How to Clean a Bong the Right Way

Nobody likes a dirty bong.

Man cleaning a bong

A bong is one of the most popular instruments used to smoke cannabis, but it’s also one of the most difficult to clean. 

Bongs are water pipes (typically made with glass) and comprised of the following pieces:

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  • Bowl 
  • Downstem
  • Chamber

A bong’s design allows water to filter and cool cannabis smoke – this leads to cleaner and more enjoyable inhalation. On the flip side, the complexity of the bong’s anatomy means a more involved cleaning process. 

If cleaning your bong sounds like a chore, don’t worry. Cleaning and disinfecting a bong isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. But it’s not all that hard either. More importantly, it’s good for your health (and your bong’s longevity). 

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Keep reading to learn how to clean your bong in a few simple steps, why maintaining your bong is a chore worth doing, and bong cleaning mistakes to avoid. 

The BEST Way to Clean and Disinfect Your Bong: 5 Steps 

There are several bong cleaning methods, but we’re going to explain the best one here.

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You’ll need to gather these materials before you can clean your bong: 

  • Gloves 
  • 2 cups coarse sea salt 
  • 3 cups 99% isopropyl alcohol
  • Access to warm running water
  • 1 large food storage container (with lid) or large zipper storage bag 
  • 1-2 Pipe cleaners or cotton swabs 
  • Paper towels 
  • Microfiber towel 

You’ll be using a relatively large quantity of alcohol, so choose a well-ventilated area for the bong cleaning process. 

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Step 1: Disassemble and empty your bong.

Put gloves on to protect your hands from the smell, resin, and alcohol. Remove the bowl and downstem and set them aside. Then, pour the water out of your bong’s reservoir and manually remove loose ash and resin. 

Step 2: Cover contaminated areas of your bong with cleaning solution. 

Cover the bottom of your bong’s chamber with coarse sea salt (about ¾ to 1 cup). Then add ½  to 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol to the chamber. Set aside. 

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Place your downstem and bowl into your food storage bin or zipper storage bag. Add about ½  cups of coarse salt and enough isopropyl alcohol to completely cover the bowl and downstem (1 to 2 cups). Tightly place the lid on the food storage container or carefully seal the bag. 

Step 3: Shake pieces in solution. 

Use your paper towels to plug the openings to your chamber. Make sure that you correctly seal your food container or storage bag. 

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Vigorously shake your plugged chamber and sealed bag/food container until you begin to see the built-up resin disintegrate from within the chamber, downstem, and bowl. 

Once the resin is removed, empty the alcohol out of the food container/bag and chamber. 

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Step 4: Clean hard-to-reach areas. 

If you haven’t cleaned your bong in a while, there may still be stubborn residual resin requiring additional work. 

Use your pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to scrub out those tougher areas.  

Step 5: Thoroughly rinse. 

Run warm water from your sink and completely rinse out your chamber, bowl, and downstem. Make sure that you remove the alcohol entirely – smoking residual fumes is dangerous. 

Let your bong air dry. If you need to use it immediately, you can dry it with a microfiber towel.  

Why You Need to Clean Your Bong  

From start to finish, it will probably take you about 10 minutes to clean your bong. 

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Like we said – it’s not the easiest process in the world, but it’s far from being difficult. And at the end of the day, taking 10 minutes every few days or once a week to clean your cannabis tools is worth it. 

The whole point of using water in a bong is to filter your smoke, right? 

But what happens when your “filter” is contaminated? 

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Uncleaned bongs are a petri dish of potentially dangerous microbes, including E. coli, Strep, mold, and mildew. Neglecting to keep your bong clean can expose you to unnecessary health risks. 

Signs Your Bong Needs to be Cleaned 

Ideally, you will maintain your bong regularly enough to clean it out before it’s visually obvious that you need to get it done. 

If you notice the following in your bong, it’s past time for a good cleaning:

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  • A resin buildup in the bowl and downstem  
  • A filmy layer at the top of the water in your chamber
  • Darkened water 
  • Particles floating around in your water 
  • A coat of resin and ash covering the inside of your chamber 

You’ll know you’re caring for your bong well when it consistently appears clear or nearly clear despite frequent use.  

How Often Should You Clean Your Bong? 

Generally, the answer is regularly. The specific answers depend on how often you use your bong. 

If you use your bong once or twice a month, cleaning it weekly is just adding unnecessary work to your life. 

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On the other hand, if you use your bong daily but only clean it once a month (or less)… well, you’re probably getting a hit of some interesting microorganisms along with your cannabinoids

We recommend that you give your bong a thorough cleaning once every seven smoke sessions with it. However, you should replace your water in your chamber every time you use your bong. 

Frequently replacing bong water and keeping a regular cleaning schedule will keep you healthier and your bong looking prettier. 

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The WRONG Way to Clean a Bong 

Not all bong cleaning methods are practical or safe. Here are some bong-cleaning DON’Ts for your consideration:

  • DON’T buy expensive products: You don’t need to buy anything to clean your bong. Save your money for your actual medicine. 
  • DON’T use harsh cleaning chemicals: avoid using chemical cleaners like ammonia, bleach, or acetone. If you’re nervous about using isopropyl alcohol, you can use dish soap instead. 
  • DON’T overcomplicate this: Some people recommend letting your bong soak for hours or cleaning it multiple times in a row. If that’s not sustainable for you, don’t do it. Even rinsing out your bong after each use is better than doing nothing. 
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