Using glass pieces is a top-tier way to consume cannabis, there’s no way around it. Knowing how to clean a bong (or any glass for that matter) is easier said than done. The seasoned bong users know the feeling all too well. You draw a milky hit, only to find the flavor tainted by a buildup of resin and other unwanted intruders. On the flip side, hitting a bong for the first time after a deep clean is one of the most supreme smoking experiences available to the modern stoner.
There are numerous ways to clean a bong, but they all ultimately boil down to the same thing: Soak it, shake it, and rinse it. If you’re smoking daily, it might be hard to remember all the steps (no hate), so I put together an easy step by step guide to help you keep your glass looking fresh, and most importantly, supremely smokable.
This first step might seem like a no-brainer, but many first-time glass-cleaners will overlook it. Whether you’re cleaning a bong, pipe, dab rig, or any glass, the first thing you’ll want to do is take out the bowl and downstem (some pieces might have a few more removable pieces, but definitely start with those two). Once you’ve got your piece down to its parts, you’re ready to move onto step 2.
Once you’ve got your little pieces in a container, you’ll want to add your cleansing product. There are tons of options on the market, but essentially you’ll want to use isopropyl alcohol (the higher percentage, the better) and salt. Listen, I may be biased, but my cleaner, “Illcohol,” is definitely the best one on the market. It doesn’t have any frills or dyes to make it vibrant; it’s just a jug of alcohol that comes with salt to add for each cleaning, and that’s all you need. It comes in a huge gallon size, so just one purchase will last throughout multiple cleaning sessions.
You’ll want to use enough of your cleaning solution for the pieces to be fully submerged. Then just let them soak and let the alcohol work its magic! The longer you can leave them, the better. But if you’re feeling impatient, you probably only need about ten minutes in the bath. Remember, the longer you let them soak, the easier it will be to remove all the residue in the later steps.
While your little bits and bobs are in their bath, now’s your chance to clean the inside of the entire piece. Slowly pour your cleaning solution into the chamber of the bong—you can pour through any opening. Don’t worry about filling the entire piece. Just pour enough in that you’ll be able to get a good shake out of the liquid.
Using your hands (you can also use a wine cork or other stopper you have lying around), go ahead and cover up all of the holes of the piece. Now comes the fun part. Shake it up! Shake the piece as hard as you can for as long as you can; the longer, the better. You’ll watch the resin miraculously begin to dissipate. Even if some resin remains after vigorous shaking, don’t fret. In the next step, I’ll be sure to cross the Ts and dot the Is.
Once you’ve gotten a good shake in, you can pour out the solution. But before you rinse with water, now’s your chance to capitalize on the residual solution (which is still a powerful cleaning agent) and a little bit of elbow grease to get rid of the rest of the blemishes. For the largest openings of the piece, you can use a rag or piece of paper towel, and you’ll want to get in there and wipe away any remaining grime. When it comes to longer openings, you can use a drumstick or water bottle cleaning tool (if you have one) with a rag draped over it to really get in deep and smudge everything off.
For the smaller openings (especially if you’re using a smaller piece like a pipe), you can use a paperclip, pipe cleaner (it’s in the name!), toothpick, or really anything that will fit in the hole. Don’t overthink it.
After you’ve cleared all the grime out of the piece, now you can do the same with the little fellas that have been stewing in the bath. Most of the grime will have dissipated from the pieces after a long soak, but now you can go through with a rag or cotton swab and get to business.
By the end of this step, your glass should be looking polished and should be pretty free of all residue. It’s okay if some smears remain, as we’ll be rinsing the pieces a few more times before returning the piece to the shelf (or loading it up).
This step is super important. Isopropyl alcohol evaporates really easily (in under a minute), so you don’t need to worry too much about it remaining on the glass, but to eliminate the chemical odor, you’ll want to rinse everything thoroughly with water. You can rinse the small pieces in their bath by refilling it with water and shaking them around. Then do what you did with the large chamber in steps 4 and 5, but this time with water instead of a cleaning solution. You might want to rinse them a few times with fresh water to fully eliminate any remnants of the alcohol solution.
You’re pretty much done! Now you can just let all of the pieces dry on their own, or feel free to wipe them down with a rag. Once everything feels nice and dry, it’s time to put the piece back together and admire your handy work.
I know that I didn’t really have to include this step, but the experience of smoking out of a freshly cleaned piece is too magnificent not to include. I’m not going to sit here and explain to you how to smoke, but there are definitely some good ways to take advantage of your freshly cleaned piece.
Bong-permitting, I suggest loading up your chamber with some fresh cold water and your favorite flower for a delightful hit experience that only comes around once every few weeks. If you have a strain that you love specifically for the flavor, now’s a great time to tap those buds, as you’ll get to experience the flavor in its purest form.
You’ve got a fresh piece of glass, an absolute bombshell of a hit coursing through your veins and the whole world ahead of you. Next up? Do whatever makes you happy after a smoke. You worked hard, you deserve it.
Don’t overthink it!
It really just comes down to soak, shake, and rinse. The steps above are great to refer back to if you have questions, but overall you can trust your gut. It’s not rocket science.
Clean all of your glass at once.
If you have multiple pieces, it’s a good idea to clean them all in one fell swoop. You can soak all of the removable items from multiple pieces at once, diminishing the time you spend cleaning. The goal is to get back to smoking, after all.
Save your best weed for the post-clean smoke.
I said it earlier, but it deserves repeating. It’s a great idea to save your premium bud for a session immediately following cleaning, as this way, you’ll have the most opportunity to taste the flower and savor the intricacies of its profile.
Clean your glass frequently.
The more frequently you clean, the less tedious the process will be each time. If you do it before a lot of residue builds up, you’ll be able to shake and rinse without having to worry about getting in there with a tool to wipe everything down.
Buy a reusable wine cork.
This may seem silly, but if you get a wine cork or any kind of stopper to pop in the glass’ opening, it will make it much more convenient to conduct your shaking. Rather than covering the hole with your hand while simultaneously shaking, you can just cork it and shake freely.
Clean before you smoke.
I know I said this already as well, but it too bears repeating. The last thing you’re going to want to do after a strong sesh is spend time meticulously cleaning your glass, so I recommend getting all of the pesky cleaning out of the way before you settle down for your smoke.