Free Shipping:

All orders from Silencer Shop ship free!

Sonic Cleaners & Suppressors

We've had a lot of customers ask us about using a sonic cleaner on their suppressors lately - so we decided to run some experiments to see how well they really work.  Over the course of our experimentation, we learned quite a bit - and I think we've come up with a pretty good idea of how to use a sonic cleaner both safely and effectively on your suppressor. Before going into the details, let me stress that suppressors DO NOT need to be cleaned like you would clean your firearms.  Honestly, they shoot quieter when they're dirty; so, you should really keep your cleaning to a minimum.  Having said that, however, there are some cases where occasional cleaning is necessary - such as .22 suppressors being used with that dirty/non-jacketed ammo... We used a Hornady Magnum Sonic Cleaner with the Hornady gun cleaning solution.  The heater feature was turned on to 140 degrees for all the testing. Now, on to the tests! The first suppressor we decided to use was the excellent Stainless Sparrow from SilencerCo.  Since the Sparrow is so easy to take apart, it doesn't get cleaned as much as our other .22 suppressors (which is actually a good thing - remember that less is more when cleaning suppressors). Since this was our first attempt, we simply took the Sparrow apart and threw all the pieces into the Sonic Cleaner for 45 minutes.  We filmed the test for your viewing pleasure: If you watch that video clip, you'll see that we were initially unimpressed with the results.  You may also have noticed that the Sparrow finish held up perfectly in the sonic cleaner - so we didn't think much about the damage that could occur.  We learned later that putting a finished part into a sonic cleaner is not a great idea! Our second experiment was much like the first in that we simply pulled apart an AAC Ti-RANT 9 and threw it in the sonic cleaner for 45 minutes.  Once again, you can see the test here: This time around, we started to see some minor damage to the finish - so we decided it would be a good idea to limit the time that finished parts spend in the sonic cleaner.  Unfortunately, the lesson we should have learned was to leave the finished parts completely out! Our third test was the first time we really started to see good cleaning results.  This time we used an AAC Element and followed these steps:
  1. Put only the internal baffles into the sonic cleaner for 15 minutes.
  2. Pulled them out and gently scrubbed them using a copper brush - the carbon pieces flecked off far easier than normal so we only spent a couple of minutes and didn't worry about getting it perfect.
  3. Put the baffles back into the sonic cleaner together with the tube for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. After the second 15 minute run, the remaining build-up fell off easily and they looked great!  Literally, the baffles looked like new!
Unfortunately, although we only put the tube in for 15 minutes, it didn't fare well at all. This is the kind of thing that would make you sick if you had just spent the time and money to procure a nice new suppressor; so, once again, I advise you to leave the finished parts completely out of the sonic cleaner! Regardless of the damage to the Element finish, we continued with our experiments since we were impressed with how clean the baffles were coming out.  Since we have heard so much about how aluminum parts  may or may not be damaged in a sonic cleaner, we decided to give that a try using a, fully aluminum, Tactical Innovations Stratus suppressor.  Since the Hornady gun cleaning solution is supposed to be safe for aluminum parts, we didn't anticipate any problems - but we hadn't anticipated the finish coming off either... Fortunately, the Stratus came out as clean as the Element - and with no pitting or other damage to the aluminum baffles.  I'm not going to guarantee anything; but, we're not going to worry about aluminum baffles going into the sonic cleaner. Overall, I think this is a great tool for cleaning the baffles from take-apart cans since they come out perfectly clean with a minimum of effort.  It is unfortunate that the finish can be damaged so easily since that makes it impossible to just throw a sealed can into the sonic cleaner every few thousand rounds.  For sealed cans, I think we'll just stick with soaking in solvent and rinsing them out.

25 responses to “Sonic Cleaners & Suppressors”

  1. says:

    Watched your vid on ultrasonic cleaning and saw how it trashed the finish on the outside of the can. You might want to put 3 or 4 O-Rings around the outside of the can, this will keep the metal from coming in contact with the finish.

    • Dave says:

      That’s a great idea – and far simpler than what we’ve been doing to prevent that issue.

      Thanks for posting!

  2. Sam says:


    So in the case of rifle cans would it be safe to use a sonic cleaner on them (seeing as they don’t disassemble like pistol cans)? (e.g. AAC M4-2000) If it isn’t safe what is the typical and safer way of cleaning a rifle can?

    • Dave says:

      Generally, the best approach is to soak it overnight in a gun cleaning solvent then rinse it out with water. (It’s easiest to just plug one end and fill it up with solvent.)

      Having said that, please keep in mind that less is more when you’re cleaning rifle suppressors. You should wait at least 2-3K rounds between cleaning, and it’s often better to go even longer. In most cases, we recommend not cleaning them at all – unless you’re using either corrosive or unjacketed ammo.

  3. Richard says:

    I have a new TM Isis 22 XL. After only about 100 rounds of various brands of subsonic rounds I had a difficult job pushing the baffle tube out due to the dirt and lead particles. I will lubricate it with neverseize before reassembly, but am concerned about your recommendation NOT to frequently clean these types of silencer. Seems like you could end up with a totally gunked up can that you will not be able to dissamble. Or am I wrong?

    • Gary Groppe says:

      The .22 is a very dirty round for sure. Typically you can go a few hundred rounds before required cleaning. There is certainly nothing wrong with cleaning them sooner with a stiff brush.

