One of the less fun parts of smoking cannabis regularly is the moment when you have to clean the gear you’ve been using. Even if you’re not a frequent smoker, weed tends to produce sticky stains that build up very fast, and can be difficult to get rid of without the right approach. Keeping your gear clean on a regular basis is not just about looks, either – the dirtier it is, the harsher each hit is going to be. At some point the taste will become noticeably unpleasant, especially if you use that piece often.
Glass Pipes and Bongs
Glass pipes and bongs are the easiest to clean – although that quickly changes with more complex shapes that involve small twists and turns. Alcohol is key here – isopropyl alcohol, to be precise. If the piece is small enough, you can just soak it in alcohol, let it sit for a while, and then wipe it down and rinse with water a few times. For a bong, you might have to get deeper inside it with a brush, and if you have a more complex piece, you may need to invest in a more advanced brush. There are some made specifically for cleaning bongs, and you should stock up on a few different sizes if you have different pieces that you use regularly.
There is some discussion about the efficiency of lower-concentration alcohols compared to purer solutions. Around the Coronavirus pandemic, new research came out revealing that 70% alcohol is typically the sweet spot for disinfectants. Keep in mind that this might not necessarily apply to using alcohol for cleaning, because of the different mechanisms involved. Many experienced smokers will recommend that you stick to 90% alcohol and above, though this can come at a significant increase in the price, depending on where you buy it from.
Vaporizers are mostly subject to the same cleaning procedures as glass pieces, with some important notes. A vaporizer involves a lot of electric and electronic components, so make sure that it’s completely powered off before rubbing it with any liquids. Try to keep your cleaning to the actual smoking path – this should be clearly separated from the rest of the vaporizer’s internals in high-quality models.
You should absolutely not touch the heating element! Even if it looks charred, that’s normal for most designs. If your heating element is made of ceramic, touching it poses some health risks as you might disturb the material enough to make it shed tiny particles, which may then go into your lungs the next time you take a hit.
It’s a good idea to let your vaporizer run on an empty bowl for 10-15 minutes after cleaning it. This will allow it to properly evaporate any leftover alcohol in places that are hard to wipe down, and may additionally burn off some cannabis traces that were present on the inside.
While your grinder doesn’t get subjected to multiple layers of resin because you don’t use it for actual smoking, leaving it uncleaned for a long time can still cause problems. It will eventually start getting sticky and difficult to turn, and you may even get to a point where you can’t even open it after closing it once without using a screwdriver or a knife to pry it open! Alcohol works just as well here, and is usually the preferred solution.
But before you rub down the whole thing with an alcohol wipe, try to scrape it with a plastic tool. If your grinder is dirty, that’s usually quite a bit of cannabis that would go to waste if you just wiped it off. You’ll often collect enough for a full bowl, depending on your habits! Keep in mind that the weed you collect from your grinder might actually be more powerful than smoking it regularly, because the constant pressing and squeezing between the walls compresses it down, turning into something similar to hashish (but not quite the same). Sprinkle a little on your next bowl and enjoy the magic!
A rolling machine left uncleaned can eventually get stuck, and lead to issues like torn papers, wasted joints, and even the breakdown of the entire machine, if it’s made of plastic or something equally fragile. Keep it clean regularly, and pay special attention to the tiny spots between moving parts, like the rolling wheels. You may need to take your rolling machine apart to get everything out, but most good models on the market make that quite easy and may even have a special quick procedure for it.
Last but not least, something that many cannabis fans tend to ignore – the ashtray. Simply throwing out the ashes is not enough to keep your ashtray in a good condition in the long run. If you don’t give it a regular proper cleaning, nasty buildups are going to start forming on its walls, leading to unpleasant smells that can permeate the entire room. Washing it in the sink like a regular dish is often enough – though you shouldn’t run it through the dishwasher in most cases, as you risk clogging up its filters (and making your dishes smell nasty). If there are some more serious buildups, you can refer to our good old friend – you guessed it, alcohol. Give it a good wiping and let it air out until it’s nice and fresh again.
The more often you smoke, the more you’ll have to pay attention to the cleaning needs of the gear you’re using. With time, you’ll get better at this, and you’ll figure out some hacks that can simplify the process. Share your experience with others, too – you never know what you might learn from them!