How to clean a bong or bubbler (multiple methods)


How to clean a bong or bubbler (multiple methods)
Steven Voser

Anyone brave enough to have stuck their nose in a dirty bong knows just how gross these things can get. In this article, we teach you everything about properly cleaning and maintaining a bong/bubbler. Indulge in smoother, more flavourful hits by keeping your water pipe in good shape!

Wondering how to clean your bong or bubbler? Stuck on how often you should change the water in your water pipe? In this article, we'll teach you all there is to know about cleaning and maintaining bongs and bubblers so you can enjoy smoother, tastier, and potentially healthier hits.

WHY CLEAN A BONG OR BUBBLER?

At a glance, here’s why we recommend cleaning your bong or bubbler:

  • Better flavour
  • Potentially safer/healthier
  • More satisfying/efficient hits
  • Less waste
  • Cleaning regularly is ultimately easier than cleaning infrequently

Cleaning and maintaining a bong or bubbler is an essential part of smoking cannabis, as it helps to ensure a more flavourful and healthy experience. Bongs that aren't cleaned regularly become breeding grounds for bacteria and mould that alter the flavour and aroma of your weed, and may pose serious health risks if inhaled.

Think back to your high school biology class, and you might recall that bacteria and mould love water, especially dirty, stagnant water like that left in your bong after a long night getting lit. And simply pouring out the old bong water and refilling it isn't going to kill those bacteria—you'll need to thoroughly clean your piece in order to get rid of them. If you smoke through dirty bongs or bubblers, you may inhale mould spores or bacteria that can cause respiratory tract infections.

Besides exposing you to pathogens, smoking through a dirty water pipe also ruins the flavour of your weed. If you've ever been brave enough to stick your nose in a dirty bong, you'll know just how wretched they can smell. If you don't clean your bong or bubbler regularly, forget about appreciating all the flavours and aromatic nuances of that fresh batch of Blueberry you just bought or harvested—all you'll be tasting is old tar, ash, and brackish water.

One final reason you should clean your water pipe regularly is this; cleaner pipes are more efficient and waste less weed. Old, dirty bongs and bubblers quickly become clogged, making it harder to draw smoke from the bowl down into the chamber. If you've ever smoked from a dirty piece, you may have seen smoke seeping out of the bowl, regardless of how hard you pulled on it. Keep your water pipes clean to enjoy fuller, more flavourful hits.

Below we'll walk you through the basics of how to clean bongs and bubblers. And while these devices can come in many different shapes and sizes, the process is essentially the same. Note that you might find it easier to clean bongs that can be taken apart, as opposed to bubblers, which are generally just one piece.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CLEAN MY BONG?

How often you clean your bong or bubbler will depend on how much you smoke. If you only smoke a few bowls a week, you'll need to clean your pipe much less frequently than someone who smokes a few bowls every night and lights up with 3 or 4 friends every weekend.

Generally speaking, if you're a moderate smoker that hits the bong once or twice a week, you should aim to clean your water pipe every 7–10 days. If you're a daily smoker, on the other hand, you should look to clean your piece every 3–4 days. If you smoke very occasionally (say once or twice a month), you're probably best off cleaning your bong after every session so it doesn't sit around uncleaned for weeks.

Not sure when you last cleaned your bong/bubbler? Check for these signs to know if it's time for a clean:

  • Resin buildup on the glass
  • Dark stains on the percolator
  • A bad smell emanating from the chamber or any part of the pipe

THE BEST WAY TO CLEAN A BONG OR BUBBLER

Below you'll find simple instructions on how to clean your water pipe with alcohol and salt. The instructions are the same for bongs or bubblers—just keep in mind that bubblers typically can't be taken apart.

Note: The method below is only suitable to be used on glass bongs/bubblers without a logo. If you have an acrylic pipe, or a glass one with an acrylic or stuck-on logo, use the alternative cleaning methods further down in this article.