  4. Hunter Hinton says:

    Just got my stamp for my AAC SPR/M4. It was a demo model from a wholesaler said to be under 100 rounds through it. I haven’t shot it yet nor has it been shot in what looks like years. The blast baffle has a greenish carbon buildup; is this due to corrosive ammo being used? should i clean it and give it a fresh start? Or will it all get blown out with some rounds through it?

  5. Ken Huynh says:

    Hey Guys, I have a Tirant 9mm and my friend suggested that I should put the baffle in the sonic cleaner because it’s aluminum. Is that true? I read the other comments, but not sure if that apply to Tirant 9mm. Please make some suggestions on how to clean this particular can, thanks!

  6. Purchased a silencer Co spectre 2 for my .22s and 5.7 pistol after about 1000 rounds the baffles were getting pretty baked full of shit, to clean them I just fill my ultrasonic with water , about 8oz of concentrated simple green to about 70oz of water and 4-5 drops of dawn. Throw it on a heated cycle for a hour or so agitating the basket every 20 min and have been lucky I suppose I haven’t had to scrape or brush anything . Hit the baffles when I’ve towel dried and let sit for hour or so with some fireclean. Word to wise don’t let oil build up on inside of baffles , tried that thinking they’d clean up that much easier next time , altho they did 200 rounds of 22 looked like I had shot 1000 and oil just acted as a attractant

  7. John says:

    Your first results not being as good as you would like might be do to the fact that your cleaning solution needs to be degassed. Meaning that you run the solution by itself for 15 to 20 minutes to release the gasses in the solution, you can heat it when doing this if you like. The solution only needs degassed once. So every time you mix a new batch of solution degas it before putting in the parts you want to clean. It is also best to use a solution for weapons and not case cleaning. L&R has a weapons cleaning solution that I find works well. A gallon will make 10 gallons and the cost is about $60.00 for a gallon of the concentrate at Midwayusa. I haven’t used an ultra sonic cleaner to clean a suppressor but the primer pockets in brass cases, even those that have not been cleaned after a few reloads look new without any brushing or scraping. I have never had a problem with finishes on weapons, so if the finish is that of the same quality and the surface is prepared correctly for the finish used you shouldn’t have a problem. I would however error on the side of caution.

  8. says:

    For a .22 can I gotta say the 1 part Hydrogen Peroxide 1 part distilled vinegar bath is incredible. After a couple hours the most stubborn lead buildup wipes off with a napkin. The downside is that the byproduct is extremely toxic so wear gloves and don’t toss it into the sink or leave it where someone could inadvertently come into contact with it.

    Too bad about how the sonic cleaner eats the finish. I was looking for an efficient and effective way to clean sealed suppressors.

    • says:

      Oh yea and don’t use the peroxide/vinegar bath on aluminum or carbon steel.

      • John says:

        You are right about using your formula on anything that acid will affect. Hydrogen Peroxide has a PH of between 1 and 5 depending on the concentration and vinegar has a PH of 2.4. You might want to try H2SO4 as well, at 10% it’s about the same. Also the Peroxide will become in affective in a very shot time in an ultra sonic cleaner as the gasses release. The link below will help with that.
        The names might be the same, but I have no connection with the link above.
        When cleaning I believe that one would want to use a neutral PH solution. The developers of ultra sonic cleaners have done a lot of research into what works and what doesn’t and why.

  9. Jimmy says:

    Has anyone ever just tried dawn dishsoap, warm water, and a tooth brush? Thoughts on this?

  10. says:

    I am considering treating one with a release agent like they use for making molds. If it keeps stuff from sticking to a mold it may keep lead from sticking?

  11. Foster says:

    Im thinking about this, since it eats cerakote,what if I toss a really dirty unservicable rifle can which really needs to be cleaned into the cleaner, and re-cerakote it later on? Is that doable?

  12. Ernie says:

    Would a RCBS tumbler or equivalent do a good job on stainless steel baffles
    I feel like I’m going stir crazy while waiting for the next several months. I read and watch everything I can about supressers,
    I ve ordered an Obsidian 45 and Spectra Ii, both having ss baffles
    My name is Ernie and I think I have a problem 🙂

    • says:

      A lot of people use tumblers with stainless steel media to clean the baffles. Just don’t put the tube in the tumbler 🙂

  13. Manny says:

    I have been lucky so far by dipping the parts overnight in Hoppe’s #9.

    No etching or pitting. Works for me.

  14. logan says:

    I have an AAC 762-sd that I use on 5.56, 308, and .300BLK but I occasionally shoot a few 22lr subs threw it with my 22lr conversion in my 556 upper. I only use it when small game hunting or varmint control. Afterwards I usually shoot about 3-4 5.56 supers to maybe clean it out, not sure if that does anything or not but it makes me feel better. What are the ill effects of shooting the 22lr in my .30cal can? I soak it in dish detergent in the sink with warm water for a few hours every time I shoot 22lr haven’t seen anything crazy as far as fouling goes. I only shoot around 30-40 22s out of it at a time. Thanks

    • says:

      Eventually your silencer will get heavier and have reduced sound performance. We highly recommend that users don’t shoot 22lr through a sealed silencer. Luckily there is a new silencer on the market, the Griffin Armament Alpha is a 30 caliber 300 win mag rated silencer that can come apart for cleaning. If you want something that can handle lead then this is the ticket.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *