How to Clean a Bong : the Best Way to Clean Glass Pipes & Dirty Bongs

how-to-clean-a-bong-header-image-dirty-bong

Keep your glass clean for the best flavor and optimal performance. Follow this guide to find out the best way to clean your bong and glass pipes with a little help from our friends at Higher Standards.

Overview

The process for how to best clean a bong is relatively simple, using a solvent and an abrasive material, even the most built-up of grimes can be removed. Care and maintenance of your glass, especially premium or heady glass, will promote longer life and better flavor. Not to mention the fact that dirty bongs make your living space look like a frat house whose charter was revoked.

What Do You Need To Clean a Bong?

  • Solvent (Isopropyl Alcohol) To break down gunk and sticky substances
  • Exfoliant (Coarse Salt) To speed up cleaning and cleanse hard-to-reach areas
  • Water (Distilled) For rinsing and refill of your bong

Solvent

Dirtier bongs require heavier firepower, cut the crud with 99% pure Isopropyl alcohol

While there are many products out there marketed directly at how to clean a bong, the best method continues to be a coarse grain salt combined with Isopropyl alcohol. This method will not impart any unwanted flavors on your bong or leave behind any chemicals which may be harmful to inhale.

The purer the Isopropyl alcohol, the more effectively it will break down resins. Purer Isopropyl alchol will also leave behind zero oil traces. While most store-bought iso alcohol will top out around 91%, Higher Standards' Iso Pure boasts 99% purity for the utmost quality cleaning.

Why is Iso the best way to clean a bong?

Isopropyl alcohol is used by aficionados for its inert nature. Not only is this solvent powerful at removing resin and gunk from your bong, but it possesses properties which make it a perfect pair for glass. First off, it absorbs any excess moisture, lessening the chance that your bong may develop harmful bacteria or mold. It also evaporates quickly, so there will not be lingering cleaning materials on your bong.

Exfoliant

Eviscerate resin from your piece with a coarse salt

To aid in removing grime and polishing your glass, an exfoliant should be a part of your bong cleaning regimen. The abrasive nature of an exfoliant will also give you the necessary elbow grease to clean out hard to reach areas such as the joints where your glass parts meet and things like percolators and ash catchers.

Plant material can be one of the harder elements to clean from your bong. When ash and other organic material gets into the components of your bong, it can be covered in layers of resin, which will essentially cement it in place.  The use of an exfoliant applies a sand paper-like friction to remove these set-in particles.

While there are any number of exfoliants one could use, course rock salt is preferred for its efficient removal of sticky substances. The coarser the salt, the better, this will remove even the stickiest of residues. Check out Salt Rox for the connoisseur's choice of cleaning salts. Fine grain salts like Morton’s can be used, however, they are less effective than coarse rock salts. 

The reason for this has to do with the molecular nature of salt itself. Sodium chloride, the salt compound, dissolves in water quite readily. This solubility is particularly apparent when using smaller grain salts. They will dissolve completely, removing the exfoliant from the equation. Course salts and rock salts can combat this. By nature of their relative size, they are much slower to dissolve. This allows for more removal of grime from your bong before the salt is completely dissolved.

Water

Tap water is for plebs, but it can be used to rinse your bongs

Good ol’ H2O is your bong’s best friend, not only for filling it, but for gently rinsing before and after cleaning. While any water will do, your bong deserves the best. So why not use purified or distilled water? Distilled water is perfect for cleaning operations as it is relatively free of impurities.

While tap water can work to rinse your bong clean of debris, most tap water will contain a large amount of minerals. Water filters can be used, such as a Britta or similar water filter. However, these types of water filters are often breeding grounds for bacteria, which you definitely don’t want to introduce to your bong.

Process

While there is more than one way to clean a bong, the following operating procedure is a great way to take a systematic approach to cleaning your glass water pipe and keeping it clean. So, every time your bong gets gunky, do the following:

The Best Way to Clean a Bong:

  • Empty any remaining water from your bong
  • Rinse to remove any larger debris or residue from old water
  • Add Isopropyl alcohol
  • Add Salt
  • Cover the stem and tube of your bong
  • Shake vigorously (but carefully)
  • Rinse with water

Disassembly

break it down, bag it up, clean it up, cleanitup

Removing any pieces that are not fixed to the bong is an important step to avoid accidental breakage. Countless bowls and stems have been destroyed through silly mishaps, like attempting to pour water out of the bong while the stem is still inside. This can easily be avoided by keeping these smaller pieces separate.