EQUIPMENT

  • A sink and tap
  • 91% isopropyl alcohol
  • A bowl
  • Coarse cooking salt or Epsom salt
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Sponge
  • Gloves
  • Clean dishcloth or paper towels

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. If possible, take your pipe apart and separate all its different parts to simplify the cleaning process. Again, if you have a bubbler, this likely won't be possible. Wash all the pieces under warm running water and set them aside.
  2. Put on your gloves to avoid irritating your hands during the cleaning process.
  3. Pour a generous amount of isopropyl alcohol and coarse salt or Epsom salt into the bowl. Use enough salt so that it doesn't dissolve in the alcohol.
  4. Use a sponge to soak up the alcohol, and clean each individual part of your bong. Try to scoop up some of the coarse salt and use it to help create more abrasion to loosen any built-up resin or tar. If you're cleaning a bubbler, pour the alcohol and salt mixture directly into the pipe through the mouthpiece; use your hands to block the mouthpiece, bowl, and carb (if your bubbler has one), and shake vigorously for 5 minutes. The same goes for the main body of a bong. Block the holes, and shake.
  5. Use pipe cleaners dipped in the alcohol and salt solution to clean the hard-to-reach parts of your pipe.
  6. Once you have cleaned all the parts, rinse them under warm water to remove any remaining alcohol and salt.
  7. Dry with a clean dishcloth or paper towel.

CLEANING A BONG OR BUBBLER WITHOUT ALCOHOL

While the alcohol and salt cleaning method discussed above is a tried and true classic, it might not always be ideal. If you have an acrylic bong, for example, using alcohol and salt might degrade your pipe. In that case, consider some of the alternative cleaning methods described below.

VINEGAR AND BAKING SODA

Baking soda and vinegar make a simple, effective, and cheap cleaning solution. If you're cleaning a bubbler, pour 1 heaping tablespoon of baking soda in through the mouthpiece, followed by 450–500ml of vinegar. Let the mixture bubble in a sink or bucket to avoid making a mess. Once the bubbling has died down, cover the mouthpiece, bowl, and carb, before shaking to move the mixture around inside the pipe.

If you're cleaning a bong, on the other hand, it may help to put all the individual pieces into a bucket, pour in roughly 250ml of baking soda and 500ml of vinegar, and, once the mixture has bubbled, scrub down all the individual parts using a sponge and pipe cleaners.

VINEGAR AND SALT

Vinegar and salt are also effective. Thanks to its acidic nature, vinegar is very good at breaking down the fats, resins, and tar that build up in your glass piece. Meanwhile, using coarse salt in the mixture will create more abrasion to separate any tougher grime stuck to your glassware.

To employ this method, simply follow the instructions above, but swap out the alcohol for white vinegar.

LEMON JUICE

Like vinegar, lemon juice is highly acidic and super effective at breaking down the grime inside your water pipe. Use it in combination with either baking soda or salt for best results.

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE

Hydrogen peroxide is another option, but you must exercise some caution. The best way to do this is to fully submerge your pipe in hydrogen peroxide and let it soak for 12 hours. Then, remove the piece from the hydrogen peroxide and rinse under warm water. Make sure to use gloves and protective eye goggles when handling hydrogen peroxide, as it can burn your skin and eyes if it comes into direct contact with them.

CAN YOU CLEAN A BONG OR BUBBLER WITH BOILING WATER?

While it might seem logical to soak your bong/bubbler in boiling water to clean it, we do not recommend doing so. Bongs are typically made from fine glass that can shatter when exposed to consistently high temperatures.

CAN YOU CLEAN A BONG IN THE DISHWASHER?

It is possible to wash a bong or bubbler in the dishwasher. But again, we do not recommend doing so. Especially if they are of an odd shape or thickness, it's not improbable for your device to break. Washing them by hand using the methods above is much safer.

WHEN SHOULD YOU CHANGE BONG WATER?

There are many theories on how often you should change your bong water. But to be honest, we believe in only one: after each session. It can take as little as 24 hours for mould spores and bacteria to grow in your bong water, so empty it after every session, and run your piece under warm water before drying it on a dish rack or with paper towels. Then, fill it with fresh water right before your next session, and repeat the process.

If you want to spice up your hits further, there are some viable bong water alternatives you can try; just be sure to clean your device thoroughly after use.

KEEPING YOUR DEVICE IN TOP SHAPE: SUPER EASY!

When to change bong water and how to clean a bong or bubbler are common questions among rookie smokers. However, there's not much to it—as we saw in this article, cleaning can be super easy, even satisfying, and should be done regularly to ensure smoother, tastier, and healthier hits. Happy smoking!

Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.