I get asked how I organize my glass and smoking area, as well as what my favorite cleaners to use are quite often. There are a few important products that I always keep within reach to make my consuming experience as easy, smooth, and clean as possible. However, when it comes to a specific glass cleaner, it’s hard for me to choose just one. I’ve taken some time explain some pros & cons of a few of my favorite cleaners below. I hope that you enjoy reading this and that it leaves you feeling empowered to buy the product that’s best for you and your cleaning needs!
The first and one of the most important items I want to talk about are these little guys. They are the best for keeping glass consistently clean, especially on the go. I mostly use them to clean the inside of my bowls immediately after smoking. This prevents the resin from building up inside. I try not to do this every time I take a hit because I don’t want to use too many q-tips, but the difference in flavor is very noticeable when the slide is clean vs when it’s dirty. The flavor is better as well as less harsh compared to smoking out of a dirty bowl. This might be an extra step, but it is a great way to slow down the daily build-up of resin. This will keep your glass cleaner for a longer period of time, and enhance your consumer experience. I like plain old q-tip brand q-tips the most.
2. An Ash Catcher
An ash catcher is a piece of glass that has sits in the downstem between the bowl and bong to literally catch the ash that snaps through the bowl when you hit it. It is easily the best way to keep your bong cleaner when using it daily. Sometimes I only have to clean my ash catcher (instead of the entire bong) to get a “fresh” hit because it keeps the bong itself so clean! There are lots of different types of ash catchers. Most have space to hold a small amount of water in the bottom to help catch and keep the ash in the catcher when being sucked through. Be sure not to add too much water to an ash catcher or it can sometimes do the opposite and actually pull the water into the bong. I made this mistake many times before learning!
3. Poke-A-Bowl Ash Tray
We’ve all used a simple ashtray before. They’re not usually anything too special, but the Poke-A-Bowl ashtrays change all that. They have been one of my “can’t live without” products for over 3 years now, and when you use one you’ll see why.
The Poke-A-Bowl has a cover that is great for several reasons, the first being to seal the smoke inside when it’s still burning and dropping into the tray. The second is for traveling; it’s the perfect accessory to stick in the pocket of your bag or cup holder in your car because you won’t have to worry about spilling or being knocked over. I use the large black tray at home in my daily life and my pink square tray on the go! You can ask anyone who’s smoked with me, I always have my cute Poke-A-Bowl ashtray. There is also a little metal poker attached to the inside of the tray so that you can push the ash and resin out of your slide. Sometimes that poker gets resin built up on the tip (see photo) so I will take a small torch or even a lighter (not preferred) to get it warm and and wipe it off a dirty paper towel. I try not to burn the actual plastic part, but it does happen if I’m not careful! The bottom of the tray inside is also silicone so it’s "heat/fire-proof."
*This is not sponsored. I did receive my products for free but I genuinely love and use them daily. I included them in this blog for this reason*
4. Leather Poke
While this accessory is a little extra, it has absolutely become an essential item for me. These little guys are technically meant to poke holes in leather belts and whatnot, but they are perfect for cleaning the gunk in your bowl when it gets extra dirty.
It is a long metal poker with a pointy edge on one end and a round piece of wood on the other. The pointy part is perfect for pushing resin through or out of your bowl when it gets extra dirty. I almost require one of these when I go places because it’s so helpful and has become essential. I’ve even used mine for a variety of different things that aren’t related to cleaning my bowl because of how sharp and strong it is. That being said, it doesn’t come with a case of any sorts so it can be a bit dangerous floating around your bag or something, but it does fit well inside the Poke-A-Bowl ashtray which is great! I got mine on Amazon for $5.
5. When it comes to cleaning my actual bong, there are a few products that I consistently use. When shopping, I like to try new things as well as find the best products and bang for my buck. Therefore, price and availability are what help me decide on my current cleaner.
Isopropyl is finally back! When the COVID pandemic first hit, this couldn’t be found unless you knew someone. 70% iso is finally back on the shelves and not nearly expensive as other cleaners. I wouldn’t recommend using 70% iso without kosher or coarse salt because it doesn’t do the best job on its own. If you don’t have salt, warming the iso up for a few seconds in the microwave is not a bad idea to be efficient. I recommend 7-10 seconds with the microwave at half of its power level. If you do it too long or too high, it will explode resulting in waste and stink.
Pros- Can be found at most grocery and drug stores
Easy to rinse out compared to other cleaners
Cons- Takes a bit of work to really clean
Can sometimes leave glass cloudy
Stinks but goes away
90% Isopropyl is not something I’ve seen on shelves for over a year. I have found it at some of my local smoke shops and online, but it is very taxed. Fortunately, it works well so you can less of it than with 70%, but it’s still a decent price difference and not nearly as easy to find as 70% is. I don’t usually microwave 90% iso but I do like to mix it with salt to really scrub the stuff that is stuck to the inside of the glass.
