Reel cleaning kits – Buying Guide, Reviews, and Comparison
Whether you’re planning to do a lot of fishing or just want to take a few trips outdoors this season, getting the best reel cleaning kit is vital to ensuring that your reel stays in good shape and working great. You get to use your equipment for a longer period of time, benefit from smoother operation and performance while also preventing a premature breakdown of your reel. When it comes to cleaning kits, not all are equal, so we have studied countless products on the market to bring you the best. We recommend the Ardent Reel Care Saltwater Kit as our top choice. It comes with a complete set of cleaning solution, anti-corrosive agent, oil, grease, and some tools so that you get everything you need to keep your reel clean and working smoothly. In case it is unavailable, you should definitely give the Abu Garcia Abumaintkit a look.
Our top choices
While there are lots of good cleaning kits out there, our job is to look for the best in terms of both price and quality. We have selected the top 3 cleaning sets so that you don’t have to go looking for reel cleaning kit reviews and waste a lot of your time.
Ardent Reel Care Saltwater Kit
The Ardent Reel Care Saltwater comes with the whole kit and kaboodle so that you get to maintain your fishing reel in top shape. You get a solid Phillips screwdriver to remove outer casings and other parts so that you can work on the inside of the reel and clean all dirt and grime.
This kit comes with the highly-effective Ardent Reel Kleen cleaner, which will remove everything from dirt to old oil and other debris from the inside of your reel. You get to use the soft and flexible brush to clean hard-to-reach interior areas as well. You also get a Reek Guard – which is a highly efficient anti-corrosive agent that will help protect your reel against the effects of saltwater.
After having thoroughly cleaned the reel both inside and out, you can use the Reel Butter oil for fine mechanisms that require lubrication. There’s also a grease tube to help you keep everything smooth and working great. This kit also provides you with a soft cloth for cleaning, as well as four swaps with synthetic foam tips which will come in handy when trying to reach tight areas inside the reel.
All the liquids used for this cleaning kit are synthetic, which might seem like a downside for the ecologically minded but it only means that they can be safely stored for long periods of time.
It contains the same cleaning agents as the well-rated freshwater kit from the same manufacturer — Reel Butter Oil, Reel Butter Grease, and Reel Kleen Cleaner — together with the Reel Guard Corrosion Inhibitor, specialized for saltwater cleaning.
You won’t have to re-purpose your own tools to use this kit as it comes with all the accessories needed for servicing a reel: a toothbrush, foam swabs, and a screwdriver.
Bearing the Made In The USA label, this product is manufactured under high-quality standards and follows all FDA regulations.
One of the buyers received his package with a flared toothbrush, probably damaged in transit because of the relatively small size of the box. A minor inconvenience, really.Buy from Amazon.com for ($20.32)
Abu Garcia Abumaintkit
The Abu Garcia Maintenance Kit contains everything you’ll ever need to keep your reel in tip-top shape. You get a solid 11/12 mm wrench that’s made from durable metals so that you can remove the larger screws from your reel and get to the inside components for maintenance. The flat and Phillips screwdriver will also help in removing all screws to disassemble your reel and ensure that you get to clean each and every component properly.
With the Abu Garcia cleaning package, you get a precision degreaser which will help you remove all dirt and residue from the inside of the reel, cleaning old oil and grease and making sure you start with a squeaky clean reel. There’s also a precision oil to keep all small movement parts working great while also minimizing friction and ensuring a longer service life. The precision grease is there to use on the heavier parts of the reel, such as the gears.
You also get a soft cloth and a soft brush to make your cleaning job a lot easier. You can keep all of these tools and oils in the easy-to-carry soft case that you can take with you on your fishing trips.
This kit will provide you with everything you need for cleaning a freshwater reel in a small and easy to carry package that is also padded with soft foam.
It contains a tube of precision oil, precision grease, and degreaser that have been reported to work as advertised.
As additional tools, you will get a Philips head screwdriver, a 10-11 wrench, a tiny brush and cloth, all of them displaying the company logo.
Customers find that the whole kit looks very nice and gives an impression of quality, the metal tools are better than what you would expect from something that comes as part of a larger package.
Some users consider this kit to cost a little more than it should be, but considering the low price ranges these type of items sell under, such a complaint might appear trivial to most people.Buy from Amazon.com for ($29.99)
Ardent Reel Cleaning Kit
If you want to ensure that your fishing reel stays in good shape, then you probably need a cleaning kit such as the Ardent Reel 4000. This is a complete cleaning kit that will ensure long-lasting performance for all your reels.
You get a durable double-headed screwdriver to remove spool assembly and ensure you get to clean all dirt, sand, and salt from the inside, preventing corrosion and wear. This kit also contains a special-formulated cleaner to remove residue from all parts and ensure that they are clean and ready for lubrication, as well as a small soft brush and four swaps to help you reach all corners and other hard-to-reach parts.