Place these items in separate, sealable plastic bags to clean them. You will need to clean these items separately from your bong. We recommend using separate bags for each item, as the small pieces could break or chip if they bump each other.

These items will follow the same cleaning procedure as outlined here, only in smaller bags for safekeeping.

Empty Water

While water is what filters the smoke in your bong, it can also contribute to grime and promote growth of fungi and bacteria. For this reason, you should empty your water after each session, or just at the end of the day.

By changing the water regularly, you would be surprised how much cleaner your bong will stay, and how much better the flavor will be each session. Don’t wait for the bong water to get smelly and change color!

Rinse

A good rinse is a great way to get started cleaning your bong, and if the bong is only lightly soiled, this may be all the cleaning it needs. We recommend using distilled water for the final rinse. However, tap water is generally fine for the initial rinse as the Isopropyl alcohol will clean any contaminates that may be lurking in your tap.  

Fill your bong with warm water. You can gently heat distilled water in a pot on the stove or use the hottest water your tap provides. Then carefully agitate your bong or glass pipe as much as you comfortably can.

You want to be careful here, because slippery hands can lose a bong quickly. This should remove some of the resin and deposits and any residue left behind from dirty water. Your bong is now ready for a deep cleaning.

Add Isopropyl Alcohol

 

Now you’re ready to remove any set-in grime and get that glass looking new again. Before working with a solvent like isopropyl make sure that you are in a safe environment to be doing so.

Take a quick check to make sure that you are in a well-ventilated area. Isopropyl is also flammable, so avoid lighting up while cleaning your smoking piece.

The amount of Isopropyl alcohol you add to your bong will largely be dependent on the volume of water your bong holds. Personally, we fill our bongs and glass pipes to just below the fill line where we would put water. However, the purer your isopropyl alcohol, the less you will have to use.

Add Salt

Your bong will be so clean, you'll be catching salty looks

Now that your solvent has been added to the bong, let’s get the exfoliant in there to polish away residue. Add a healthy pour of salt to the alcohol mixture in your bong.

The amount of salt to add will also be dependent on the volume of your bong. Keep in mind that some of the salt will dissolve in the alcohol, so add accordingly. You want enough to exfoliate any of the residue on the bong, while still giving room to agitate the salt and Iso solution. 

Cover the Stem And Tube of Your Bong

Plug it up to avoid spills

To prevent spilling your exfoliant and solvent all over the place, you’ll want to cover up the stem and tube. There are any number of ways to accomplish this. You could use a wine cork (gently) in the stem and use your hand to cover the tube. You could use paper towels and plastic wrap, held in place with rubber bands.

For hassle free maintenance, the Supreme Cleaning Kit from Higher Standards includes Tube Tops. These silicon stoppers will keep your alcohol and salt solution in place without having to rig anything together.

Shake Vigorously (But Carefully)

Shake it, don't break it.

Now it’s time to put your solution and exfoliant to work. While being careful not to drop your precious glass, shake away the grime. Depending on the amount of buildup in your bong, this could take a while. Just be patient and feel free to give your arms a break if they can’t handle it.

If after 10-15mins of vigorous shaking, there is still grime, we recommend letting the Iso soak for a few hours to overnight.

Final Rinse

By now your bong or glass pipe should be as clean as the day you bought it. Aren’t you proud? Now it’s time to rinse away your cleaning solution and prepare your bong for use.

We would recommend removing whatever obstruction you used to keep the stem from spilling. Empty your combination of rock salt and Isopropyl alcohol into the sink or other safe disposal receptacle.

This is where distilled water will really come in handy, its relative lack of contaminants will keep your glass from getting cloudy. Tap water may once again be used, but you might want to hit your bong with a cotton wipe or Dab Rag to give it a polish once dried.

 Polish ur bong like a pro with these sick Resin Rags

***For bongs that are extremely dirty, or bongs with percs or hard to reach nooks and crannies you may have to repeat the last few steps several times to get the glass to new condition.***

Why Clean a Bong?

It is important to clean your bong not only for aesthetic reasons but also for your health. While water can filter your smoke, it will collect ash and the resin and the grime from stagnate water will build up. This buildup and resin not only leads to unwanted flavors, but also may contain hazardous byproducts that are not meant to be inhaled or exposed to the heat of smoking dry herbs.

A dirty bong can take a pleasurable smoking experience to a bad tasting, germ-filled nightmare. Let’s be honest, when you use a bong it’s generally in the presence of friends. While passing around from mouth to mouth, there are all sorts of germs and saliva left behind. While you may love your friends, you won’t love having their cold or worse.

