How to Clean Your Archery Gear

Whether you use it near-daily or dozens of times per season, your archery gear will inevitably get dingy. All the nooks and crannies of your compound bow, not to mention accessories such as sights, might seem difficult to clean, but not with the right steps. How do you clean your archery gear?

Cleaning archery gear usually requires only a soft cloth and maybe some soap and water to remove stubborn marks and stains. To clean the bowstrings, you will need a specialized cleaner. Don’t forget to polish the strings when you’re done!

In this article, we’ll explain in much more detail how to clean all your archery gear from arm guards to scopes and everything in between. We’ll also discuss how often you should clean your gear and how to polish your strings until they shine. You won’t want to miss it!  

Here’s How to Clean Your Archery Gear


If you keep your bow clean throughout the active archery season, this can prevent you from having to do extensive cleanup later. At the very least, for everyday maintenance, you need a soft cloth such as a microfiber cloth or a terrycloth.

Apply some auto polish on the bow and then use the cloth to coat the polish throughout the entirety of the bow. Your bow will look practically as good as new!

If you’ve had your bow for a long time but you have yet to clean it, or if you bought your bow used from someone who obviously didn’t take good care of it, then you’ll have to commit to some deeper cleaning.

That will entail deconstructing the bow. We recommend taking photos of your bow at every step so that when you go in the reverse order and assemble the bow again, you’ll have a much easier time doing it. 

If yours is a compound bow, then the first disassembly step is to put the bow in a bow press to unwind the tension. The hooks on the bow press should be adjusted so they’re as long as your bow is. 

You might have to take the dampener off your compound bow when using a bow press depending on the model. 

When you’re done with that, you must next loosen the cable and string tensions, which requires you to unwind the tensioning screw. The strings will have some slack if you’re doing it correctly. At this stage, you want the limbs of your compound bow firmly in the bow press to prevent damage to them as you undo the string.

Once you’ve got the cable and string loose enough, take them both off the bow. You can clean them separately, which we’ll talk more about momentarily.

Next, you need to take off the bow press by unwinding your tensioning screw.  Now you can remove the limbs from your compound bow as you’ve reduced their tension. Use a tiller adjustment to detach the limbs from the riser. 

We recommend keeping track of how many times you twisted the limbs from the riser so you can achieve that tiller height again during compound bow reassembly.

All other parts of the compound bow should freely come off without the need for a bow press. 

Now that you have the parts free, you can go one by one and clean them. You might only need a damp microfiber cloth or a terrycloth for this if the bow parts aren’t particularly dirty. If the bow is a bit filthier with blood and dirt, then some elbow grease or a dollop of dish soap might help.

In the teeny-tiny areas of your compound bow that are too hard to reach with your fingers and a cloth, you can moisten a cotton swab to get into those corners and crannies. 

We don’t recommend leaving your bow wet for too long, so use a clean, dry microfiber cloth or a terrycloth to dry it. If the bow is only moist, then you can air-dry it, but use your discretion. For instance, if your compound bow is made of untreated wood, you want to dry that, stat.

Once your bow is dry and looking clean, it’s time to go in the reverse order of how you disassembled the bow to put everything back together. Our recommendation? Take your time with this, as you want to get your bow reassembled just right. Look at the reference photos you took too, as that’s what they’re there for! 


Once your bowstrings are freed from your bow, you should take the time to clean them. Well-maintained strings can last for upwards of three years, after all.

Okay, so how in the world do you clean bowstrings? One smart method that archers use involves a string of dental floss.

Although it’s not always easy to see, dirt and wax accumulate on the bowstrings. By wrapping a long strip of dental floss around your bowstrings and then rubbing the floss up and down the strings, it begins to scrape away the residue on the strings. 

It might take you several attempts at this, but eventually, your strings will be clean. Well, cleaner than they were, but they can be cleaner still. 

Next, you should apply a bowstring cleaner. Scorpion Anti-Venom is a highly renowned product to try. The bowstring cleaner applies like a balm on the strings. 

Put some on, let the ingredients get to work, and after a few minutes, wipe down the bowstrings using a clean terrycloth or microfiber cloth. Any residual grime, wax, and dirt that the dental floss method didn’t clean will be completely gone after using a string cleaner. 

