Cleaning Your Bong is Important, This is How You Do it Right

Bongs are an excellent way to enjoy weed, but keeping them clean is vital for preventing bacterial growth and mold. Here’s what you should do and how often.

Smoking weed from a clean bong
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TL;DR | How often should you clean | What you need | How to clean your bong | People also ask

Old bong water gets a special kind of gross. It’s the type of thing you’d have to drink as part of a stoner frat initiation. Even if the situation isn’t quite so extreme, getting a whiff of old bong while you’re going for a hit isn’t exactly pleasant. Plus, if you leave a full clean too long, you risk letting bacteria and mold take root in all the build-up, and even inhaling something you’re really not intending to. So keeping your bong clean is actually a lot more important than you might think. Here’s the best method to use to get things right.


TL;DR

  1. Clean your bong once every few days, and never let old water sit in it.
  2. For glass bongs you’ll need isopropyl alcohol, coarse salt, a zip-lock bag, dish soap, a bottle brush or pipe cleaners, a sponge and paper towels.
  3. Disassemble the bong, place it in a zip-lock bag and half-fill it with isopropyl alcohol.
  4. Add a few tablespoons of coarse salt.
  5. Close the bag, cover the holes with your hands and vigorously shake it.
  6. Leave it with the alcohol and salt mixture for half an hour.
  7. Clear the alcohol out and thoroughly clean with dish soap and warm water.
  8. Add the stem, bowl and other components to a zip-lock bag with isopropyl alcohol, leaving them for at least 10 minutes.
  9. Rinse the stem, bowl and other components clean with warm water.
  10. Leave everything to dry.
  11. Only clean acrylic or plastic bongs with dish soap and water.
Woman showing how to clean a bong

How Often Should You Clean Your Bong?

You should clean your bong after a few days to a week of use, depending on how much you’re using it. It’s also best to replace the water after every use, but at least after a few bowl-fulls. If a little ring starts forming around the usual level of your water, or if you get some floating bits when it’s freshly-filled, this is a sure sign you need to clean your bong. You can also generally tell by the color of fresh water in the bong – if it looks a little murky, it’s picking stuff up from the inside of the bong and it’s time to clean.

Dirty bong water that needs cleaning

What You Need

You need to gather a few things before cleaning your bong:

  1. Isopropyl alcohol: Really, the higher the percentage the better, but anywhere above 90% is ideal.
  2. Coarse salt: Whether it’s table salt, Epsom salt or Himalayan salt, you need some rocky salt to help scrub the bong clean.
  3. A big zip-lock bag: It needs to fit your whole bong in it, but it makes the process much easier.
  4. Dish soap
  5. Bottle brush/pipe cleaner: To get down into the harder-to-reach places.
  6. A sponge
  7. Paper towels
Alcohol, salt, zip lock bag, dish soap, brush
Basic items you need to clean your bong. Photo: Zola Costa/CBD Oracle

How to Clean Your Bong (10 Steps)

The method involving isopropyl alcohol and salt is considered the best way to clean a bong, but if you have an acrylic or plastic bong, you can just clean it with a bottle brush, warm water and dish soap (see below for more information).

Step 1: Disassemble Your Bong

Disassembling bong parts for easy cleaning
Photo: Zola Costa/CBD Oracle

Take the bowl, stem and any other removable components (e.g. mouthpiece) off the bong, separating it into individual pieces. If there’s any water left in there, empty it out and quickly rinse it off. You should ideally avoid pouring bong water down the drain, so if possible you can put it in a sealed bag and leave it in the trash.


Step 2: Half-Fill it With Alcohol

Pouring alcohol inside bong half way
Photo: Zola Costa/CBD Oracle

Open up your zip-lock bag and put the bong in there, standing it up so you can fill it up to around half way up with isopropyl alcohol.


Step 3: Add Your Salt

Adding coarse salt to inside the bong for cleaning
Photo: Zola Costa/CBD Oracle

Add a few tablespoons of coarse salt to the inside of the bong. The alcohol does the disinfecting work, but the salt gives some roughness to the mixture and helps get up more stubborn residue.


Step 4: Seal and Shake

Shaking salt and alcohol mixture inside a zip lock bag
Photo: Zola Costa/CBD Oracle

Now close up your zip-lock bag. You’re going to shake the salt and alcohol mixture inside the bong, so it’s best to cover the open top with your hand first. Also try to cover the spots for the mouthpiece and stem if possible. Shake it vigorously, making sure to get the mixture all the way up and down the bong.

If you don’t have a zip-lock bag, you can either do it over your sink or potentially just use a regular trash bag with some extra care.


Step 5: Leave it to Sit

Leaving bong to sit inside the salt and alcohol mixture
Photo: Zola Costa/CBD Oracle

Leave the alcohol and salt mixture in the bong to sit for around 30 minutes. You might not really need to do this but if you have the time it’s definitely worthwhile.


