So you want to find out how to clean a bong. We’ve all been there. A dirty bong is no help to anyone. They clog easy, are hard to smoke, taste bad, and can be unsanitary.
But what is the best way to clean a bong? Well, as you will find out in this guide, depending on the type of water pipe you have, there are different cleaning techniques that work best.
On top of that, there are different ways to clean bong pieces, such as downstems, bowls, screens, and more. In this ultimate guide, we will teach you everything you need to know about how to clean your water pipe, including:
There is a lot to cover in this guide and you may only need to use a small portion of this information, so feel free to scroll to the appropriate section using the table of contents above.
5 Reasons Why Cleaning Your Bong is Important
If you are anything like us, or most Stoners, you want to wait as long as possible before cleaning your bong again because it’s a chore most of the time. This means you might need some convincing to start the cleaning process.
So why should you clean your bong? Well, there are a few main reasons you should consider cleaning your glass pipes every 3-6 months.
1. Kill Bacteria & Keep it Sanitary
At the end of the day, bacteria and mold can grow just about anywhere. This includes inside of your bong. These little buggers love to grow in places that are moist, making your water pipe a great home.
Over time, bacteria builds up in bongs, which can be dangerous. To reduce your risk to sickness it is important to eliminate bacteria before it has the chance to make you sick. It develops particularly fast in bongs that consistently have water left in them. Just like stagnant water in swamps breeds bacteria, so do water pipes.
2. Make Your Bong Last Longer
Cleaning your bong regularly can actually increase its lifespan in the long run. We have all had that one old hand pipe we smoked so much that the resin build-up is just too much to handle, and it becomes useless.
While you can always break this type of buildup down with some easy to use cleaning techniques, sometimes a small layer remains caked in there and can’t seem to be removed no matter what you try. With bongs, if this happens in some of the more intricate parts like your downstem, bowl, or percolators, it can damage the long term performance of your piece.
3. Remove Resin & Buildup
No one likes resin buildup. It affects how your piece works, smell, and ease of use. It makes even the quickest smoking sesh a pain in the ass sometimes.
Knowing the best way to clean your bong allows you to easily handle this resin build up over time. Rather than having to do one super clean when your bong finally clogs, maintaining a steady small cleaning regiment can keep resin out of your bong for good.
4. Make Your Bong Hit Harder
It’s no secret that the main components of a bong’s performance are airflow and water flow. Resin clogs up vital parts of your bong, usually coagulating in the stem, bowl, and small parts within percolators.
By cleaning out your water pipe, you can make sure you get the most out of every hit you take, never having to worry about getting the smoking experience you are looking for.
5. Improve Percolation & Filtration
For some serious Stoners, percolators are a big deal. They add to the smoking experience, by making for some of the coolest bongs on the market.
When you pay enough for an expensive bong, and it does not filter or cool smoke the way you want anymore, it is quite aggravating. Cleaning your bong properly will help prevent this from happening to you.
When Should You Clean A Bong?
We recommend that you clean your bong at least every 3-6 months, even if you don’t use it often, just to eliminate bacteria. However, it really depends on how often you use it, what type of bong it is, and how you leave it after smoking it.
For people who smoke often, you will notice resin buildup quicker. For people who don’t smoke often, but leave their bong filled with water for days on end, you will want to clean it often to reduce your exposure to dangerous bacteria.
3 Helpful Bong Cleaning Tips
Before you start the bong cleaning process, there are a few tips you should know that can make the process easier, and a success every time. Not using these tips can make the process much longer, and can also put you at risk for breaking your bong while cleaning it.
1. Tools You Will Need
There are a few tools we always recommend for cleaning a bong properly:
- Res Caps (optional)
- Warm Water
- Resin Remover (optional)
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Pipe Cleaners
- Rubber Bands
- Plastic Bags
- Plastic Gloves
Having all of these supplies on hand will make the process smooth. If you do not have a resin cap, the plastic bags and rubber bands will also do the trick. This will be used for covering the holes while filling the bong with the cleaning solution, which we will explain later.
Gloves come in handy in order to reduce your exposure to alcohol and cleaning products on your hands, which can lead to rashes and short term skin damage.