Arm Guard, Gloves, and Chest Guards

Archery arm guards and chest guards can get dirty and sweaty, especially if your season has been very active. The same goes for gloves. Since this gear comes in all sorts of materials, from leather to nylon, your cleaning methods might vary somewhat. 

At the very least, a damp cloth suffices to clean surface dirt. Detergent is applicable on nylon, and you might even be able to launder a nylon arm guard or chest guard. If you do put your nylon archery gear in the washing machine, use the cold setting and avoid cleaning with chlorine bleach.

Soap and water can treat surface-level stains on leather archery gear. You can also buy saddle soap, which is a type of soap designed to clean leather. Yes, saddle soap is often associated with horse saddles, but it’s usable for other leather goods as well.

Fiebing’s white saddle soap is a good product to use on your leather archery gear. 

Your gear should be dry before you stow it away until next season or it can get moldy. Air-drying is one such option and manually drying with a clean microfiber cloth is another. 


Did you splurge on 3D archery targets? Since many 3D targets feature self-healing foam, they’re reusable for several seasons provided you take care of yours. 

Cleaning the targets is one of the easier parts of your archery gear maintenance routine. With some dish soap and water in a small basin or Tupperware container, you can dip a clean microfiber cloth into the concoction and then wipe down the target top to bottom. 

Any dirt and grime should come right off. Since 3D targets are just foam and rubber, allowing them to air-dry outside or inside is a-okay. 


If you rely on an archery scope, then you know how integral it is to keep the scope clean. After all, if it gets too dirty, then your visibility decreases when aiming and making your shot, which hinders your accuracy.

Since most archery scopes are made primarily of glass, any glass cleaner suffices for de-gunking the scope. The trouble becomes reaching the small glass ring, especially if you use tiny scopes. Yet again, a cotton swab dipped into water and dish soap will come to the rescue.

You can safely rely on the water and dish soap combo to clean the rest of the scope as well. For metal parts, use a clean microfiber cloth to dry the metal so it doesn’t risk rust or corrosion. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Archery Gear?

Your archery gear is looking as clean as a whistle. What kind of cleaning routine should you get into to maintain its luster?

In a perfect world, you want to wipe down what you use after you’re done firing arrows for the day. This does not require you to disassemble your bow, don’t worry. You can just wipe it down with a soft cloth or use a somewhat stronger cleaner.

As we said before, if you clean your equipment roughly every time you use it, then that negates the need for thorough deep cleaning later. Even still, it’s not a bad idea once a season to take everything apart, assess what kind of shape it’s in, and clean if necessary. 

Most archers save this deep cleaning for after the season ends. You can do it then as well or you can start your season with a completely clean bow and other related gear. 

How Do You Polish the Strings?

Between cleaning them and restringing them back on your bow, it’s worthwhile to take the time to polish the bowstrings. This will keep your shots smooth and effortless so you can get the next archery season off to a good start. 

Scorpion Venom polymeric bowstring wax is a favorite among archers for shining their bowstrings to perfection. The wax includes ingredients like mango, shea, and kokum for an appealing smell. 

Even if you store your bowstrings in cold conditions for the off-season, the conditioning formula of Scorpion Venom’s wax doesn’t turn brittle, nor will it freeze. 

If you buy your bowstring wax in stick form, then you can directly rub the stick onto the strings. If your wax is in a jar, put some on your fingers and manually apply it. You don’t need to drown the strings in wax, so use sparingly. 

How Do You Maintain Your Arrows? 

Of all your archery equipment, the arrows are the most replaceable. Even though you don’t have to clean them, it’s still good to add their care into your maintenance routine. 

Ahead of firing, check all your arrows. Are they damaged in any way, such as visible cracks or obvious misalignment? You’ll have to take those bows from the quiver, as firing with them can be dangerous. Then look at the nock and ensure it’s in good condition as well. 

Final Thoughts 

Cleaning your archery gear is something you should ideally do at least as often as you use it, but no more infrequently than once per season. Now that you know how to keep your equipment in tip-top condition, you can get more use out of it!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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