You have your flower fresh from the dispensary, you have your favorite shows and snacks at the ready, all there is left to do for the perfect smoke session is to break out the bubbler.
Or at least it was, until you saw that the bubbler was filthy.
To your luck, this is a surprisingly easy fix: one that only needs to take your bubbler apart for a few minutes of individual soaking and cleaning before it is sparkling and ready for action. It is also the best way to make sure your smoking experience is as safe as possible, as you never want to be taking hits from contaminated water or a dirty mouthpiece. In addition to covering the actual process, we are going to explain what you should have in your ‘toolkit’ in order to get the best possible results.
But as per usual, you do not need an entire drawer full of tools or cleaning supplies to get the job done: just a little bit of patience, some isopropyl alcohol or bubbler cleaner and a couple of kitchen towels. Then, in just a few minutes of active cleaning and soaking time, your bubbling masterpiece will be completely disinfected and looking as new as the day you bought it.
When to Clean the Pieces?
If you ask 20 different bubbler enthusiasts, you will probably get close to, if not 20, different answers. Some wait to clean the bubbler until it starts to discolor (not recommended) and some clean theirs after every session. To keep it simple and find a balance between the two, once every couple days or once a week is a very reasonable timeframe.
A global health crisis naturally has more people cleaning thoroughly and cleaning more often. If this sounds like you, feel free to clean your devices as often as you want so long you have covered every nook and cranny, and you no longer get that ‘cleaning product’ smell (to ensure you are not breathing in anything you should not be).
How to Clean a Bubbler
Whether they be glass, ceramic or even plastic, bubblers are cleaned the exact same way as you would most dishes: With soaking, scrubbing and rinsing. You do this by taking off every detachable piece of your rig and giving each of them their own day at the spa.
Translation: After disassembly, put all of the pieces in their own container or their own sandwich baggie and let them soak thoroughly in the cleaning solution of your choice.
Best Cleaning Supplies
The good news is that you just need a couple of supplies to make your bubbler squeaky clean, and they are all readily available: Kitchen towels, cotton swabs, soap, hot water and a cleaning mixture for soaking. The only bad news is that there is an ongoing debate between whether or not to use alcohol to clean your cannabis devices.
Those on the opposing side of alcohol say that it is too harmful and dangerous to breathe in while others say alcohol is safe and the ideal solution to kill all existing bacteria on the surface, which is true. Regardless of your intended cleaning mixture, you are still going to suds and rinse this stuff off anyway, so make sure you are doing this every time you clean your bubbler.
As mentioned, this is arguably the most important step apart from the actual cleaning of the bubbler. If you do not wish to be breathing in leftover soap or rubbing alcohol, thoroughly rinse all of your pieces after soaking. When this is done, do a quick smell to make sure the pieces do not smell the way they should not.
Following the ever-growing trend of deep cleaning, hot water is your best friend for this process. While heat does kill bacteria, this does not mean that lighting up your bubbler without water is going to kill all the germs and residue. You can only do this by soaking all of your pieces and rinsing off all of whatever is left over before wiping them down.
You can technically skip this and just thoroughly scrub all the pieces of your bubbler, but soaking them with a cleaning solution soaks even the tightest corners that you could not reach while giving your bubbler a full, extended bath to make everything easier to wash and rinse off.
For the same reason you want to soak really dirty dishes before hand washing is the exact reason to do the same for cleaning your bubbler: The stuck-on residue will be a thing of the past, and you will get the best cleaning possible when it comes time to rinse the piece.
But through all that cleaning, how many times has this happened to you? You soak all the pieces, disinfect them, dry them and even give them a fresh lemony scent (if that’s your thing), only to realize the bowl and chamber are riddled with those cloudy water stains.
You know your bubbler or its pieces are clean, but they still do not look clean: How annoying is that, right? Not to worry, the most foolproof way to get rid of these stubborn stains needs nothing more than fresh water and vinegar. A perfect, inexpensive and very effective way to remove hard water stains and keep all of your bubbler pieces looking showroom-ready.
Unfortunately, these water stains can become permanent on surfaces like glass if they are left to set for too long, but you will not have this problem should you clean your devices as soon as you start noticing stains.
Should I use alcohol?
Some hardcore enthusiasts stay away from cleaning alcohol entirely, but it can be safe so long as it your bubbler pieces are not over-soaked and are washed with soap and water afterwards.
Are the alternatives Better?
Regardless of what you use, anyway you can thoroughly clean your equipment is the best course of action. Again, some might be turned away from using alcohol for their glass or mouthpiece, but there is no need to worry so long as everything is rinsed and scrubbed.
Cleaning alternatives to alcohol may have the advantage of not needing that last rinse, but they would need a more rigorous scrub, so they both have their advantages. As long as everything is clear of bacteria and properly washed, you choose whichever cleaning solution you prefer and get the best results.