How to Clean a Bong

Your water pipe does a great job of filtering out impurities from smoke, but you need to clean it regularly to prevent a buildup of resin. When you clean a bong, you improve the quality of your smoke and extend the life of your equipment. You also look more presentable and save yourself the embarrassment of passing a dirty bong to your friends.

The more frequently you clean a bong, the easier it will be, so make a habit of cleaning often to prevent the accumulation of stubborn gunk. However, it’s still possible to clean a bong that’s truly filthy and make it look brand new by following a few simple steps.

Checklist Of Things You'll Needs:

  • Bong in need of cleaning
  • Latex gloves
  • Zip-top plastic bags
  • Rubbing alcohol or vinegar
  • Coarse salt or baking soda
  • Sturdy paper towels
  • Pipe cleaners, bottle brushes, Q-tips or chopsticks
  • A sink or basin for soaking and plenty of clean water

STEP 1 – Empty The Bong

Dump out any spent herb from the pipe. Pour out the dirty bong water and give the bong a quick rinse to remove any solid particles. For best results, avoid doing this immediately after use. Let the bowl return to room temperature first.

STEP 2 – Disassemble The Bong

Remove the pipe and stem and place each in its own individual baggie. As you take it apart, check for damage like cracks or chips. If your stem uses a rubber washer to maintain its seal, check to be sure the washer is in good shape and not cracking. You’ll need to replace it if it seems to be worn down. Checking that everything is in working order is one way that you extend the life of your equipment when you clean a bong.

STEP 3 – Soak The Small Pieces

Add about a tablespoon of coarse salt to each baggie, then fill the bag with enough rubbing alcohol to cover it. Give the bag a quick shake, then set it aside to soak while you clean the rest.

STEP 4 – Add Cleaning Solution

You can use a commercial solution like Formula 420 to clean a bong, but it’s cheaper to use household materials. Pour salt into the bowl, then follow it with a cup or so of rubbing alcohol. The salt will act as a mild abrasive, and the alcohol will dissolve the resin. You can also use baking soda and vinegar.

STEP 5 – Shake It Up

Cover the holes with your hand and give the bong a few good, hard shakes. The more you shake, the cleaner it will get. If you’re trying to clean a bong that’s very dirty, you might want to let the cleaning solution sit for an hour or so to loosen up the resin before you begin shaking. Also vigorously shake up the baggies containing your pipe and stem.

STEP 6 – Rinse

Dump out the cleaning solution. Rinse the bong with clean, hot water. If it still looks really dirty, repeat step five until the water is no longer murky. Do the same with your pipe and stem, rinsing them under hot water.

STEP 7 – Wipe Up The Surfaces

Soaking and rinsing will do a lot of the hard work for you, but you’ll need to do some detail work by hand when you clean a bong. You may see that there is residue inside the pipe and stem or near the mouthpiece. Clean these areas with a bottle brush or Q-tip soaked in a bit of alcohol. For the long neck, try wrapping a coat hanger with paper towels moistened by alcohol so you can reach. A chopstick wrapped in a damp paper towel works well for cleaning out a dirty stem.

STEP 8 – Reassemble Your Bong

Once all of the pieces are clean, put the bong back together.

STEP 9 – Give It One More Rinse

Rinse out your bong thoroughly to remove any lingering cleaning solution so that the taste of your smoke will not be affected.

STEP 10 – Fill It Up And Use It

The most important step when you clean a bong is to start making it dirty again. Test it out and enjoy how much better your herb tastes from a sparkling clean pipe. Don't know how to smoke a bong? We've got you covered.

Additional Tips: 

  • You can save some money by re-using your cleaning solution, even if it’s dirty. Pour it into a jar and re-use it a few times or until it seems to lose some effectiveness.
  • When rinsing, always pour liquid in through the top and pour it out through the holes in the bottom. This prevents gunk from accumulating around the lip of the mouthpiece, affecting taste.
  • Salt is a mild abrasive, so it works best when it’s not dissolved. Use enough in your solution that it makes the alcohol cloudy, but not so much that it clumps up at the bottom of the bowl.
  • Some people like to swap out the rubbing alcohol for mouthwash, like Listerine. This leaves a nice minty after-taste for future bong uses.
  • If you use a commercial cleaning solution like Formula 420 to clean a bong, you can skip the salt or baking powder. These formulas include their own abrasive agent, and adding another one can make the product less effective.
  • You can also use denture cleaning tablets to clean your bong. Just add water, drop in the tablets and allow it to soak before rinsing.
  • Plastic Q-tips are more durable than paper ones and less likely to fall apart while cleaning.

Things To Keep In Mind/Warning:

  • Be sure to put your pipe and stem in separate bags before shaking to reduce the risk of breakage.
  • Do not use dish soap or any household cleaning solutions. They can leave a toxic residue that may be flammable and will definitely affect taste.
  • Because resin is so sticky and strong-smelling, wear gloves when you clean a bong. That will save your hands from smelling.
  • If your bong is very dirty, dump out the contents of the first rinse or two in the toilet and flush it away rather than pouring it down your sink. Particles of herb and resin can build up in your sink drain, causing a clog.
  • Do not rinse a hot bong in cold water. It could break. Wait until it’s reached room temperature or use hot water instead.

What is a bong, anyways?

A bong, or water pipe, uses water to filter the smoke and provide a cleaner-tasting smoke with less tar. Bongs can be produced commercially or made at home. Homemade models are usually disposable, often made from old plastic bottles. Commercial bongs are usually made from glass and can often be decorative as well as useful. Because a good-quality bong can be expensive, it’s important to keep it in good shape. This is why knowing how to clean a bong is so important: When you clean a bong, you prolong its life and give yourself the best possible smoking experience.

In Closing:

Learning to properly clean a bong is an important part of smoking. A dirty bong affects the taste and quality of your smoke, so you owe it to yourself to keep things clean so you can fully enjoy your high-quality herbs. Most importantly, it gets easier to clean a bong when you do it more often. When you get in the habit of rinsing frequently, you won’t need to spend more than a few minutes keeping it in perfect shape.

Want to learn more? Learn how to dab or how to roll a joint

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