spinning reel or spinning reel for bass, you should re-spool it regularly. It is the first step towards perfect maintenance. It would be best if you did not take it lightly. 

Clean Exterior:

The spinning reel’s exterior is the most exposed part. It gets dirty every time and needs cleaning. The best way to clean it is by spraying water. Make sure not to hit it with immense water pressure. That will damage the reel. Gently spray the water and then clean it with a cloth or towel. 

Ease the Drag:

For increasing your reel’s life, make sure to ease the drag after every fishing trip. That will take the pressure off the drag washers. As a result, the reel’s durability increases, and it lasts longer. 

Ease the Drag

Store in Safe Place:

Store your spinning reel away from sunlight. Wrap it in a towel and put it in a box. The sunlight damages the reel if exposed for too long.

Keep the Screws Tight:

Always make sure every screw is tight and is in the right place. A loose screw may fall and cause problems during your fishing trips. That’s why it is vital to check on the screws. They may seem small but are incredibly crucial to the reel. 


Disassemble and lubricate your reel every once in a while. In this way, the reel will work smoothly throughout its entire life. Moreover, lubricating also results in making the reel young for a long time. It directly affects the durability and performance of a spinning reel. That’s how you clean fishing reels. 

Perfect Tools and Cleaning Products

You must be thinking about using everything that can do the job. That is true; you can use it. However, I don’t recommend it. For proper cleaning, you need useful tools and products. We are all aware of the wonders of our market. We have everything available in the stores. If not, we can order online. 

There are a few tools and products that are considered essential for the cleaning and maintaining process. You must have these products for better results. 

1. Penn Rod and Reel Cleaner

Penn Rod and Reel Cleaner

Apply the Penn Rod and Reel cleaner by spray bottles. We are all aware of the brilliance of PENN, and it’s safe to assume that its Rod and Reel cleaner is the best one available in the market. 

2. Lucas Fishing Reel Oil

Lucas Fishing Reel Oil

Lucas fishing reel oil is the best for lubricating your reel. This product is undeniably one of the best for the job, and it will drastically improve your reel’s life. Moreover, this product will also make your reel smooth as butter. 

3. Quantum Fishing Reel Grease

Quantum Fishing Reel Grease

It is the best grease for lubricating your fishing reel parts. This grease is better than most of its competitors and costs a very reasonable price. Even more, Quantum Fishing is a trustable brand that provides value-for-money products. 

4. Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

The final product you need is a fabric cleaning cloth. You can use anything you please, but we recommend microfiber. This pack of cleaning clothes is worth spending money on. You can also use a towel, but I don’t recommend it. 


Disassembling, assembling, and picking some small parts for cleaning require some tools. These tools are probably more critical than vital products, so make sure to buy appropriately sized items according to your reel’s requirements. Here’s a list of some tools you’ll be needing:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Tweezers
  • Toothbrush
  • Wrench
  • Manual of the reel
  • Cotton swabs
  • A pen and pencil(optional)

Dos and Don’ts

We also made a list of dos and don’ts for maintaining your reel. 


  • Prepare every tool and product
  • Beginners should write down assembling order
  • Use tweezers
  • Secure the line before, then remove the spool
  • Use reel cleaner
  • Prefer Special Oil and Grease 


  • Start with anything available
  • Be overconfident in your memory
  • Use hands for holding small objects
  • Remove the spool with the line on it
  • Use soaps and detergents that contain harmful chemicals
  • Lubricate with any standard oil and grease

Pro Tips

Until now, you’ve read a lot about cleaning and maintaining guides, and there’s no doubt that they’ll help you. However, there are still things you should consider for better and effective maintenance. 

How to Clean Fishing Reels

Clean Saltwater:

Whenever you come back from saltwater fishing trips, you must clean your reel with fresh water. The reason behind this is that saltwater leaves behind some dirt particles on the surface of the reel. So it’s better to wash it with fresh water before storing it. 

Let the Parts Dry:

After cleaning, make sure to dry each and every component of the reel. Use a fabric cloth or towel for this process. 

Careful with Lubricants:

You must put in a reasonable amount of lubricants. Don’t overdo it, and just use two or three drops of oil. Overflowing it will cause problems. Two-three drops of oil will spread around more effectively. 

Wrap Up:

Most anglers are worried about their reel’s performance and short life. No maintenance and cleaning is the cause of these problems. If you want your reel to perform well for a long time, you should pay attention to cleaning and maintenance. We’ve written this article for those of you who don’t know how to clean fishing reels. If you want us to answer some of your queries, comment below. I hope our article helped you learn something new.