The bong is a timeless classic in the world of smoking weed, ranging anywhere from a simple and effective water pipe made from scraps, to a hand-crafted work of art with intricate detail.
A device easy enough to pick up and give it a try, the design of a bong might seem intimidating to properly: Thankfully, it is not. Alcohol, salt water or simply the right cleaner made just for your bong will get the job done in just under the time it takes to toke up.
At the same time, cleaning a bong can be as easy as ‘empty it out, hit it with soap and water and you are good to go,’ but there are a few quick and easy ways to clean it better and leave you with nothing but the finest sparkling vessel for your water-cooled weed.
How often should I clean my bong?
While there is no one instruction manual on bong hygiene, the most common consensus is emptying the water after each use and cleaning the actual bong at least once a week. However, the ‘frequent users’ who are also neat freaks clean theirs after each use.
In the age of increased sanitization and slowing the spread of germs, this is completely understandable but not totally necessary. All you really need to do is prevent buildup, bacteria and bad smells (aka The 3 B’s and that is totally a thing), all of which can be done by cleaning your bongs and other devices on a semi-regular basis.
What would happen if I’m not regularly cleaning?
Basically the same thing that happens over time to unwashed dishes: mold, bacteria, fungus, just nastiness in general. Even worse is that now, you are smoking that and breathing it into your lungs. None of this will do any good for your body or equipment, so always keep it clean.
How to Clean Bongs
A pretty by-the-books wash will have your water pipe sparkling like new every single time. To do that, you only need a few common, inexpensive items that you probably already have around the house and about 25-30 minutes of your time, most of which is waiting and soaking.
Basic protocol calls for all detachable pieces to be removed and soaked separately while the pipe gets in its own bath. It is best to thoroughly dry your pieces to avoid ‘water spots’ and leaving traces of cleaning products in your bong water.
To clean your bong, you have a few options for cleaning solutions but your tool kit to finish the job could not get any simpler: cotton swabs, 1-2 plastic sandwich bags and a dish towel (or paper towels or anything you use to dry the pieces).
Depending on where you live, you might still see a shortage of isopropyl alcohol, but no worries: baking soda, epsom salt, lemon juice or Formula 420 are all very cheap and great substitutes with no harsh chemicals. Added bonus: lemony fresh scent.
Steps for Cleaning Your Bong
Step 1: Take it apart
Remove the mouthpiece and all other detachable pieces from your bong and keep them separate, so that they can soak in their own solution and ensure cleaning all the way through.
Step 2: Cleaner of Choice, Just Add Water
Whichever cleaning solution you have, follow the same basic motions: quick soak with soap and water, pour in your solution, shake and rinse with cold water.
99% alcohol is the apex predator of cleaning (it could probably cleanse your soul if it was safe for consumption), the same thing with isopropyl. However, some places may still be in short supply from the past year, so any of the following will do:
- Baking soda – A mixture as old as time, baking soda, and warm water will easily clean your bong if you let the pieces soak and let the solution work its magic. You will have to let it soak longer and maybe scrub more to be safe, but baking soda works nonetheless.
- Lemon Juice – When life hands you lemons, you use them to clean bongs. That is the saying, right? Anyway, mix your fresh lemon juice with warm water and use it to wash out the pieces.
- Formula 420 – An absolute breakthrough in cleaning cannabis devices, Formula 420 was literally made for bongs and pipes, so if you can find it, always keep it in stock.
- Epsom Salt – It basically works the same as baking soda but is more abrasive (and organic), making it perfect to scrub with and to soak your pieces in a plastic bag.
Step 3: Soak the pieces
Speaking of soaking, you want to do this with every piece: Start with a salt water rinse before scrubbing and or soaking depending on the mixture. For example, the smaller pieces can be soaked in the epsom salt solution while the bong soaks in soap and warm water.
The alcohol or lemon juice solutions are simply sloshed around and shaken to clean the bong from top to bottom before rinsing (and repeating, if necessary).
Step 4: Brush for good measure
If you missed a spot (literally), this is where the cotton swabs come in.
While the pieces may have soaked in whatever concoction you had, lightly brush or scrub with good old-fashioned soap and water (salt water is even better) to remove those leftover water spots or in extra tight corners that you can excavate with your brush.
Once everything is cleaned and dried, put your favorite toy back together and you are done.
What should I NOT use to clean a bong?
Virtually any other solution besides those listed above should probably not be used to clean your bongs or other smoke devices. Never, EVER use bleach for the job and if you are going to use alcohol, do not completely soak your bong in it because those fumes are not fun.
Most importantly, Do Not try to cut corners or think sloshing water around the bong or pieces would clean them, that will not work. Any devices that you inhale from and put your mouth on need to be disinfected for both your safety and those around you who use the device.