How to Clean a Bubbler Pipe – Unclogging and Sanitizing

January 03, 2019 Bubbler Pipes

How to Clean a Bubbler Pipe – Unclogging and Sanitizing

If you’re wondering how to clean a bubbler pipe, you may be relieved to learn it is a simple process. Unclogging a bubbler pipe involves the same principles, with just a few minor adjustments and extra steps. Here’s how you can clean and unclog your glass bubbler pipe so that you can enjoy it during your next session with your buddies.


For cleaning the pipe, you will need:

  • 90% isopropyl alcohol or stronger (use lower concentration for silicone bubbler pipes)
  • Fine-grain salt – both sea salt and table salt are effective
  • Ziplock bag
  • Elastic caps to plug the mouthpiece and the bowl
  • Q-tips
  • Pipe cleaners – You should get thick ones like those used for cleaning aquarium tubings. You can also braid together two small chenille pipe cleaners to clean the inside of your mouthpiece. You can usually find these at local craft or hobby stores.

Glass Bubbler Cleaning Process

  1. Take out all the ash from your bubbler and wash it with warm water. Let the water run throughout the piece, giving special attention to the stem of the mouthpiece.
  2. Pour the isopropyl alcohol and salt inside the bowl of the pipe. Tilt the bubbler so that the cleaning solution reaches the mouthpiece. You can also pour them through the hole of the mouthpiece if it’s large enough.
  3. Plug the mouthpiece and the bowl with the caps, or you can use tape or your fingers. Shake the bubbler for a few minutes so that the cleaning solution can loosen up the dirt. Make sure to get rid of any dirty water.
  4. Place the glass pipe inside the Ziplock bag and pour a generous amount of salt. Add isopropyl alcohol until the bubbler is completely submerged.
  5. Seal the bag and grip the bubbler securely. Hold the top of the bag with your other and shake it to distribute the solution deeper inside the bubbler.
  6. Soak it for about 30 minutes if there is quite a bit of resin. Use a Q-tip or a pipe cleaner soaked in alcohol to scrub off any residue. Be careful with this, especially when cleaning the delicate down-stem. Keep a firm pressure, but not too much or you might break the mouthpiece or down-stem.
  7. Rinse the pipe under hot running water to remove all traces of alcohol and salt. Continue scrubbing with Q-tips and pipe cleaners if necessary. Finish cleaning by drying with a cloth or paper towel
  8. *Optional* You can give your bubbler a final rinse of mineral warm water if you wish to avoid water stains.


bubbler pipe on sink with towels and cleaning agents

    Image Source: YouTube

Can I boil my bubbler to clean it?

You will see posts saying that you can boil your Sherlock bubblers to remove the stuck resin. You can boil your glass pieces, but be aware of the risks. You shorten the lifespan of your glass pieces through boiling, even if they are made of high-grade borosilicate glass. There’s also the risk of your pipe cracking and breaking due to high temperature if it’s made out of thin glass material. The biggest risk of breaking is due to thermal shock, so if you do decide to boil your bubbler, let it cool completely before adding water or prior to smoking.

How do you clean a bubbler with vinegar?

If you want to stray away from using isopropyl alcohol and prefer natural methods, then cleaning with vinegar is a good option. If you do decide to use vinegar, we recommend using raw apple cider vinegar for the best results. Here are the steps.

  1. Using a similar process as above, pour the raw apple cider vinegar inside the bowl of the bubbler. Tilt the bubbler so that the solution reaches the mouthpiece.
  2. Shake the glass pipe as you would with the normal cleaning method to remove the reside.
  3. Utilize q-tips and a pipe cleaner to clean the bowl and unclog the down-stem.
  4. Place the glass pipe inside the Ziplock bag adding the raw apple cider vinegar and a healthy amount of salt.
  5. Seal the bag and grip the bubbler securely. Hold the top of the bag with your other and shake it to distribute the solution deeper inside the bubbler.
  6. Soak it for anywhere between 30 minutes and 24 hours. A general rule is the dirtier the bubbler, the longer you want to let it soak.
  7. After this step, drain the vinegar in the sink.
  8. Finish with warm tap water to take away residue. Continue using q-tips if necessary.
  9. If you can still see resin and other remains in the bubbler, you can repeat the whole procedure.
  10. In order to avoid a “vinegary smell” in your bubbler, make sure to clean thoroughly with warm water.

If natural methods are what you are after, you can also try using lemon juice to help clean your glass pipes. Though it doesn’t work with glass pipes that are excessively dirty or caked with resin, the acidic qualities of the lemon juice aid in the process. Adding the use of salt also speeds up cleaning. Though not the most effective, using lemon juice on a regular basis will keep your glass pipe clean and ready for action.

Can you clean a bubbler with hydrogen peroxide?

This is a commonly asked question especially since hydrogen peroxide is sometimes seen as an alternative to alcohol. Hydrogen peroxide is also an ingredient that is commonly found in households across the world. You could repeat the above steps using hydrogen peroxide, though in our experience we have found that solution to be the least effective. Using hydrogen peroxide is better than using water alone, but we want to stress that using Alcohol is the easiest way to clean your bubbler. If you prefer a natural method, then we strongly recommend using raw apple cider vinegar as the next best option.

If you want to speed the process up, you can also use other glass cleaners like Grunge Off, Piece Water, and Formula 420 to soak and clean your glass pieces. These are formulated to cleanse your glass bubbler pipes without leaving any harmful residue. Don’t use any cleaning material that has hydrochloric acid and acetone in it. They create toxic fumes, especially when smoke mixes with it

How often should you clean a bubbler?

The best way to prevent a bubbler pipe from getting clogged is to do regular maintenance. Regular cleaning ensures the best possible smoking experience. Cleanup after a session or two will only take about 5-10 minutes — the cleaner your bubbler pipe, the lower the chance for the resin to stick and harden in it.

How often you should clean your bubbler is a difficult question to answer because it generally is on a case-by-case basis. There are several factors that go into how often you should clean your glass pipes such as how often it is used, by how many people it is used, and what is smoked out of it.

Personal preference also plays a role as some individuals prefer to only smoke out of clean and spotless pipes, while others are much less bothered by it. If your pipe keeps becoming clogged or if it is negatively affecting your smoke quality, then cleaning is certainly recommended.

Recommendations for cleaning vary from every few days to once every few weeks. Our suggestion for chronic and daily users is to set up a set schedule for the best experience. If you use your pipe daily, then making sure it is clean should be top on your priority list.

Things to consider:

The best way to clean a Sherlock bubbler easily is to do it after each use when the residue is still soft and pliable. However, make sure that your bubbler is at room temperature before doing so to prevent thermal shock.

When you clean a Sherlock bubbler, make sure to rinse off the alcohol thoroughly so you won’t taste it while using your bubbler. Keep rinsing until you don’t feel or smell the alcohol.

Pouring out used bubbler water also prevents molds from forming inside your bubbler. Molds can also grow from stuck resin if you live in a cold, damp place. Prevent droplet marks by using filtered water in every smoking sesh. Doing the final rinse with filtered water can also help avoid water stains from forming inside your hammer bubbler.

No matter what method you choose, adding salt to the process will ensure your glass pipe comes out clean.

Do you have any special techniques that you use for cleaning your clogged bubbler pipe? Share them in the comment section below! You might also ask how to use a bubbler pipe!


One Response to “How to Clean a Bubbler Pipe – Unclogging and Sanitizing”

  1. […] small size and openings of a bubbler make it harder to clean than a bong. It also tends to get dirtier faster, since you’re dealing […]

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