Nobody wants to look at, or use for that matter, a bong covered in dark resin with cloudy water. And nobody wants to take a rip and be met with a completely clogged downstem. Taking apart all the pieces and deep cleaning them individually every time your bong shows some wear can be a pain, but there are some preventative measures you can take to slow down grime build. For those who like to keep their bong on display, and even for those who prefer to be more reserved, it is important to keep your glass clean.
Refresh Your Bong Water and Prevent Water Spots
This is one of the most crucial parts of maintaining a clean bong. Bong water can easily grow mold in as little as just a few days, and not only is that down right gross and awful to inhale, but mold also leaves stains on your glass that are almost impossible to remove. Ash in bong water can also adhere to the resin and cause build up on the sides of your glass much quicker. Dirty bong water also smells awful, and if spilt can permanently ruin fabric or furniture.
When discarding your bong water, never dumb it out through the top hole where your mouth goes. This can cause resin and bacteria to collect at the top as well as leave water stains all over the inside of your glass. Instead, always remove your downstem and pour it through the gooseneck (smaller hole where the downstem goes).
Ideally you should be changing your bong water every day, but never let it sit for more than three days. After you dump out the used water, refill with warm water a couple times and swish it around before replacing with new water. Using filtered water will prevent cloudy water stains and spots from appearing on your glass, which are next to impossible to remove. Adding a few drops of lemon juice to new bong water will also slow the growth of mold and help with the foul smell.
Glass Add-Ons & Bowl Pieces
Many smoke shops sell glass add-on pieces to slow the process of dirtying your bong. Ash-catchers are an attachment that is placed between the bowl piece and the downstem to prevent any ash from the bowl piece reaching your actual bong water. While this will change the function of the bong a bit, it is one of the best attachments to maintain a clean bong for longer.
There are also bowl pieces that have a sort of glass crosshatch "screen" in them to prevent ash from your bowl from getting into the downstem. While this will prevent you from snapping your rips all the way through the bowl piece, it does leave a much cleaner downstem and cleaner bong water and does not really change the function of the bong itself.
Proper Deep Cleaning (And Quick Cheats)
When the time does unfortunately come when your bong requires something a bit stronger than daily maintenance, there are ways to make deep cleaning not so much of a hassle. When it comes to materials, all smoke shops will sell specific bong cleaner that has some form of salt like solid to "scrub" the glass (recommendations below). I have found these work better and much faster than the old-school salt and rubbing alcohol method, but if you’re in a rush that will work just as well. Other tools that makes bong cleaning so much easier are bottle brushes or brushes used to clean reusable straws.
One thing I have found is a clean downstem means a clean bong, so sometimes when I feel my downstem is starting to get a bit nasty but my bong looks okay, I will remove my downstem and bowl piece and just clean those with bong cleaner in zip lock bags (shake bag aggressively until cleaner turns dark and opaque) and scrubbing with bottle brushes. This makes my bong stay crystal clear much longer and only takes a few minutes.
When your bong does need a full deep clean, remove the downstem and pour your water out, and then rinse it out a few times to get all remaining ash out. Pour your bong cleaner of choice (or rubbing alcohol and coarse salt) into your bong and tightly seal off the openings with plastic wrap or plastic bags and rubber bands. Shake your bong up and down and swish the cleaner inside to completely coat the inside of your glass. Use the solid particulate to scrub the resin off the sides. Once your glass is clean, dump out the dirty cleaner and rinse the entire inside of the glass at least three times before filling with new water. Many bong cleaners have a very strong odor, so once you can't smell it in your glass anymore you should be good to go.
Bong Cleaner Recommendations (from personal use)
• Orange Chronic: works insanely quick and is extremely effective, and also has a nice orange scent to mask the bong smell. ($12-$15) my personal favorite
• Randy’s Black Label: a classic bong cleaner, and known as the cleaner for illadelph, works great for getting tough resin. ($7-$10)
• Resinate Green Cleaning Solution: earth friendly and alcohol-free with biodegradable granules, and is very fast acting. ($10-$15)
Cleaning solutions can be found at any smoke shop or purchased online from their direct websites or from third party sellers. Accessories such as cleaning magnets, coarse pipe cleaners, and other gadgets to make the process easier can also be found online or often at your local smoke shop.