Personal Guide: How to Clean Your SKS

| Last Updated:
September 26, 2023

The SKS, short for the Samozaryadniy Karabin sistemi Simonova, is a 7.62x39 service rifle built in 1945 by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov.

Like any weapon, the SKS requires periodic cleaning and maintenance.

To help you take the best possible care of your firearm, this article aims to serve as a guide for cleaning the SKS, whether you’re an amateur or an experienced user.

Safety Tips to Keep in Mind While Cleaning

It may seem irrelevant or glaringly obvious, but always unload the gun before you begin cleaning it. Obey the 10 Commandments of Firearm Safety at all times and treat all firearms as if loaded.

Never point your rifle at another human being, including yourself and keep the gun under lock and key when not in use to prevent children from coming in contact with it.

Remember not to prod or pry off any part of the firearm. Gentle tapping is permissible.

To begin, make sure the safety is on, as pulling the trigger could cause injury to the trigger group, and point down range.

You then pull the magazine release tab on the underside and remove the contents or magazine.

Pull the bolt carrying charging handle all the way back and inspect the chamber by sight and touch. Close the fixed magazine.

Step 1: Preparation

Gather Your Tools

Cleaning the SKS thoroughly will take about 10-15 minutes, so to speed up the process, it is best to gather your tools beforehand.

BOOSTEADY 7.62MM AK/SKS Cleaning Kit (Source)

Find a clear space or high table away from children and pets, and find a sheet or newspapers to protect the chosen surface from grease marks and chemical stains.

This step has the additional advantage of protecting your gun from scratches.

Clean the Gun Surface

Some rough toweling and a superficial wipedown of the exterior of the gun is a good way to keep your own hands clean before the actual disassembly.

A recommended product for this process is the WD-40 which does not affect wood on the SKS.

Step 2: Disassembly

SKS Diagram (Source)

Removing the Receiver

The first time you try to assemble a rifle by yourself, it will be quite tight.

Make sure the bolt is in a closed position and then proceed by turning the lever near the receiver cover counterclockwise.

Pull outward to remove the receiver and also take out the bolt, spring, and bolt carrier. Clean with WD-40.

Removing the Trigger Group and Magazine

Prop the muzzle of the barrel on the floor and work on the indentation behind the trigger guard with a screwdriver till you hear a click or the trigger housing rises slightly.

Lift the trigger group swiftly out of the rifle and clean thoroughly with the WD-40 to remove grime and grease.

You can remove the magazine in the same way, by pulling it downward.

Remove the Barrel and Receiver From the Stock

Note that you must remove the magazine before the rifle stock. You can remove the barrel and the receiver from the stock by pulling upward on the receiver till you reach a ten-degree angle. At this point, push the rifle front forward.

Once done, you can rotate the lever on the right side block clockwise to remove the gas tube and piston.

Lift and wiggle the gas tube assembly upward from the rear without applying excess force.

Remove the gas piston from the tube and clean. The operating rod can be removed by rotating the same lever at the one o'clock position, but you need to be careful as the rod is spring loaded and will launch itself once released.

Step 3: Cleaning

I’ve mentioned the use of WD-40 to clean the gun components, but if unavailable, you can substitute it with a suitable oil-based cleaner.

However, users have reported a water-ammonia mix to be an effective cleaning solution, as well.

Clean the Barrel

Use a phosphor bronze brush to scrub the barrel from the receiver end. If you start from the muzzle, you risk damaging the crown, so you should avoid it.

Run the brush through the barrel three to four times and switch to a cleaner-dampened swab tip for a more thorough cleansing. Do this and replace the swab until the tip comes out completely clean.

For the final cleaning, use a cleaning jag to go over the chamber and then use two dry patches, the second of which should come out clean.

Using Q-tips and a toothbrush, clean the bolt carrier, the bolt, and the cuts, after which we can move onto the trigger group.

