Why should you regularly clean pieces?

Smokers everywhere might not always want to clean their pieces. But cleaning your piece can lead to better hits, reduce chance of clogs and kills bacteria that can collect inside your piece. Rest easy because in this post I will break down cleaning your piece, best practices given the type of piece you own and most importantly understanding that cleaning your piece must be a priority to safe and healthy smoking.

What you’ll need to clean?

Cleaning your piece may seem complicated or just added work, but the tools and materials needed to clean can be as simple as what’s lying around your house. Things you’ll need to clean:

  1. Rubbing Alcohol or 60% alcohol per volume (ever-clear, vodka, etc.)
  2. Kitchen salt 
  3. Electric tape 
  4. Que-tips or paper toweling
  5. A bowl or plastic bag 


cleaning supplies

Having these pieces will allow you to clean everything from a bowl to a banger, rig or bong. Regardless of what you are smoking out of these days cleaning a piece has never been easier and simpler. Let’s break down the main types of pieces and how to use the list of materials above.


A Bowl

A bowl is one of the easier pieces to clean. You only need three of the items from above. I would start by taping down your mouth piece with electrical tape. The bowl will only have two holes open the main bowl for material and the choke. Start by pouring some salt into your piece. A good amount should be about a tablespoon and a half, anymore than that and it will have a hard time dissolving in the alcohol and won’t properly breakdown the build up. After that pour alcohol in the bowl or choke, until it’s about half way full. From there tape up the remaining holes, this could be tough given the alcohol so use the paper towel to dry it off before taping it. 

From there you have to shake it, shake the piece for at least 5 minutes straight. This should take off all major build ups and get rid of the stuff in the middle chamber. From there take the piece and dump out the alcohol or recycle it into another jar and use again another time. After the piece is cleared of alcohol and salt rinse throughly with hot water and then allow to air dry before using to smoke again.


A Bong or Rig


How many times have you gone over to a friend or a buddies place to smoke, they hand you the piece and its covered debris, stained yellow and smells awful? If you have a piece you like to share with others around you, then you must clean it! If not for them at least for yourself and well being. Cleaning a bong or rig is simple but laborious, start by adding salt. The amount of salt is totally up to you, but I like to be at about 1/4 parts salt to alcohol. Once the salt is in, pour the alcohol in, the idea is that there is enough alcohol that as you shake it, it hits all parts of the piece. Tape off the mouthpiece and holes, shake the piece for about 5-7 minutes. 

After you are done shaking remove the tape from the holes. Rather then dump the liquid out like you did the bowl here you’ll leave the alcohol inside and grab either que-tips or paper towel. Get the que-tip or paper towel slightly wet with alcohol and begin inserting and scrubbing the nooks and crannys of the piece. This is your chance to scrub any chunks of wax or debris that may not have come off while you were shaking the piece. From there rinse the piece and let dry before using.



Banger or Bong Stem 


Typically these are made out of glass or quartz, they usually have a head where material or product goes and then that leads into a thin neck. With that in mind bangers and bong stems get heavily coated with crude and become really stubborn to clean. Unlike the other pieces we have learned how to clean, these guys are fragile and putting tape on them could likely lead to stress on the piece, chancing a crack. What I recommend is placing your pieces inside of plastic baggy or bowl of alcohol with salt. Let those sit for a few days, after that grab those que-tips or paper towel and use that to scrap or remove left over materiel. That should remove excess debris and because you allowed the piece to soak for a day or so, this should help remove yellowing.

Once you finish that, give it a good rinse and then let air dry. Honestly if its a banger that you are using I would say that you can just throw that back on your rig and set a torch to dry. If you still have solid material build I would recommend doing it 1-2 more times to help remove that last little bit of build up


Recap and other useful tips


The biggest takeaway is that cleaning your piece is important. If not for just the sake of cleanliness and sanitation, then for the safety of you and other smokers. You wouldn’t cook someone food and not properly cook the food to completion or use gross utensils. The same with smoking and since smoking is something that truly unites us as people and you wouldn’t want to ruin that with a dirty piece.

Cleaning your pieces is very easy and with the steps and break down provided above I hope to give anyone who smokes the comfortability to enjoy their pieces but also feel comfortable sharing pieces with others. The only other thing I could add to cleaning your pieces is stickiness. If for some reason your piece still has a tack to it or a bit sticky, I recommend taking whatever soap you have lying around and rubbing the piece down. Doing that usually breaks down those tacky/sticky points and with that your piece is clean and ready to smoke!  

Saxon Kotowski

Avid smoker and graduate from the School of The Art Institute Chicago. Here to bring news and education to all the smokers out there.

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