There is no worse feeling than to have a big fish hooked, to be enjoying the feeling of reeling it in, then, having your equipment fail and the fish getting away. Sometimes equipment failure cannot be helped, but with good maintanance you'll be confident that any failure it may have could not have been prevented.
By keeping your fishing reel clean, it will work smoother and last longer. This is a basic "how to" on cleaning and maintaining fishing reels.
Find a clean, flat, hard surface, such as a bench top to clean your reel on. Laying down a clean, white sheet over the bench can make finding small parts easier.
Begin by wiping the outside of the reel over with a moist soapy rag, this will remove any of the contaminants such as, oils and salts (paricularly if it has been used in salt water). Remove the spool and wash it and underneath with mild soapy water.
Carefully remove the winding handle; this is usualy done by unscrewing the nut on the opposite side of the reel. Take the handle out and carefully remove the side plate with a small screwdriver. You will be able to inspect all of the gears inside and add special fishing reel grease onto the gears. Each year you should clean out the old grease and lubricate the internals with fresh grease.
Using fishing reel oil, lubricate any external moving parts such as the bail and anti reverse lever.
Remember that fishing in salt water requires more maintanance than fresh water fishing. Make sure you clean your gear after each trip to keep it in perfect working order and extend it's life for many more fishing trips.
(Sourced Kumyang Fishing)