How to Keep Your Piece as Clean as New

ultimate guide to cleaning your bong hand pipe dab rig and more
October 31, 2018 By Stoner

Let’s be honest, if you are an avid smoker, you probably have had quite a few pieces that have gotten so dirty and filled with resin they are either clogged and unable to be smoked, or so smelly you just can’t bare to have them around.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Us Stoners have a knack for procrastinating about things, and for people who aren’t educated on the subject, cleaning a bong or bowl might seem like more effort than it is worth.  

Without proper guidance, cleaning your dab rig, bong, or hand pipe can be a pain. It can lead to broken glass, bad results, and lots of wasted time. With the right guidance and supplies, cleaning your bong, pipe or dab rig can be as easy as setting it and forgetting it for a few hours and returning to a brand new looking piece!

There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of solid guidance on the subject of how to keep your smoking pieces clean, so we decided to help out our fellow Stoners by developing this comprehensive guide to keeping your pieces as clean as new. Let’s get to it.  

Must Have Supplies for Cleaning Your Bong, Hand Pipe, Bowl, Steam Roller, Dab Rig, Etc…

So, you can’t really clean your smoking devices without the proper supplies to get the job done right. Let’s start here.

1. Res Caps

A Res Cap is a small, gasket looking cap that is used to cover the open ends of bongs, dab rigs, and hand pipes during the cleaning process. Usually made of rubber or silicon, these little guys are easy to come by, fairly cheap, and as long as you don’t lose them, should never need to be replaced.

Res Caps come in many shapes and sizes, and typically are very stretchy so that they can be made to fit snugly on multiple pieces of various sizes.

How to Use a Res Cap During the Cleaning Process

Once you have loaded your bong, bowl, or dab rig up with cleaning fluid, you want to make sure that you place your res cap(s) over the holes that are open.  This includes the rush hole, mouth piece, and the bowl back.

You want to be sure that during the process of putting the res caps on your pieces that they fit correctly so as to not let any fluid out, and also so that you do not have to apply pressure or contort the piece so as to make it fit. This can lead to broken glass, which makes for a sad Stoner.

A cool additional perk of res caps is that you can also use them outside of the cleaning process, in order to keep water in your bong or rig while traveling, or contain the smell of your pieces by keeping the carb cap over the exposed parts of your piece. This is a great way to keep your smoking devices smell free.

Where to Find the Best Res Caps

A quick search on the internet will help you find all sorts of res caps that you can use for your pieces. You can also find some from our awesome selection of discount bong cleaning materials!

How Much Do Res Caps Cost?

Most solid Res Caps can be picked up for $10 to $20. They won’t break the bank, and like we said, they are reusable, virtually unbreakable, and on top of that, they usually come in sets of 3 or more so one $20 purchase should cover most Stoner’s res cap needs.  

2. Glass Cleaner

There are hundreds of brands of glass cleaners out there, but not all of them are specifically designed for breaking up resin in smoking devices. While we have all heard the old “use vinegar and warm water” trick, we can assure you, it is worth it to purchase a product which is specifically designed to handle the resin built up in your bong, bowl, dab rig, steam roller, etc…

First of all, heating up glass with warm water is never a good idea. If you use water that is too cold, it won’t work well. If the water is too hot, you risk cracking your glass from the sudden cooling of the piece once the water is emptied.

On top of this, glass cleaner works much faster – cleaning out even the dirtiest of bongs in just 30 minutes or so. Not to mention, it gets the job done in one take almost always, where as the good old water and vinegar technique can take several tries to get even moderately dirty pieces cleaned.                                      

How to Use Glass Cleaner During the Cleaning Process

With most glass cleaners, the process is as simple as filling up your piece with the liquid, putting on your res caps, giving it a little shake, and letting it sit for 30 minutes to an hour.

Some brands such as Formula 420 claim that there is no wait time at all, just rinse and viola! A clean new piece.

While this sounds appealing, and they certainly have a good product, we recommend you let even the strongest resin cleaners sit for at least 15 minutes with a bit of shaking or stirring involved every few minutes in order to get the best bang out of your buck and ensure that your piece is cleaned as well as possible with the first go around.

Now, you may be asking, “how much glass cleaner should I use on my piece?” Typically, this all depends on the size of the piece. For smaller pieces like hand pipes and bubblers, you really don’t need a lot, just enough to fill up he chamber where most of the resin is. This can be anywhere from 3-8 ounces for a traditional 4.5” hand pipe, all the way up to 12 ounces for large bongs.

Keep in mind though that when cleaning bongs, most of the resin and residue is contained where the water stays. There is no need to fill up your entire bong to the tip top with cleaner, when only about ⅓ of that glass actually contains the parts that need cleaning.