2. Type of Bong Matters
This part is SUPER important. Much like when cleaning a grinder, you need to make sure that you are aware of what type of material your bong is made out of before cleaning it.
Silicone and acrylic bongs will begin to deform and dissolve if you use Isopropyl Alcohol in the cleaning process.
We will explain how to clean silicone bongs and acrylic later in this article, but for now, you should know what absolutely NOT to do.
3. Water Temperature Matters
Especially when dealing with ceramic and glass bongs, the temperature of the water, alcohol, or cleaning solution you use is very important.
One of the cons of glass and ceramic bongs is that they can easily break and crack when exposed to rapid temperature changes. In order to avoid breaking your piece in the cleaning process, only use room temperature water to clean glass bongs and ceramic bongs.
Otherwise, by using hot or cold water, you risk that it will break during changes in temperature while drying or cleaning.
How to Clean a Glass Bong – 6 Steps
Alright, it’s time to get down to business and clean this thing!
1. Take Apart Your Bong
First, start by taking your bong apart. Separate the stem, glass bowl, and any other bong accessories you have on it. Lay them all down in a safe place where they will not roll away or fall (trust us, we’ve made that mistake before).
Some people like to clean their bong all in one piece, but we have found that in order to get the best results, you should clean each piece individually. Resin builds up differently in bowls, slides, and other parts of the bong, so you need different tools and methods to remove it all properly in order to get the best results.
2. Clean the Body of Your Bong
The body of the bong is the largest part, and usually needs a substantially longer time to fully soak in alcohol or cleaning solution. Depending on if you are using alcohol or not, the process is a bit different.
a) Cleaning Your Bong Using Alcohol
The first thing you will want to do is add salt to the bottom of your bong. Try to make sure it is spread out evenly. The reason this is important is that the alcohol acts as a solvent, dissolving the salt to create a great bong cleaning solution.
This solution easily chews through resin and buildup quickly and effectively. It is also fairly safe in terms of health concerns, as long as you make sure to clean your bong out after using this solution. Once you have salt in your bong, it is time to fill it with alcohol, and let the magic happen.
b) Cleaning Your Bong Without Alcohol
If you do not have alcohol on hand or prefer not to use it, there are still plenty of ways to clean your bong.
One of the easiest ways is to use a complete resin remover, or bong cleaner specifically made for cleaning bongs. They are usually pretty affordable, come with instructions, and are comprehensive solutions, meaning once you use them, there are no other steps besides rinsing out your bong.
However, if you also don’t have this on hand, the next best way to clean your bong is with a few natural remedies. We go into more detail about this later in this guide. Click here to scroll to that section.
3. Use Res Caps to Seal Your Bong
Now that the alcohol or cleaning solution of your choice is in your bong, it is time to seal off all holes to make sure that the alcohol does not dissolve entirely, and to make sure that you don’t have to worry about resin filled, smelly, and disgusting bong water doesn’t spill out.
If you have res caps, simply take the appropriately sized one for each hole, and use it to securely cover them one at a time. Be sure to double check that they are on there securely. There is almost nothing worse than confidently flipping your bong upside down just to be covered in resin water (just trust us on this one).
If you don’t have res caps, no worries, rubber bands and a solid plastic bag can easily accomplish the same thing. Simply cover each hole with a plastic bag that is strong enough to hold the water without breaking, and tightly wrap a rubber band around it until it is secure.
4. Let it Sit & Shake – Repeat 3-5 Times
Alright, now most of the work has been done for cleaning your bong easily. When your res caps are secured (and triple checked), give your bong a shake in order to get the salt and alcohol to mix and also to make sure that the resin is agitated a bit to start the process.
From here, you should let it sit for 5-10 minutes before coming back to it again. Then, shake it for about 30 seconds, turning it on its side, upside down, and aggressively shaking it (without dropping it or breaking any internal parts). This will agitate any resin particles and help to clean your bong quickly.
Repeat this step 3 to 5 times. In total, the soaking process should take about an hour or so. Sometimes, as the alcohol solution becomes more murky with resin, it can be next to impossible to tell if your bong is clean or not. You may have to empty out the solution in order to check.
