Keeping your vape pen clean not only ensures you get the full flavor from every puff, but also keeps your coils in ideal vaping condition for longer. Vaping from a dirty device is a bit like eating from a dirty plate – technically it’s ok but you definitely won’t get the most out of the meal. It’s not the most exciting task, but if you clean your vape regularly, it will get easier and easier as you go and your vaping experience will be consistently great.
Learning how to clean a vape pen or dab pen is really straightforward, but it helps if you have a good familiarity with your pen. If it’s still pretty new to you, now is the perfect time to take it apart and get more familiar.
So let’s get to it!
Note: Although this guide will mainly focus on vape pens you might use for wax or dabs, if you have a more liquid concentrate, CBD e-liquid or even nicotine e-liquid, you’ll also be able to follow along with some slight variations.
What You Need
You’ll need a few important items to get going with cleaning your vape pen. There are also some extras that can be really useful but aren’t strictly needed.
- Q-tips/cotton swabs
- Isopropyl alcohol/ISO (at least 95% pure is good)
- Small bowl
- Paper towels/tissue (or a reusable cotton cloth or similar)
- Warm water
- Dab tool/paperclip/safety pin (optional but very useful for cleaning air-holes and other small spaces)
- Ethanol/cheap vodka/baking soda/vinegar (better than isopropyl for thin concentrate or e-liquid tanks)
How to Clean a Vape Pen (9 Steps)
Time needed: 15 minutes.
- Initial Cleaning
Before we get into anything deeper or more intense, it’s a good idea to get at anything loose and easy to remove now. If you have any material leftover that you’d like to salvage, or anything that can simply be dumped out (with the help of a paperclip or dab tool), then get it out now. Most dab pens let you open the chamber and get access to the coil, usually by unscrewing the section directly below the mouthpiece.
- Burn off Residue
Place a paper towel down on a surface, and open up your atomizer chamber if you haven’t already. Now, set your device to the highest temperature or voltage setting (if applicable), and turn it upside down over the paper. Hit the fire button on your device and it will heat any material leftover on the coil or nearby. Some residue should drip out onto the paper towel, if there’s enough of it.
- Fill Your Bowl with Isopropyl Alcohol (or other cleaning solution)
Unless you have a liquid tank or more vape-style atomizer (anything meant for liquids or liquid concentrates), you should fill your small bowl with isopropyl alcohol. Ideally, you’ll just be using this for soaking cotton swabs, so you don’t necessarily need too much. However, if you have a big cleaning job, you may need to soak some components and might need to add more later.
If you do have something meant for liquids, then it’s generally recommended that you avoid using ISO. In this case, you can substitute something like ethanol (grain alcohol), cheap vodka or vinegar for this. If you don’t have (or want to use) those, you can also use baking soda to scrub your tank instead, and some people suggest using lemon juice mixed with water.
- Disassemble and Clean
For the actual cleaning, the basic plan is to take the atomizer or tank apart and scrub any residue away. This is where it really helps to be familiar with how your pen is put together. However, most vape pens are very similar in structure.
First, there will be a connection (usually a “510” connection) between the battery section and the atomizer or tank – so unscrew the tank/atomizer and put the battery to one side. Your tank will also probably have multiple sections. For wax atomizers, they usually open about half way up to give access to the coil. For liquid atomizers, there is usually a connection at the top and bottom of the tank, and the coil head will usually be connected to the bottom piece. You can always check your manual if you’re confused.
Disassemble your atomizer as much as possible, after checking that the coil has had time to cool down. Now soak a cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol (or alternative, for a liquid atomizer) and start to scrub away at the build-up, being careful to avoid hitting the actual coil (which is usually very brittle). If you have a dab tool or paperclip you can use, start with this to get at any stubborn stains. The cotton swab is ideal for a “spot-cleaning” after this, but you should still cover as much of the atomizer as possible. You can use a dab tool or paperclip to try to get at the spots between the wraps of the coil.
- Soak the Components in Isopropyl/Cleaning Solution (Optional)
If there is more build-up than you can realistically clean this way, you can choose to soak all the components in the bowl of isopropyl alcohol (or alternative). If you need to do this, you should put all of the pieces of the atomizer (not the battery) into the bowl of ISO and leave it there for 30 minutes or longer. You also don’t need to include the mouthpiece (unless it’s very dirty), which we’ll tackle in a moment. Some people leave them overnight, but even for stubborn build-up, a few hours will likely be enough.
- Clean the Battery Threading
You can use the alcohol-soaked swab to clean the threading on the battery section, where it connects to the atomizer or tank. In many cases, whether through leaking or condensation, gunk finds its way there somehow. This can affect the connection from your battery to your atomizer and cause some inconsistent performance, so give it a thorough clean while the other components soak.
- Clean the Mouthpiece
Chances are your mouthpiece has a little bit of build-up from your recent dabbing, but this is usually very easy to clean. First, remove the mouthpiece and blow through it firmly. This will remove any loose debris, but you’ll probably still need to give it a little scrub. Soak a q-tip/cotton swab in some ISO and wipe the inside (and outside) of the mouthpiece clean. If it needs more cleaning, you can add it to the other components to soak, but this isn’t usually needed.
- Check for Leftover Residue
Remove the atomizer components from the bowl of ISO and look over them. The alcohol (or other solution) will have loosened up any caked-on gunk and made it possible to remove. This is another time when a paperclip, safety pin or thin dab tool are really useful. They allow you to get at spots between the coil wraps and in any corners with build-up.
- Rinse the Components Thoroughly
Now everything should be looking pretty clean and ready to go, but it’s still coated in isopropyl alcohol residue. Give everything you cleaned a thorough rinse with water. It’s best to do this thoroughly because you really don’t want to be inhaling any alcohol residue. Run them under the warm water tap and leave them to air-dry on a paper towel. Be patient and you’ll be dabbing again in no time.
Vape Pen Maintenance: How to Keep it Clean
As is often the case with keeping your weed accessories clean, doing something regularly is always easier than leaving it for a rare big clean. For a wax pen, general maintenance is actually really easy. After you’ve finished dabbing, all you need to do is follow steps 1 and 2 of the above. This will take a couple of minutes, but it actually prevents this build-up from forming and so drastically reduces the amount of clean-up you need to do. You can finish up with a cotton swab and ISO clean too, just make sure it’s dry before you use it again.
The method for how to clean a cart or an entire dab pen is a little more challenging than cleaning a rig, for example, but if you follow the approach above you’ll get an excellent result. It’s best to stay on top of your cleaning so you rarely have to do the “deep clean,” described above, but in any case it’s a good idea to do this every so often anyway. Make sure every hit is the best it can be.