Where to Find the Best Glass Cleaner

Again, searching the internet will provide you with hundreds of results boasting that they have the best glass cleaning product on the market. Overall, most products are more or less the same and provide similar results. There are however a few glass cleaning products that really stand out above the crowd, listed in the section below. All of these premium glass cleaners can be found and purchased in our online store and make for great gifts for stoners.  

How Much Does Glass Cleaner for Bongs Cost?

Prices for bong cleaners range fairly widely depending on the brand and the quantity you purchase. Obviously, purchasing it in bulk will give you the best deal, but the chances are you will not use much of it per cleaning.

As we said, you can expect to use about 3-8 ounces on small pieces and as much as 12-24 ounces on large bongs and dab rigs. Most bong cleaning fluids are sold in 12oz, 24oz, 48oz and 1 gallon increments.  These prices range, but typically, you will pay anywhere from $0.33 to $0.75 per ounce for high quality glass cleaner for your pieces.

While this seems a bit expensive, consider the cost of purchasing a new piece over cleaning an old one to be brand new. On top of this, consider the frequency which you will clean your pieces. If you have a medium sized bong and a medium sized hand pipe which you clean every 6 months, you may pay $20 to keep them clean for the whole year.  Pretty cheap in comparison to paying for 2 new bongs and 2 new hand pipes during the same time period.

3. Cleaning Brushes

Cleaning brushes are easy to find, easy to use, reusable as long as you clean them, and fairly cheap.

Essentially, they are like large pipe cleaners. Most come in kits which include various sizes and shapes which allow you to dig into the various types of pipes and pieces you may have with ease. Most are flexible and able to be bent in many directions for ease of use.

How to Use Cleaning Brushes During the Cleaning Process

Once you have soaked your piece for a while with the glass cleaner, you will want to remove one of your res caps (so as to not let all of the fluid out). From here, you want to find the appropriate sized brush in order to clean the remaining resin from the sides of your piece and from the places which are hard to otherwise get to.

Usually, you will not need cleaning brushes for most bongs, but more so for hand pipes and smaller pieces. Using a brush is not a necessity most of the time, but rather a finishing touch to remove the remaining bits of resin from hard to reach places.

You want to be careful so as to not break the brush off inside of the piece, or damage it by applying too much pressure while holding it. Gently begin scrubbing with the brush while the liquid is still inside the piece, and soak the brush in some of the cleaning liquid to help break down the resin further.

Where to Find the Best Cleaning Brushes for Bongs, Hand Pipes and Dab Rigs

A quick search will reveal thousands of options for cleaning brushes. Some are made specifically for smoking pieces. These are the ones you want. While there may not appear to be any difference between them, the ones made for smoking devices are made to deal with glass and help scrub the material without leaving scuff marks on it.

You can also find a large selection of cleaning kits available in our online store. They are cheap, fit just about any size piece, and make an awesome gift for your stoner friends!

How Much Do Cleaning Brushes for Bongs Cost?

Cleaning brushes for your pieces are very cheap. Typically, they range anywhere from $5 to $15 in price for a set of 6-12+ brushes. Cleaning brushes are very affordable, and as long as you clean them after use, they are reusable for a very long time.

Putting it All Together – How to Clean Your Dab Rig, Bong, or Hand Pipe

1. Be Prepared for the Smell and the Mess

While the innovation of carb caps and resin cleaning fluids has made the smoking piece cleaning process a lot easier in recent years, it can still sometimes throw even seasoned stoners a curve ball.

You want to be prepared for whatever your piece will throw at you during the cleaning process. It’s going to smell BAD.  Not bad enough to stink up your whole house, but you should definitely clean your pieces in a well ventilated area if possible, or even outside on a nice day.

If you are going for stealth with your cleaning, be sure that you dump the stinky waste water in a responsible manner so that it does not stink up your sinks.

Don’t clean your pipes in your new favorite shirt, resin water is brown and smelly and dirty and it clings to just about anything. It’s also very hard to remove from clothing once it’s there. Put simply, be ready for a mess and a bit of a smell. There’s really no avoiding it even with all of the best equipment and the right experience.

2. Remove Any Accessories From Your Pieces to be Cleaned Separately

Don’t make the mistake of trying to clean your bong and your ashcatcher, or other water pipe or dab rig attachments at the same time while they are attached to one another. The same can be said about dab rigs and nails as well as any other smoking device with attachments. Put simply, it adds more room for error to the process, and the same results can be achieved while cleaning them separately.

All it takes is one wrong tweak, one wrong movement of your stem, whatever, to snap that baby right off and leave you with a broken piece or attachment, or worse – both. Take your time, and clean pieces separately from one another. Trust us… don’t let our fallen soldiers have sacrificed their lives for no reason. We have broken enough pieces for all of us combined. Learn from this please.

3. Soak Your Piece Accordingly

One problem with cleaning is that everyone waits until the last possible second to do it. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, it’s human nature. Just try to be realistic with yourself, do it when you are not in a rush, and maybe after you have smoked your piece so you don’t rush through the process the whole time, and you can get the best results from cleaning your bong, pipe, rig, or other smoking piece.