5. Assess & Repeat Steps 1-5 if Necessary
For some older bongs that have not been cleaned in a while, you may have to refill with salt and alcohol again, throw on the res caps, and complete the first 5 steps again.
Usually doing this twice is all you need in order to clean your water pipe perfectly. However, I have encountered times where people with old bongs have had to try this 3-5 times in order to get it clean to their standards.
Either way, this gives you time to clean the rest of the parts of your bong, which we will address in the next section below.
6. Make Sure You Rinse & Dry Your Bong
One of the most important and overlooked parts of the bong cleaning process is making sure that your properly rinse and dry your water pipe after cleaning it.
Salt and alcohol can both be dangerous to inhale the fumes of, so in order to prevent exposure to health concerns, you will want to wash out your bong with room temperature water (in order to prevent breaking).
We recommend doing this a few times, spending about 15-30 minutes rinsing. Then, simply let it air dry, use paper towels, a hairdryer, or a combination of all three in order to dry your bong.
Even when cleaning bongs with natural remedies, you will still want to make sure that you rinse and dry them in order to avoid health risks from chemical fumes.
Cleaning Individual Parts of Your Bong
Alright, so we have explained the steps of how to clean a bong, but what about cleaning the individual parts of the bong we took off in Step 1? Now it’s time to get these puppies as clean as new. Typically, you can do both of these cleaning processes at the same time, cleaning the stem, bowl, percs, etc… while you are waiting for your bong to soak.
1. How to Clean a Bong Stem
This is probably the most difficult and tedious part of the whole process. The reason is that downstems are very fragile and small, making them difficult to clean.
The first thing you should do is take your downstem and place it in a bag of the same alcohol and salt solution you used to clean your bong.
You will want to let it soak for about 30 minutes, with the same agitation process at least 3 to 5 times in between.
From here, your downstem should be mostly clean when you remove it from the bag. If not, try repeating the process. If after a few rounds of cleaning, your downstem still doesn’t want to let go of its resin, it’s time to bring out the big guns.
Take salt, put it in the top of your stem, and throughout the inside. Then slowly run rubbing alcohol through it repeatedly. This should remove any remaining resin. Just be sure to rinse and dry after cleaning your downstem.
2. How to Clean a Bong Bowl
Cleaning your bong bowl can also be a bit tedious, but it is not that bad if you know how to do it. While you are soaking your bong in the salt and alcohol solution, you should fill a bag with the same solution and let it soak.
This will help to loosen up a lot of the resin, but chances are there will still be some left over even after a few soaks. So, to remove the remaining resin from your bong bowl attachment, you will need to grab those pipe cleaners from your supplies and put them to use.
Gently insert the pipe cleaner into the hole in the bowl and use it to remove any remaining resin. You can also do this with a combination of the alcohol and salt solution to loosen resin further.
This should get the job done. If not, a few more rinses should do the trick. Once you have cleaned your water pipe bowl, make sure to dry and rinse appropriately.
3. How to Clean a Bong Percolator
Percolators are a bit more challenging to clean. For one, they are all different shapes and sizes, with different designs. This makes it hard to know exactly how to clean yours.
On top of that, they are extremely fragile. So in order to properly clean them, it is important to know the best way to clean a bong percolator.
For external percolator attachments, start by taking them off. Then fill them individually with the same cleaning solution. Because we do not recommend that you shake percolators or twist them too much, this process can take longer than cleaning your bong. However, rinsing profusely with a combination of the cleaning solution and water after letting it soak for 30 minutes to an hour should eventually push out all the remaining resin.
For internal percolators, you can clean your water pipe as you normally would, but want to be more careful when rotating, shaking, and turning it upside down. You will notice that after rinsing it out, the percolator may seem dirtier than before. This is because it is meant to act as a filtration system, so as you empty your bong, it will accumulate loose resin. No worries, because this coagulate has been loosened by your cleaning solution, it is easy to rinse out with water or additional solution. Then simply dump it out of the joint of your bong, rather than the top, to avoid getting it stuck again.
