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    The Basics of Gun Safe Maintenance and Care

    Gun safes are a highly secure way to protect your firearms, documents, jewelry and other valuables. They have extremely durable constructions (often fireproof or waterproof), advanced locking mechanisms and ample storage space. However, gun safes need to be maintained over time to ensure they offer the best protection and security. Tractor Supply is America’s largest rural lifestyle retailer, with more than 85 years of experience offering quality products and sound advice. Here, our team discusses how to maintain and care for a gun safe.

    Dusting the Exterior 

    The first and most basic part of gun safe maintenance is cleaning the safe. As every other object in your home does, gun safes will collect dust, usually on their exteriors. It’s important to clean the dust and dirt off the exterior of your gun safe so it doesn’t affect the locking mechanism or bolts. 

    For safes with a flat, matte or textured finish, you should use a clean, lint-free cloth or duster to wipe the dust off. Make sure the cloth is non-abrasive to prevent scratches. 

    For shiny, painted surfaces that may have dirt built up, you can use a microfiber cloth with water to gently wipe it off. It’s best not to use soap or cleaning solutions, as they can damage the finish or logos. However, if the exterior could use some shine, you can use a mild furniture polish or wax to gently polish it, making sure to avoid logos, decals and hardware.

    Deep-Cleaning the Interior

    The interior of a gun safe typically doesn’t get too dusty or dirty unless the door is frequently left open. However, sometimes contents in the safe can leak or deteriorate and need to be cleaned up. If the inside of your safe needs deep cleaning, you should:

    • Remove all the contents and shelving
    • Get rid of expired ammo or unused items
    • Vacuum all the shelves and surfaces to remove dust and dirt
    • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe off any remaining dirt or residue

    You should avoid using carpet cleaners or chemical solvents that can lead to reactions with your safe contents. If you have a spill on the floor or shelving of your safe, you can use a very small amount of soapy water to remove it. However, it’s important not to introduce too much water into your safe because it can lead to damaging humidity.


    The next step in gun safe maintenance is controlling the humidity levels inside the safe. This is essential because extra humidity or moisture can cause corrosion, mold and other damage to your firearms and belongings. National Rifle Association (NRA) recommends keeping the humidity in a gun safe or vault room between 30% and 50% to prevent these issues. To help control humidity in your gun safe, it’s best to invest in a dehumidifier, which absorbs moisture from the air. There are a few types to choose from, including:

    • Silica-gel-based dehumidifiers or desiccant canisters (don’t need electricity)
    • Plug-in/electric safe dehumidifiers (requires electrical power)

    These types can be kept in your gun safes to control the humidity easily and keep your belongings in the best condition. Some experts recommend keeping one of each type of dehumidifier in your gun safe in case one of them fails. This provides a backup to prevent moisture from forming in your safe and damaging your belongings without you knowing. 


    Another factor in gun safe maintenance is lubricating the locking bolts on the door to ensure they work properly. Over time, bolts can start to stick and cause trouble opening the door to the safe. You can prevent this by lubricating the bolts of your safe’s door with a product designed for use on gun safes. Apply this lubricant to the fronts, sides and bottoms of the bolts to make sure they’ll open easily.

    Professional Maintenance

    The above-mentioned safe maintenance can be done on your own, but some maintenance is better left to professionals. These include issues with:

    • Locking mechanisms, including problems with the relocker, slip clutches, loose screws, etc.
    • Fire seals
    • Hinges, loose bolts and broken welts

    Generally, safes should be inspected by a professional every one to four years. Safes that need to be maintained professionally more often would be commercial safes, government safes or those that are accessed daily.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Gun Safe Maintenance

    What type of gun safe locking mechanism needs the most maintenance?

    There are various types of locking mechanisms available on gun safes, including dial lockselectronic keypad locksand biometric locks. Generally, mechanical locks like dial locks require more maintenance than their electronic counterparts. This is because the mechanisms in the dial can wear down and lead to difficulty opening the lock.

    How often should I clean my gun safe?

    How often you should clean your gun safe depends on a few factors, like how often you use it, the climate you live in and the contents of the safe. If you use your safe frequently, live in an area with high humidity or have very valuable contents inside, it’s recommended to clean and inspect your safe more often.

    Where should you put a gun safe in your house?

    The location of your safe can affect how much maintenance you must put into it. It’s important to install a gun safe in an area that is dry and away from moisture and heat. If your safe is in a basement or utility room, moisture is more likely to enter the safe when you open the door and can lead to problems.

    Shop Gun Safes from Leading Brands at Tractor Supply

    Whether you already have a gun safe or are looking to get one, Tractor Supply can help you with product recommendations and reliable advice. With over 85 years as America's largest rural lifestyle retailer, Tractor Supply has the experience to answer questions about gun safes and how to maintain them. Visit your local Tractor Supply store to speak to a trusted team member or browse our online inventory.