If you’ve gone to all the trouble of getting some righteously dank weed, smoking it through a nasty bong isn’t only inappropriate, but borderline disrespectful. You can probably recall a couple times when someone’s dirty piece almost ruined your enjoyment of what, otherwise, would have been a tasty bowl. That’s why you need to know how to clean a bong and how to clean a glass bong specifically. And the good news is, it’s not that hard.
(Note: commercial cleaning liquids are available, but in our experience, the methods below work just as well.)
How often you clean your bong is a personal choice depending on your comfort level. It also, of course, depends on how often you smoke.
There are some folks who clean their piece weekly; some clean it daily. And, believe it or not, I personally know some pro-level tokers who refuse to use a piece unless it is cleaned after every hit or two.
If you’re a heavy smoker, you should probably clean your piece every one to two days. At a minimum, change your dirty bong water every day. Keeping fresh water in your bong helps prevent the growth of bacteria.
A sparkling clean bong is a thing of beauty. Not only does cannabis taste its best through a clean piece, but it makes for a better smoke session with friends.
Perhaps the best reason of all to keep clean a bong, however, is that smoking from a dirty piece can cause respiratory irritation. It can even put you at a greater risk for lung infection.
Before we get into how to clean your bong, here are some signs that it’s time:
We’ll just say it. This is, in our opinion, hands down, the best way to clean a bong. (For instructions on how to clean a bong without alcohol, see below).
To get that piece just as clean as it was the day you fell in love with it, you’ll need the following items:
Make sure you have these necessary elements in place when figuring out how to clean your bong, Then, you’re ready to get started. This method takes about 20-40 minutes, depending on your level of detail.
Remove all detachable parts from the piece, paying, of course, particular attention to the bowl and stem. Rinse everything thoroughly with water. Hot water can help dislodge big wads of gross resin from inside.
Now it’s time to add your alcohol (solvent) and salt or rice (abrasives) to the bong. Add the abrasives first; if you use salt, use enough so that it doesn’t all dissolve in the alcohol (you need enough abrasion for scrubbing). After adding alcohol, cover the stem and the tube with pieces of fabric, cotton, or cork and secure them.
Shake the fuck out of your bong with the alcohol and abrasives inside it. I know your arms probably hurt, but this is important. Shake for at least five minutes. Make sure the holes are blocked to prevent alcohol and abrasives from going everywhere. Be careful; you probably have wet hands, and it would be a bummer to drop that expensive glass piece.
If your piece is really dirty, you might need to go through the whole process twice or even three times.
Long-neglected pieces will likely need some soaking time to remove dry, caked-on grunge. If it’s in bad shape, let it soak at least a couple hours; rinse thoroughly afterward with hot water to dislodge any remaining resin.
When you’ve gotten rid of all the icky grunge in your piece, pour the resulting mix of alcohol, abrasives, and grunge into the toilet and magically flush it away.
Some difficult-to-reach parts of your piece, such as the stem, might not get completely cleaned. To address those spots, you can soak pipe cleaners in alcohol until you reach all those stubborn places.
Don’t forget one final, thorough rinse with hot water—you don’t want to leave the residual smell of alcohol in a fine smoking piece. Let the piece dry.
Now, you have a clean piece in which to torch that delicious weed.
Although isopropyl alcohol is a safe household solvent when thoroughly rinsed away, some people prefer to avoid using it altogether. It’s a good idea, then, to know how to clean a bong without alcohol. The easiest way is with water.
The key to this method on how to clean a glass bong—which takes about 45 minutes—is to boil enough water to completely cover the piece in a saucepan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and submerge the piece for about 30 minutes. Be sure that the simmer is hot enough to release a few bubbles, but not so hot as to evaporate the water and leave the piece uncovered. (That could lead to cracking.)
After about half an hour has passed, carefully drain the water. Clean and dry the piece thoroughly with a towel, paper towels and/or pipe cleaners.
Some people who don’t like using alcohol think the best way to clean a bong is lemon juice. Some folks actually insist this is the best way to clean a bong. Using this method, which takes about 20 minutes, you can eliminate most of the grunge from a heavily-used piece—and add a more pleasant smell before using it again.
For those experiencing a shortage of lemons, salt, or alcohol—or aficionados of baking soda volcanoes—vinegar and baking soda can also be used to scrub your bong clean. The process is similar to other methods, like using salt and alcohol. But like lemon, many swear by baking soda and vinegar specifically as the most effective way to clean your bong.
1. Fill your bong with warm water, and while holding your hands over the shaft and mouth-hole, give the bong a good shake. Empty the dirty water into the toilet.
2. Pour baking soda into the mouth-hole, allowing it to cling to the moist glass inside the bong. Try to cover as much of the dirty surface area inside the bong as possible.
3. Let the bong sit for as long as you can. This could mean a few hours, or overnight (however long you can force yourself to abstain from taking that sweet, milky bong toke).
4. Put a few more scoops of fresh vinegar into the bong, then add the vinegar (about a cup should do, depending on the size of the bong). Hold your hands over the holes of the bong and give it a good shake, then put it in a bathtub, sink, or somewhere with a drain to avoid a mess. Once the vinegar and baking soda start to react—fizzling and spitting like a rabid honeybadger—allow it to overflow out of the bong.
5. Using a long brush, scrub up and down the insides of your bong and watch as all the gunk and filth fall away.
6. Rinse your bong thoroughly with warm water, until all baking soda, vinegar, and dirt disappear.
This method is one of the most commonly used among cannabis enthusiasts and is extremely similar to how you would clean your bong with alcohol. But if you don’t have alcohol, only salt, this may be your saving grace. The process is simple.
1. Pour at least three tablespoons of salt into your bong through the mouthpiece (if you can find corse types of salt, like Kosher salt, all the better).
2. Fill your bong up just below the shaft line with warm water.
3. Cover the shaft hole and mouth hole with your hands, and while being very careful not to drop the bong, shake it rigorously. Shake the bong for a few minutes, while trying to swish the salt around the inside parts of the bong where most of the dirt is concentrated.
4. Pour the salty, filthy, rancid water somewhere that will minimize its emanating stench and potential to stain surfaces—like down the toilet.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until your bong is clean, then rinse your bong thoroughly with warm water until no salt remains.
While a high percentage rubbing alcohol should work for most of your bong-cleaning needs, if you’re looking for something a little more cannabis-specific, Kryptonite Naked is one of your best bets. It manages to clean tough grime from the inside of your bong without being too acidic to handle on your bare skin. It’s also made with no added color or fragrance, so it’ll leave your bong looking and smelling new, rather than like someone who tried to cover up their post-workout body odor with Axe deodorant spray. Perhaps best of all, you can buy a full 470ml bottle for under $20.