Home How to
How to clean a bong: a step-by-step guide

How to clean a bong: a step-by-step guide

Table of contents

If you’ve ever smoked a bong you’ll know they can easily get dirty with all the tar and resin after lots of use. Cleaning your bong on a regular basis is essential to ensure you have a safe and pleasurable smoking experience. The good news is that cleaning your bong is easy.

What is a bong?

A bong, or a water pipe, is a popular method of smoking cannabis that involves a water-filled chamber that cools and filters the cannabis smoke before the user inhales. This allows for a much smoother toke and will get you high much more quickly than smoking a joint. Bongs can be used many times over; however, it is important that you clean them, as over time harmful bacteria and fungus can build up, posing a significant threat to your health.

Initially invented several thousand years ago in the Middle East for smoking tobacco, bongs have since become with weed smokers around the world.

How do bongs work?

A bong is typically made up of the following parts:

  • bowl
  • mouthpiece
  • stem
  • chamber

To use a bong, add water in the bottom and then fill the bowl with the dried cannabis of your choice. Then, light the cannabis, which will cause it to combust and the water to percolate. After this, inhale the smoke that thus travels up from the water through the chamber and stem.

This process allows for a large amount of cannabis to be ingested in one go, and the cannabis smoke is slightly filtered during the process, although not by much, which is why it is a popular smoking method.

How often should you clean your bong?

Ideally, bongs should be cleaned after every session, and the water should be replaced (Shutterstock)

Some people like to clean their bongs every day, and this is a good idea if they are being frequently used. However, if you prefer to clean them less frequently, then once a week is a good guideline. An indicator is if there is residue in the water, or if the water is brownish-green, then it is time to clean the bong. Ideally, you also change the water in the bong after every smoke session as well.

The best way to clean your bong

1. Rinse

Start by giving your bong a general rinse with warm water, filling it up and cleaning out old water to ensure large pieces of debris are removed.

2. Disassemble

Disassemble all the parts of your bong so each piece can be properly cleaned.

3. Clean the smaller parts

Put the moving parts, such as the mouthpiece and pipe, into a small resealable bag with your cleaner of choice and briefly shake. Allow them to soak for several minutes. If you have a ceramic or glass bong, make sure you are gentle when shaking, as these pieces can be very fragile.

4. Clean the bong

Meanwhile, fill the main chamber of your bong with cleaner, plug the holes, and give it a good shake. Ensure the cleaner covers all areas of the glass.

5. Spot clean

Take the smaller pieces out of the resealable bag, and use cotton buds or swabs to spot clean any stubborn places on both the smaller pieces (such as the mouthpiece) and the main chamber of the bong.

6. Rinse

Rinse away all the cleaning solution with clean water. Repeat the whole process if you feel your bong has not been sufficiently cleaned the first time.

What you need to clean a bong

The following products are some of the best cleaners for bongs.

1. Isopropyl alcohol and salt

Using isopropyl alcohol and salt as a DIY cleaning solution is a very effective method of cleaning a bong. The salt acts as an abrasive, and the alcohol fully sterilizes the bong, making it safe for future use. Make sure you are using at least 90% isopropyl alcohol to ensure the bong is properly sterilized.

2. Pre-made cleaners

If you would rather use a pre-made cleaner that is specially formulated for bong cleaning, then you have lots of options. Orange Chronic is a great and easy to use cleaner; Formula420 is a longstanding business that creates effective and powerful bong cleaning solutions.

3. Cotton buds

Make sure you are using high-quality cotton buds and swabs when cleaning your bong to make sure it is completely clean. These Crud Bud Dual Tip Cotton Buds have been made specifically for cleaning bongs.

4. Pipe cleaner

If you want something more heavy duty than a cotton bud, pipe cleaners are also available to assist you in scrubbing away the impurities. These Brightbay Pipe Cleaners have hard bristles to thoroughly clean the hard-to-reach places.

Why it’s important to clean your bong

Bongs left overnight may develop mold and fungi, which should be scrubbed cleaned before using again (Shutterstock)

Cleaning your bong regularly not only makes sure your bong always looks good, it can also protect your health and make sure that your weed tastes fresh.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Yvette Reyna, a training and education coordinator at California-based cannabis brand Wonderbrett, says that “everything we smoke goes into our body. Bacteria, mold, fungi, and viruses can quickly grow inside your bong overnight and cause respiratory problems down the line or even in your current state of health.”

If you do not clean your bong, you are putting your health at serious risk. Inhaling these bacteria and fungi into your lungs can cause potentially irreversible damage. For example, in 2017 a man developed necrotizing pneumonia after using a bong.  Doctors discovered that this was caused by inhaling bong water that was contaminated by bacteria, which caused severe damage to his lungs. 1

Dirty bong water can also grow mold inside the bong chamber. It is a well-known fact that inhaling mold is incredibly harmful to respiratory health, so you can only imagine how bad it is to have it inside your bong. Regular washing stops the mold from growing inside, protecting you and your health.

Also, smoking with a bong over time causes cannabis resin to build up inside the bong. This residue can cause the cannabis smoke to take on an unpleasant taste. Cleaning your bong regularly avoids this problem, protecting your health and allowing for a pleasant smoking experience.


  1. Kumar, Agni Nhirmal, Chun Ian Soo, Boon Hau Ng, Tidi Hassan, Andrea Yu-Lin Ban, and Roslina Abdul Manap. “Marijuana ‘Bong’ Pseudomonas Lung Infection: A Detrimental Recreational Experience.” Respirology Case Reports 6, no. 2 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1002/rcr2.293
Thanks for your feedback!

Sign up for bi-weekly updates, packed full of cannabis education, recipes, and tips. Your inbox will love it.