If you’re just getting the whole cannabis smoking thing down, your next question is probably about how to clean a pipe. Since we couldn’t live without our Le Pipe, we’ve got you covered. We know that even after just one hit, your pipe gets dirty. Here’s the cleaning secrets you need to know.
WHY CLEAN YOUR PIPE?
Whether you use alcohol, cotton swabs, or a boiling technique, it’s important to regularly clean your pipe. First, every time you do, you’ll extend its life by keeping plant resin from building up. And, if your pipe is ceramic, you’ll keep that resin from corroding the glaze. Resin might not just render your pipe nonfunctional, it’s also a health thing. Resin buildup can eventually cause ceramic glazes to crack or craze. Any reputable manufacturer will use non-toxic, food-safe glazes. Nonetheless, ceramic glazes are made from natural materials and can contain trace elements of minerals and metal. As long as the glaze is sealed and smooth, you’re totally golden. But if you do see any cracks or crazing develop with age, just to be safe, replace your pipe.
With regular cleaning, you’ll also get rid of blockages that can inhibit your draw on any pipe. Plus, you’ll avoid the awful taste of a dirty pipe. Just like those designer shoes in your closet, you’ve gotta take good care of your puffware!
You can definitely buy fancy cleaning solutions for your pipe. But you don’t need to. What you have in your pantry will work just fine. We find that the solution you prefer depends on what else is important to you. Are you going for speed, an environmentally friendly solution, or a deep clean? No matter what your preference, here’s the inside scoop.
HOW TO CLEAN Your PIPE FAST
There are tons of ways to clean your pipe. But we know you’ve got a lot on your plate. If you’re looking to do it fast, our preferred method is rubbing alcohol. Hands down—it’s the quickest, and it’s as easy as it sounds. Just soak a cotton ball or swab with alcohol and gently rub all the soot and resin off your pipe. Make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies until any gunk or discoloration comes off. Alcohol isn’t the most environmentally friendly option, but this is your go-to if you just want it done. Literally in seconds, your pipe will be fresh, clean, and ready to go again.
Pro tip: After you finish with the rubbing alcohol, rinse your pipe thoroughly under warm water to remove any lingering medicinal taste or smell.
Kymberly Byrnes from TribeTokes is a big believer in the overnight soak. “I use my glass pipe by GravLabs daily, and it gets so gunked up! I use an old plastic container with a lid from takeout order (REUSE), that I fill with 99% Iso Pure Alcohol—enough to cover the pipe bowl. It soaks overnight with the lid on so the alcohol doesn’t evaporate (99% evaporates quickly). Boom, next morning I rinse it with hot water and I have a clean pipe to puff on.”
You can also use this technique with any of the other solutions we’ve detailed above. You might just have to do a little bit more scrubbing in the morning if you’re not using alcohol.
CAN I PUT MY PIPE IN THE DISHWASHER?
We feel you. But, unfortunately, no. For the same reason it’s important to clean your pipe regularly, it’s also important to do it by hand. Cannabis resin is sticky, and you’re burning it in your pipe with an open flame. Just like you can’t throw a pan with burned-on residue straight into the dishwasher, your pipe won’t really get clean unless you rub, soak, or boil off any schmutz.
Using household appliances for a quick deep clean
Sticking your pipe into the dishwasher isn’t a super safe method. But, using this microwave method can give you incredible results. Start by filling a microwave-safe container, like Pyrex, with enough water to cover your pipe. Microwave it for 2 minutes. It’ll be really hot, so use an oven mitt to take it out of the microwave. Pour in a generous amount of liquid dishwasher soap and microwave for another 1 minute and 30 seconds. Carefully take the container out, and stir until all the detergent has fully dissolved. Then gently place your pipe into the solution. After a few minutes of soaking, it should be sparkling clean. If there’s any remaining residue, submerge it again and give it a rub with a soft rag or a dish sponge. Once you’ve gotten rid of any stubborn bits, rinse it off and voila! You’ve got yourself a clean pipe in just a few minutes.
CONSCIOUS CLEANING WITH DEON HAWKINS OF CANNACLUSIVE
Deon Hawkins, of Cannaclusive, was kind enough to share her pipe cleaning secrets with us, too. “When cleaning anything, I strive to be a conscious cleaner, using products that are green, but get the job done. When sanitizing and refreshing my pipe and bong mouthpiece, I use Higher Standards Salt Rox with a combination solution of alcohol and Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap in almond scent. It works best to get out the smell and taste from the alcohol. Finally, I sweep away any debris with pipe cleaners or Q-tips.
HOW TO CLEAN A PIPE WITHOUT ANY CHEMICALS
If you’re like Deon but want to keep it completely green, try soaking your pipe in a combination of salt and vinegar. Baking soda and vinegar work well, too. @caffeinatedvegan also DM’d us this tip that she uses for her glass pipes: “I like to combine a teaspoon of salt and baking soda with water. Then I bring it to a boil and simmer it for about 10 min.” You could do something similar for your ceramic pipe. Just don’t put your pipe in the solution until after the boil and simmer very gently.
Pro tip: If you encounter any particularly hard bits, you can also throw your pipe in the freezer for a bit and then repeat.
An eco friendly option we love
Here’s an option for when you don’t want to use alcohol. We’ve all been there. If you want a more eco-friendly option, we’ve got you covered. You can lose the alcohol and the swabs. Instead, make a solution from water, baking soda, vinegar, and salt. Of course, you can play around with these ingredients to make something that works best for you. Add baking soda, vinegar, and salt to a pot of boiling water. Place your pipe in the water. Make sure you don’t cook your pipe. When your solution starts boiling, you’re gonna want to reduce it. The solution should loosen and remove the residue in about 10 minutes. If there’s any gunk left, you can scrub it off with a scrubber or pipe cleaner. We recommend giving your pipe a final rinse and dry. Then you’re good to go. Check out our video above to see a demonstration of this boiling method and 2 more!
More Green Cleaning with Lemon Juice
Say goodbye to the harsh chemicals in common cleaning solutions. You can clean your pipe with natural ingredients you already have at home. If you’ve got coarse salt and lemon juice on hand, try this method. Lemon juice can be substituted for isopropyl alcohol. It’s acidic enough to effectively get rid of resin and stains. Lemon juice and salt are also antibacterial and great for neutralizing odors. Simply shake up your accessories in the mixture of lemon juice and salt to strip away residue and gunk. With that and some rinses of boiling distilled water, you’ll get the most natural clean. Use a cloth and a pipe cleaner to wipe off the last bits of residue and you’re set for your next smoke sesh.
How to clean a pipe with olive oil
Yep, that’s right. You can even clean your pipe with olive oil. Even if you run out of other ingredients mentioned here, we’re betting you’ve always got olive oil or another plant-based oil in your pantry. While slathering your pipe in oil may sound counterproductive, it’s actually a great cleaning option. The resin will soak up the oil and that will soften it, making it easier to get off your pipe. Plant-based oils can also minimize the appearance of scratches.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CLEAN A CERAMIC PIPE?
If you’re a clean freak, you can clean your pipe after every use. But you don’t need to. We agree with Deon’s routine. She shared, “I do this process after 4-5 uses to help cut down any build up from plant matter.”
A FINAL SHINE
Once your pipe is fresh and clean, you also might want to buff it with a soft cloth. Is this step necessary? Not at all. But if you’re a perfectionist like us, buffing your pipe will leave it extra sparkly.
For more cannabis basics, check out how to grind cannabis with only the tools you can find in your kitchen.