How to Clean a Smoking Pipe - The Best Way

There are many types of smoking pipes that require various cleaning methods. We break down the best ways to clean each type, with and without alcohol for metal, silicone, glass pipes and more.

by: Mathew H. | 10/04/19 1:30PM


Best Way to Clean a Pipe

Cleaning your pipe is essential for an ideal smoking session, but there are a lot of methods to choose from. Which method you end up choosing will be a mix of what is best for the material and kind of pipe you have, as well as your personal preference. The different ways to clean pipes include in-home solutions, specialty solutions, and even things as simple as boiling water or saltwater.


How to Clean a Glass Pipe

The kind of pipe that you are likely cleaning is going to be made out of glass, as they are the most popular kind of pipe. Being made of glass, you will want to be sure to handle the pipe with care so you do not break it. The following steps will help you carefully clean your glass pipe

  • You first need to get any loose pieces of material that may still be present in the pipe. Hold the pipe upside and gently tap it to allow large pieces to dislodge. Feel free to scrape the interior with a paperclip or similar object.
  • Now it is time to start cleaning. Put the pipe in a plastic bag or Tupperware container. In the Tupperware container or plastic bag, fill it with enough rubbing alcohol or other cleaner to completely submerge your glass pipe.
  • It is important to note you may be using a different cleaning agent than rubbing alcohol. If you are, just follow the steps the same way. They include retail cleaners like Formula 420 or home cleaning solutions like vinegar and baking soda.
  • After the alcohol has been put in, add salt. The alcohol acts as a cleaning disinfecting agent, but the salt will act as an abrasive, helping scrub your smoking pipe clean.
  • Once the alcohol and salt have been added, gently shake the bag or container. You can soak, come back and shake again, and repeat.
  • After it has been shaken up, allow the pipe to soak in the solution for several hours. If your pipe is especially dirty, you may need to soak overnight and repeat this process again.
  • To also help the cleaning process, after the pipe has been soaking for a while, you can again scrape the interiors and help loosen up any stubborn resin. And then drop it back down into the cleaning solution and let soak.
  • After the soaking, scraping and shaking is all complete, you need to thoroughly rinse all the solution off of your pipe. Hot water will work fine in this step. It is also recommended as it will help keep residue from sticking to the pipe as it is separated from the cleaner.
  • Finally, if there are any remaining spots that need to be cleaned, you can use q-tips or another cleaning tool to scrub them away. Keep hot water running over the pipe and scrape or wipe away any remaining resin. And as always, if you want or need to, you can always give the pipe a second soaking in a fresh batch of rubbing alcohol or 420 Cleaner.


Smoking Pipe Cleaners

You have a huge variety of options in choosing a cleaner for your pipes. As the above steps mentioned, rubbing alcohol and salt are easy options. If you like using in-home solutions, you can use vinegar and baking soda, where the vinegar acts as the cleaning and disinfecting agent and the baking soda creates bubbles, helping to scrub the pipe clean.

If you would prefer not to brew your own cleaning solution, or you want to make sure you do not damage your pipe in any way, retail cleaners are available. For example, 420 Cleaners is a popular retail cleaner that is available in an all-natural solution and can cater to the specific material your pipe is made from. For cleaning tools that are specifically made for pipe cleaning, scrappers and brushes are widely available that are designed to get into all the little tights spots that may present on a pipe.

How to Clean a Pipe Without Alcohol

As we have said, you do not have to use rubbing alcohol when cleaning a pipe. Vinegar and baking soda work incredibly well if you want to make your own solution at home. Retail cleaners, like 420 Cleaners, are also a great choice. If you prefer to do the entire process solution free, simply using boiling water can work as well, but be aware.


How to Clean a Glass Pipe with Boiling Water - Caution

The most efficient way to clean a glass pipe is with boiling water. However, just because this method is the most efficient way to remove resin does not mean it should be used with all glass pipes. Using boiling water comes with considerable risks.