Clean the Trigger Group

Use the toothbrush bore cleaner and Q-tips to remove any sign or grease and dirt. Apply 1-2 drops of oil to the spring where the hammer pivots and trigger connects.

Clean your recoil spring assembly and spring blocks in a similar manner.

Finally, take a clean patch and rub down all metal surfaces of the gun before reassembly.

Step 4: Reassembly

The reassembly is a simple process. You only have to put the parts back together in the exact reverse order you removed them.

Keep in mind, however, that the large screw going through the mid portion of the wooden stock is not to be tampered with.

Install Trigger Group

To reinstall the trigger group, set the rifle upside down on a flat bench with the safety on, position the group, and straight arm push down until you hear it click into place. You can tap the trigger group lightly if it gets stuck in place.

Reset the Bolt

Turn the weapon over to insert the bolt, bolt face towards the chamber and the locking cuts upward, into the receiver.

Insert the bolt carrier into the receiver engaging the locking cuts on the bolt and the receiver rails. Now, install the recoil spring assembly into the cut in the bolt carrier with the locking clip forward.

Reinstall the Magazine

Push the front of the magazine in first and make sure it catches onto the bottom lip of the receiver.

Reinstall your receiver cover and push it all in. When seated properly, push the retaining pin and rotate it 90 degrees to lock it into place.

Comparison of the Best SKS Cleaning Kits

  • Chinese military surplus genuine cleaning kit for the SKS
  • All components enclosed in a metal case for security
  • Can fit stock storage and works with other guns, as well
View Latest Price →
  • Inexpensive buttstock cleaning kit for the SKS
  • Original and fully operational cleaning kits from Soviet Russia
  • Easy to handle and carry. Offers great value for money
View Latest Price →
  • Comprehensively designed cleaning kit with all minor components
  • Parts for both 7.62 and .223 caliber rifles for verastility
  • Comes in a comfortable to carry zippered nylon pouch, plus a lifetime guarantee
View Latest Price →

Review of the Best SKS Cleaning Kits

Below are three great SKS cleaning kits currently available on the market. As you go through each one, you’ll want to be able to make notes on what’s included in the kit. The last thing you want is to find a kit that is missing one of the key elements you need in order to clean your SKS. Be sure to find a kit that’s best for you and go from there. 

Maintaining your weapon is an impossible mission without a good cleaning kit. Improper lubrication and cleaning can cause undue wear and tear, and a below-optimum performance.

Hence, we’ve selected our top three cleaning kits, which are said to last the test of time. Now, let’s take a look at the first kit on our list:

Best Overall SKS Cleaning Kit:
Field Sport Chinese Military Genuine Surplus SKS Rifle 7.62x39 Cleaning Kit

No products found.


  • Compatible with most SKS rifles
  • Attaches to cleaning rods with ease
  • Allows for excellent cleaning of your rifle
  • Fits in most buttstocks fine without any issues
  • Sight tool is pretty useful for sight adjustments


  • Container might come heavily worn out
  • May leave a bit of a smell after cleaning
  • Sight tool might be challenging to tighten or loosen some sights at first

What Recent Buyers Report 

Most new buyers loved this cleaning kit and the accessories that came with it. Not only were they able to clean their rifles, but they were also able to utilize the included tools to their advantage to make sure their rifles were in tip-top shape. One user even said that the cleaning rod and brush did a pretty good job cleaning up every nook and cranny of their rifle with ease. Another user said he was quite surprised that the cleaning brush didn’t leave any residue or gunk behind. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This cleaning kit is contained in a small container. All you have to do is piece it together and you get a brush that will fit in the bore of your rifle and clean out the barrel and some of the other parts that it can reach. The brush has hardened bristles that will make sure that every piece of dirt, residue, or anything else won’t be left behind in your SKS rifle. This will make sure that your rifle is as useful as possible even. 

This kit contains all the basics necessary to clean your SKS. It includes a rod handle, a 7.62x39mm bore brush, a takedown tool, and a metal cleaning kit tube.  

