Keep It Clean! How to Clean a Bong Step-by-Step

How to clean a bong
By Andrew Ward Updated May 17th

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

Bongs are a staple of the cannabis community. For decades and probably longer than that, these iconic devices have stood out in their iconic design and functionality. It's no surprise that even as the cannabis world evolves and offers numerous ways to consume weed, many enthusiasts continue to go back to their bong regularly. From traditional glass pieces to innovative silicone designs to many alternative ideas, bongs truly cater to just about every smoker's preferences. However, bongs are notorious for getting dirty, leaving users to wonder how to clean a bong.

Ask any bong smoker, and they'll tell you that one of the only drawbacks is keeping them clean. Getting into the nooks and crannies of some of these sophisticated devices can be downright impossible at times. Even easy-to-clean bongs require more effort than some may like. Some say the best way to clean a bong is not to have one. 

Whether you're dealing with classic glass, newer-era silicone, or something else altogether, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the ins and outs of cleaning popular types of bongs.

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How to Clean a Bong

How to clean a bong: different methods

Bong cleaning kits are available, but cleaning a bong at home doesn't have to be complicated. The relatively simple process can do wonders for your bong's longevity and the quality and flavor of your hits.

If you're looking for a smoother, more enjoyable smoke from a clean glass, start by gathering the following:

  • Isopropyl alcohol (90% or greater concentration)
  • Coarse salt (table salt works)
  • Ziploc bags (Large to XL)
  • Pipe cleaners or cotton swabs (ideally with a long handle)
  • Warm water
  • Towel or paper towels
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber stoppers or bong plugs (optional)

After you have all your items in order, dismantle your bong. Breaking down your bong will make cleaning hard-to-reach spots much more manageable. Start by disassembling your bong's components, including the bowl, downstem, and other removable parts. Lay the pieces out on paper towels until you're ready to begin cleaning. 

For a more straightforward cleaning, plug any openings with rubber stoppers or bong plugs after disassembly. This optional measure helps prevent the cleaning solution from leaking and splashing all over the place.

The Cleaning Process

  1. Rinse the bong using warm water to remove any loose debris and residue
  2. Fill the base of your bong up to its percolator or diffuser with isopropyl alcohol 
  3. Add coarse salt to the base. The salt helps scrub away stubborn resin. Add as much as you see fit
  4. Except for the mouthpiece, cover all openings with plastic wrap or plastic secured by rubber bands
  5. Shake the bong enough that the alcohol and salt scrub away the resin. Some stubborn spots may require a Q-tip or cleaning brush after shaking. Repeat until the bong looks clean and the transparent liquid appears dark brown or black. 
  6. Empty the bong's mixture into a sink or disposable receptacle 
  7. Clean your bong with warm water to remove any leftover residue and salt
  8. Put the removable parts (bowl, downstem, etc.) in a Ziploc bag(s) containing a new mixture of isopropyl alcohol and salt. Shake the bag until the pieces look clean and the mixture is dark brown or black
  9. Repeat the cleaning process for your parts
  10. Wait for the pieces to air dry, then reassemble the bong
  11. Smoke when ready! 

Be sure to give these two areas an extra bit of elbow grease:

  • The percolator or diffuser: this is where a significant sum of resin ends up
  • The bowl and downstem: resin often ends up in this part of the pipe, adversely impacting airflow and taste.

How to Clean Glass Bongs

Bongs can be made of stainless steel, plastic, bamboo, and many other materials. In some cases, bongs come in one piece, eliminating the need for disassembly. However, single-piece pipes make cleaning some hard-to-reach parts more difficult. 

Glass bongs are often the most popular method. Cleaning glass bongs is somewhat similar to the above process but with extra care. Take extra precautions to ensure your pieces don't fall, chip, crack, or break during the process. 

Glass bongs are particularly fragile and can break from just the slightest mistake. Remember this when disassembling your parts, especially if any seem stuck or hard to move due to resin buildup. Be sure to place your disassembled parts on a flat surface, ideally with a towel, to keep them on a soft area. Avoid stacking your pieces as well. When cleaning smaller parts in Ziploc bags, it's best to keep your parts separate so that they don't accidentally crash into each other when shaken up. They could chip or break in the bag if the pieces smack into each other.