Step 6: Take Your Bong Out

Removing bong from the sealed bag with salt and alcohol mixture
Photo: Zola Costa/CBD Oracle

Remove your bong from the zip-lock bag, keeping the old alcohol and salt in there. You shouldn’t really just throw this down the drain, but luckily you can just zip up the bag and throw it away directly.


Step 7: Clean it with Warm Water and Soap

Cleaning bong with warm water and soap
Photo: Zola Costa/CBD Oracle

Rinse your bong in warm water and soap to remove any of the residual alcohol and to give it an extra clean. Make sure to thoroughly cover the whole inner and outer surface of the bong. This is where a bottle-brush or pipe-cleaner and a sponge come in handy: you can physically scrub any of the rest of the bong to make sure you get everything. Paper towels are also really useful at this stage to both clean and dry the bong.


Step 8: Soak the Bowl and Stem in Alcohol

Soak the bong stem and bowl in isopropyl alcohol
Photo: Zola Costa/CBD Oracle

For the bowl and stem, you can just soak them in isopropyl alcohol to clean off any build-up. A zip-lock bag is perfect for this too: just put them in there, cover it over with alcohol, zip it up and leave them to sit for around 10 minutes. You can also add salt and shake at this stage (as with the bong) but you don’t really have to do this in most cases.


Step 9: Rinse the Bowl and Stem

Rinse bong bowl and stem with water
Photo: Zola Costa/CBD Oracle

As before, you can just remove the pieces, zip up the bag and throw it away when you’re done. Once you’ve gotten the pieces out, rinse them with warm water and use a pipe-cleaner if necessary to scrub off any lasting residue.


Step 10: Leave Everything to Dry

Leaving bong parts to dry after cleaning
Photo: Zola Costa/CBD Oracle

Once you’ve done this, you can just leave the stem and bowl to dry and do the same with the bong if needed. When they’re dry, re-assemble and you’re good to go.


A Note on Cleaning Acrylic or Plastic Bongs

If your bong is acrylic or plastic, you shouldn’t use the usual isopropyl alcohol method, because this can damage the surface of the bong and do more harm than good. So you’ll need to learn how to clean a bong without rubbing alcohol in this case. The best advice is to clean it with a bottle brush, warm water and dish soap. You can fill it, clean it and empty out the water, and repeat the process until water you rinse through it comes out clean. This is a little more labor-intensive than the alcohol method, but it generally works just as well.


People Also Ask

How Often Should You Clean Your Bong?

Bongs should be fully cleaned every few days, on average. If you use it heavily, it’s better to clean the bong every couple of days. If you use less often but still regularly, you might be able to leave it for a week before cleaning fully. If you only use your bong occasionally, it’s better to clean the bong after a session or two so it doesn’t sit dirty for too long.

How Often Should You Change Bong Water?

Bong water should ideally be changed after each usage. However, it’s likely not such a big issue to just clean after each “session” of use, even if that involves a few bowls full.

Is it Dangerous to Smoke From a Dirty Bong?

Dirty bongs and especially unchanged, stagnant bong water are a breeding ground for bacteria and other pathogens. Inhaling anything through this water isn’t wise, for the same reason you wouldn’t eat a slice of moldy bread or drink water that has developed a “biofilm” on the top level.

If you inhale from a dirty bong, you’re risking getting an infection or some other issue. It might not be hugely likely that you will run into this type of problem (this is difficult to estimate), but it is certainly possible and so you should always keep your bong clean.

Can You Clean a Bong With Vinegar?

It’s possible to clean a bong with vinegar. The approach is very similar to the above method, except you make a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda, and let this sit in the bong for a few hours. You can also shake the mixture through the bong in a similar way, with the baking soda providing the abrasion instead of the salt.

Afterwards, rinse and clean the bong in the same way described above.

Can You Clean a Bong Without Salt?

As described above, it is possible to clean a bong with baking soda in place of the salt, but generally speaking salt is a more effective approach unless you’re using vinegar. This is because a coarse salt provides better abrasion.

Can You Do Anything to Keep a Bong Clean For Longer?

There are a couple of important steps you can take to increase the amount of time before your bong needs to be cleaned, but you should still do so regularly. One of the simplest steps you can take is adding a couple of drops of lemon juice to the water when you fill it for use. The lemon juice contains enzymes which help to break down the resin that builds up on the inside of the bong.

It’s also important to keep your bong empty when you aren’t using it, rather than letting any water (even just lightly used) sit in it for too long. It’s also recommended to avoid leaving your bong in direct sunlight.

What is the Lifespan of a Bong?