An advantage of the kit is that the products come with their cosmoline removed, so the parts are ready for use.

Unfortunately, a cleaner isn’t included in this kit, but it is still quite functional and easy-to-use. The kit is custom made for the SKS but fits the AK 47s cleaning needs quite well, too.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will be a great cleaning kit for those on the go. If you are at the shooting range or hunting out in the field, you’re going to love how this cleaning kit can come through in the clutch. So, if you take this on the go, you might do some on-the-fly cleaning, if and when needed. And the best part of it all, you won’t have all kinds of other moving parts to work with.

Bottom Line

The Field Sport Chinese Military Genuine Surplus SKS Rifle Cleaning Kit might be what you need if you want something simple, for use on the go, and which will make sure your SKS rifle is in excellent condition. For something you can store away in your rifle’s buttstock, it certainly makes portability a breeze. You’d be surprised what kind of cleaning you can get done with this bad boy, no matter where you take it. 

Deltac BRAND - AK SKS Buttstock Cleaning Kit

No products found.


  • Superior sturdiness and durability
  • Easy to assemble, takes about a minute
  • Cleans the rifle bore with just a few passes
  • Works with any of your desired oils and solvents
  • Assembly tools included are reliable and get the job done


  • None

What Recent Buyers Report 

A lot of the new users were happy with how easy it was to assemble this cleaning brush in order to make SKS rifle cleaning easy. One user even said he managed to put this all together in a matter of a couple of minutes and managed to clean every part of his SKS rifle after a few passes. He said the brush was quite solid in quality and managed to clean out all kinds of dirt and gunk that were building up in his rifle. He added that the cleaning rod itself was quite sturdy and was not susceptible to easy breakage. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Once again, we have a cleaning kit that is simple and easy to use. And this time, it has all the tools you need to make sure you are properly disassembling your rifle so you can make the entire task easy. With pin punchers fitting perfectly to knock the pins out and make disassembly easy, they are definitely useful tools for all your cleaning and maintenance needs. And best of all, it comes in a small container you can fit inside your rifle’s buttstock. Clean it at home or take it out on the range, it’s entirely up to you. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a kit that can turn into a high-quality cleaning brush and leave nothing behind but a super-clean SKS rifle. 

Another one of our recommendations is this AK SKS cleaning kit. This kit contains the following products: one cleaning jag, a 7.62x39mm bore brush, a takedown tool, a trigger assembly pin tool, a punch, and two-piece storage tube you can use as a handle for a cleaning rod.

Buyers, however, have complained about the heavy cosmoline coating, but an easy solution is to soak the components in hot water to get it off.

On the whole, the product has received positive reviews and is ideal for someone looking for a genuine military-style kit.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will be an excellent cleaning kit that will be the best fit for your SKS rifle and will be for those who don’t want too many cleaning tools to carry around. This is a kit that can stand the test of time and the amount of use that goes with it. So if you are looking for a cleaning kit that might be right up your alley, you should consider the Deltac Brand Cleaning Kit as one of your best possible options. 

Bottom Line

The Deltac Brand Cleaning Kit is a good option if you want portability, easy assembly, and simple cleaning. You can take this just about anywhere and be able to get the job done thoroughly.  If you want a really clean SKS rifle that will keep performing at its top peak condition, you’re going to need a kit that will make sure that no dirt, debris, or anything else can prevent that from happening. 

Best SKS Cleaning Kit for the Money:
 BOOSTEADY 7.62MM AK/SKS Cleaning Kit Pro

No products found.