4. How to Clean Resin Out of a Bong
Alright, so some of you sickos (no judgment) want to be able to smoke the resin you clean out of your bong. Perhaps you like the experience it gives you, or you plan on using it to make extracts, whatever the reason (we know it’s not for the taste), you need to clean your bong in a specific way to extract it safely.
Remember when we talked about how salt and alcohol fumes are dangerous to smoke? Well, as a result, if you want to clean the resin out of your bong in order to smoke it, you can’t use this alcohol and salt solution.
Instead, you need to use warm water to clean your bong. This typically takes a lot longer but is equally effective. We recommend that once you have gotten most of the saveable resin out, you simply switch to an alcohol and salt solution to save yourself time and frustration while cleaning your water pipe.
So, to remove resin, you will want to:
- Begin by scraping loose resin from your bowl and slide
- Heat your bowl to make the resin warm and waxy, then scrape
- Once you have gotten all you can this way, soak your bong, slide, bowl, and accessories in warm (not hot) water
- Empty out the water slowly over a coffee filter to extract the resin
Once you have removed the resin, you want to make sure it is dry before smoking it again. A solid way to dry it out is to expose it to heat, whether from a nearby fire, hairdryer, or the sun. Just be sure that you do it in an area which you don’t mind stinking up – this stuff reeks! Using your microwave and oven on low temps can work, but prepare for them to smell for weeks or until you clean them.
How to Clean a Silicone Bong
To be honest with you, cleaning silicone bongs is the easiest out of every type of bong. With the best silicone water pipes, you can simply remove the slide and throw them right in your dishwasher with normal dish soap!
One thing you absolutely cannot do when cleaning a silicone water pipe is use rubbing alcohol! Using a solution with alcohol will cause the silicone to weaken, breaking down its chemical structure, exposing you to dangerous fumes and also ruining your bong for good.
Just be sure that you research a few things before cleaning your silicone pipe this way:
- Is it dishwasher safe?
- Is it BPA-free?
Some silicone bongs are made with a chemical called BPA, which is dangerous for human consumption. You should try to avoid using a bong made with BPA at all times, but especially avoid cleaning it in a dishwasher – as this activates the chemical and make it seep out faster, creating dangerous fumes and mixing with water, making a dangerous mixture.
The best silicone pipes are dishwasher usable and BPA-free, making them extremely easy to clean. Even the slide can typically be put in the dishwasher. To learn more about if your silicone bong is safe, check out this guide we wrote.
Just like cleaning glass bongs, you should make sure any remaining soap residue is rinsed off of your bong before using it again, just to ensure safety.
How to Clean a Ceramic Bong
Cleaning ceramic bongs is relatively the same process as cleaning a glass bong. The only major differences are:
- You can’t see through them
- They are more sensitive to temperature changes
- They usually have less working parts
Other than that, you can use all of the same cleaning techniques to clean a ceramic bong. Not being see-through makes for a bit of a challenge, making it more of a guessing game as to how the cleaning solution is working. However, as long as you give it 30 minutes to one hour to soak and you make sure to agitate it a bit, you should have no problem cleaning a ceramic bong easily.
Lastly, you will want to make sure that you use extra care to make sure any solution you use is close to room temperature, as rapid temperature changes can damage ceramic bongs even more so than glass ones.
How to Clean an Acrylic Bong
Acrylic bongs are probably the most annoying to clean because you can’t help but ask yourself the entire time if purchasing a new one for a few dollars is more worth your time.
On top of that, they also are damaged by rubbing alcohol, meaning you will have to use natural remedies to clean your bong, or soap and water – making the cleaning process longer.
You also can’t throw them in the dishwasher, because high heat will melt them. They are also subject to cracks and breaking because of rapid temperature change. Basically, acrylic bongs just suck. From using them, to cleaning them, they actually have no upside in our opinion.
Use warm water and salt solution in order to clean acrylic bongs. Shake them around the same way you would a glass bong and let them soak for 30 minutes to an hour. Be sure to dry and rinse them once you are done.
