This page "stolen" from http://www.geocities.com/yak23flora/html/AKclean.html in case the original page disappears at some point.
Cleaning and Maintaining your Kalashnikov-type rifle
Cleaning? Yes, despite the ruggedness of your AK and its reknowned ability to function with sand, grunge and grit choking its internals, a basic cleaning and maintenance program will sertainly extend the life of your equipment. Many different methods of cleaning your AK type rifle are discussed among AK fans. Methods are really diverse, and unlike any other type of military weapon include terms like "water hose", "dishwasher" and "local car wash". Seriously. The rugged design of the AK and its inherent simplicity allow its maintenance to be discussed in such words. It is a compliment to a military rifle designer to have upkeep of his design discussed in terms like 30 weight motor oil and bearing grease- both viable options with the AK!
First step- Cleaning Products (Pick-n-choose)
Step 1: Field stripping the AK
Field strip your gun. It seems obvious, but be sure its unloaded- check it! You just never know. Remove the top cover off of the receiver by pushing the button on the rear of the receiver cover and lifting the cover up. After the cover is removed, slide the receiver retainer button that held the receiver cover down forward until it disengages from the trunion that holds it in place. This will allow you to slide the recoil spring out of the bolt carrier. Next, pull back the bolt to the rearmost position and lift the bolt carrier/gas piston assembly out of the receiver. Watch the bolt! It is loose and with a turn will fall out. Remove it by turning it until the locking tab is clear and you can slide it forward and free.
Finally, with the bolt carrier/gas piston assembly removed, lift the lever on the right side of the gas block up by rotating it clockwise. The gas tube/upper handguard assembly will be loose now and you can move it upward and off the gun. That's all that is required to field strip your AK, and it is ready for cleaning.
Step 2- Initial Cleaning
First, I apply CLP to the parts that I can get at with a toothbrush and scrub., This includes the bolt carrier/gas piston and the bolt itself. I also use Hoppes #9 on the bore by passing a saturated patch down the barrel. You can use any solvent here that you wish, from kerosene to WD-40. The idea is to flush out the grunge and scrub off the stubborn carbon deposits. The brass brushes will come in handy on the gas piston and the bolt face. Run the shotgun brush down the gas tube a few times to knock out any carbon in there. Check the gas port too, making sure the channel leading to the barrel is open and free of carbon. A special tool is available for this, or a length of coat hangar will substitute just fine.
Step 3- Degreasing
Once I've loosened the really nasty grunge with the toothbrush and flushed with cleaner of my choice, I spray off the interior, parts and bore with brake cleaner to get the cleaner and remainder of the grunge off. This step leaves a nice, greaseless, bare metal finish.
Step 4- Lubrication
Using CLP, I lube all operating parts. Inside the receiver, go ahead and coat the whole thing in a light film of CLP or light machine/gun oil. You don't want any rust in there! I use Tetra grease on the rails. I give it a good coat with my finger, but it really doesn't need much as this stuff leaves a film behind even if you can't see it. A large blob of grease only attracts dirt.
Step 5- Protection
Use CLP here. Some folks prefer Motor oil, Automatic Transmission Fluid, or light gun oil. With a rag, wipe down all exposed metal with CLP- interior and exterior, parkerized, blued or otherwise. Get it all. A slight film is all that is required to protect the gun.
Many folks report that storing your AK in a foam lined gun case is dangerous since some foams react to CLP and other chemicals over time to mar you gun's finish. I've had this happen to a shotgun stored for 10 years in a foam lined hard case- it has a definite discoloration of the blued barrel at regular intervals where the egg crate foam touched it. If you store your AK in such a case, line it with cotton cloth first.
And that's it!
Alternate cleaning methods for the AK
Sound insane? These are all methods people have actually used! I use the dishwasher when I really want to degrease a gun. To prep my SAR-1 for refinishing I had to remove all grease and lubricants inside and out. I used gunscrubber gets the initial layers of grease/oil off, then heated the metal parts in the oven for a while to drive the grease out of the tight spots and from between the stampings and metal-to-metal areas. I'd then concentrate on that area with acetone and a brushI repeated the prcocess a couple of times until I had removed as much grease and oil as humanly possible. Once done, in the dishwasher it went, broken down of course. When the dry cycle was over, I put it back in the over to drive out leftover moisture and then proceeded to refinish the surface.
Where did you want to be today?