  • Easy to assemble brushes
  • Portable and perfect for on-the-go carrying
  • Fits many semi-auto calibers (.223, 5.56, etc.)
  • Cleaning rods and brushes are super sturdy
  • Does a good job cleaning gunk, residue, and dirt with no problem


  • Few have reported the brush bristles coming off after short-term use
  • Some have complained about the brushes not being marked to distinguish caliber

What Recent Buyers Report 

Most buyers say this kit was nice and small in size but contained just enough cleaning rods and brushes to ensure they were prepared for all kinds of cleaning whether at home or on the go. The brushes and rods were high in quality and able to remain sturdy even through multiple uses according to one user. Another user said the brushes were often compatible with most cleaning solvents and oils that allowed for a maximum clean.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This kit had a wide range of brushes and rods to fit different semi-automatic calibers. More importantly, it gives more opportunities to clean your rifles without having to rely on a single one-size-fits-all kind of brush. So if you are looking for durability and reliable cleaning no matter where you are, it’s as simple as putting this kit to good use. If you want a cleaning kit that will clean your SKS rifle from top to bottom, this just might be the kit you deserve. If you have other semi-auto rifles, why wouldn't you get a kit that can clean them all? This one can get the job done no matter how many rifles you own. 

Possibly our best pick from the lot, this kit contains a .223-cal brass brush, a .223-cal chamber brush, a 7.62mm bore brush, a 7.62mm chamber brush, a 7.62mm nylon brush, a 7.62mm mop, a double end mini nylon brush, a brass slotted tip, a five-section rifle rods, a 25-pc pack of clean patches, and metal gun cleaning picks.

Additionally, it comes with a zippered compact case that makes storage easy. Apart from the SKS, you can also use the kit to clean variations of AK-47 and M-16.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will be great for those who are hunters or competitive shooters and want a cleaning kit that will get it all out of the way, if and when you need to do some urgent cleaning or just the usual tasks. You have high quality, easy to assemble brushes that you can depend on in order to fulfill all your cleaning needs in one portable kit. Take it on the go or leave it at home, these brushes will work just fine without giving you any quality issues. 

Bottom Line

The Boosteady Cleaning Kit is perfect not just for SKS rifles, but also for other semi-auto rifles at your disposal. It’s the kind of kit you can use just about anywhere, no matter what kind of solvents or oils you use. Let’s not forget, you get a good number of brushes and rods in a small, easy to carry case that will make cleaning on the go possible. 

Advantages of Investing in a Quality SKS Cleaning Kit

Knowing which advantages you get by using a cleaning kit for an SKS is important. If you choose a quality one, you’ll be able to get the most out of it. So, here are a few things you’ll get to enjoy if you find the best SKS cleaning kit for your own rifle:

Allows Longer Life For Your Rifle

This is one of the key major points of why cleaning your rifle (or any other firearm) should be important. If you find a cleaning kit that has all the apparatus you need to ensure that every nook and cranny is cleaned, you’ll be in business. And yes, the right kind of solvents and oils will also need to be considered in the mix, as well. 

Reliable When You Need Them

Some of the apparatus, like the cleaning rods, will need to be sturdy enough for multiple uses. Let’s face it: cleaning a rifle once and calling it good doesn’t cut the mustard. You need to clean it on a regular schedule. So you’re going to need some sturdy tools that won’t wear down or break after short term use. Reliability matters, even with the cleaning materials for your rifle. 

Handy And Portable

Cleaning your gun may not just be a thing for doing at home. Some cleaning kits available are often small and portable. This means you can take it just about anywhere. So if you need to do some quick cleaning at the range or while out hunting you can definitely use your cleaning kit to your advantage. Plus, you’re going to probably end up out in the open anyway, so you already have a well-ventilated area to clean your rifle. 


Cleaning your SKS after a productive shooting session can be quite cathartic, but the experience can be all the more enjoyable if you have the right tools at hand.

With practice, the average shooter can become adept at dissembling rifles and hence, get a better idea about the tools needed to clean his or her rifle and fend off the rust. One of the kits we have mentioned should be sufficient for maintenance.

Michael Lutes

Michael Lutes is the managing editor and owner at Gun Mann. He is a veteran, gun enthusiast, 3 gun competitor, and 2a advocate. Mike has a passion for innovation and education across the industry to create great content, training, and insights from the best and brightest.

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