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Home » Blog » How To Clean Baitcaster Reels After Saltwater Fishing

How To Clean Baitcaster Reels After Saltwater Fishing

Sea fishing can take a toll on your Baitcaster Reel. The best way to protect it is to clean your fishing reel after each fishing trip. This is a very good habit to get into.

Even if you are an inexperienced angler, doing this is not difficult and only takes a few minutes of your time. The key is to be consistent in your care and maintenance.

Here we will teach you how to clean your fishing reels properly and how to avoid the wrong cleaning methods.

How to Clean Your Reel

Step 1: Rinsing

The first thing to make sure of is this. You should never use a high-pressure water gun to clean your fishing reels. Many people believe that cleaning with a high-pressure water gun is better for deep cleaning. In reality, you are putting your reel in danger by forcing salt, sand and other impurities into the drag system, main gear and internal parts.

The proper way to clean is to gently wash or spray with water. We’ve outlined three simple methods below.

Method 1: Garden hose

Hold your rod and your reel perpendicular to the outside wall so that your reel has no chance of sitting in the pond. You want the water to drip down and away from your reel.

Use a garden hose with a spray nozzle. If your nozzle has a spray setting, use it to rinse your reel for about 1 minute. You can do it for longer, but 1 minute is enough to prevent corrosion.


Take a toothbrush and run it gently over the spool to release the salt and sand while spraying it with a mist of water.

Method 2: Spray Bottle

Use a spray bottle filled with cleaning water. You can either leave your reel attached to the rod (and then lean it vertically against the wall), or you can remove the reel from the rod before rinsing.

Take a toothbrush and brush it lightly over the reel to release the salt and sand as you spray the water.

One advantage of this method is that you can use distilled water. This will prevent any impurities from leaving hard water spots as it dries.

Heating the water slightly before filling the spray can will help dissolve the salt away faster.

Option 3: Kitchen faucet

Take your reel apart and gently clean it with warm water on the kitchen sink by gently turning on the faucet.

You don’t need a fast flow of water, just a gentle stream.

Use a toothbrush to scrub the salt and sand from the reel while gently rinsing.

Warm tip: Before rinsing, gently tighten your resistance and pitch control knobs. This will prevent excess water, salt stains and sand from entering the reel during the cleaning process.

Step 2: Wipe

Prepare a lint-free towel made of microfiber. This will help reduce any fibres getting into your worm gear and other greasy and oily parts as the lint will adhere to it.


In addition to being lint-free, microfiber is also very absorbent. It is also anti-static and pulls dirt and grimes away.

Give your reel handle a few turns to extract some moisture. Take out the entire fishing reel and give it a few quick shakes as well.

Open the side panel and carefully remove the spool from the reel body. Dry as much water as possible from the inside and outside of the reel.

Warm tip: Avoid anything that tends to leave lint or tears, such as cotton towels, old T-shirts or paper towels.

Step 3: Drying

At this stage, you should loosen your resistance and pitch control knobs so that they can dry properly. Place your reel in a warm place, in indirect sunlight.

Never put your fishing reel in direct sunlight to dry. This will shorten the life of your fishing line.

Allow it to dry completely before storing it; we recommend at least 24 hours.


Warm tip: Never use hot air like a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. This will weaken your fishing line. Always let it air dry.

Fishing Reel Maintenance

The more often you use your fishing reel, the more you will eventually need to add oil and grease to the gears.

You don’t need to do this after every trip. We recommend adding more oil and grease to your reel every season or 1-4 times a year (depending on how often it is used).


FAQ About Clean Baitcaster Reels After Saltwater Fishing

①Can I soak my entire reel in water?

There are many opinions online about this, and we feel it isn’t necessary if you build a habit of properly rinsing and drying after each fishing trip.

②Should I clean after every fishing trip, even in freshwater lakes?

Your reels take less of a toll when it comes to freshwater. However, if you’re reel is covered in fish slime, scales, and blood, we suggest giving it a rinse. Saltwater is a different beast and will wear down your reels much faster if not taken care of properly.

③I accidentally dropped my reel in saltwater. Is it doomed?

No, rinse your reel as soon as you can with fresh, warm water. You might need to run a few passes if your reel was submerged for a long time.

Open the side plate to rinse any salt crystals that might have leaked in. Next, thoroughly dry the outer components and inner workings of the reel as much as you can. Re-lube your gears and bearings.

④Can I use WD40 to lube my reel?

We highly advise you not to use WD40 for lubricating your reels. Use specialized reel oil and grease for this application. WD40 is a degreaser and breaks down oil and grease, which defeats the purpose. A bottle of reel oil will last you forever. A little oil goes a long way.

⑤Can I use my baitcaster in saltwater?

Baitcaster reels come in both freshwater and saltwater varieties. While either one can technically be used for saltwater fishing, you will want to stick with brands and models that are specifically designed for saltwater as these will usually have much better durability and resistance to corrosion.

⑥Does salt water damage reels?

It’s the fact that salt water can completely destroy fishing equipment (especially expensive fishing reels).

⑦How often should you clean saltwater reels?

After every trip

If you usually fish in freshwater, you should clean your reel at least once every five fishing trips, whereas saltwater fishers need to clean their reels after every trip. Never use gasoline, lighter fluid, or similar products to clean an old fishing reel, as these will melt most plastic pieces.

⑧Can you spray WD-40 on fishing reels?

Cleaning the Reel

After several uses (5 or more) it’s suggested to perform a cleaning of the reel and a light lubrication of moving components visible after opening and/or removing the coil. WD-40 Specialist Silicone works well for lubricating these moving parts and also provides protection against rust and corrosion.

⑨What is a good degreaser for fishing reels?

Use WD-40 and a paper towel. Spray the towel away from the reel(don’t spray the reel directly). Q-tips or rolled-up piece of towels might be good too. Clean parts and allow the WD-40 to dry and evaporate before lubing/oiling.



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