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According to Col Frank Mayer's autobiography Buff hunters stopped up the barrels and filled them with urine and let them sit for a few minutes before cleaning.
In colonial days, folks used tow and water to clean bores. Yeah,,,,, tow! (The coarse fibres left over from extracting linen from flax stems. It was sort of like a hank of dirty blonde hair. Hence the expression that a person with dirty blonde hair was a "tow head") Somewhat abrasive. wrapped around a worm and flushed in and out of the barrel. A worm was a double cork screw looking ram rod attachment, (not something from a tequila bottle).

Many of us today use soapy water to clean our barrels. The very same was available in Colonial Days. cleaning patches are relatively cheaper for us. But they had cloth and cleaning patches as well.
 
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