You get a precision oil to lubricate parts such as bearings, spool shafts, brake cases and levelwind systems. For larger moving parts such as pinion gears, you have a highly-effective grease to apply on the threads and ensure optimal performance while minimizing wear and tear, prolonging the life of your reel and saving money in the process. The Ardent Reel Cleaning Kit 4000 comes with a small and compact case that is easy to transport and handle, providing you with fast and efficient maintenance for both saltwater and freshwater fishing reels.
The liquid agents contained in this kit, meaning the precision grease and the degreaser are all made with synthetic ingredients, meaning they won’t set or alter their properties over time.
Besides the aforementioned chemical solutions and butter oil, you will also get four padded swabs, a screwdriver, a brush, and a siliconized cloth, which are basically all the accessories needed for servicing a freshwater reel.
The box itself is small enough to fit in a backpack’s side pocket, so this kit is highly portable and you won’t run the risk of misplacing any of the items by holding them separately.
There’s no need to worry that any dangerous substances might number among the ingredients used for the cleaning and degreasing solutions since this kit is made in the US and regulated accordingly.
Hard to find anything wrong with this product, maybe just that some users considered the instructions provided hard to follow.Buy from Amazon.com for ($18.33)
You can pretty much expect great quality from any piece of tackle that has the Penn brand on it, and this oil and grease combo surely delivers. It’s one of the best selling reel cleaning kits on retail sites and most people who used it applaud its good performance.
We are inclined to believe the manufacturer’s claim that the grease has superior water stability, load-carrying capacity and protects well against rust, especially as this product is third-party tested.
Water stability means that the lube won’t just wash away when the rod or reel are submerged, forcing you to re-do the lubrication process, while load capacity is important when the gears are placed under any significant strain, which might make thinner oils spill out.
The oil is synthetic, meaning you can store it for a long time without worrying that it will lose its properties.
This two-products pack offers everything you need for lubricating the reel and most of your fishing kit. A 0.5-ounce bottle of thin oil for the hard to reach places and a 1-ounce tube of grease for moving parts under strain.
The grease doesn’t get washed out easily, so it continues to protect your gear from corrosion while also offering good lubrication even when the reel is dunked in water.
The oil allows the bearings to run smoothly, improving your action and casting distance. It is also synthetic, so it doesn’t harden with time to become unusable.
This is all the better, as the packs are sizable enough to allow for more than one season’s worth of use.
Despite the quality and the brand name, this pack is fairly inexpensive, which makes it very good value.
We only managed to find minor complaints surrounding this product, like the grease tube being unsqueezable and the small brush used to apply the lube causing annoyance.Buy from Amazon.com for ($5.79)
Clenzoil CLP Cleaner
Due to its consistency, it works fairly well for lubricating both the tight parts of a reel, like the bearings or shaft, as well as gears and shafts that are expected to bear heavy loads.
Furthermore, you can also use it for cleaning, as it works well in dissolving oil, grease and any dirt caught up in it, in removing brass, iron and lead oxides as well as other contaminants.
This will make for a remarkable degree of convenience as it will cut down the time allocated for maintenance to a significant degree.
The product also comes in a 1-ounce glass and features an easy to use applicator and a black chemically non-reactive cap to protect it from the sun and other environmental factors.
This product offers great convenience since it combines the three solutions commonly used for cleaning and oiling a reel into a single composition.
This has the added benefit of preventing potential accidents, since inattentive anglers can sometimes apply one of the two types of lube to the wrong part of the reel, for example, viscous grease to the ball chamber.
As a cleaning agent, it works well in removing dirt, grease, and oil, as well as oxides from all the materials commonly used in reel construction — steel, aluminum, and brass — while not damaging carbon-based composites.
This product is American-made, so you can be certain it’s been manufactured under high standards of quality. Furthermore, a part of the proceedings from its sale are donated to the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Like any jack of all trades, it might not function as well for all application as more specialized items.Buy from Amazon.com for ($11.18)
No matter how good your reel is, you won’t get the best performance out of it unless you keep it clean and well-oiled all the time with a good reel cleaning kit. You want a complete kit that comes with everything you’d normally need to keep your reel in good shape and ensure it works great for many years. Here are a few things to consider before buying a cleaning kit.
Make sure you have the tools
When looking at cleaning kits for sale, you want to ensure that it has all the tools you need for reel disassembly. Depending on the reel type and model, you might need a wrench for removing handle nuts and a flat or Phillips screwdriver. Some models might also need Allen keys or other screwdrivers while others, such as fly fishing reels, would only need a couple of tools.
Oil and grease are extremely important
Every reel has many moving parts such as pinion and drive gears, bearings, drag washers and more. Moving parts create friction between them, and lubrication is there to ensure that there is less friction and better contact between gear teeth and threads, that the bearings spin freely, etc. This is why it is essential that you keep all these parts well-oiled, and that you buy a cleaning kit which contains high-quality oil and grease. By applying these on interior parts, you get to increase reel performance while also minimizing wear which could damage it prematurely.
