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Cannabis 101

What’s the Best Way to Clean a Bong? A Guide on How to Clean Pipes and Bongs

08.02.22 - 4 min read

Did you know? 

  • If the bong water smells and is no longer clear, that means it’s dirty. 
  • There are several different methods for cleaning pipes and bongs, including: a combination of alcohol and salt, or vinegar and baking soda, etc. 
  • A clean bong or pipe will make the smoke smoother and the flavor purer. It also extends the product’s life and prevents the spread of germs. 

With repeated use, your pipe or bong can accumulate mold or bacteria that you may inhale when you use it. Therefore, it is essential to clean pipes and bongs regularly. 

We have put together this guide for you to read about how the different methods work so that you can decide which way to clean a “pipes” is the best for you. 


Why Do You Need to Clean Pipes and Bongs? 

Pipes and bongs create wonderfully warm and moist environments that are perfectly cozy for mold and bacteria. You don’t want to breathe in their spores the next time you take a hit from your bong, so it’s important to keep them clean and to prevent the growth of harmful organisms. 

The best practice is to empty out your “bong” water after each session and clean it regularly. Other reasons to keep your pipes and bongs clean include: 

  • Preventing the accumulation of residue. A clean bong will give you a superior smoking experience (the smoke will be smoother and the flavor purer). 
  • Regular cleaning makes for quicker and easier cleaning. It also prevents the spread of germs, especially if you share the bong or pipe with others. 
  •  Keeping your smoking pipe clean (and cleaning it correctly), will extend its life. 

When is it Time to Clean a Bong? 

The easy answer to this question: When it is dirty!  

But how do you know when the bong is dirty? Here are a few signs that your bong needs cleaning: 

  • You can see residue buildup. 
  • There is debris inside the chamber. 
  • There are dark stains on the percolator. 
  • The bong water is smelly and not clear anymore. 

The water in your bong works to filter out most of the yucky stuff that comes with the smoke. The cleaner the water, the better the filtration. If you put clean water into a dirty bong, you’ll get dirty bong water and weaker filtration. 


How to Clean a Bong 

How to Clean a Bong Using Alcohol and Salt 

This is a popular bong cleaning method because the materials needed are affordable and easy to come by. It can be used to clean different types of bongs, but you should avoid it if you have a glass or acrylic bong. Here’s why: 

  1. If parts of your acrylic bong are glued together, the alcohol may dissolve the glue. 
  2. Coarse salt may be too abrasive and scratch the inside of your acrylic bong or pipe. These scratches become perfect hiding places for bacteria and mold. Use discretion
  3. Isopropyl alcohol contains high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which may be harmful to you and the environment. 

What you’ll need: 

  • Isopropyl alcohol 
  • Coarse salt 
  • Dish soap 
  • Sponge 
  • Bottlebrush 
  • Zip-top plastic bag 
  • Cotton swabs 
  • Paper towels 


  1. Remove the bowl and the stem from your bong. 
  2. Pour the bong water out. 
  3. Rinse all the pieces in warm water. 
  4. Place the bong in a resealable plastic bag or a plastic container with a lid. 
  5. Fill your bong to about halfway with isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol acts to cut through the oils and sticky resin. 
  6. Add a generous amount of coarse salt to the bong. The salt helps to scratch the residue off the sides of the bong. 
  7. Close the bag and give it a shake. Make sure that the bag is well sealed. Shake well but take care not to bump against anything and risk shattering your glass bong. 
  8. For stubborn residue, use the soaking method: Leave the bong to soak in the alcohol mixture for about thirty minutes. 
  9. Remove your bong from the bag, seal the bag and dispose of it. 
  10. Rinse your bong with soap and warm water. Alcohol is flammable so you want to make especially sure that you rinse all the alcohol off. 

So now that your bong is all sparkly and shiny, are you wondering “how to clean a bong bowl”? Here’s how to do that: 

  1. To clean your bong pipe and bong bowl, soak them in alcohol. 
  2. Use a pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol to remove sticky resin from the inside of the pipe. 
  3. Next step: rinse both parts in warm water until they are completely clean of the alcohol. 
  4. Leave to dry completely before your next use. 

And if you’re looking for ways to clean a bong without alcohol, keep reading! 


How to Clean a Bong with Vinegar and Baking Soda 

Cleaning a bong with vinegar and baking soda is a gentler method that works well for glass bongs, as well as acrylic and silicone bongs. It might take a little longer than the alcohol method, but it is safer.  

What you’ll need: 

  • Vinegar (white spirit vinegar is the most affordable, but you can use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar too). 
  • Baking soda 
  • Bottlebrush 
  • Cotton tips 

Mixing vinegar and baking soda together elicits a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide gas and a semi-abrasive solution. This makes it ideal for cleaning the sticky residue from inside your bong. Baking soda and lemon juice work in much the same way. If you don’t have vinegar, you can substitute it with lemon juice. 


