Two Effective Ways to Clean Your Water Pipe

Man cleaning mouthpiece of heady glass honeycomb-themed water pipe using cotton swab

Our online smoke shop team recently explained why it’s important to keep your water pipes clean. That leaves us with a glaring question – what’s the best way to clean them? We’ve put together a step-by step guide to two recommended bong-cleaning approaches.

First and foremost, hit the store to stock up on some basic products. You’ll need:

  • an abrasive product: coarse salt, baking soda, or rice
  • a cleaning solution: vinegar, rubbing alcohol or quality glass cleaner.
  • clean water and a basin (a large sink with a disposal will also work)
  • disposable latex gloves
  • For the first option only: cotton swabs, lemon juice, and sandwich-sized zipper baggies.

Before trying either of these options, we’d recommend putting your latex gloves on until the end of the cleaning process. This isn’t essential, but it’ll help to keep your fingers from reeking of old bongwater or cleaning products.


  1. Use warm water and soap to thoroughly pre-soak your bong for an hour or two. This will help to remove any caked-on residue from your piece. Use as little dish soap as possible to get the job done – otherwise, your piece will have a soapy taste for its next several uses.
  2. Add all of your water pipe’s small removal pieces to a plastic baggie.
  3. Slowly pour isopropyl alcohol into the baggie. Add just enough to ensure that all pieces are totally submerged. Gently shake the bag, holding it by the top to avoid it opening unintentionally.
  4. Leave your pieces inside the baggie for at least five minutes to soak.
  5. Open the baggie over your sink or basin. Drain the liquid from the baggie, using your hand to keep the small pieces from falling out of the baggie.
  6. Fill a small container with isopropyl alcohol. Then, dip a smaller piece into the isopropyl alcohol, and use a cotton swab to scrub any stuck-on resin or other debris from the inner portion of each smaller piece.
  7. To remove water stains from your piece’s interior, add some warm water and lemon juice to the base of your water piece, then cover the holes with your fingers and swish it around thoroughly. When finished, rinse out the piece’s interior for several minutes.

Man cleaning water pipe's removable mouthpiece in bathroom sink using Morton salt and cotton swabs


  1. Pour out any remaining bongwater and remove whatever spare herb, ash, or residue that you can.
  2. Rinse your bong out thoroughly with warm water to flush out any remaining stuck-on debris.
  3. Fill the bong approximately halfway with warm water.
  4. Remove any detachable components from your bong (like the mouthpiece or downstem). This will allow you to clean each individual piece more effectively, and minimize the chance of breaking anything in the process. Examine each piece for chips or cracks as you remove them – and replace anything that’s broken before you continue to use your water pipe.
  5. Add one of the abrasive products listed above (coarse salt, baking soda, or rice) and one of the cleaning solutions (vinegar, rubbing alcohol) to your water pipe’s base. Coarse salt and isopropyl alcohol are probably the best pairing for a deep internal cleansing. The stronger the isopropyl alcohol, the better – ideally find an option that’s ninety percent alcohol or more. You could also use quality glass cleaner on its own without the need for an abrasive component.
  6. Use your fingers to cover any open holes in your bong as well as possible to prevent a mess.
  7. Give your bong a vigorous shake. To maximize the effectiveness of your cleaning, keep shaking the piece for approximately five minutes.
  8. Pour the liquid from your bong into your sink or basin.
  9. Rinse the inside of your bong thoroughly with warm water. We’d recommend repeating this step several times to ensure that all of your cleaning agents have been completely removed from your water piper’s interior.

To clean smaller spots from the exterior of your water pipes, hand pipes, and other heady glass pieces, it’s also a great idea to keep a bottle of glass cleaner on hand. You can easily add a little to a paper towel or cloth, then gently scrub at the surface of your piece to remove residue.

As Benjamin Franklin famously quipped, a stitch in time saves nine. He may not have been talking about wiping down your bongs before they’re filthy, but the wisdom holds. Lightly cleaning your pieces regularly means they’ll last longer between more intensive cleanings.

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