However, if you are sick of your acrylic bong, and want to upgrade to something equally durable, but easier to clean, we strongly suggest you consider a silicone bong.
4 Other Ways to Clean a Bong Without Alcohol
So maybe you don’t have any rubbing alcohol or bong cleaning solution readily available, or you hate the smell of the fumes. Whatever your reason, there are also some other home remedies you can use to clean your bong with household items.
1. How to Clean a Bong With Vinegar
Vinegar also works well at cleaning bongs, and just about anything else. It kills bacteria and molds and is also known to break down resin easily. You can also use it in combination with salt as a great way to clean your bong.
However, you should know that vinegar and salt is not as effective as the alcohol salt solution we recommend so this bong cleaning method may take a bit longer. We recommend that if you are using vinegar to clean your water pipe, you leave it to soak overnight, or at least for 6 hours to get the best results.
Over this time period, you will see just about the same results as with the alcohol solution. The same steps from here apply: make sure you rinse out your bong and dry it off properly before smoking it again. If some resin still remains, try another rinse and repeat.
2. How to Clean a Bong With Lemon Juice
If you do not have vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or bong cleaning solution at your disposal, the next best way to clean a bong is by using a combination of lemon juice and water.
For large bongs, you will need at least a cup of lemon juice to mix with warm water. You can also mix in salt as a solvent that brings abrasion to the equation in order to rustle up some of the resin in hard to reach places.
Like vinegar, this solution takes longer to work and should be left to soak overnight. You should also be sure to rinse and dry appropriately. Multiple washes may be needed for harder to reach resin in older bongs.
3. Can I Use Peroxide to Clean My Bong?
Honestly, you can, but we don’t recommend it. First of all, it is barely more effective than only using water and soap. Second off, it is less effective than other household items you can use to clean your bong with like lemon juice and vinegar.
On top of this, peroxide is extremely corrosive, easily melting through acrylic and silicone bongs, and leaving hard to remove residues on glass and ceramic bongs. Overall, it isn’t worth the trouble. You are better off waiting until you can get your hands on a bong cleaning solution or rubbing alcohol, or just side with some of the other natural solutions listed in this section.
4. How to Clean a Bong With Baking Soda
Baking soda works well with vinegar. It can be used as an alternative to salt. Generally, it is more effective than salt when mixed with vinegar.
In order to use baking soda to clean your water pipe, all you need to do is follow the steps above for vinegar-based cleaning solutions, substituting salt for baking soda.
When using baking soda as a way to clean your bong, be sure to take extra care rinsing and drying it, as fumes from baking soda can be very dangerous to inhale.
What is the Best Way to Clean a Bong?
Personally, at HelpingPot, we prefer using isopropyl alcohol and salt. It is a reliable way to clean glass bongs easily and consistently every time.
The best way to clean silicone bongs is definitely to throw them in the dishwasher. But you want to make sure you are safe to do this. Be sure to check with your manufacturer before cleaning your silicone bongs.
For cleaning acrylic bongs, you are pretty much stuck with water and soap because they suck so bad. You can also use vinegar and baking soda, which does the job well but makes the thing stink for a while, even after rinsing. Your best bet? Throw away the acrylic bong and get a dishwasher safe silicone bong that is virtually indestructible and very affordable.
For cleaning ceramic bongs, you can follow the same steps as glass bongs. Alcohol still works the best and is our primary choice for cleaning.
Sick of Cleaning Your Bong? Grab a New One!
Look, we have all had that old faithful bong that has traveled through the years with us. It’s been through dozens of war stories and met many of our good friends. But there does come a point where they can become next to impossible to clean from years of use.
It’s best to retire them in their prime than watch them become washed up – much like professional athletes. If that’s the case, or if you just HATE cleaning your bong, perhaps it is time to consider a new one.
Not sure where to start looking for a new bong? No worries, we’ve got some resources that will help you out:
- Best Bongs Under $100
- Top Dab Rigs Under $100
- Most Expensive Bongs in the World
- What to Look for in a New Bong
- Everything You Need to Know About Bongs
If you found this guide helpful, please leave us a comment, and be sure to check out our blog for all sorts of awesome Stoner content like this.
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