How to Clean Your Cannabis Gear

How to Clean Your Cannabis Gear

Published on 9/11/20

Updated Jun 7, 2022

These days, you can't be too careful about cleanliness. Most of us use hand sanitizer when running errands, use disinfectant wipes on surfaces at home, and wash our hands as much as possible. After all, we've all had a lot of practice keeping safe, washing our hands thoroughly, and worrying about our health. That anxiety has led many to utilize cannabis to take the edge off. 

But as necessary as it's been for us to mask up, socially distance, and wash our hands over the past two years, that increased rate of cannabis usage means that properly cleaning our pipes and other smoking accessories has been just as important. No matter what type of piece it is, it's also important to remember to clean your cannabis pipes, bongs, tools, and accessories as often and as thoroughly as possible! 

Dirty pipes, dab rigs, and bongs can stink, create ultra-harsh hits, and even grow bacteria and mold that can damage your lungs when inhaled. Luckily, cleaning your favorite piece is easy as long as you have the right equipment. 

Whether you're looking for simple steps to clean your spoon pipe, wondering how to clean a bong without alcohol, how to clean a bubbler pipe, how to clean a piece, or how to clean a bowl, we'll go through various options, accessories, and best practices meant to keep your smoking station spotless.

Types of Bongs and Pipes

First, it's essential to know what you're cleaning. After all, the only way to see if you're cleaning something correctly is to understand what you're working within the first place. Let's start with some of the basics.

Pipes are typically made of glass but can also be found in metal and ceramic varieties. And while the most common style of cannabis pipe is shaped like a spoon, any smoking device with a bowl, a mouthpiece, and no water is considered a pipe.

Bongs, on the other hand, require water. And while pipes are traditionally made of one piece of glass, bongs are equipped with removable bowl pieces, slides, and other small parts. If you have a pipe that holds water but does not have a removable bowl piece, you have a bubbler, not a bong. The modular design of a bong makes cleaning them more manageable than some pipes or bubblers but also makes it easier to break your piece during the cleaning process.

Like pipes, bongs are typically made out of glass, although most head shops also offer bongs made out of cheap plastic and silicone, which aren't commonly used to make pipes or bubblers.

While it might seem like an unnecessary investment to splash the cash on a smoking accessory made of suitable quality materials, you should do so if you can. It will improve the overall smoking experience and be better for you health-wise, but it will make your accessories easier to clean in the long run.

How To Clean a Bong

For most cannabis cleaning projects, the main ingredient is the same - isopropyl alcohol. Especially when it comes to glass pieces, a mixture of alcohol diluted with hot water is a surefire way to get even the most stubborn gunk off of your bong. In addition to alcohol, agitation is vital. You can use a crumpled-up paper towel to seal the mouthpiece and bowl joint while you shake up your alcohol concoction, or, if you're feeling fancy, you can buy a set of rubber caps specifically made to fit bongs and avoid any spillage.

If you don't have any alcohol at home and the drug store shelves are dry, there are plenty of ways to clean your bong. If you're limited to supplies that are likely already in your kitchen, combine white vinegar and coarse salt to create a robust cleaning solution that is tough on the leftover resin. Salt is excellent for pulling stubborn spots of caked-on debris off your glass and can even be combined with alcohol for an even stronger clean.

Of course, if you want to go the easiest route, there are a handful of professionally made, pre-mixed cleaning solutions specifically designed for detailing your bongs. You can find products like Formula 420 and Dark Crystal Glass Cleaner at head shops around the country and simply follow the instructions on the bottle for an immaculate clean every time. While they can be a bit pricey, they're certainly not the worst option if all else has failed. 

While isopropyl alcohol is by far the best and cheapest way to clean a bong, it is essential to adjust your cleaning technique if your bong is not glass. Silicone, plastic, and ceramic pieces can all be cleaned using alcohol, but avoid letting the solution sit as it can degrade the plastics and pull paint off your ceramics. 

Lastly, no matter what cleaning method you use for your bong, always rinse your piece thoroughly before adding new water and sparking up a bowl. Inhaling alcohol is terrible for you, so you'll want to make sure your pipe or smoking accessory is rinsed out and clean before sparking up next. 

How To Clean a Pipe

Learning how to clean a glass pipe is very similar to cleaning a bong, but there are a few intricacies due to the unique size and shape of pipe cleaning. No matter which cleaning solution you choose, a zip lock bag is a great way to submerge your pipe fully and allows you to shake and agitate without worrying about spills or breaking your piece. The closed-top bag method is also the best way to clean a bowl for your bong. We've got a few extra tricks up our sleeve if a nice bath in a baggie with alcohol, salt, vinegar, or cannabis cleaning solution doesn't make your pipe spotless.

For most of us, pipe cleaners are just a memory from arts and crafts time in early elementary school; but as the name implies, they are also great for cleaning pipes. Use the wire brush to scrape the hard-to-reach interior walls around the weed bowl and mouthpiece. Like a bong, make sure to rinse and dry your pipe inside and outside before packing a fresh bowl. You do not want a mouth full of cleaning solution or water when you take your first hit.

How To Clean a Dab Rig and Collect Reclaim

Dab rigs are technically bongs, but while dirty bongs are full of gristly resin, rigs get clogged with more desirable reclaim. Reclaim is leftover oil that is still good to dab or cook. Before dab or bake with your reclaim, you have to get it out of the rig.

Once again - surprise, surprise - the main ingredient used in collecting reclaim is isopropyl alcohol. Pour high-percentage alcohol (99 percent works best if you can find it) into your rig and let it sit for 5-15 minutes. After the alcohol has had time to sit, shake and swirl the rig before dumping the alcohol and reclaim solution into a glass dish. Let the plate sit for at least 12-24 hours to allow the alcohol to evaporate, and then use the THC-rich reclaim for brownies, tinctures, or put it right back into your newly cleaned dab rig and smoke.
It's a straightforward process that gets you some potent, powerful, and highly effective cannabis product to enjoy if you're running low on cannabis flower or other forms of concentrates. While it's certainly not the first thing most folks reach for when thinking about cannabis products, it's also far from the last!  

The Bottom Line

At the end of that day, cleaning your pipes and other smoking accessories is an essential and unskippable part of the process. You'll need a clean pipe to get the best out of both your pipes and the cannabis products you'll be using. And to get the best out of your pipes, they'll need to be clean. Like it or not, there's no getting around having to do a little cleaning up after yourself. 

Don't worry too much about it, however. While it might seem annoying and difficult at first, the reality is far from that. Instead, think of it as an investment in your long-term health. By cleaning your pipes properly like we laid out above, you'll be able to have better smoke sessions and get the most bang for your buck while maximizing your enjoyment at the moment.
When you think about it like that, it's pretty much a no-brainer why cleaning your cannabis gear is essential!    

Do you have a secret method for cleaning your pipes and bongs that we didn't mention? Let us know in the comments below!

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