Five Great Ways to Clean Your Grinder

Woman holding spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol and clean cloth in kitchen of home

There are so many reasons for herb smokers to love grinders. As our smoke shop team outlined in an earlier guide to grinders, a quality grinder can keep you from wasting your time, money and flower. However, a dirty grinder doesn’t do you many favors. Whether you’re a wake-and-bake stoner or purely a social smoker, your grinder can become dirty and clogged in the blink of an eye, and their one-of-a-kind form can make them unusually tricky to clean. Thankfully, our online smoke shop team has put together a few tips on the best ways to clean your grinder, so you can get back to your smoking session sooner with a clog-free grinder and an equally clear head.

Whatever You Do, Save the Scraps First

Before you begin soaking and scrubbing your favorite grinder, try to salvage any kief or flower that’s remaining in its interior. This may seem like a fool’s errand, but trust us – there could be more usable flower lurking inside than you realize. To do this, take apart your grinder. We’d recommend doing so while holding the grinder just above a clean plate or tray. Firmly tap each individual component repeatedly over the plate to jar any stuck contents loose. Next, use a tool to scrape out anything left inside. Don’t use a metal tool unless you want to scratch the inner surface – try a plastic one instead. A small, bristled brush is a great choice to scrub the grinder’s teeth clean (like you’d use on your human ones). Add whatever’s salvagable from the plate to a bowl to treat yourself for a job well done.

Once you’ve saved everything usable from your dirty grinder, its time to get down to business. The following cleaning methods are all effective ways to bring your dirty grinder back to its former state of freshness.

Option One: Boiling Water

Fill a small saucepan with several cups of water – enough to fully submerge each individual part of your metal grinder. Bring the water to a boil, and then add each piece of your grinder. If you have a dirty glass chillum or other small glass hand pipe (and enough water to cover them, too) feel free to add either to the pot to clean. Leave the contents to boil for at least ten minutes, staying close throughout the process and adjusting the temperature as needed to prevent overflow or other issues. Stiffened, stuck-on resin won’t dissolve in hot water (unlike isopropyl alcohol), but the boiling process will make the residue soft enough to wipe it from the piece(s) with ease afterwards. As an added plus, this process effectively eliminates any lingering bacteria on your grinder and pipes – which is especially handy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Option Two: Isopropyl Alcohol

If your grinder is made of metal, soaking the piece in isopropyl alcohol is a highly effective way to clean it. Don’t have any? Hit your local corner store, pharmacy, or go-to grocery giant – you’re almost certain to find small bottles stocked regularly at all three. Fully submerge the individual parts of your grinder in a container of isopropyl alcohol for an hour or more (the longer you soak the components, the more thorough the clean, but we get that you may be in a hurry to get back to the grind). The alcohol will be clear at the start of the cleaning process, and it’ll slowly gain an amber hue as it soaks up the resin residue.

After the grinder’s parts are finished soaking, remove each one from the isopropyl alcohol and lay each of them to dry on a paper towel or clean cloth. Once the solution has fully evaporated, simply reassemble the pieces and you’ll have a squeaky-clean grinder, good as new and ready for use.

Option Three: Boiling Milk

We’re not kidding – boiling your grinder’s components in milk is one effective way to clean them. Since hemp is liposoluable, it can be dissolved in fats found in milk or similar liquids. Start this cleaning method by thoroughly rinsing the piece’s exterior with water. Then, fill a small saucepan with enough milk to submerge each component of your grinder. Bring the milk to a boil, then add every piece of your grinder and lower the temperature to a low heat. Let the contents soak for approximately fifteen minutes, then remove the grinder’s components with a clean spoon and rinse each with water before reassembling the piece. By this point, the resin from your grinder’s interior should be fully dissolved into the milk – leaving an herb-infused beverage to enjoy as a result.

Option Four: Cola

Anyone who’s left a rusty penny or a freshly-fallen baby tooth in a bowl of cola knows that the delicious drink doubles as a surprisingly effective cleaning solution. Grinders made of any material (except wood) can be fully submerged in cola piece by piece for an hour or so – and come out afterwards looking fresh as new. Like the milk-cleaning method, we’d advise that you rinse the pieces with water afterwards and leave them to dry on a clean cloth. Unlike the milk cleaning method, you’ll have to dump the cola afterwards – but the cola-cleaning option itself is still a pretty cool one.

Option Five: Freezer Air

You may have noticed that wood grinders can’t be cleaned with any of the methods outlined above, or that cola’s the only option described so far for cleaning plastic grinders. One way to help remove residue from grinders of every material is by placing the piece’s disassembled components inside your freezer. Leaving them inside for a half hour should be sufficient, but there’s no harm in letting them chill for a few hours – or even a few days. The icy-cold temperatures makes even the most stubborn, stuck-on residue much easier to wipe away with a clean, damp cloth afterwards. Just rinse and reassemble your grinder when finished and it’ll be ready for use.

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