Maintaining fishing reels is critical to ensure they last for significant periods. There is no sense in investing money into fishing reels and allowing them to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance. When fishing in saltwater both inshore and offshore in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, reels are prone to corrosion when salt is not rinsed and washed away. No matter the style of fishing reel, follow these 9 steps for cleaning fishing reels. 

Why Is It Important To Clean Fishing Reels

Whether you are fishing from piers, the shore, docks, or on a boat both inland or offshore in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, it is critical to clean the reals after use. Check out the top 5 fishing piers in North Carolina

No matter if fishing reels are conventional, spinning, bait casting, level winds, electric, or another, they accumulate salt. Salt coats the reel from retreiving fishing line, high winds which drive salty air, and sea spray from breaking waves or a boat moving through the water. 

When salt accumulates on fishing reels, it can damage long-term when not properly cleaned after each use. Damage occurs externally and to interior components that are not visible to the naked eye. 

How Do You Clean Fishing Reels

After using a fishing reel in saltwater, follow these steps to ensure that the salt has been removed before stowing away, whether fishing from a boat or land.

Step 1.

Gather cleaning material, including boat soap, a freshwater hose, bucket, hand washing mitt, and a chamois mop. Keep the chamois mop away from soap and water. 

We recommend the 2-Pack Relentless Drive Premium Car Wash Mitt. The mitts are made of chenille microfiber and will not scratch fishing reels or rods when washing. 

Step 2. 

Handle fishing rods and reels with care as they are fragile. Prop the reels against a firm railing or place them in rod holders during the cleaning process. 

Step 3.

Rinse the reels with medium pressure to loosen dried salt. Rinse all sides, including the top, bottom, sides, front, and most importantly, the spool. Freshwater must penetrate deep in the line layers to remove lodged salt particles.

Step 4. 

Mix a bucket of boat soap and water before rinsing the reels. Allow the bucket to become filled with suds for more thorough washing. 

Step 5.

After the bucket of soap is ready, dip the microfiber washing mitt in the bucket and allow it to become soapy.

Step 6.

Wash the reels with the soaped mitt. Be sure to clean all areas of the reel and pay close attention to hard-to-reach spaces. Hard to reach spaces accumulate salt and lead to long-term problems. 

Step 7.

After the reels have been thoroughly rinsed, it is time to remove the soap. With a fresh water hose, rinse the soap and salt away from the fishing reel. Remember to pay close attention to the spool to prevent salt from remaining lodged in the fishing line. 

Step 8.

Inspect the reel by running your hand across the surface. When salt is present, repeat the washing process to remove the remaining damaging contaminant.

Step 9. 

After the reel is washed and rinsed, it is time to begging the drying process. A fishing reel must be dried after washing to avoid the accumulation of hard water spots. Hardwater spots become a challenge to remove despite previously applying wax. 

What Are The Consequences Of Not Cleaning Fishing Reels

The failure to clean or improperly clean fishing reels leads to avoidable consequences. Here are the repercussions of failing to wash a reel properly after use in saltwater. 

Saltwater is highly corrosive and causes long term damage to fishing reels that are improperly maintained. Here are the most common issue from failing to clean reels. 


The failure to remove salt causes the paint to bubble, corrosion to form, and the appearance to become unpleasant. When the appearance of the reel becomes undesirable it is challenging to sell. 


Never assume the internal components are water and airtight. Bearings and other rotating parts are equally subject to the formation of corrosion. 


Improper care leads to failure. Failure includes locked drags resulting in fish breaking free, frozen handles, paint pealing free exposing the metal in which the reel is composed. 

Follow These 9 Steps The Next Time You Clean A Fishing Reel

Cleaning fishing reels is made easy when following the 9 steps listed above. We have cleaned rods and reels on a consistent basis and know how to remove salt quickly and effectively. The next time you go fishing in Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina follow these steps when removing salt after saltwater fishing.