Glass pipes are beautiful but they can get dirty rather quickly. It is even easy to see the dirt and grime that builds up, so keeping them clean is important. Cleaning your pipes can be very time consuming if you let them get really funky, but there are fast ways to clean your pipe in between major cleanings. These shortcuts will help cut your cleaning time down quickly for an ‘in betweener cleaner’.
Best Way to Clean a Glass Pipe in Minutes
What is the fastest way to clean your glass pipe? If you want to get your pipe super clean as fast as possible, it is important to clean it often. The longer you wait between cleanings, the longer it will take to get perfectly clean again.
Generally you would use a strong solvent, such as Isopropyl Alcohol, or Acetone. Isopropyl Alcohol will be much easier to get a hold of for most people, as well as cheaper than Acetone, so we recommend Isopropyl Alcohol.
You will want to get the highest % isopropyl you can find, it is usually available in 70, 91, and 99% concentrations. Isopropyl Alcohol is a strong solvent and will get to work dissolving the resin’s and grime that develop in your pipe after use quickly.
With any of these methods, be sure to rinse your pipe with clean water thoroughly before use to remove any residual cleaning products that may remain.
Cleaning Your Glass Pipe with Alcohol
As mentioned, one of the best ways to clean your pipe is with isopropyl alcohol. 70% is more common, but 91% is even better. You can find the 91% at Pharmacies as well as some grocery stores like Walmart or Safeway.
This eliminates grime but also disinfects the pipe to make it as good as new. First, get a strong Zip style bag like a Smelly Proof, or a Zip Lock, or be eco-conscious and re-use that bag from the dispensary. Then add enough alcohol to completely cover your pipe when it is in the bag.
Add a teaspoon of salt to the bag. The salt does not dissolve well in alcohol and acts as an abrasive to cut slits in the resin, allowing the alcohol to penetrate and dissolve the underlying oil and wax.
Add a few drops of a common dish detergent like Dawn. Allow your pipe to soak for a few minutes.
After the pipe has soaked, shake the bag gently to dislodge any dirt and grime that is on it. Remove the pipe from the bag and rinse thoroughly with hot water.
The solution you just made is 98% of the generic pipe cleaners on the market today. I keep my solution in a mason jar and use it at least five times before I dispose of it down the drain.
Cleaning Your Glass Pipe WITHOUT Alcohol
If you need to clean your glass pipe WITHOUT the use of Alcohol, it will be a little more difficult but there are several other methods you can use. A few of those methods include, Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Acetone, sometimes with salt as an abrasive agent.
Organic Cleaning with Vinegar
Another way to clean your glass pipe is to use vinegar. Add equal quantities of water and vinegar (Clear/White Vinegar is best because it has no other dissolved solids like Apple Cider Vinegar or Wine Vinegar) to a saucepan enough to cover your pipe.
Put it on low flame, and allow the water-vinegar mix to simmer on low for an hour. The water should be dark amber after it has simmered.
You can swish the water to help remove any large build-up and then rinse your glass pipe with hot water.
Cleaning with Baking Soda
You can use baking soda or even denture tablets to help clean resin or other substances from inside your handmade pipe.
First, add the baking soda or the tablets to the bowl of the pipe. Then, cover them with warm water and allow them to fizz for a bit.
After the baking soda has dissolved a bit, add some vinegar to help dislodge the residue further and to help make sure the pipe is squeaky clean. See FAQs below.
Cleaning with Hydrogen Peroxide
Cleaning with Hydrogen Peroxide is much the same as cleaning with Isopropyl Alcohol, but in this case you will be using Hydrogen Peroxide as your solvent.
Hydrogen Peroxide is a strong oxidizing agent, which produces rapid oxidation that can break down cell walls of any organic materials, including the ones in plant resins that may accumulate in your pipe.
You will once again want a plastic bag of some sort to hold your pipe, then add enough hydrogen peroxide to fully submerge the pipe.
Add a teaspoon or two of salt to the mix for a scrubbing agent, and then give it a shake. The hydrogen peroxide will oxidize the resins, breaking them down and loosening them from the walls of the pipe, and with a little shaking, the salt will scrub the remaining grime off leaving it floating in your solution.
You should be able to see when your pipe is fully clean, at which point it is important to rinse it with fresh water so as to remove any residual cleaning agents before use.
Cleaning Resin Off Your Pipe
When it comes to cleaning Resin off your pipe, all of these methods will work well. Resins are the main grime that will accumulate in your glass pipe.
Although some pipes like color changing silver and gold fumed pipes will change colors the more you use them due to the resin build up, it’s a good idea to clean them back to looking like new every once in a while for a cleaner, tastier smoking experience.
Routine quick cleans are the best way to help make sure that you are not going to spend hours doing a cleanse. These are just a few quick methods that will make your cleaning time easier and faster.
With any pipe, it is important that you take the time to make sure it stays clean and that you have found the right cleaning method for your type of glass pipe.
FAQ: ‘What if my pipe is too big to be cleaned in a Bag or a Saucepan’?
That is an important question! 50% or more of all bong breakage is during cleaning. This is why they call it the “shake and break” method.
If your glass water pipe has buildup, you can invest in a few tools to make cleaning a bit easier like; a cleaning plug, a keck clip to securely seal the plug in the reservoir of your bong, and finally a Buddy System internal scrubber.
If you don’t have access to any of these very helpful products and still need to know how to clean your bong, you can use the isopropyl alcohol and salt method, fill the water pipe part of the way up with isopropyl alcohol, and add about 1/5th that amount in salt into the tube.
Then you will need to cover the mouthpiece with your hand or a wadded up paper towel, as well as plug the joint or downstem with a plug or another paper towel. Make sure it is tight enough not to let any of the mixture out and proceed to shake it clean.
Be very careful when using this method, and if applicable to your piece, be sure to remove your downstem and bowl first and clean them separately in a bag just like the pipe method!
FAQ: ‘What about using powders like OxyClean and tablets like Efferdent to clean glass pipes?’
These commercially available cleaners are ok for quick clean only. Allowing OxyClean or Efferdent to soak overnight may cause etching of glass and/or calcium build up on percs. I should know, I lost a beautiful custom reverse axis wig wag top, twin section palm tree percolated Lux to OxyClean. Grrr…
FAQ: “What if my pipe or water pipe is REALLY dirty?”
If your pipe or water pipe hasn’t been cleaned in a very long time, don’t stress! It is still possible to get it back to nearly perfect with a little patience.
You will use the same method as the isopropyl and salt method, but you will need to shake it and then let it sit in an out of the way area. You can continue to do this and soak it in the mixture for a few days if necessary, shaking it every once in a while will speed up the process.
You may need to change the mixture out with fresh isopropyl as it absorbs the resin from the inside of your bong and loses its cleaning ability. When it is fully clean, rinse it thoroughly with water.
FAQ: “What if my pipe or water pipe looks cloudy after cleaning?”
This can be caused by residuals in your solvent that have stuck to the walls of the pipe. Generally a fresh rinse of isopropyl alcohol will take off this slight film and return it to its former shiny glory.