Each piece is a bit different, so you will want to make sure you soak them in the resin cleaning fluid accordingly. For the best results, you will want to soak your pieces for at least 30 minutes to one hour before rinsing them out. While some fluids claim they can clean instantly, it is still best to give them time to break everything up, or you risk not getting the type of results from your cleaning that you desire.

Bongs

For bongs, you will likely have the least amount of resin built up, which means you will have to soak them for the least amount of time (in theory).

When soaking your bong, make sure the res caps are on securely. Also, be sure to give the bong a few light shakes by tipping it upside down and then rightside up a few times every 5 minutes or so. This will help to speed up the cleaning process by breaking up some of those bigger resin chunks faster.

You can also shake your bong and whirl the liquid around, but be careful in doing so to not break anything. If you have a bong with internal components, do not shake or whirl your piece as this could break these components.

Dab Rigs

Dab rigs should be treated the same as bongs when it comes to the soaking process. Usually dab rigs are smaller than bongs, so you will want a bit less cleaner fluid in them. You will also want to take apart your separate parts with these as well.

As far as cleaning nails and bangers goes, you want to put them in some sort of container in order to let them soak in the cleaning liquid. You want to make sure that this liquid is room temperature, not too hot or cold so temperature changes are not sudden which can cause cracking and breaking.

You also want to make sure that your nails and bangers have some time to dry off before using them again.

Hand Pipes

Hand pipes are a bit different when it comes to cleaning. The resin built up in them is dry resin because it does not have any interaction with water in the smoking process. This makes the resin far more sticky and hard to dissolve, it also means there is far more resin that is inside of the average hand pipe than the average water pipe.

As a result, you will want to soak your hand pipes a bit longer, we recommend 1-2 hours or more for the best results. While this sounds like a long time, you will understand why when you see just how black the cleaning fluid is once you have rinsed the piece.

You also are going to want to shake hand pipes up a it more, and likely will have to use the brush to reach the difficult places far more than with water pipes.

4. Give Them a Little Shake

A little shake goes a long way when it comes to cleaning out smoking pieces. Shaking them lightly allows for the cleaning fluid to get to places it might not have on its own. It also helps to break up the remaining resin material in the piece. Think of it like a dishwasher. Sure, you could soak dishes for a whole day and they’d probably be clean, or you could blast them with soap and shake them around for 30 minutes to get the same result.

Now don’t take that too literally, you don’t want to shake too hard, as it can result in spills or broken pieces. Avoid shaking that is anything more than very light when it comes to pieces like bubblers or bongs with percolators which have delicate inner components which are easy to break and impossible to replace. For these types of pieces, a simple tip upside down and back up should do the trick as long as you repeat it a few times throughout the soaking process.

5. Remove the Cleaning Liquid From the Piece

Once you have given your smoking device the right time to soak in the cleaning fluid, it is time to empty it out and see the results!

When doing this, be careful not to spill, this stuff stinks and takes forever to get out of clothes and carpets! Not to mention, it is not the best idea to dump cleaning materials down the drain if you can avoid it.

Unless you purchased a poor product, did not give it enough time to soak, or have an extremely dirty piece, one soak should be enough to remove 90%+ of resin.

6. Rinse Them Out and Let Dry

After you have cleaned your smoking device, you are going to want to rinse it out with water to make sure there are no more resin particles floating around, and also in order to remove any residue from the cleaner that may be smoked, inhaled, or ingested from use. This is important!

You can do this by filling your piece up once more, but this time with water. Make sure that the water is room temperature and not too hot or cold, as quick temperature changes can cause glass to crack.  Let it sit for a while, and use the same tipping and shaking methods as before. Usually 10 minutes of a water soak with your res caps on should be fine.

Once you have rinsed your piece out completely with water and feel it is clean to your liking, give it some time to dry before smoking it, as smoking it while wet can dampen your herbs and affect your smoking experience.

7. Enjoy Your Clean Smoking Piece – As Good As New!

That’s it! You now know everything you need to know about how to clean a piece so that it looks as good as new. Removing resin from bongs, pipes, etc… has never been easier before than it is now.

As long as you follow these easy steps and equip yourself with the proper leaning tools, you should have no problem making your smoking piece as good as new in just a few hours!

How Often Should I Clean My Bong, Hand Pipe, Dab Rig, Etc…?

Really the answer to this question depends on 3 things, your budget, the frequency in which you smoke, and how clean you like your pieces to be.

The more often you smoke, the dirtier your piece will be.  If you are smoking a water pipe, it will be far less dirty and accumulate resin far slower than a dry pipe.

We recommend that regular smokers give their pieces a good cleaning at least once every 6 months to reduce their exposure to resin and keep their pieces nice and free of resin which can lead to clogging and reduced air flow while smoking.

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