How to Clean a Bong with Three Different Methods

Nobody likes a dirty bong.

Close up photo of a bong's bowl piece. iStock / KaiDunn

Nobody likes a dirty bong. Failure to regularly clean your bong leads to a buildup of residue that can make your piece smelly and negatively impact the flavor of your hit. It can also be pretty unsightly. Who doesn’t love that first magical hit off of freshly-cleaned glassware? We’ll give you all the tips you need on how to clean a glass bong.

Basic Methods to Clean Your Bong

You wouldn’t drink your morning cup of joe out of a dirty mug, so treat your glass bongs and pipes with the same care. There are several theories on how to clean a bong, but most people use one or a combination of these methods to clean their glass. Each comes with its own benefits and possible drawbacks.

#1. Alcohol and Salt Method (Best Method)

Generally considered the best way to clean a bong, this is the method preferred by many regular smokers because it is easy, affordable, and highly effective. Here’s what you’ll need:

Cleaning Ingredients:

  • 99% Isopropyl alcohol
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea salt works well)
  • Warm water

Tools:

  • Food storage container(for smaller pieces)
  • Pipe cleaner/Q-tips
  • Paper towels
  • Heavy-duty tape OR plastic wrap and rubber bands

Instructions:

  1. Start by emptying any loose ash and pouring out the water in your bong reservoir. 
  2. Pour coarse salt and isopropyl alcohol into the chamber of your bong. Some recommend heating the alcohol in a microwave-safe container for about 20 seconds, but this is not absolutely necessary. For bowls and smaller pieces, pour the salt and alcohol into the food storage container and add only one piece of glass to the container at a time. 
  3. Tightly close the lid of the food container and cover the openings of your bong with heavy-duty tape or plastic wrap secured with rubber bands. For certain pieces, like small bubblers, it may be sufficient to plug the openings with a twisted paper towel. This is to prevent the alcohol and salt solution from leaking onto your hands and work surfaces, so make sure you do not skip this step.
  4. Shake gently but thoroughly to ensure the solution reaches all parts of the piece. The salt acts as an agitator to scrape away residue. Bongs with percolators may benefit from using finer salt to reach smaller areas. 
  5. For heavy residue, allow the glassware to soak. Depending on the degree of buildup, you may even want to allow your pieces to soak overnight.
  6. Rinse with warm water and repeat as necessary. 
  7. For hard-to-reach spots like bowl heads and down stems, use gloves and clean with a pipe cleaner or Q-tip dipped in alcohol.

Some worry that this method will cause the user to inhale harmful fumes when smoking directly after cleaning, but you can mitigate this risk by thoroughly rinsing out your glass with warm water. 


#2. Boiling Water Method 

boiling waterIf you’d rather avoid using strong chemicals to clean your bong, try the cheapest and most natural solution: water! For smaller pieces and stems, add one piece of glass at a time to a food storage container and pour boiling or almost-boiling water over it. Use enough water to cover the entire piece and secure the container lid tightly.

If you’re cleaning bongs and larger pieces, pour boiling water into the neck of the piece and cover all openings tightly with duct tape or heat-resistant plastic wrap. The glass will become extremely hot, so make sure to use oven mitts to shake the hot water around in order to reachall parts of the piece.

Then, simply rinse with warm water (cold water could shock the glass) and repeat. This method is surprisingly effective and great for those who regularly clean their pieces. It may not be suitable for heavy residue buildup or more intricate bongs.

CAUTION: Do not try this method on a cold bong, it could shatter. 


#3. Use Commercial Bong Cleaning Products

There are a number of products specifically formulated to clean your bong and other pieces. Products like Formula 420 are highly effective at removing plant resin and grime. If your pieces are not made of glass, Formula 420 also offers plastic and acrylic cleaner. ResRemover is another product that may work for you. This plant based formula is all natural and comes in a pouch. You simply add hot water and your dirty pieces into the pouch, seal, and soak overnight. This is a great alternative cleaning option if you want an easy solution without harsh chemicals.

Why Clean Your Bong?

Do it for your health! Did you know that fungi and bacteria can grow in the murky depths of a dirty bong? The sticky resin and wet environment is a perfect breeding ground for these organisms, so clean regularly to prevent them from making a home in your glass. Daily smokers should clean their glass about every other day. If you only bring a bong or pipe out occasionally, empty and clean it after each use. Don’t refill the water until you’re ready to use your piece again.

Better tasting hit. Residue buildup and sitting water can give your smoke a stale, dirty flavor. To really enjoy the delicate notes of your favorite strains, you want to smoke them out of the cleanest possible glass. Clean bongs also give off less odor and offer a more pleasant smoking experience.

Prevents clogging. A clogged pipe is a smoker’s nightmare, and it’s easily prevented with regular cleaning. It keeps the pipes clear of obstruction so you can enjoy a smooth and easy hit every time.

Keeps your glass looking newer, longer. If you have invested in a piece of glass, large or small, you want to keep it in pristine condition for as long as possible. You may want to sell or trade your pieces down the line, or keep them on display. Maintain the value of your pieces by cleaning them regularly.

Bong Cleaning Tips

  • Clean your bong frequently. The longer you go without cleaning, the longer and harder the process will be.  
  • For hard water stains, use white vinegar and rinse thoroughly.
  • To keep your bong cleaner, longer, squeeze lemon juice into your clean bong water to help prevent residue from sticking. The juice also adds a tasty hint of citrus to your smoke.

There are so many easy, effective ways to keep your pieces clean and prolong their use. Now that you know how to clean a glass bong, or any other piece, use these tips to enjoy pristine pieces and the finest-tasting smoke. 

How to Clean a Bong with Three Different Methods was last modified: by