Bong Cleaning: A Master Class

Bong Cleaning: A Master Class

Weed is legal, huzzah! How and if you consume it is up to you, but if there’s one certainty in life beyond death and taxes it’s that a dirty bong is gross. And you know it’s gross because you aren’t a 1980s throwback hiding your bong in your closet so your mom doesn’t find it.

Who are you? You’re part of a new world, where bongs are statements and a good bong shop is a necessity. Not only are bongs fantastically functional devices through which to consume your cannabis, but they’re also an investment and an expression of your personal style.

Even if gross and filthy IS your personal style, you still need to clean your bong. In addition to being gross, a dirty bong is unhealthy, collecting mold, mildew, and pathogens. So let’s clean it up.


Just in case you’re a new cannabis user, a bong is a water pipe, available at a bong shop. Cannabis is packed into a bowl, which is then placed in a stem. The stem attaches to the water-filled chamber and when the weed is lit, the smoke is filtered through the water before being inhaled.

Bongs come in an infinite number of shapes and sizes and materials, but most are made of glass. They can be as simple as the three pieces described above or have a complicated filter system.


Step 1: Dump the water after you use your bong.

This is as basic as it gets. Use new water every time you use the bong. Not only does used bong water stink, but it’s also the perfect breeding ground for mold and germs. If you let it sit long enough, all that grossness forms a biofilm on top of the water. That’s where mold and pathogens lurk.

Because the water in a bong acts as a filter, the used water may also contain carcinogens and other substances that need to be tossed after use. If you wouldn’t eat a cigarette butt, don’t reuse your bong water.

Step 2: Know when it’s time for a deep clean

Tossing the used water isn’t enough to keep your bong in good order. If you notice a ring near the waterline or anything floating in new water, it’s time for a cleaning. If you can see stains and buildup it’s REALLY time for a cleaning. The resins that build up during use aren’t all flushed out by a simple water change.

Smell and taste are other good signs you need to clean things up. Bong water isn’t the only thing that smells, so do resins. They also affect the taste of your smoke, which is just a darn shame.

Step 3: Gather your materials

There are a lot of different materials you can use to clean a bong. Some people like to use commercial cleaners that are quick and easy and require little more than a swish and a rinse to get rid of buildup. You can find them at a bong shop, near home, or online. But you can also use materials you may already have at home.

Rubbing alcohol and sea salt are the two main ingredients in a home-made bong cleaning solution. You’ll also need stoppers or plugs to keep all your cleaner inside the bong. You can find them on Amazon, just be sure you order the right size for your equipment.

You can also use plastic wrap and tape or even twisted paper towels depending on the size of the openings. You just don’t want a cleaning solution spraying everywhere.

Depending on your bong, you should also grab some cotton swabs or pipe cleaners. And you need some plastic bags to hold the bowl and stem.

Here’s your checklist:

  • Commercial cleaner or rubbing alcohol and sea salt
  • Some sort of covering for openings
  • Bags for bowl and stem
  • Cotton swabs or pipe cleaners
  • Towels

Step 4: Remove small parts ad plug holes

The bowl and stem (and any extra filters) aren’t going to get clean with the rest of the bong. They need their own soak in plastic bags. Then plug the holes and you’re ready to go.

Step 5: Soak and Shake and Scrub

Pour either commercial cleaner or rubbing alcohol and salt (enough to cover the bottom followed by a quarter cup of alcohol) into the chamber and let it sit. Cover the mouthpiece and start shaking. You’ll see the resin start to come off as you shake, continue until it’s clean.

If your cleaning solution gets gross, start with fresh (and don’t wait so long between cleanings next time). Do the same thing with the bowl and stem in their bags, soak and swish to remove the buildup.

You can also use pipe cleaners or cotton swabs to get at the resin in tight spots like the stem or any additional filter pieces. Use hot water to rinse away any remaining resins on all the pieces.

You can try to dry everything but it’s best to let it all air dry on towels before you reassemble. In the meantime, some people like to clean the mouthpiece with plain old dish soap and water. It’s a good idea. Just because there are no resins doesn’t mean it’s clean. Just make sure everything is very thoroughly rinsed.

Step 6: Maintain

The single best way to keep your bong clean is to toss the dirty water when you’re done using it. But that won’t prevent resin buildup.

To help reduce resins, try an ash catcher. These devices, available at a bong shop, act as an additional filter, reduce buildup, and keep your bong clean longer in between washings. Don’t forget to wash them when you wash the bong.

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