Bongs are an excellent way to get high. But if you want consistently good highs with your bong, you better be keeping it clean.
"The number one feature of a bong is its water. The water works to filter out all of the gunk that comes with smoke. You get the best filtration, not to mention flavor, with clean water," Liam Kaczmar, founder and creative director of bong brand Summerland, says. "However, dirty bong plus clean water equals dirty water."
Listen, inhaling smoke isn't great for the lungs. But when you're hitting from a bong, most of the bad stuff that would've been entered your lungs ends up in the water and all around the interior of the bong. Constantly taking hits from a dirty bong means more than just taking subpar hits — you're breathing in the crap that should've been filtered out. Plus, that sitting water is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. "Also, a dirty bong is a bit embarrassing for guests to see," Kaczmar says.
Now that we've convinced you to clean up that dirty bong of yours, here's what you'll need and how to do it. Plus, a few tips because we care about you.
What You'll Need
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Dish soap
- Coarse salt
- Paper towels
- Cotton swab
- Zip-top plastic bag
- Bottle brush (optional)
How Often Should You Clean a Bong?
Generally speaking, bongs should be cleaned more frequently than other smoking devices like vapes and pipes. That's because bongs use water, making them a breeding ground for bacteria. Even if you're not using your bong all that much, you'll still want to be sure to empty its water after each use — it's easy to do, and leaving water in your bong after a session is just asking for trouble.
Outside of that, letting your bong go long periods without cleaning can lead to buildup of resin that becomes harder to remove over time, while also adversely affecting the flavor of your flower. Keeping this gunk at bay will depend on how often you're using your bong. According to the folks at Honest, maker of our favorite bong, you should be fully cleaning your bong every few weeks if you smoke one or two bowls a day, every week if you're smoking three or four bowls a day, and twice a week — or possibly even more — if you're ripping five to ten bowls every day.
How to Clean a Bong
Carefully disassemble your bong. Remove the mouthpiece, bowl and other accessories. Dump any dirty water and rinse with clean water.
Fill the chamber with isopropyl alcohol, leaving a little empty space. Follow up with two to three tablespoons of coarse salt. The isopropyl alcohol acts as a disinfectant to cut through the oils in the residual sticky resin, and the salt acts as an abrasive.
Cover the top of the bong with your hand and vigorously shake. Let it soak for up to 10 minutes.
Discard the solution. Wipe the inside of the bong with a paper towel, and if it's too narrow, opt for a bottle brush to give the interior a scrub.
Rinse the inside with clean water, cover the top, shake and empty the contents. Repeat as necessary.
Clean the exterior of the bong with dish soap and sponge.
To clean loose pieces, make sure to clear up any debris, especially in the bowl. Soak all the loose pieces in zip-top bag filled with isopropyl alcohol and a couple tablespoons of salt for 10 minutes.
Shake up the bag, then rinse the pieces with water until clean.
What If My Bong Isn't Glass?
The above method is for cleaning a glass bong — our preferred water pipe material. But bongs come in other materials too that require some different cleaning methods and precautions.
Plastic and acrylic bongs don't hold up as well as glass bongs when it comes to harsh cleaning agents like isopropyl alcohol, as they can break down the material, so you'll want to swap that out in favor of a milder acid like lemon juice or vinegar, according to Nugg MD. You can still use salt, but don't shake as vigorously as you would a glass bong — plastic is more susceptible to scratching.
Silicone bongs should also be treated more gently when cleaning than glass bongs. A mild dish detergent is recommended here in place of alcohol or harsh cleaning agents, as porous silicone can absorb chemicals, and you don't want to be breathing that stuff in on your next pull. You should also use a gentle bottle brush, as stiffer brushes can tear the material and create spots for dirty resin to hide away, according to Nugg MD.
Can't I Just Put My Bong in the Dishwasher?
While most bongs are not dishwasher safe, some actually are, including Honest's Capsule Water Pipe and the majority of silicone bongs. Always check the manual to see if your bong is safe to put in the dishwasher, and don't just assume that it's ok — you may end up with a broken bong (or a gnarly dishwasher). Also, because bongs are full of curves and nooks and crannies, it's likely that a single pass in your dishwasher won't be enough to get it squeaky clean, so double-check after the wash cycle to see if there's any gunk in need of manual removal.
Tips for Having a Clean Bong
Tip 1: Never let your water sit
After every bong-ripping session, dump out your dirty water. Don't give that grime time to settle in your bong. Better yet, rinse out the dirty water immediately and clean ASAP.
Tip 2: Keep your bong out of sunlight
Dirty water in your bong will lead to bacteria and algae growth. If you ever do forget to clean your bong, keeping it out of sunlight will slow down that nastiness. Summerland bongs are ceramic and opaque, which Kaczmar says, prevents ultraviolet exposure to the dirty water.
Tip 3: Salt is your friend
While cleaning your bong, salt acts as an abrasive to help remove stuck-on filth. Kaczmar says salt is also helpful before you start a bong session. "Dissolve salt into your bong water before a session," he says. "It's been theorized that some of the harsh ingredients bond the salt molecules, instead of the insides of your bong. Dump it and rinse and you'll probably need to clean it a little less frequently."