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How to clean your bong

Giving your bongs a deep clean will keep you keep safe from mold and bacteria

We’ve cleaned pipes and grinders, so surely you can follow one of those two processes to clean your bongs, right? Not entirely, while many of the materials required are shared, the process for cleaning a bong is quite a bit different. Pipes and grinders, you can soak in a bowl, but bongs, bongs are the bowl. 

What You’ll Need

  • Cotton swabs
  • Bong cleaner or isopropyl alcohol
  • Gloves
  • Small bowl or container
  • We can start by putting on our trusty gloves (safety first) and removing the bowl from our bong. Now we can dump out the probably smelly, potentially moldy, and definitely gross bong water. It’s a good idea to give the bong a good rinse before we start cleaning it. Getting rid of any loose resin will make our cleaning job less messy.

    Our bong looks pretty good just from a quick rinse, but as we know, water doesn’t kill fungi or bacteria. We should also be aware that breathing in fungi or bacteria is terrible for the lungs. Not to lecture but, as our own Alexander says, ‘Our lung is one of the most critical organs but also one of the most fragile and vulnerable.’ So we’ll need to use something capable of killing bacteria and fungal spores.

    When we cleaned our pipe, we used isopropyl alcohol, and it did an excellent job of removing all the stuck-on resin. When we cleaned our vaporizer, we used a cleaner specifically designed for use on cannabis accessories. This was not an exercise to compare the efficacy of each product but merely to show that there are multiple ways to get the job done. To clean our bong, we’ll be using the same bong cleaner we used with our vape, but the same process applies to iso. To contain any spills, we’d suggest placing your bong in the kitchen sink before filling it, which allows us to fill the bong to the height of where the down-stem enters. We’ll let this soak for now.

    In the introduction to this guide, we told you that the bong is the bowl. And while the bong is acting as its own bowl for soaking, we still need a small container of some sort to hold a small amount of cleaning solution so we can soak the bowl (the bowl where the weed goes). We can carefully place the bowl into the bowl and turn our attention back to the bong.

    Unless you are incredibly quick at soaking your bowl in a bowl of cleaner, the bong has probably been soaking in the cleaner long enough to move on to the next step. For reference, very quick means under 10 minutes. If you haven’t submerged your bong for at least 10 minutes, sit down, roll a joint, and come back to it. 

    Now comes the potentially messing part. Don your gloves, place one hand on top of the bong to cover the mouthpiece, use the thumb on the other hand to cover the opening for the downstem, and gently flip the entire thing upside down. Shake it about (gently) to loosen up any stuck-on resin and then place it back in the sink. The operation was a success if you aren’t running for a mop while covered in cleaner.

    Once again, it’s time to break out the cotton swabs. You may be sensing a theme here; no matter what accessories you are trying to clean, there is no automated magic process. At some point during the cleaning process, you’ll need to put in some good old-fashioned elbow grease to finish the job. Bongs are far more complex than other glass pieces like pipes. Percolators can complicate matters further as it’s impossible to reach every slot, nook, and cranny with a cotton swab. You’ll have to do your best to get your swabs into as many areas as you can, but don’t worry about scrubbing every surface. Remember, the more often you clean, the better result, which is why we emphasize cleaning frequency.

    Before we give everything a final rinse, we’ll turn our attention back to our downstem and bowl. Since these have been soaking for some time, they should come clean with a quick wipe with a cotton swab.

    Give everything a thorough rinse in the sink, dump out any excess water, and admire your handy work. Once everything dries, you can pack a bowl, savor the flavor a clean bong provides, and chill. 

    Not all accessories are the same; for more cleaning tips and to keep all your peripherals looking new, catch up on our series below

    How to clean your vaporizer
    How to clean your pipes
    How to clean your grinder

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