For starters, you run the risk of severely burning yourself, either on the hot water, pipe or stove. Secondly, this is also the method that is most likely to damage a glass pipe. Especially if you have an old pipe, boiling water may stress the glass too much, causing it to shatter. If you remove it from the boiling water to an environment that is very cold, the sudden change in temperature can also cause a glass pipe to shatter. You should not use this method with older pipes or keepsake pipes. However, cheap glass pipes with stubborn stains and resins may be cleaned best with this method.


How to Clean a Silicone Pipe

Silicone pipes can be cleaned by following the same step-by-step process used for glass pipes, for the most part. However, silicone pipes offer a lot of advantages, especially those who are concerned about damaging their pipes – you can boil silicone bongs or pipes all day and can expect a super clean pipe at the end.

Silicone is generally a bendable, shatter-resistant material, which makes it an ideal material for those who have not handled pipes frequently. Many kinds of silicone pipes can be taken apart (unlike many once piece glass pipes), making it far easier to give the pipe a thorough clean. You will also find pipes that are a combination of glass and silicone, offering benefits of both materials.


How to Clean a Water Pipe

Water pipes can be found in all different kinds of materials, like glass, silicone, plastic, and more. However, water pipes and bubblers will also follow the general process of cleaning a glass pipe, though there will be differences. For example, if there is water present in the pipe, you will want to dump it out before cleaning. They also may need longer times to soak since the water used to filter smoke may have made created stubborn stains along the water mark area.

If you have a bong, your bong bowl will need special cleaning as well. Be sure to give it a proper soaking, the area around the water line and the downstem are most stubborn when it comes to getting them 100% clean.


How to Clean a Metal Pipe

Surprise! Metal pipes will also follow the same, general process as cleaning a glass pipe! There are a few extra things to consider with metal pipes when cleaning them. For example, you may find a filter screen with metal pipes, which is a component that needs to be thoroughly cleaned and soaked. Metal pipes may tend to build up thicker residue than other materials, so scrapping off as much as you can before soaking will go a long way. There are specialty scraper tools you can use, or even household objects like paper clips can often do the trick. And like silicone pipes, boiling water is a great option here as you do not have to worry about the metal cracking.


How to Clean a Tobacco Pipe

Tobacco pipes are generally going to be a bowl design and the cleaning process will be slightly different. For the most part, you will not be soaking tobacco pipes. Instead, you will make frequent use of pipe cleaners in both regular cleaning and occasional deep cleaning.

Running a pipe cleaner before every use of a tobacco pipe not only will improve your immediate smoke session but it can also reduce the frequency of needing to deep clean. However, when deep cleaning is necessary, dipping pipe cleaners in rubbing alcohol and running them through the pipe will do a great job of cleaning them. The mouthpiece of a tobacco pipe usually unscrews from the bowl allowing for easier cleaning of both. You will usually alternate between wet pipe cleaners and dry pipe cleaners to give your tobacco pipe the best clean.


How to Clean a Wooden Pipe

Most wooden pipes are meant for tobacco, so you will follow the same general process for wooden pipes as you would for tobacco pipes. Regular cleaning with a dry pipe cleaner is essential for the best experience. It may be difficult to know when a deeper cleaning is needed. A good rule of thumb is if your smoke starts to taste salty, it is time for a deep clean!

It is important to note that, with both wooden and tobacco pipes, to let them sit after deep cleanings. You need to allow the rubbing alcohol to dry and evaporate off or you may get a less than pleasant-tasting surprise when you smoke.

How to Clean a Glass Blunt Pipe

Glass blunt pipes, as with most pipes on this page, will follow the same general instructions for cleaning a typical glass pipe. However, unlike the other pipes, glass blunt pipes generally do not have tiny, hard to reach crevices or crannies. Because of that, not only can you soak your glass blunt pipe, but you can also use blunt wipes to give the inside of the pipe a thorough cleaning.

Where to Buy Smoking Pipes and Pipe Cleaners

Smoking pipes can be found at local head shops and smoke shops as well as online retailers. You can find them here at as well, where we offer free U.S. shipping with no minimum purchase. Our customer service can help you get into the perfect pipe!

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