Never Reload Dirty Cases
Clean cases are critical to your finished product. Cleaning, inspecting, resizing and preparing the brass to receive a new primer, measured powder, a new bullet and crimp are where I spend the most time during the entire reloading process.
For those looking for shortcuts in the reloading process this is not one of them. You must clean your brass after shooting to protect your equipment and to produce a quality product.
Cleaning the Cases
There are various methods to get this done. While it is not imperative that the brass be shinny as new it does need to be clean enough not to damage the reloading dies.
Listed below are some of the more popular cleaning methods that you may use.
There are different solutions that you can create to soak the cases in. Most include some sort of liquid soap and lemon juice. These do work to remove most of the dirt and will leave the brass shinier than when you started. Think if this method as a chemical clean and not a polished look.
For some people, they will put the brass in a pillow case and then run them through the clothes washing machine. I have only read about this method. I have never attempted to place my brass in our washer.
Similar to a rock tumbler, you place the cases in a cylinder with steel pins and a cleaning solution. The cases will turn over and over in the drum and will come out very clean and shinny. I have seen these tumblers at our local tool store.
The cases are placed in a tray with special cleaning solution. The tray is then vibrated for a few minutes. The cases come out very shiny and clean. The benefit to this type of cleaner is that you can also clean other items such as gun parts, jewelry and other small metal items.
My intention is to clean my brass using a vibrating drum cleaner (See the next section) and then de-prime the cases. Then I will run them through a sonic cleaner to completely clean the inside of the case and the primer pocket. To me, this is the ultimate cleaning of brass.
Vibrating Drum Cleaner
This is a drum about the size of a small basketball. Inside is cleaning media such as crushed corn cob or crushed walnut shells. The cases are poured in and the mixture is vibrated for a couple of hours. The cases are clean and shinny like new. With the exception of the soap solution, this is the least expensive method of cleaning the cases and gives the same results as the tumble and sonic cleaner.
Clean your brass before you start the reloading process. Do not skip this very important step as dirty brass will damage your equipment and you will produce less than quality reloads.