How To Clean A Shimano Spinning Reel

Shimano Spinning Reel Maintenance & Cleaning Guide

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Yes, your Shimano spinning reel can get dirty, rusty, it can break down, and its operation can become much less smooth than it should be. Even Shimano spinning reels will break down after some time if they are not properly maintained.

Many people neglect proper fishing reel maintenance, which is a big problem in terms of reel longevity. So, let’s go over everything you need to know about how to clean a Shimano spinning reel the right way.

Here is a short and helpful video on shimano reel maintenance;

Why Do You Need To Clean Your Spinning Reel?

What many people do not know is that cleaning your spinning reel, whether Shimano or otherwise, is very important.

Many beginner fisherman neglect cleaning their spinning reels, and it is a big mistake.

If you do not clean and oil your spinning reel on a regular basis, you will find that it will break down, it won’t be very smooth anymore, and soon enough, it won’t work at all anymore.

1. Friction Damage

One of the reasons why you want to clean your Shimano spinning reel on a regular basis is because the dirt and grime that gets caught up in them can create friction damage.

In other words, little bits of sand and dirt will rub against the gears, the bearings, and other mechanisms. After a while these things will damage the parts, or make them not function properly at the very least.

Cleaning and oiling your Shimano spinning reel will prevent it from suffering from friction related damage.

2. Smooth Casting & Retrieval

Another reason why you need to clean your spinning reel on a regular basis is due to the friction we talked about before.

However, in this case, we are talking about the ability of your Shimano spinning reel to cast and retrieve in a smooth fashion. All of that old grease, grime, sand, and dirt will cause the crank, the gears, and the bearings to move less smoothly.

This will translate to decreased casting distance and slower retrievals. If you want long range casts and smooth retrievals, cleaning is a big deal.

3. Corrosion

The other reason why you need to clean your Shimano spinning reel regularly is because of corrosion.

This is especially the case if you are fishing in saltwater. Regular cleaning, especially oiling it afterwards, will help prevent your spinning reel from rusting and corroding.

Rust and corrosion are some of the worst things a spinning reel can suffer from and will make it break down real fast.

What You Will Need To Clean Your Spinning Reel

There are a few things that you will need in order to properly clean your Shimano spinning reel.

Let’s look at the list of the 5 required cleaning items right now for the best results for shimano reel cleaning.

1. A Cloth or Towel

The first thing that you will need to clean your Shimano spinning reel is a cloth or towel. The purpose of this is so you have a base to set your reel on as you clean it.

This will prevent grease, dirt, and oil from staining and covering whatever surface you are cleaning the reel on.

2. A Soft Bristled Brush

You are also going to need some kind of small soft bristled brush. The purpose of this is so you can clean and brush away dirt.

It needs to be somewhat soft, as too stiff of a brush can cause damage to the Shimano spinning reel’s components. I

t should also be fairly small so you can fit into tight spaces with it.

Some people use simple toothbrushes, while others opt for more specialized fishing reel brushes.

3. Q-Tips

The other tool you will need for effective Shimano spinning reel cleaning is the Q-Tip. You will want to have a few of them on hand.

All of those hard to reach spots, those tight places, will most likely be able to be reached with a Q-Tip.

There are also special foam swabs that you can purchase, just for reel cleaning, but the much more cost effective Q-Tips will work just fine too.

4. Reel Cleaner & Degreaser

In terms of liquids or specialized fishing reel cleaning products, the first thing you need is a reel cleaner or degreaser tool.

This liquid will not only help to remove dirt and grime, but it is also needed to remove old, dirty, and ineffective reel grease and reel oil.

5. Reel Oil & Grease

The final thing that you will need in order to clean your Shimano spinning reel is reel oil and reel grease.

Now, some people only use oil, some use grease, and some use both. Yes, they both work towards the same ends, but have slightly different features. Grease is a bit thicker and messier, but it does last for a long time due to high viscosity.

On the other hand, oil is not as messy, and it does work a bit better for lubrication, but due to a lower level of viscosity, it also does not last as long and needs to be reapplied more often.

How To Clean A Shimano Spinning Reel: Step By Step Guide

To be quite honest, cleaning any kind of spinning reel, whether from Shimano or any other brand name, really is not very hard or difficult.

Cleaning any spinning reel can be done in a few simple steps, so let’s go over them right now.

  1. First off, use the cloth and some soapy water to clean the exterior of the Shimano spinning reel. As best as you can, wipe away all dirt and anything which is not the reel itself.
  2. One thing to pay close attention to: when wiping it down with the cloth is the spool, you want to make sure that the spool is clean.
  3. The next step is to remove the handle of the Shimano spinning reel. Simply take it off by loosening the retaining screw on the opposite side of the reel. Using the brush and the Q-tips, clean the inside where the handle was screwed in.
  4. Use your reel cleaner and degreaser liquid for this. You want to remove all debris and old grease in order to increase the smoothness at which the handle turns. Once you have done this, use a bit of your reel oil or reel grease where the handle screws in, as this will make it much smoother.
  5. Now open up the bail of the Shimano spinning reel. With it in the open position, use the brush to remove dirt and grime. With the bail still open, use a Q-Tip and the degreaser to remove old grease and fishing reel oil. Do the same for the line roller, as debris tends to accumulate there too.
  6. Now it is time to remove the spool from the reel. Some Shimano spinning reels have a retaining knob that needs to be loosened to remove the reel, while others can just be turned in a counter clockwise direction to remove it.
  7. You need to use Q-Tips and the brush to clean away and dirt, debris, and old oil and grease out of the spool and where the spool is attached. Don’t forget to use the degreaser when doing this. You do need to pay close attention to the front of the spool, which is usually where the most debris accumulates.
  8. Now, use the brush to clean any and all mechanisms which are exposed when you have the spool removed. Then, use the Q-Tips and degreaser in order to wipe away old grease and reel oil. After you have done this, you need to apply some reel grease or reel oil where the spool is attached, as this will make it move smoothly. Now reattach the spool.
  9. Some Shimano spinning reels will allow you to go so far as to remove the housing over the ball bearings. If your reel allows for this, wipe down the bearings and the housing with the brush. Also use the Q-Tip and degreaser to get rid of old oil and dirt. Finally, use reel oil to lubricate the bearings so they function smoothly.
  10. Now that everything has been cleaned, all you need to do is wipe down the entire exterior of the Shimano spinning reel with a really thin layer of reel oil. It will help provide a bit of a coating for your spinning reel for some added protection.


We hope this article has helped you with cleaning and understanding the importance when it comes to your shimano spinning reel maintenance. As you can see, cleaning your Shimano spinning reel is really not very difficult, and it does not take much time at all. As long as you have the proper tools at your disposal, you should have no problems doing it.

Keep in mind that if you want to prevent rusting, keep things running smoothly, and prevent the reel from breaking down, you want to do this every so often, especially if you go fishing a lot.