Posted on November 28 2023
Don’t be that dude: The one that goes to a sesh and brings a piece of glass so grody with grime that the colors are muted and the taste is reminiscent of resiny hash and dirty gym socks. It’s gnarly, embarrassing, and easily avoidable - they’re just not difficult to clean up... So let's talk cleaning options! Heck, you don’t even get to use the “But I need to buy a cleaning product” as an excuse anymore, because this article has all four different, super duper easy DIY cleaning methods you can do at home.
And don’t worry, nothing I’m suggesting is all that caustic - we’re not using chemical cleaning solutions because although they often work to clean glass, you don’t exactly want to inhale any of that either. So everything here is with some easy to gather supplies that you likely have around your home… They’ll also do a fantastic job cleaning out your glass, ceramic or stainless steel (this guide is NOT for plastic).
After every sesh, give your glass a wipe down while it’s still warm from the lighter. Don’t leave any resin and ash before you put it away - scoop it out.. You can take a little paper towel and roll it into line, maybe even break out a pipe cleaner or two and brush down the dirtiest areas. If the resin is still warm, it’s easy to wipe away without too much effort.
This is a good “wind down” practice before putting away products, but we understand it’s hard to do just from being stoned to the bone and/or forgetting to do it in time… But if you stay on top of it, your pieces will look clean for MUCH longer.
Go to a clean sink and turn your hot water tap on high, pouring it directly through your piece. Of course, hot water often quickly means a hot piece of glass, so be careful not to burn yourself… You can use tongs or gloves to help make it easier… But just using hot water can remove a lot of gunk!
Even more effective, you can use your least favorite cooking pot (do not use anything fancy - it’s gonna be resinous afterwards and requires alcohol to clean it unless you designate a single “glass boiling pot”). Now, simply boil some water up, plop your piece inside gently, and leave it for 3-5 minutes. Use tongs to lift the pipe out carefully and pour water out a few times and watch all the resin leave fast. Fill and drain off the pipe many times until you’ve gotten rid of 90% of the build up.
Heck, with a small enough glass or ceramic piece (NOT metal!), you can even put it into a Pyrex or glass dish with water and boil it in the microwave for 4 minutes to do the same trick too. Hot water is hot water! Just use tongs to pull it out and rinse thoroughly. If there’s any stubborn spots left on there after a boil, you may need to use pipe cleaner or cotton tips to get in and manually scrape away the last of the gunk - do it while the glass is still warm for best results.
A quick water cleaning is also a good last step to do after any of the other following methods - just to make sure your pipe is fully cleaned with no residuals.
Bonus Alternative with Hot Water:
Presoak your glass first in a solution before putting it into hot water. Both cooking oil and dish soap act to soak into the grime and resin in your glass, loosening it up and helping to break it apart. So whatever you’ve got in excess at home - canola, corn, olive - as long as it’s a cooking oil in liquid form, it will work… And hopefully you have some dish soap too - which is probably better than oil.
And, uh, before you ask: No, you absolutely do not want to use cooking oil just so that afterwards you can try to make an edible. 🤢 It’s just one step above drinking the water after boiling a pipe… Gnarly. The oil is just an option.
Disassemble your piece as much as possible and pour between 1-6 teaspoons of oil or soap into each piece you’re cleaning out - depending on how big it is. You really don’t need too much, just enough to soak down the grimy parts. Then, shake the pieces vigorously to coat them or just carefully pour - just make sure it’s over everything.
Now just let the pieces sit for about 30 minutes to really soak. Rinse out thoroughly in the sink and be careful as your pieces will be slippery. Keep going and inspect the pieces quickly to make sure there’s no residue left on them and this will really level up your basic water cleaning!
Alcohol, whether we’re talking isopropyl or ethanol, works wonders. The stronger it is, the better it cleans. Especially combined with flakey salt, which doesn’t dissolve well in alcohol, you can clean your pieces very quickly with this method.
Pour a good amount of salt into your glass - enough to see a small pile. Then, you’ll add your alcohol slowly into the pipe. (For smaller pieces, use a plastic baggie to hold it all together but for larger ones you will want to cork or saran wrap any holes to make sure nothing leaks out.)
Seal your bag or plug the last hole on your piece and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. The salt and alcohol scrapes around the piece, removing resin and ash quickly. Set it down for 30 more seconds before picking it up and shaking for 30 more seconds. Most pipes should be very clean looking afterwards.
You will definitely want to rinse with water afterwards and possibly clean the mouthpieces if they’re at all sticky. Larger, dirtier pipes may need 2-3 washes with alcohol to clean it.
Pour off your leftover alcohol into a large glass jar while straining through a few layers of cheesecloth and label it. Add a little more clean alcohol if it’s still particularly dirty and you can now stretch out this alcohol to clean other pieces in the future. You can also use epsom salt instead of regular table start - as course as you can get it that will still fit inside your glass!
Lemon Juice and Rice
This should almost be a no brainer because there’s a reason so many cleaning products smell like citrus: Both the acidity and the natural essential terpenes and oils found in lemon juice are natural cleaners that can help dissolve stubborn resins and grease.
You can use fresh lemon juice or lemon juice concentrate from the supermarket for this project, your base is a mixture of hot water and lemon juice in a ratio of 1L of water gets 2-4 TBS of lemon juice. (We give a range because the grosser your glass has become, the higher your concentration of juice should be!)
Just like before, smaller pieces can go into a container or plastic baggie for soaking and you should plug-up larger water pipes and simply fill them up. Allow this solution to soak for 20 minutes. For less dirty pieces, the soak alone does a tremendous job at breaking up resin but for larger water pipes, caked with gunk, add raw, uncooked rice inside. You’ll use a ratio of 2:1 rice to the amount of lemon juice you used - so 2TBS worth of lemon juice means 4 TBS of rice.
Now take your hand to cover the top and shake well for ~2 minutes - the rice acts as a hard, rough surface to help break up the gunk. Do this quickly before pouring out everything - you don’t want rice to get soft inside and stick to any parts of your pipe. If needed, give it a fresh mix of hot water and lemon juice again - some truly gnarly glass can take multiple rinses.
As an added bonus, you can use a bit of lemon juice to keep your percolating water pipes clean for longer too. Simply mix in anywhere from a 2:1 to 1:1 ratio of water and lemon juice and this will prevent gunk from sticking to the walls of the glass for much longer… Plus the first few hits will have a lovely lemony scent - pair it with the right strain! After the first few hits though, it’s fairly neutral in flavor… But now it is less likely to smell like a hippy’s moldering sweatshirt after just a few uses - it’s a natural deodorizer!
Look, we know it’s a pain but come on, your smoking collection deserves to look nice! Not only did you sacrifice your hard earned money for some radical glass, you want to truly taste the flavor of your flowers and don’t want to be embarrassed to hand someone else your piece. .(Believe me, the jokes can be brutal. I once witnessed an OG try to share a toke at the Boston Freedom Rally and some Gen Z youngster said he didn’t want to know what the Korean War tasted like. 💀)
So just like your mama always told you to wear clean underwear because “ya never know,” so too should you keep your bubblers presentable… Because what if Snoop Dogg is in town and he wants to blaze with you? You gonna talk up your glorious homegrown flowers and then give him a browned-by-resin pipe that is almost guaranteed to flake dookie-lookin’ scooby snacks with each hit? Heeeeeell no.
Keep it clean!
How do we know so much about these subjects? This article was written by Kyle Hamilton. Kyle leads the Concierge Support team at Green Goddess Supply, makers of personal home grow systems, helping first-time growers to learn and be successful, including keeping things clean and proper use of smoking accessories!