3 Clutch Ways to Clean Your Glass Pipe

August 10, 2016

You have your favorite glass piece, but inevitably, it develops resin and other nasty residue. Most people don’t like a dirty pipe or bong. Worse, a dirty glass piece just doesn’t work as well as when it’s perfectly clean. So here are three clutch methods to clean your glass pipe:

Method One: The Salt & Alcohol Method

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Most of the supplies you can find either laying around your house, or you can pick up at the drug or hardware store.

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • A bottle of rubbing alcohol (90% isopropyl is more effective than a watered-down 71% solution)
  • Salt: Kosher, epsom or sea salt
  • A plastic sandwich bag
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Cotton swabs and/or q-tips

Step 2: De-Gunk Your Piece

Next, you’ll need to remove any loose particles from your piece. You can do this by running the dirty glass piece through hot water and/or holding it upside and gently tapping. You can use a pipe cleaner or a paperclip to dislodge much of the resin. Be gentle — even in the tough spots — so that you don’t break it. Don’t worry about getting everything as you’ll loosen the harder spots when you soak.

Step 3: Place Your Piece in a Ziploc Bag

Fill your ziploc bag with rubbing alcohol, and then place your piece in ensuring it is totally submerged. The alcohol will break down all the resin and tar so that you can more easily remove stains.

Step 4: Add Salt

Generously add salt to the mixture. Salt acts as a mild abrasive allowing you to scrub off the residual particles. It will also help you reach place with a brush or sponge that would normally be difficult to reach. Everyone has a different preference for what kind of salt they like to use. I prefer kosher salt.

Step 5: Seal Bag, and Shake Rapidly

Seal the bag and shake the pipe in the bag until you’ve worked in the salt to all parts of your piece. Do this for a solid 90 seconds to two minutes (or until visibly clean). You can try putting your hands in the bag and using your fingers to close off the openings of the pipe, allowing you shake the mixture inside the chamber.

Step 6: Pour Out, Rinse & Repeat

By this point, the solution will appear dark brown (and nasty). Pour it out and refill the bag with alcohol once more, repeating Step 5.  Make sure you run your piece under water to remove any loose remains and remnants from the salt and alcohol. For extra dirty pipes, you may want to soak for several hours or overnight.

When you’re finished, do a final rinse with hot water. Be sure to discard the old solution in the toilet rather than a sink as it will likely not smell particularly nice.

Step 7: Buff Up Your Piece With Q-Tips or Cotton

You may or may not need to do this step depending on how much of a perfectionist you are. But, you can use q-tips and a little bit of alcohol to clean any leftover residue.


  • If there are watermarks, you can soak your pipe in a solution of warm water and lemon juice for 15 to 20 minutes and that should remove those pesky spots.
  • You can also freeze your piece to remove hardened buildups
  • If the piece you want to clean is a glass bong, the steps are virtually the same, but instead of submerging in a ziploc, you fill up your bong with the solution and shake vigorously.

Method 2 — Use Alternative Cleaning Solutions

Follow the same steps you would with the alcohol and salt method, but use your preferred solution instead. Also, you may want to freeze your glass piece first to allow the resin to harden which will allow you to dislodge easier.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Salt and vinegar
  • Baking soda and vinegar
  • Simple Green
  • Sand and water
  • 2-3 denture tablets

Method 3 — Use Boiling Water

If you don’t want to use the “salt & alcohol method” or another solution, you can use boiling water. The steps are virtually the same, but with a few notable exceptions:

Obviously, you won’t use a ziploc bag. Instead, bring water to a boil, reduce to simmer, and add your piece to the water.

Allow your pipe to soak for approximately 30 minutes, or an hour for dirtier pipes. After you’ve soaked it, remove from the water. Caution: When you remove the pipe it will be HOT! So make sure to use mittens!!

To remove residual particles, use a pipe cleaner or cotton swab. If there are still water stains, you can soak in a solution of two to three tablespoons of lemon juice. After you remove, allow to air dry.

Final Tips

Rather than wait months to clean your favorite piece, it’s much easier if you make it a regular habit to do a quick cleaning once a week. It takes no more than five minutes, but it will keep your piece in great condition, looking good, and allow you to avoid having to do more difficult cleanings. All you need to do is quickly rinse and soak the piece in a little alcohol or hot water solution, and you’ll ensure your favorite piece stays in great condition!

Who doesn’t love a shiny, sparkly, piece?


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