Keep yourself and your friends safe, by maintaining a clean bong that preserves the flavors of your smoke and repels germs and other contaminants.

The Dangers of a Dirty Bong

Warm, moist environments are breeding grounds for mold and bacteria. A dirty bong provides these exact conditions, putting you at risk for illness or even respiratory infections. Cleaning your bong regularly will help to prevent some unnecessary risks when enjoying your smoking blends.

When to Clean a Bong?

The frequency with which you clean your bong will largely be dependent on how often you are using it, however there are some signs that your bong is ready for a cleaning:

  • Bad smells
  • Bad taste
  • Dirty water
  • Water residue along the fill line
  • Dirty downstem
  • Resin and plant matter in the body of the bong

If these conditions are present, it is most likely time to give your bong a cleaning. If you catch it early, it will significantly reduce your cleaning time as well as minimize your risk of contact with contaminants. In our opinion its always better to err on the side of caution, if you believe your bong may need a cleaning, don’t hesitate. No one has ever smoked out of a bong that they thought was “too clean.”

Keeping your Bong Clean

To lessen your cleaning amount you can take some steps to make sure that your bong stays clean. A little bit of prevention will offset some of the huge amounts of buildup. This may extend the amount of time between cleans.

To maintain your bong’s sparkly finish in between heavy cleans you can do the following:

  • Use distilled water to fill your bong
  • Change water after every session
  • Only keep water in your bong when in use
  • Rinse your bong and down stem with hot water after every use

 Following these tips will keep your glass looking cherry and tasting great.

 

FAQ

Will peroxide clean a bong?

Peroxide is great for first aid applications and some light cleaning/disinfecting. However, it is not a great first choice for cleaning bongs. While its antiseptic properties can remove some of the mold and bacteria it is not nearly as powerful as isopropyl alcohol.

Combining an exfoliant with hydrogen peroxide will make it somewhat more effective. However, this still may not be enough to remove set-in resin and plant material. The solution will also become less and less effective as it is exposed to oxygen.

Will vinegar clean a bong?

Vinegar is a great substance to promote natural cleaning for household applications. Though it will take much more time and effort than Isopropyl alcohol, it can be used. We would recommend heating the vinegar to a warmer temperature to help remove some of the resin and gunk.

If using vinegar to clean a bong be sure to only use distilled white vinegar and pair it with a coarse exfoliant. Also, the smell will be quite pungent and may leave behind odors on your bong. To combat this, make sure to thoroughly rinse your bong after cleaning with vinegar.

Can you clean a bong with nail polish remover?

This is not recommended. While acetone is a variation of isopropyl alcohol, it will promote oxidation of glass. Most Nail polishes are not 100% acetone and may leave behind scents and flavors which are not recommended to inhale. Using pure Isopropyl alcohol will ensure that the chemicals will evaporate quickly, leaving behind only clean glass without lingering chemicals.

Will bleach clean a bong?

While bleach is great for laundry and cleaning, we would not use it for cleaning a bong. Diluted bleach can disinfect your bong, however when properly diluted it is not a solution that can break down heavy resins. We would not recommend exposing your hands or your bong to undiluted bleach.

Will vodka clean a bong?

Vodka is not recommended for cleaning your bong. Though vodka is a wonderful spirit for cocktails and the flavored liquor preferred by sororities across the united states, it’s not a substitute for Isopropyl alcohol. Vodka is a derivative of ethanol alcohol, which is not as suitable for cleaning applications.

Will mouthwash clean a bong?

Mouthwash is not meant to clean your bong. Anyone who’s ever used mouthwash without brushing can attest, it is not strong enough to break down plaque, let alone the sticky resins found in bongs. If you’re trying to cover up the smell, it will not effectively do this either.

Trying to cover up the smell of a dirty bong with the mint of mouthwash will only make the problem worse. The best way to get rid of bong smell is by using isopropyl alcohol and rock salt to remove all resins and plant material.

Will dish soap clean a bong?

Dish soap can be used to clean a bong in a pinch, however it will take longer than other methods. We would still consider an exfoliant such as course rock salt to be a necessity when cleaning a bong with dish soap.

To clean your bong with dish soap, disassemble your bong and empty the water. Then apply a liberal amount of dish soap to your bong and pieces add the hottest water your tap can deliver. Allow to soak for 24 hours, your may then use a combination of rock salt, dish soap and hot water to clean your bong using the methods outlined above.

Got any other bong cleaning questions or tips?

Let us know if there's any questions you still have. Got a hot tip for making cleaning glass easier? Get at us in the comments below, and don't forget to check out our friends at Higher Standards.