For the OP, get a roll of shop towels and cut up t-shirt, it will save you a lot of patches. Every 300-500 rounds through my pistols I break 'em down, give a quick wipe to get the crud off and a few drops of oil on the wear/contact points. I use a precision oiler ($4 amazon) and spread with my clean fingers and small artist's paintbrush.
While they're apart, I check the crown of the muzzle for buildup, as well as the breach/chamber and inspect with a bore light. If I am getting some fouling, I break out the solvent, bronze brush, etc. and swab/scrub the barrel.
I am getting close to 3000 rounds on one of the pistols and it's starting to get pretty nasty in the trigger group, so I will look at removing it and giving it a bath.
Basically, don't be too anal about it. Like IJ22 said, check out the OTIS breach-to-muzzle system, You can get the multi-caliber kit for less than $70, but you will need to purchase the .223 brush separately. It packs nicely in your range bag.