Prolonging the life of your fishing reel
Even if you buy the best cleaning kit for reels, it won’t do any good unless you use it properly and use it often. Read your reel manufacturer’s instructions to learn how to disassemble and clean your reel, which parts need oil or grease, and how to reassemble all the components.
It is very important that you keep your reel clean at all times if you want the best performance it can offer. Doing so will also help the reel last for many more years and provide you with loads of fun and amazing fishing experiences.
The water factor
The first thing to have in mind when choosing a cleaning kit is the requirements imposed by the environment that the item will be used in.
It’s a widely known fact that the corrosive action of salt water imposes a particular set of constraints upon metallic parts, and often special lubricants and cleaning agents are required to protect against or remove salt particles that might have made their way inside the gears and bearings.
Manufacturers sell corrosion inhibitors both as stand-alone items or in smaller quantities as part of generalist kits. The type of use you expect to see from the reel should dictate your purchasing decision, as a lot of anglers don’t even consider the specialized saltwater agent to be worth the extra cost when they’re only looking at some occasional surf fishing.
The only thing to be mindful in this case is that the reel always gets cleaned after each session, but large units for offshore fishing should always be accompanied by a bottle of a saltwater agent, especially as these models also make for a significant monetary investment.
Cleaning and lubricating agents
There are three types of agents commonly employed for the cleaning and maintenance of a spinning reel, each one serving its own purpose.
First off, there is the degreaser, which is the only actual cleaning agent of the three. This is used on the exposed gears and bearings after the unit has been disassembled as per the manufacturer’s specifications. As the name suggests, it will remove all the dirty grease that has accumulated on the various bits of the reel.
Regardless of composition, the degreaser will need one or two minutes to dissolve the gunk, after which the parts can be wiped clean with a brush and swabs.
Either butter oil or butter grease, but most commonly both, will be used for lubrication. On saltwater reels, a special protecting agent is also added at this stage, generally replacing the regular butter oil.
Being of a relatively thin consistency, butter oil is applied on the finely machined ball bearings, generally in small quantities and allowed to sip in by itself. Some compositions contain lithium, which makes the oil lighter and allows the bearings to move more freely. This is considered to give an overall smoother action and might be something to look for.
The more viscous butter grease will be used on the gears, shaft and any wear points that might require it, much in the same way as you would baseline or LD40, meaning in liberal quantities.
Since it’s usually some form of grease, the lubricant will also act as a barrier against moisture, coming both from air humidity and water. Although grease isn’t miscible (it doesn’t mix or dissolve in) with water, the protective layer it provides might get removed if the reel is submerged.
Some brands of lubricants are more sensitive to this than others, and outside of informing yourself on a case by case basis, there isn’t a surefire way of knowing which one will hold up to water better.
Natural vs. synthetic
The degreaser generally consists of either soda bases or petroleum-based solvents, with some additives thrown in so trace amounts of it won’t run the risk of making the metal bits oxidize faster. There’s little in the way of products that can be considered to be all-natural and still work well for the task it is supposed to achieve.
However, the butter oil and its thicker cousin, the butter grease were initially obtained as a by-product from the manufacturing process of a certain dairy product. While some brands are still packaged as the “real deal,” most modern lubricants you’ll find sold in reel cleaning kits use a synthetic substitute, despite keeping the same name.
Besides being cheaper, the synthetic alternative comes with one great advantage in that it doesn’t alter its composition over time. Natural butter oil tends to clutter or harden, making it unusable from year to year.
Despite this advantage, there are still purists out there that swear by the traditional product, although neither variety differs significantly in the function it offers. Natural butter lubricant might be recommended for the few people that are allergic to some additive the synthetic product uses, but otherwise, there is little reason to worry about potential harm the latter might cause to yourself or the environment unless manufactured in a country with a poor track record when it comes consumer safety.
(Chinese and Indian manufacturers regularly face backlashes for using highly toxic relatives of otherwise safe chemicals in the manufacturing of their consumer goods)
A little more about accessories
Although most of us already probably own the tools required for reel maintenance, meaning a screwdriver, a brush, cotton swabs and a wipe, it is always nice to have everything we need neatly tucked in its own box. Otherwise, we might run the risk of forgetting a favorite screwdriver by the lake because we wanted to do some field maintenance on the reel.
A cheap toothbrush should work well on the teeth of the various gears inside a reel, but don’t expect it to hold as well over time as an item specifically provided for this purpose. Also, the best kits sometimes contain micro-brushes that make the job of getting to every nook and cranny of the fine machinery a lot easier.
Another good thing to have in a kit is a silicone cloth for wiping the outside of the reel after all other steps are done. This item should already be familiar to gun owners, and it offers a couple of advantages over a regular oilcloth. First, it won’t have to be replaced quite as often, because it takes a long time to dry out. On a more subjective note, some consider that it gives a better shine to the casing.
Since we’ve mentioned field maintenance, it will be a good idea to look for a kit that comes in a case that can be used to carry it around, and not just a cloth bag or cardboard box.