We’ve all endured the struggle and disappointment of smoking through a dirty bong. Maybe you were just a kid and didn’t know any better. Maybe you were in college, taking a rip off your buddy’s piece. Or maybe there are those of you that still don’t clean yours regularly. After all, you always make sure to buy the good stuff — any residue in there is just more good weed, right?
Residue from your dirty bong is going to ruin your next bowl (particularly if you’re using a glass bong). Of course, the key term here is “proper cleaning.” A glass bong can be pretty delicate, and it requires a careful cleaning method with the right materials. So before you take a rip of that home-grown strain you’ve been cultivating, take some time to clean your bong with these simple steps.
First of all, having a dirty bong laying is just gross. Also, cannabis just tastes better when you smoke through a clean piece! Whether you went down to your local dispensary or used a marijuana delivery service, you deserve to get the best smoking experience possible.
Even if you don’t have the most discriminating palate, there are other benefits to keeping your bong sparkling clean. Did you know that a clean bong is actually better for your health? Smoking a dirty bong can irritate the lungs, putting you at a greater risk of lung infections and other respiratory issues. And all that stagnant water? Talk about a breeding ground for fungi, pathogens, and bacteria!
So, how often should you clean your bong? The answer depends on how often you smoke, but I suggest every two days. Of course, you may need to clean it more often if you start seeing signs of grime: a slimy biofilm on the glass, brown, smelly bong water, and white fuzzy mold or black and white specks along the pipe walls. When you spot these, it’s time to start cleaning.
Get Some Cleaning Supplies
The first thing you should do is gather everything you’ll need to thoroughly clean your bong. You’ll need something abrasive, something to kill bacteria, and something to plug up the stem while you’re cleaning. Salt or rice are great abrasives, and rubbing alcohol works great in a pinch. However, you can also invest in some of the high-quality pipe cleaners for a faster-acting solution.
A quick side note: if you use a cleanser, be sure to follow the instructions as written on the product packaging. While many of these cleanser work just fine with the methods I’m describing, it’s important to double check that this is the most efficient way to use the cleaning products you have. This way, you can be sure you have the cleanest bong possible.
You’ll also want to have plenty of water on-hand to rinse your piece. It’s best to clean your bong over the sink for ready access to the tap, but if you can’t be in the kitchen or bathroom make sure you have a bowl of hot water with the rest of your cleaning supplies.
Take it Apart
When we say that you need to thoroughly clean your bong, I mean really thoroughly. To do that, you need to take it apart. Remove all the detachable pieces from your bong and rinse each one with hot water. This will help dislodge any of those large chunks of resin that may be stuck to the glass.
During this process, you’ll want to give extra attention to the stem and bowl. These two pieces are the ones most likely to develop buildup, so rinse them a few times and try to remove as much as possible. Of course, if you run into some really stubborn resin, don’t sweat it. The following steps will help make your bong look like new!
Once you have completely rinsed each piece of your bong, it’s time to add the heavy-duty cleansers. Put the bong back together and add the abrasive material: your rice or salt. Also, if you’re using salt, use a coarser, larger grain, and add enough that it won’t dissolve in your alcohol or cleanser — you’re going to use it to scrub the interior walls.
Next, add rubbing alcohol or cleanser to the bong. You don’t need to fill it completely, but you should add enough for the scrubbing process (at least three tablespoons). If your bong is particularly dirty, you may want to add a bit more so the cleanser sits on those extra grimy spots a little longer.
Finally, you will need to plug up all the open areas on your bong. Cover the stem and the tube with anything you have available (assuming that it’s clean): a piece of fabric, a cotton ball, or a cork are all great options. Whatever you use, make sure it’s secure! Use rubber bands or twist ties if you need to hold your covers in place. If you don’t, the next step will be a real mess.
Shake, Soak, and Rinse
Now that you have the cleanser and the abrasive materials safely secured inside your bong, the real work can begin. Make sure your hands are clean and dry (it would be a huge bummer to drop your baby during this step), pick up your bong, and shake it — a lot. The trick here is to really agitate those cleansers. You want the abrasive material to quickly brush against the glass, scrubbing any nasty stuff off the walls and leaving you with a perfectly clean piece.
I suggest shaking the bong for about five minutes at a time, then leaving it to soak while the cleanser settles. Then, take a good look at the glass; if it still looks a little filmy or still has debris stuck to it, repeat the process until everything is scrubbed off.
Once the walls of your piece look crystal clear, dump out the cleanser and abrasives. Then, give each piece of your bong one final rinse in hot water. Dry it off, take a step back, and admire your work. Voila — you now have a bong as shiny and new as the first time you used it!
Clean The Pipe Stem
Essentially, your cleaning process is complete after you finish the last step mentioned above. But if you’re a stickler for details (and when it comes to your weed, you should be), you’ll want to take a few more minutes on that last step. Your bong stem is a particularly small piece, and that makes it hard to get clean with the “shake and soak” method. If you want your bong to be the cleanest it can possibly be, you need to carefully clean that stem.
After you’ve finished rinsing your bong for the last time, remove your stem and get ready for some detail work. Soak a few pipe cleaners in your rubbing alcohol or bong cleanser, and go to work scrubbing at those hard-to-reach places. Finally, give the stem another rinse under the hot water. This will ensure that you remove any and all residue from the step, giving you a cleaner, better tasting bowl the next time you light up.
There you have it: your five-step process to a clean bong. If you use this method the next time you notice nasty build-up, you’ll enjoy those next few rips so much more (and it will actually be better for you)! Best of all, the whole process shouldn’t take more than an hour — you can literally get this done while watching TV or waiting for dinner to be ready. If you ask us, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t be cleaning your piece on the regular.
We all smoke weed for different reasons. Some of us want to expand our creativity. Some of us want relief (both physical and to support mental health and wellness.) Some of us just want to have a good time with our friends. Whatever your reasons, every smoker out there can benefit from a clean bong. So, take a little time to keep your pieces clean. Trust us, once you try it once you’ll never skip a cleaning again.
Author Bio: Constante Quirino is a freelance writer and content strategist. He has advocated for recreational and medicinal cannabis for much of his career. Constante also writes about the latest developments in yoga, alternative medicine, and the benefits of natural, wildcrafted ingredients in skincare and beauty products.