How to Clean a Silicone Bong

How to clean a silicone bong

Silicone bongs have found their way into the hearts of many cannabis consumers. This is especially true for anyone looking for a durable bong to smoke on the go or keep at home.

People often favor silicone pieces because they are more straightforward to clean. While regular cleaning is still recommended, the cleaning process of silicone bongs isn’t as laborious as that of glass. 

To get started you'll need to have on hand:

  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Cleaning brush or pipe cleaners with soft bristles
  • Towel or paper towels

Steps to Clean a Silicon Bong

  1. Disassemble the removable bong parts
  2. Rinse the silicone under warm water to remove any loose debris and residue
  3. Fill your sink or basin with warm water, adding a mild soap as it fills
  4. Sink your bong and its parts in the soapy water
  5. Use your brush or pipe cleaner to scrub the bong in and out, stopping when all residue is gone
  6. Remove the pieces from the sink or basin, then wash them with running warm water
  7. Allow parts to air dry, then reassemble

Cleaning silicone bongs is much easier than glass. Still, you need to be aware of some critical areas; harsh chemicals and abrasive soaps can damage your silicone. Stiff bristle brushes or pipe cleaners can also be used. Be sure to stick to mild (maybe fragrance-free?) or soft choices in both cases.

How to Clean a Bong with Household Items

How to clean a bong with household items

What if you don't have some of the needed items to clean your bong? It is possible to clean a bong using basic household items. First, you'll want to have on hand:

  • Hot water
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Paper towels or a cloth
  • Plastic wrap
  • Q-tips

Steps to Clean a Bong with Household Ingredients

  1. Disassemble the removable bong parts
  2. Rinse the silicone under warm water to remove any loose debris and residue
  3. Fill the bong's base with hot water
  4. Add 2-4 tablespoons of baking soda and one or two drops of dish soap to the water 
  5. In addition to the mouthpiece, cover all openings with plastic wrap secured by rubber bands
  6. Shake the bong enough that the water and baking soda scrub the resin. Some stubborn spots may require a Q-tip after shaking. Repeat until the bong looks clean and the clear liquid appears dark brown or black. 
  7. Remove the plastic wrap and empty the bong's mixture into a sink or disposable receptacle.
  8. Clean your bong with warm water to remove any leftover residue and salt
  9. Separately clean the removable parts, soaking each in a baking soda and dish soap mixture
  10. Use a cloth or paper towel to remove any remaining residue or debris 
  11. Rinse the parts in hot water
  12. Wait for the pieces to air dry, then reassemble the bong
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Why Should You Clean Your Bong After Use?

Cleaning your bong after every use helps ensure that your consumption experience is the best by keeping the airway free for optimal airflow and keeping each hit tasting like the flower it came from. More so, cleaning your bong after each use helps remove the toxins and contaminants that can be found around the bong's mouthpiece. The exposure to toxins and pollutants becomes greater if you share your bong with others. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Bong?

Cleaning your bong after each use is ideal. However, not everyone will stick to this regimen. If that's the case, base your answer on your frequency of use. If you use your bong daily, several weekly cleanings will do the trick. If you're using your bong only once or twice a week, you can get away with cleaning it every week.

Can I Put My Bong in the Dishwasher?

Putting your bong in the dishwasher is probably not a great idea, as glass bongs are delicate enough and run a high risk of breaking in the dishwasher. Silicone and plastic bongs may hold up during the wash but risk melting or losing shape once exposed to hot water at a specific temperature. Overall, the risk is probably not worth the reward.

What Is the Best Bong Cleaner: Alcohol, Salt, or Vinegar?

Alcohol and salt are often considered the winning combination. Some DIY smokers would prefer not to use chemicals of any kind. You can also try using vinegar and lemon juice if you prefer. 

Where Should I Store My Bong?

You can store your bong anywhere safe, be it a padded box or some flat surface out in the open. Just be sure to put it in an area where it doesn't risk being bumped or knocked over.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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