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How to Clean Your Pipe

By John Wheeler

I’ve had people ask me “Should I clean my bong?”, and YES, YES YOU SHOULD.  As a matter of fact, you should probably clean everything in your life, lest you get swallowed up by a world of stinky nastiness.  No one wants to star in their own episode of Hoarders.

I could have added a WAY grosser picture.  So… you’re welcome.

A more reasonable question that comes around is “How often should I clean my pipe and/or bong?”.  To this one I say “frequently”, but I admit that is a little vague.  People like cold hard numbers, but I have no idea how much you smoke or if you are sharing your piece with others.  How many others?  Are they the type that frequently bathes, or are you riding the rails getting lifted with a squadron of hobos?  No judgment here, however I do need to give some sort of definitive answer, so here it is:

If it looks gross, it most definitely IS gross.  

I wouldn't smoke in this pool, and I certainly wouldn’t smoke OUT of it.

It can come on gradually, but honestly if it doesn’t look like it did in the store, you gotta handle your scandal.  Even if it doesn’t look like the swimming pool behind an abandoned motel (yet), it’s still full of germs, screwing up your lungs, and worst of all: COSTING YOU MONEY.  That’s right!  Just like how an engine with dirty filters and old sludgy oil loses fuel efficiency, you’re straight up flushing your stash by trying to smoke it through a grody, gunked up pipe.

This particular engine has a real smoking problem.

Now for the million dollar question, “HOW to clean a pipe?”.  Well, there are a few different methods, so I will list them here.  Afterwards we can argue forever about which cannabis cleaning process is best for pipe maintenance.

Method 1: Isopropyl Alcohol Cleaning with Salt Solution
  1. Seal off the bowl and any other holes on the pipe.

  2. Fill the pipe with kosher salt and isopropyl alcohol.

  3. Shake vigorously to dissolve resin.

  4. Rinse with hot water and scrub the bowl if needed.

  5. Repeat if necessary.

Method 2: Vinegar Solution for Cleaning
  1. Mix equal parts vinegar and water.

  2. Soak the pipe in the solution for a few hours.

  3. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.

In-Depth Cleaning MethodsMethod 3: Overnight Soak in Rubbing Alcohol
  1. Place your pipe in a container filled with rubbing alcohol.

  2. Let it soak overnight to loosen stubborn residue.

  3. Rinse thoroughly with water.

Method 4: Boiling Water for Pipe Cleaning
  1. Submerge your pipe in cold water in a saucepan.

  2. Slowly bring it to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes.

  3. Scrub with a cotton-tipped swab or small brush.

Personally, I prefer the overnight soak in rubbing alcohol.  I am a lazy, lazy man, and if I have a couple different pieces to clean, leaving them sit overnight and dealing with it all later is ideal.  Rinsing is important, but I never worry about missing a tiny bit of alcohol because it tends to evaporate on its own.  Some people hate the smell of isopropyl alcohol, but it doesn’t bother me.  Sometimes it just makes me crave a vodka martini…

Which isn’t a problem unless I mix the bottles up.  Or is it..?

Scale plays a big role in all of these solutions.  If something is a little too big to violently shake while full of liquid, it may also be tricky to find a big enough pot to boil it in.  I once watched a couple guys clean out the “The World’s Largest Nectar Collector” (a Minnesota Legit creation that is approximately the size of an adult human’s torso) with a combination of alcohol, water, an air compressor, and a shop vac.  It took over an hour, and for a while there I was pretty certain there was going to be an explosion.  Luckily, nothing exploded and the massive apparatus looked showroom fresh for the party it was headed off to later.

There it is!  Human torso for scale.

There are of course preventative measures as well, such as the use of various screens, at least giving it a warm water rinse after each use, and keeping it stored in a clean area.  That won’t keep you from EVER having to give it a good scrub, but it will cut down on the amount of time your kitchen spends as a vinegar reeking mad science laboratory.  Maybe you’re into that sort of thing, but your roommates might not be.  

Hey hey hey hey, smoke weed everyday.

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