  1. Place your bong in the kitchen sink or a deep pot. 
  2. Depending on the size of your bong, pour about half a cup of baking soda into the bong. 
  3. Slowly pour vinegar or lemon juice over the baking soda. It is vital to do this slowly. If you add vinegar too quickly the formation of CO2 gas might be too quick and cause a mini-explosion, shattering your glass bong. 
  4. You want the mixture to fill your bong, so add more vinegar and baking soda if necessary. 
  5. You can also add some rice grains to the mixture to help scrub the residue off the inside of the bong. 
  6. Leave the mixture to soak for about thirty minutes. 
  7. Close the openings of the bong with your hand or recycled plastic bags and give it a good shake. 
  8. If some residue remains, use a bottle brush or cotton tip to scrub it off. 
  9. Pour the vinegar and baking soda solution out. 
  10. Rinse well with warm water. 
  11. Leave your bong to dry on a towel before using it again. 

How to Clean a Bong with Bong Cleaning Solution 

This is one of the most effective ways to get your bongs clean, and it can be used on silicone bongs, glass bongs, and plastic bongs. For best results, follow the instructions that come with the bong cleaning solution that you have purchased.  

How to Clean a Bong Using the Boiling Method  

This method is recommended for glass only; it requires no reagents, so it is a gentle way of cleaning your smoking equipment. Glass can crack or shatter if exposed to dramatic temperature changes, so heat your water gradually, and once clean, let your glass bong cool down slowly. 


  1. Place your bong in a pot that is big enough for the bong to be completely submerged in water. 
  2. If possible, place a wire rack or canning rack at the bottom of the pot to prevent the bong from touching the pot’s base. 
  3. Fill the pot with water and bring to a simmer on low to medium heat. 
  4. Leave your bong to simmer for 25 – 30 minutes
  5. Using rubber-tipped tongs, remove your bong from the hot water and place it on a paper towel to cool. 
  6. Once cool to the touch, you can rinse with warm water. 

How to Clean a Pipe 

How to Clean a Glass Pipe 

You can use the same method for cleaning a glass bong. 

What you’ll need: 

  • Isopropyl alcohol 
  • Coarse salt 
  • Dish soap 
  • Sponge 
  • Zip-top plastic bag 
  • Cotton swabs 
  • Pipe cleaners 
  • Paper towels 


  1. Remove any ash, debris, or loose buildup from the pipe. To do this, keep the pipe upside down and tap it gently to dislodge the debris. Get bigger pieces out using a pipe cleaner or toothpick. 
  2. Place your glass pipe in a sealable plastic bag and fill the bag with enough alcohol to cover the pipe. 
  3. Add one tablespoon of coarse salt to the bag. 
  4. Gently shake the pipe in the bag to try and move the salt around to scrub the sticky resin off the glass pipe. Try and get some of the salt inside the pipe too. 
  5. If your solution is very dirty, throw it out and repeat steps 1 -3. 
  6. Use a pipe cleaner or cotton tip to remove any stubborn residues. 
  7. Rinse the pipe thoroughly in warm water. 
  8. Air dry on a paper towel before your next use. 

You can also use the vinegar and baking soda method to clean your glass pipe. Denture cleaner works in much the same way as the acid and baking soda in that it forms bubbles that help to dislodge debris from the pipe. 


How to Clean a Wood Pipe 

Wood smoking pipes might be considered slightly classier than their glass counterparts. However, they are a little trickier to clean. So, how do you clean a wooden pipe]? Here’s the low down. 

What You’ll Need: 

  • Cotton swabs or pipe cleaners. 
  • Paper towel. 
  • Isopropyl alcohol. 
  • Olive oil (optional). 


  1. Remove any loose ash and debris by turning the pipe upside down and gently shaking it. You can give it a gentle tap on the counter to loosen stubborn debris. Blow through the top to clear the pipe. 
  2. Separate the pipe into its different parts. Gently blow and tap the pieces to dislodge any remaining residue. 
  3. Dip a pipe cleaner in a 50:50 solution of water and alcohol for a minute. Thread the pipe cleaner through the stem of your pipe. With a twisting action, scrape the layers of resin off the inside of the pipe. Then thread the pipe cleaner through the pipe’s shank and do the same. Wrap the outside of your pipe with a paper towel to prevent the alcohol from dissolving the varnish. 
  4. Soak a fresh pipe cleaner in the alcohol solution. Fold the pipe cleaner in half and use it to scrape out the inside of the pipe’s bowl. Many wooden pipe enthusiasts consider the buildup at the bottom of the bowl, or ‘cake’, to add character to the smoking experience. So take care not to scrape the bowl completely clean. 
  5. This step is optional. To help maintain the sheen of the wood, you can rub a thin layer of olive oil on the outside of your wooden pipe. 

If you have any more questions regarding bongs and pipes, talk to one of the patient care specialists at your local RISE Dispensary . Find a dispensary near me


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