If you take good care of your bong, there’s no reason it shouldn’t last for years before you need to get a new one. With good cleaning and care, a bong can last for three years or even much longer, and realistically, with glass it’s more likely to get accidentally broken than to get to a point where it’s no longer usable. On the other hand, if you don’t look after it well, it’s more likely to need replacement after a year or so.

How Can I Get Rid of Bong Water Smell?

Old bong water is the source of the least pleasant smells that can come from a bong. Cleaning the bong water smell out of your bong itself just requires cleaning the bong as described above. However, if you spill bong water somewhere else, removing the smell requires a bit of special care. Firstly, it’s best to soak up as much of the bong water as you can before it soaks into a carpet or rug. Just grab some paper towels and soak up whatever you can, pushing down into the carpet to get as much as possible. 

When you’ve covered as much as you can using this method, vacuum over the spot with the upholstery attachment. This helps you remove any residue before it settles in and also helps with the moisture. After this, cover the spot with baking soda and leave it for around 30 minutes. Vacuum it out of the carpet afterwards, and then use either laundry detergent or carpet cleaner to give it a final clean. For detergent, use about a tablespoon per liter of water. 

Can I Clean a Bong with Household Items?

Most methods for cleaning a bong use household items, with the most common being isopropyl alcohol and coarse salt. However, it’s also possible to use white vinegar and baking soda, or even vinegar and coarse salt. If you’re using these items, you can do it in basically the same way as described above: the vinegar replaces the alcohol and the baking soda replaces the salt. You can also do a less intense clean with warm water and dish soap, especially if you have a bottle brush or pipe cleaner to help you get into the difficult spots.

Can You Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Clean a Bong?

You can clean a bong with hydrogen peroxide. The process is very much like the one detailed above, although you should wear protective rubber gloves because otherwise the chemical can burn your skin. First, remove the stem and bowl (along with any other removable components) from the bong, and fill it with hydrogen peroxide as much as possible. Cover the mouthpiece and other openings with your hands and give the bong a firm shake – doing this over a sink is a good idea. If there is a lot of build-up that seems to be sticking around, add a few spoons of coarse salt and shake it again. Drain it out and rinse with warm water when you’re done. 

If your bong has especially stubborn stains, you can leave the hydrogen peroxide to sit in it for 12 hours to really work on the interior. Then shake and rinse as before.

How Can I Clean a Silicone Bong?

You can clean a silicone bong using the main methods described above. Hydrogen peroxide is not generally recommended for silicone bongs, but all of the other approaches are totally fine. So alcohol and coarse salt is still the best approach. You can also put your silicone bong directly into the dishwasher, although you’ll probably need to give it a little scrub afterwards to get off any difficult stains.

How Can I Clean a Bong with Percolators?

The approach for cleaning a bong with percolators is basically the same as above. The only real challenge is getting the salt and rubbing alcohol solution through all of the components of the percolator. This will hopefully happen anyway as you shake, but it’s a good idea to take some care to specifically make sure it goes through. 

How to Clean a Bong Without Alcohol?

If you want to clean a bong without alcohol, the best approach is to use white vinegar with either baking soda or salt to help make the solution a little abrasive. You can also just go with warm water and dish soap, but white vinegar with baking soda or salt is much more effective.

Can There Be Mold in a Bong?

Yes, your bong can develop mold. This is especially likely in percolators and reclaims, but the thin “biofilm” that develops on top of old bong water is a sure sign of bacterial and fungal growth in your bong. In short, not only can mold develop, it can develop in as little as 24 hours.

How to Clean a Bong That Won’t Clean?

If you’ve been through the basic cleaning process above and your bong still isn’t clean, you can take it to the next level. Firstly, you can repeat the main process above as many times as you need to get everything up from the inside of the bong. You can also leave the salt and alcohol solution inside it for much longer (think overnight) to really break down some of the resins. But if you’re having a big problem with a bong that won’t clean, the best idea is to use the hydrogen peroxide approach. Leave the peroxide and some coarse salt to sit in your bong for about 12 hours, then afterwards, cover the spaces and give it a vigorous shake. This should clear up even the most stubborn residue.

If multiple attempts at this – and the other methods in this post – don’t work, then maybe you need a new bong. But let this be a lesson, at least: look after your bong with more frequent cleaning and you’ll save money in the long run.


Conclusion – Look After Your Bong

Cleaning a bong is something you’ll need to do fairly frequently, but luckily, the process is quite easy to do with very affordable equipment. While there are many specific products intended to clean bongs, most of the time it’s completely unnecessary and you can achieve at least as good a result for much less money. Once you’ve been through the process once or twice, it’ll be easy to remember the steps, and if you clean your bong regularly enough, it will be much less work each time. So light up and enjoy – but don’t let your bong water sit in there and ruin all your hard work.

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