Learn to Do It Yourself: How to Clean Your Bong

How to clean your bong iStock / KaiDunn

A pipe overdue for a cleaning is going to leave a dirty taste in your mouth, literally. Not only does the appearance of mildew stains and the black coating of resin tarnish your bong’s aesthetic and your flower’s flavor, but it can also compromise your health. Weed may have an impressive therapeutic profile, but if your consumption tool is filthy, you’re just not reaping the harvest of benefits you could be if your bong was clean.

It’s also important to consider the substances you use to clean your pipe. A combination of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and coarse salt is probably the most common solution used for bong cleaning, but not everyone agrees that it is the safest. It’s somewhat likely that a bit of rubbing alcohol would remain on the pipe after a cleaning, and inhaling that stuff isn’t the greatest. An alternative for rubbing alcohol is vinegar, which is often paired with baking soda. Vinegar is much less toxic than isopropyl alcohol. It’s a pretty common ingredient in food.  However, eating a bit of apple cider vinegar in a serving of salad dressing is not the same as inhaling distilled white vinegar residue from a bong. Acetic acid, the compound that produces vinegar, can be a severe eye, nasal, throat, lung, and skin irritant. If you’re trying to go the DIY route while using the least toxic solvent possible, your safest bet is boiling water.

What You’ll Need To Clean Your Bong:

Water Only Clean

  • Saucepan large enough to hold the entire bong 
  • Purified water
  • 1 cup of lemon juice 
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Paper towels or microfiber cloths

Alcohol or Vinegar Clean

  • Sink basin
  • Coarse salt or baking soda
  • Rubbing alcohol or vinegar
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Fabric, cork, or cotton to plug the stem
  • Plastic gloves

How To Clean Your Bong

If your bong has a substantial resin build up with or without gray or white mold fuzz, its walls are specked with black or white dots, or its water smells bad and is discolored, it’s in need of a deep clean STAT.

Water Only

  1. First, fill about 3/4ths of the saucepan with purified water.
  2. Bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the lemon juice. Reduce the heat to medium/low so that the boil becomes a simmer. 
  3. Then slowly submerge your bong in the water and let it simmer in the water/lemon solution for 30 minutes. Make sure that the bong is completely submerged in water—if a piece of it is exposed to the air, it may crack.
  4. After 30 minutes has passed, drain the water and use the pipe cleaners and towels to clean all the nooks and crannies.

Alcohol or Vinegar

  1. Make sure that you are in a well-ventilated area and put on your gloves.
  2. Disassemble all of the removable parts.
  3. Rinse each piece of the bong in very warm water.
  4. Pour the salt or baking soda into the bong.
  5. Fill the bong with alcohol if using the course salt or with vinegar if using baking soda (be prepared for the baking soda to bubble up when mixed with the vinegar).
  6. Plug the tube and stem with the cork, fabric, or cotton.
  7. Make sure the holes are plugged, then vigorously shake the bong for a minimum of five minutes.
  8. Plug in the sink drain and fill the basin with a solution of either alcohol and coarse salt or vinegar and baking soda.
  9. Submerge the bong into the solution.
  10. Allow the bong to soak in the solution for several minutes to several hours, depending on how dirty it is.
  11. Drain the solution and use the pipe cleaners to scrub the bong’s inside and crevices.
  12. Rinse each piece of the bong off with hot water.

Regular Maintenance

Here are a few things you can do to keep your bong in tip-top shape between deep cleans.

  1. Use filtered water in your bongs to avoid mineral buildup.
  2. Switch out the water in your bong every day.
  3. Give your bong a thorough clean at least once a week. However, if you smoke frequently, you can avoid spending hours on cleaning your bong by giving it a thorough clean daily or every other day.

At the end of the day, lots of people use alcohol, vinegar, and manufactured products with other chemicals in them, smoke from their bongs, and live to smoke from another. The truth is that there isn’t enough research into the best bong cleaning methods. As long as weed and smoking paraphernalia are federally illegal, conducting research will continue to be a very convoluted, unreliable, and frustrating process

Getting high smoking a bong

iStock / jackfoto

Do’s and Don’ts

Do clean your bong frequently.

The more you smoke, the more often you should clean it. Ideally, you should give your bong a basic clean after each smoke session.

Do try to use ecofriendly cleaning solutions.

Rubbing alcohol, Epsom salt, and other chemicals commonly used to clean bongs may be effective cleansers, but they don’t do much for the environment once they’re poured down the drain. Resolution and Mile High Cleaner are good examples of environmentally conscious brands. 

Do enjoy a clean hit.

Let the robust flavors streaming through your bong Inspire you to consider consistent maintenance a prerequisite to a great smoke session.

Don’t use dangerous chemicals.

If you wouldn’t directly ingest it, you probably shouldn’t use it to clean your pipe. Truthfully, it isn’t clear if any cleaning solution is totally safe because swallowing something isn’t the same as inhaling it. Because of that, boiling water is definitely the safest route.

Don’t procrastinate your clean.

If you want to stick to a chemical-free cleaning method, you should make sure you clean your bong every day. Otherwise, the buildup might be too difficult to remove with just water.

Don’t smoke “reclaimed” resin.

Sure, the residue you scraped out of the inside of your bowl can get you high, but it’s loaded with carcinogens. Also, it tastes the way it looks… bad.

Learn to Do It Yourself: How to Clean Your Bong was last modified: by
Dianna Benjamin
About Dianna Benjamin
Dianna Benjamin is a freelance writer, teacher, wife, and mom horrified and fascinated by social justice and our inability--yet constant pursuit--to get it right.