Pros- Cleans very well
Easy to rinse out compared to other cleaners
Cons- Harder to find
A bit pricey now
Doesn’t leave the glass as sparkly/shiny as other cleaners do
Randy’s is a blue, acetone-based cleaner that has a large amount of salt to scrub the inside of your glass when cleaning. It is the official cleaner of Illadelph which means it is decently safe to use on glass with higher quality stickers. (Illadelph is a brand of high-quality glass made in Philadelphia)
I would not recommend using it on cheaper glass or even soaking nice glass in it, but I would for a quick clean to make things nice and shiny. It’s one of my favorites for how shiny it makes glass. Acetone as a cleaner is a bit controversial because it is known to be flammable as well as toxic when breathed in or swallowed. I have also been told that the formula is so strong, that it can break down the glass if used regularly. That being said, we should be rinsing our glass to the point where there isn’t any leftover residue in it, but sometimes sh*t happens.
Pros- Leaves glass really shiny
Can be usually be found at smoke shops
Cons- Smells VERY aggressive. Just like nail polish
A bit expensive (around $10 and a lot of the bottle is salt)
Takes quite a bit of rinsing to be fully cleaned out, tastes weird if not fully rinsed
Grunge off is a little bit newer of a cleaner to me but it is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I have been using it after I clean my bong with isopropyl alcohol and
am not satisfied with how clean it came out. It’s reusable so I do put it right back in the bottle since I’m using it on decently clean glass. My best friend uses hers directly on her dirty glass and puts it in a separate jar as to not mix the clean & dirty cleaner although she uses the dirty multiple times! I like the way grunge off smells and leaves my glass a lot. Plus they claim to use natural ingredients- we love that!
Pros- Leaves glass very sparkly/shiny
Natural ingredient base
Citrus smell is not very offensive
Cons- Not as commonly found as most cleaners
A bit expensive although you get a large bottle
Takes a bit of rinsing (not as much as randy’s through)
Simple Green is not something I would recommend using to clean your bong but rather soak your bowls in. It is an organic degreaser that can be found at Home Depot or Lowes. It’s great to fill a small dish with and soak bowls in because it really pulls the resin off. I will let my bowl sit in it next to the sink while I am cleaning my bongs and rinse everything off when I’m done. Obviously, the more dirty your glass is the longer it may need to soak so take that into account when doing so!
Washing Bowls: If you don’t have or want to use simple green, another option is to pour your dirty cleaner (whichever kind) into a small cup or dish (I use plastic with my glass) and leave your slide in it for a few minutes to soak the resin out. Sometimes I add warm water to my bong while it has the dirty cleaner (as I’m about to rinse it clean) and put it in the cup to create more product for the bowl to soak in entirely. You can wait a few minutes, an hour, or overnight depending on how dirty it is. Then run it under some warm water with a q-tip. Everything should come right out!
Washing Downstems- I personally recommend leaving the downstem inside of the bong while cleaning it so that it receives the same effort and shaking as the inside of the bong itself. I have made the mistake of letting my downstem fall out and smash into my sink doing this before. However, once I became conscious of that problem I started being very careful and leaving it in when shaking it with cleaner, and taking it out when I dump the cleaner out. (I have finally invested in clips to hold the stem connected to the bong and that has changed the entire game)
After rinsing the bong I will usually take a small plastic bristled straw into the downstem to pull out the resin stuck inside. These look like tiny bottle brushes and can be found at most shops. I wipe the brush with a paper towel and some iso to keep it clean, rinse everything, dry it off and put it back together.
It’s very important that all of your glass and joints are dry before you put them back together to smoke. If they are wet there is a chance that the water will make them get stuck when you go to use them and that is exactly how things break! I like using clean microfibers or paper towels to dry everything.
I hope that by the time you finish this article you feel more empowered about how to keep your glass clean, as well as when making the decision about what cleaning products to use. My goal is to educate you on ways to encourage to the normalization of cannabis so that we can break the negative stigma surrounding it and encourage more people to learn about what cannabis actually is and does. People who smoke weed are often thought of as dirty, smelly, lazy, and messy in general. By regularly cleaning our glass as well as keeping our smoking areas clean, organized, we are promoting cannabis as something to enhance our lives rather than disrupt it.
Let me know what you liked, didn’t like, agreed with, disagreed with, had different opinions about, and learned in this blog in the comments down below!
P.S. The more you clean, the easier it will get! I promise!