How to Clean a Recurve Bow – Step By Step Guide

Recurve bows can get dirty, especially if you use them a lot. After a good hunting trip or long practice session, my recurve bow can get pretty dirty. Through trial and error, I’ve learned how to clean a recurve bow the right way.

There’s a lot of nonsense online about cleaning a recurve bow. Now there are a few ways to do it based on what your recurve bow is made of. Wood recurve bows need to be cleaned differently than metal recurve bows. Using the wrong materials to clean your bow can lead to damage to your bow.

There are two major classes of recurve bows, metal recurve bows and wooden recurve bows. Each will have its own way of cleaning.

Why You Need to Clean Your Bow?

So why do you need to clean your recurve bow at all? Not cleaning your recurve bow will result in damage to your bow over the long term. Leaving dirt, liquid, or dust on your bow for long periods of time will have a negative effect on the riser, limbs, and string.

If your want your bow to last a lifetime (which it can if it’s properly taken care of) then you’ll need to create a cleaning routine for your bow.

How Often Should I Clean My Bow

The frequency of cleaning your bow is dependant on how often you use your bow. I target practice 3-4 times a week so I need to clean it bi-weekly. I also clean it after every hunt because my bow is almost always filthy after a hunt.

The point is, there is no exact number to how often you clean your bow, you’re going to have to use your best judgment. If you are looking for a hard and fast rule, you’ll need to clean your bow once a month if you use it often or once every six months if it’s just sitting around.

If you start seeing your bow collect dust in between cleanings, be sure to take 15 minutes to clean your bow properly.

Cleaning a Wooden Recurve Bow

The most common kind of recurve bows are bows with wooden risers like the Samick Sage recurve bow. We need to be more diligent about clean these bows because, unlike metal, wood is a much more fragile material.

The good news is most modern-day bow limbs are coated with fiberglass making them much studier. The limbs are so sturdy in fact you can leave your recurve bow strung for months on end. This also means that dirt, dust, and water are less likely to harm your limbs.

If you have an older recurve bow, you’ll have to clean your recurve bow much more frequently. As we all know, water deteriorates wood. So if your riser and limbs are not coated, they are much more susceptible.

Step 1: Prepare a Cloth

The first step is to prepare a cloth to wipe down your recurve bow with. This cloth needs to be clean and soft. You can use an old, clean t-shirt if you don’t have a cloth.

Next, pour a small amount of water on your cloth. The key part is a small amount. Especially when it comes to wooden recurve bows, large amounts of water can damage the limbs and riser. If your bow is older I’d recommend using baby wipes because they’re probably softer than a cloth or shirt.

If you’d really like to take it a step further to preserve the integrity of your recurve bow, you can pick up a microfiber cloth from Amazon for like $4. Microfiber is designed to eliminate the chance of scratching your bow when cleaning it.

In more extreme circumstances you may need to use a solution like furniture polish or buff to help you remove dirt stains that have been on the bow for too long.

Step 2: Gently Wipe Down Your Recurve Bow

Now that you’ve prepared a cloth, t-shirt, or baby wipe start wiping down the limbs and riser of your recurve bow.

I would recommend taking the recurve bow apart (if it’s a takedown recurve bow) before you start this step. This way you can get into all the nooks and crannies of the recurve bow like where the limbs and riser meet.

This should be enough to get all the dirt and dust off your recurve bow. Just like with anything you may have to apply pressure to get stubborn grime off. If you need to really apply pressure, I’d spend a few dollars for the microfiber cloth. The more pressure you apply, the more likely you are to scratch your recurve bow.

So if lightly wiping it down with a t-shirt or baby wipe doesn’t work, you’ll need to apply more pressure using a microfiber cloth.

Step 3: Dry Recurve Bow

It’s important that you don’t leave your recurve bow wet for too long. Once you are done, ensure you take steps to dry your recurve bow completely. This could be in the form of taking another, dry cloth and drying it or leaving it out in a dry place.

I knew a guy that used to hose down his recurve bow when he needed to clean it. Needless to say, his bow did not last very long.

Cleaning a Metal Recurve Bow

Having a metal recurve bow makes cleaning easy. You don’t have to be as gentle with a metal recurve bow as you would with a wooden recurve bow.

I still wouldn’t be too rough with it but you can get away with a lot more.

When it comes to cleaning a metal recurve bow you can take a cloth and really scrub out all the dirt and grime using as much water as you’d like. You can either let your bow dry or dry it yourself.

Metal recurve bows can still get scratched. If the recurve bow is black, scratches become a lot more visible so you might still want to be careful there.

Waxing your Recurve Bow

Waxing your bow string is an important part of cleaning your recurve bow.

So why is waxing your string so important? The primary reason is it makes the string waterproof. Water can absolutely destroy a string, especially over longer periods of time. A fraying string is an archer’s worst nightmare. Not only will it affect your accuracy but it will increase the chance that your string will snap on you.

String wax is incredibly cheap and very easy to apply. You should be waxing your string every 3-4 weeks depending on how often you use it. If you’re practicing multiple times a week, I’d increase the frequency to every other week.

There’s no reason to not wax your bow. It takes just a few minutes, makes your string last longer, and is safer.

Storing Your Bow

The way you store your bow is crucial for maintaining your bow. I went over a whole article on storing your bow but the gist of it is you need to keep your bow in a dry, temperature-controlled environment.

Many make the mistake of leaving their recurve bow in the basement or garage. The problem is if you live in an area in which the temperature exceeds 100°F or drops below 30°F your bow can get damaged. This is more likely with wooden recurve bows than metal but it’s possible for both.

Personally, I like to hang my recurve bow up in my office because I like the aesthetics but do your best to keep it indoors.

How to Clean a Recurve Bow

If you are storing your recurve bow in a closet or any other place that collects dust, you will need to clean it more often. When I got my first recurve bow, I lived in a one-bedroom with a roommate and had nowhere to store my recurve bow so I kept it under my bed. Unfortunately, I left it under my bed, sometimes for months at a time. By the time I used it next, it would have accumulated a layer of dust on top.

On top of that, I did not take the time to clean it properly or wax it. Needless to say, the bow didn’t last very long.

Final Thoughts

Taking the time to clean your recurve will ensure your bow lasts as long as possible. Not only that but it ensures your bow will maintain the accuracy that it was made for.

The more you use your bow the more you need to clean it. Just use common sense when cleaning and storing your bow. Especially if you take your bow hunting be sure to take the time to clean it!

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