How to Clean and Maintain Your Spinning Reel

How to clean and maintain spinning reels

A spinning reel’s long-lasting operation is ensured by maintaining it at the end of each fishing season.

But on the other hand, if you’re one of those fishermen who don’t conduct maintenance often on your spinning reels, even the best model will eventually perform badly.

This obliviousness may result in a malfunction at a crucial moment, costing you a great catch.

After each day’s fishing, you can choose to perform a quick cleaning.

Alternatively, you can perform a specific external clean using cleaning products, which requires removing the line and spool, or a complete exterior and internal deep clean, which necessitates removing the side plate and many moving parts.

This writing will go through the essential procedures for maintaining your spinning reel for peak performance, just like these spinning reels you’ll definitely love.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Spinning Reel for Optimal Performance

Essential Cleaning Tools Needed

Some of the right tools needed include:

  • Small screwdrivers.
  • A pointer tip or toothpicks
  • A soft fabric
  • Towel paper
  • Clean water and soapy water
  • A gentle toothbrush
  • Good Oil
  • Degreaser Spray or isopropyl alcohol
  • Grease (to apply grease)

1) Routine cleaning after each use.

Cleaning spinning reel

Whether you fish in fresh water or saltwater fishing, you should always clean your spinning reel after a session on the water.

I should mention that for salt water anglers, cleaning fishing reels after each use is a need.

Gently misting it with water is an excellent method to clean the external pieces but be careful not to use a forceful rush of water that could push debris into the interior of your reel.

Additionally, make sure to wash all surfaces and hold the reel with the spool facing up.

Avoid shooting water as much as possible underneath the spool.

Remove any extra water by shaking it off, letting it drain, and then wiping it clean with a damp cloth.

Your reel should be stored away from direct sunlight after being wrapped in an old cloth.

Following these daily maintenance instructions during each session will give your reel a long operating life and enjoy your next fishing trip.

If, on the other hand, you don’t maintain and prevent rust, it will eventually damage your reel.

2) External cleaning using cleaning products

No matter where or how often you saltwater use reels, this procedure must be carried out at least once every six months.

Opposing to that, this type of reel cleaning should be carried out at least once a month if you are that type of angler who fish at least twice a week.

The following steps will show you how to perform a basic external cleaning on a spinning reel:

a) Take the reel off the rod.

Remove the fishing reel and wash your fishing rod well with water, paying immediate care to the reel seat.

It is tight due to the wind on the drag.

You should avoid having a loose drag since it will allow water to enter the drag washers.

Use a sprayer to lightly mist-spray the reel.

Do not apply intense pressure while spraying.

b) Take your fishing line out of the spool.

Salt, sand, and other debris that have found their way to the arbor are what you frequently see when you remove the line. Carefully clean them out.

c) Next, remove the spool.

You can remove the spool from the shaft by unscrewing the cap on top of it.

Clear the interior and top of the spool of any sand, dirt, and debris using a wet cloth and a wet pointer tip.

You should add a few oil droplets to the spool shaft’s base, then move the shaft up and down and turn the handle to disperse the oil uniformly.

Reattach the spool to the shaft and tighten the cap.

d) Remove the handle from the reel.

Use a pointer tip to reach connections and remove as much crud as possible by wiping off any sand or debris.

Then use a soft towel to clean the entire reel.

The area of the handle that fits into the body should have a drop of oil added but excess moisture.

e) Remove the bail arm and knob from the handle.

Take care not to misplace any bolts.

Check for damage or dirt on the bail roller guide and give it a thorough cleaning.

Reattach the bail arm and handle knobs.

Use a cloth to dry off.

Finally, spray the whole reel with a reel corrosion inhibitor, then turn the handle a few times to release any remaining water. After that, let the reel dry completely.

It would be best to store your reel away from direct sunlight after being wrapped in an old clean cloth.

3) Complete exterior and internal deep clean

intense cleaning of spinning reel

A thorough deep clean necessitates disassembling, cleaning, reassembling, and re-greasing all the components.

If you’ve never done it before and you are not a professional, avoid disassembling your reel completely because it may be challenging to put it back together.

But if you must disassemble it, make sure you have help to reassemble it correctly, or better yet, stick to method 2.

The Procedure

  • Remove the reel and wash your rod well with water, paying immediate care to the reel seat.
  • Unscrew the drag knob cap to remove the line spool.
  • Remove the spool once that is turned off.
  • You can unscrew the handle from the body by turning the handle in the opposite direction of rotation.
  • Make sure the switch that permits free spooling is off if you have one.
  • Where the handle should have been, remove all the screws holding the body case, and wind it to open.
  •  Once exposed, remove a few screws from the shaft connecting to the spool (the spool shaft). The spoon and shaft ought to be easy to remove at this point.
  • Next, clean all dirty parts up using a good cleaner using a small brush (You should choose your cleansers, especially soaps, very carefully because chemicals are unpleasant to fish because they can smell them. Make sure that everything you use won’t affect your attracting fish.) Keep a close eye on the areas that will likely be very greasy, remove grease and give a proper cleaning.
  • Now, Check everything and apply a light coating grease as you reinstall it. Also, perform a function check to ensure that everything works as it should and that all pieces are in place.
  • Finally, spray the reel with a reel corrosion inhibitor or protective coating and store your reel away from direct sunlight after being wrapped in an old cloth.

Important Tips

An essential aspect of spinning reel maintenance includes lubrication of the reel and a few drops on the ball bearings.

Always lubricate spinning reels with oils that are made for this purpose. or a high-quality aftermarket brand.

Ensure you’re using the appropriate reel grease, lubrication, and reel oil because utilizing the incorrect ones will exacerbate existing issues rather than solve them.

It might also cause corrosion and seizure, making it tough to crank in a fish.

Always pay particular attention to any sand or salt residues you come across when cleaning salt or little particles buildup from a spinning reel, and wipe these off with a soft cloth, pointer tip, q tip, or toothpick.

Choose your cleansers, especially soaps, very carefully because chemicals are unpleasant to fish because they can smell them.

Make sure that everything you use won’t affect your fishing.


A good reel is a wise investment and can perform consistently for decades if properly maintained.

Due to the complicated mechanics, of raw reel deep cleaning it is best left to qualified technicians at reputable tackle shops or service facilities because they will remove every screw and entirely disassemble the spinning reel body.

However, when it comes to routine maintenance of your spinning reels, you should be highly prepared to carry it out frequently because the worst thing that might happen when you’re on a big-bite fishing trip is a fishing gear system failure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should you clean my spinning reel?

You should do a Routine cleaning after each use. For example, if you are an angler who fish at least twice a week, you should carry out an external clean using cleaning products at least once a month. On the other hand, you must carry out external cleaning using cleaning procedures at least once every six months, no matter where or how often you fish.