How To Clean Shotshell Hulls

The smell of gunpowder, the explosion of sound, and the thrill of hitting your target. Whether it’s duck season or deer season, shooting is a sport that many people enjoy throughout the year. But what you might not know is that there are some downsides to shooting as well. To shoot a shotgun correctly, you need to load shot shells and discard the empty hulls afterwards; but what exactly are shot shells? In short, they are the plastic containers that hold pellets or lead spheres as ammunition for your shotgun.

Let’s take a deeper look into how you can clean shot shell hulls with ease to continue shooting without worrying about them piling up in your home.

How to know when you need to clean your shot shell hulls

The first thing you need to do is determine whether your hulls need cleaning in the first place. Unfortunately, you can’t tell just by looking at them, but you can use a few simple tests to check their condition.

For dry cleaning, first use a flashlight and visually inspect the inside of your hulls. You are looking for dirt, dust, and other contaminants that may have gotten inside while you were shooting. If you see anything, it’s time to clean your hulls. You can also smell your hulls to determine whether they need cleaning. As soon as you break open the first hull, you will be able to smell it.

Dry cleaning

Dry cleaning is the process of removing dust and other particles from the inside of your hulls using nothing but your hands, a cloth, and maybe some mild detergent if necessary. It’s a great choice for those who want to put as little stress on their hulls as possible.

What you’ll need

  • A metal or plastic scouring pad
  • A soft cloth – Mild detergent
  • A shot shell holder

You don’t need to break the bank to clean your hulls. A scouring pad, a cloth, and some mild detergent should do the trick just fine. If you have a shot shell holder, that is definitely recommended because you don’t want to risk bending, denting, or even breaking the inside of the hull while cleaning it.

Drying Agents

Dry cleaning is ideal for most of the clean-up you need to do with your shot hulls. However, there are some instances where you’ll want to use a drying agent instead. If your hulls are wet, heavy, or just dirty and not really suitable for drying, you should consider using a drying agent. It’s important to note that drying agents should not be used to replace proper cleaning. In fact, using them too often can cause damage to your hulls. The best drying agents for your shot shell hulls include: – Silica gel – Baking soda – Gel-type silica desiccants – Cat litter

Methods for dry cleaning of shot shell hulls

We already talked about visual inspection, but if you find something inside your hull, you’ll want to remove it. To do so, you can use a scouring pad, a toothbrush, or a soft-bristled paintbrush (stay away from wire bristles since they can damage your hulls). When cleaning your hulls with a scouring pad or a toothbrush, start at one end of the hull and work your way across. This will ensure that you don’t miss any spots and that you don’t bend your hulls. When using a soft-bristled paintbrush, you’ll want to use a gentle sweeping motion from one end of the hull to the other. This will help you remove any dust and particles without damaging the inside of your hulls.

Wet cleaning

Wet cleaning is the most common and popular way to clean shot shell hulls. It is a process that uses water and cleaning agents, like soap or ammonia, to dissolve and break down the plastic of the hulls, making them easier to remove. Be careful of using too much water, as it can damage your floors, furniture, or other items in your home.

What you’ll need

A bucket or large container – You’ll need an area to soak the hulls in water. Make sure it is large enough to hold all of the hulls at once. If you are cleaning a large number of hulls, you might have to do it in a couple of batches.

Something to stir or agitate the water – This helps keep the hulls from settling to the bottom of the bucket so that you can easily remove them when they’re clean. A metal or wooden spoon works well.

Soap or ammonia – Both of these work well, but you should only mix them together if you use a stainless steel container.

Gloves – While you won’t need them for every cleaning method, some of the cleaning agents can be harmful to your hands, so it’s best to play it safe.

Wet cleaning methods

The first thing you should do is decide how many hulls you’d like to clean at a time. Hulls can be cleaned up to five at a time, but if you plan on cleaning a lot of them, it’s best to do them in batches. Once the hulls are in the bucket, you’ll want to choose a cleaning agent.

Soap – Add liquid soap to the water and stir. Let the hulls soak for a few hours. The soap will help break down the hulls and make them easier to remove.

Ammonia – Add a small amount of ammonia to the water and stir. Let the hulls soak for one to two hours. The ammonia will break the plastic down, making hulls easier to remove.

Vinegar – Add vinegar to water and stir. Let the hulls soak for a few hours. The vinegar will break the plastic down, making them easier to remove.

Saltwater – Add a small amount of salt to water and stir. Let the hulls soak for one to two hours. The saltwater will break the plastic down, making them easier to remove.


Now that you know exactly how to clean your shot shell hulls, you should be ready to tackle any mess with ease. While cleaning your hulls may not be at the top of your list, it’s an important part of being a responsible gun owner.

If you don’t clean your hulls or leave them out in the open to collect dust and dirt, you are putting not only your environment at risk, but your family as well. So take a few minutes now to clean your hulls and keep them out of the way so they don’t cause any damage to your family or home.

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