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How to Thoroughly Clean a Gun Prior to GunSkins Installation

How to Thoroughly Clean a Gun Prior to GunSkins Installation - GunSkins
How to Thoroughly Clean a Gun Prior to GunSkins Installation - GunSkins

The first step to a successful GunSkins installation is preparation. Firearms need to be free from any rounds, magazines ejected, safety on, and in some cases disassembled. However, this next step can have a huge impact on effective adhesion for your GunSkins vinyl wrap: cleaning the gun.

A clean gun makes for a clean install. We may sound like a broken record player, but this step should not be overlooked if you want to experience the best installation on your firearm. We're going to share with you some of the methods and products we use to clean our guns with and why it's so important.

Degrease the Gun Thoroughly

Any presence of gun oil or grease will cause adhesion issues with the GunSkins vinyl material. We have a saying here at the office: "nothing sticks to dirt". Although good gun maintenance requires applying lubrication and grease to the gun for preservation and mechanical safety, it has to come off if you want to install any camouflage wrap on the surface. Here's a list of several cleaning agents we recommend using to achieve this.

Froglube Cleaning Solvent

Make using Froglube a part of your routine gun cleaning procedure.

For most guns, we use an eco-friendly cleaning solvent called Froglube®. This spray is made from organic material and is not only safe to spray, but also very effective in breaking down petroleum and synthetic lubrication. This is our number one "go to" product when it comes to cleaning our guns with and that's why we offer it as part of our install bundle.

Another popular brand of degreaser we recommend using is called Gun Scrubber®. This is a very reliable spray cleaner that can be found in most department and hardware stores. With the nozzle attachment, you can spray into detail areas and it evaporates quickly.

When it really comes to thoroughly cleaning a very dirty gun (I'm look at you AK-47), we have found the most success using automotive brake cleaner. We hang the gun outside and soak it down with the spray, letting the oil and grease drip like you wouldn't believe. It's important to use the non-chlorinated version to avoid any discoloration on the surface of the gun.

Using Brake Cleaner on AK-47 Rifle

AK-47s are notoriously dirty guns...

We also resort to using brake cleaner in cases where traditional degreasers just don't quite cut it. For example, we also recommend using the non-chlorinated brake cleaner if your weapon has a synthetic polymer stock. Synthetic polymer is derived from petroleum oil, which makes it naturally difficult for vinyl to adhere to and requires the extra effort in cleaning.

Scrub Well Into Recessed Areas

In additional to spraying the firearm with the cleaner of your choice, it may be required to use a small tool brush to scrub into the edges and recessed areas of the gun. Guns are porous and naturally gun oil is designed to settle into these areas. Scrubbing ensures that the surface is properly cleaned, especially when it's textured or rigid with the firearm's design, contours, or branding.

For some guns it may require more than one round of cleaning to get the job done. New(er) guns from the factory are good examples of needing that extra attention. Factories package and ship firearms heavily lubricated for preservation, which makes it more difficult to install a GunSkins camo wrap. Some newer weapons also use a gun grease application that can't be removed with traditional degreasers. In cases cases like these we recommend using the non-chlorinated brake cleaner.

Final Prep

There is one last step that can help ensure the firearm is ready to be wrapped. We recommend using Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol and a lint-free cloth to rub down the gun with. This helps to remove any remaining residue and also removes moisture. Let the surface air dry completely and the gun is ready!

Using Rubbing Alcohol for Final Prep

Remember, rubbing alcohol alone isn't strong enough to cut through grease.

Although we recommend using the rubbing alcohol in the cleaning process, using it by itself will not prep the firearm adequately for a successful GunSkins installation. Please consider using any of the aforementioned degreasers or other gun-specific cleaner on your firearm if you intent to wrap it with a GunSkins camouflage wrap.

Ready for Camouflage

Now that the gun has been prepped, cleaned, and dried thoroughly, you can be rest assured that the GunSkins installation process will go much smoother. A successfully installed GunSkins wrap will give you and your gun many years of protection. Post installation, it is recommend that you continue to clean and lubricate your gun as you would as part of your routine gun maintenance. The GunSkins vinyl kit is completely sealed once installed and there is no risk of it peeling off while in use or during the cleaning your firearm. There's no special treatment necessary for your gun after the GunSkins camo wrap has been installed. You and your weapon are good to go!


  • GunSkins: July 27, 2021
    Author's avatar image

    Good question, Paul. Hoppe’s No 9 is widely used to remove powder, lead, metal fouling and rust. It makes for a great bore cleaner, but for removing oil we’d recommend something marked as a degreaser specifically.

  • Paul Abbott: July 19, 2021
    Author's avatar image

    Can I use Hoppe’s no 9 to degrease my gun?

  • GunSkins: March 09, 2020
    Author's avatar image

    Brian, you certainly can wrap the components separately and then assemble the gun. Be mindful, however, that the hardware may pinch or push the vinyl. The material may be too thick in some cases where the surface overlaps. Simply trim away in these cases.

  • Brian: March 07, 2020
    Author's avatar image

    I’m getting ready to put my AR build together and am gonna use one of your wraps. Is there any reason why I couldnt wrap the components separate before I put them together?

  • GunSkins: December 18, 2019
    Author's avatar image

    Yes, it’s fine to wrap over a factory camo finish. Clean the gun like we suggest, using a degreaser like Froglube Solvent or Gun Scrubber. Rubbing alcohol is fine to help remove any standing moisture.

  • Harold: December 18, 2019
    Author's avatar image

    Can you wrap over a factory camo finished shotgun? If so, what would be best to use to clean outside of gun to prep?

  • GunSkins: December 09, 2019
    Author's avatar image

    Keith, our Shotgun Skin installation video should be helpful because the gun has a wooden buttstock.

  • Keith: December 07, 2019
    Author's avatar image

    Do you offer a video showing the install on a wood stock. I have a old 303 British I would like to do. The stock is oily and want to do it right the first time. I am going to dis assemble the stock in to 3 pieces. I am going to use frog lub solvent per your service dept that emailed me. Thanks for any info you can give me.

  • GunSkins: July 08, 2019
    Author's avatar image

    We’ve experienced no issues using non-chlorinated brake cleaner on synthetic and plastic parts. We don’t suggest it on wood surfaces, however. Recently, we’ve been moving away from recommending the brake cleaner in favor of a more gun-specific approach, such as Froglube or Gun Scrubber.

  • Steve: July 08, 2019
    Author's avatar image

    Is the non-chlorinated brake cleaner OK to use on polymer and plastic parts?

  • GunSkins: November 09, 2018
    Author's avatar image

    Yes, Michael. Even if you’ve never fired the gun, it’s likely lubricated and still requires the surface to be properly cleaned.

  • Michael : November 08, 2018
    Author's avatar image

    Hello, I just received my AR gun skin. I wanted to ask if I needed to clean my new AR since I have not fired it yet?
    Thank you

  • GunSkins: November 28, 2016
    Author's avatar image

    Zach, these are made for daily use and abuse. However, if you holster the gun regularly, the skin will wear down naturally. Otherwise, there is a 5 year color quality guarantee.

  • Zach: November 27, 2016
    Author's avatar image

    How does the gun skin hold up on the m&p shield 9mm ?

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