How To Clean A Water Pipe

Finding out how to clean a water pipe is pretty important as keeping it clean plays an important role in extending its lifespan.

It also ensures that there are no changes with the flavour of the vapour released from the water pipe.

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Why Clean A Water Pipe?

Cleaning a water pipe is important not just for it to be aesthetically pleasing but also for health reasons.

As water can filter smoke, it collects ash, the grime and the resin from the stagnant water which builds up.

This leads to unwanted flavours and also an exposure to hazardous products which should not be inhaled.

A nice smoking experience definitely turns into a bad one with a dirty water pipe. Usually too, when using water pipes, it is normally with close friends where you smoke and pass and everyone uses from mouth to mouth. No one loves germs so it is important to have a clean water pipe.

What Do You Need To Clean A Water Pipe?

  • Solvent (Isopropyl alcohol)
  • Exfoliant (Coarse salt)
  • Distilled Water


There a whole lot of products and methods that are used to clean a water pipe but the best method still remains isopropyl alcohol.

This is an efficient method as no flavours are left behind and no harmful chemicals are noticed at the end of cleaning.

99% pure Isopropyl alcohol is best as the purer the alcohol, the more successful it would be to break down resins. There would also be no oil traces left with Isopropyl alcohol.

Isopropyl alcohol absorbs moisture which reduces the chance of your water pipe developing harmful bacteria. It also evaporates very quickly so there wouldn’t be any materials on your water pipe.


It is necessary that an exfoliant is a key part of the water pipe cleaning process as it helps to remove grime and polish the glass.

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Some materials like plants, for example, are difficult to clean from your water pipe.

When some of these materials get into your water pipe, they could be covered in layers of resin which makes it difficult for them to be removed.

The exfoliant here provides friction like a sand paper to remove these particles.

There are quite a number of exfoliants one could use but coarse salt is best preferred as it efficiently removes sticky substances.

The coarser the salt is, the better, as it would easily remove even the stickiest of substances.

The reason for the choice of coarse salt involves the nature of the salt itself on a molecular level.

The salt compound sodium chloride dissolves quickly in water. And the quicker this compound dissolves, the less effective it would be in removing grime.

Coarse salts, on the other hand, dissolve slower. This makes it possible for grime to be removed from the water pipe just before the salt completely dissolves.

Distilled Water

It is a WATER pipe so obviously water is very important. Water is not just used for filling the pipe though, it is also used for rinsing the pipe before and after cleaning.

You can use any water but distilled water is best. Distilled water is suitable for cleaning as it is usually free of impurities.

Tap water can do the job of rinsing debris off your water pipe but then they contain a large number of minerals.

Filters can be used but then again, some filters often help breed bacteria and I am sure you would not want that on your water pipe.

How To Clean A Water Pipe

There are different ways to clean a water pipe but the method below is a systematic way of cleaning a water pipe


It is important to remove any pieces that are not fixed on the water pipe so as to avoid accidently breaking any items.

Mistakes happen every time so it is best to avoid them. These items have to be cleaned separately so they should be placed in separate sealable bags to clean them.

To clean these items, you can follow this same procedure only to put them in smaller bags.

Empty Water

Even though water is what filters the smoke in the pipe, it also plays a part in the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. Due to this, make sure you empty your water after use or maybe at the end of the day.

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Removing and replacing water regularly helps for a much cleaner water pipe. You would be amazed with the difference it would make.


Rinsing is a good way to start cleaning your water pipe. It could even be the only thing you would need to do to clean your water pipe if it is soiled lightly.

For the initial rinse, tap water can be used as the Isopropyl alcohol would clean any dirt on the tap. After that use distilled water at the final stage.

Put enough warm water in the pipe to fill it up. You can either heat up your distilled water or use the hottest water gotten from your tap.

Then carefully stir up or shake the water pipe as much as you can. This would remove any resin or residue left. Be careful here as your hands would be slippery and the water pipe could fall off.

Add Isopropyl

Before you start using this solvent, make sure the environment is safe and suitable.  Ensure it is well ventilated too. Isopropyl alcohol is inflammable so avoid lighting up for any reason.

The amount of Isopropyl alcohol that is added to the water pipe depends on the quantity of water the water pipe holds. Note that the purer the isopropyl alcohol the less you would have to use.

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Add salt

After your solvent has been added to the water pipe, the next thing is the exfoliant.

The exfoliant is used to polish away the residue. Add a good quantity of salt to the alcohol mixture in the pipe.

Like the Isopropyl alcohol, the amount of salt that would be added depends on the volume of the water pipe.

Do not forget that some of the salt would dissolve in the alcohol so it is important to add wisely.

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You would want just enough to remove any residue on the water pipe.

Cover The Stem And Tube Of Your water pipe

To ensure there is no spillage of both the solvent and exfoliant, make sure you cover up the stem and tube of your water pipe.

There are quite a number of ways to do this. A wine cork can be used gently in the stem while your hands cover the tube.

Paper towels and plastic wraps can also be used and held in place with rubber bands.

Shake Vigorously (But Carefully)

Well now it is time to put the solution and exfoliant to work. Shake away the grime while being very careful not to allow your water pipe slip from your hands.

Depending on what you want to remove from your water pipe, you could shake for quite a while.

After 10-15 minutes of serious shaking, if there is still grime, it is recommended you let the Isopropyl alcohol soak for a few hours.

Final Rinse

At this point your water pipe should be as good as new. Now it is time to remove your cleaning solution so as to get your water pipe ready for use.

Ensure the removal of whatever you used to cover the stem of the tube from spilling.

Pour away the rock salt and Isopropyl alcohol combination into the sink. At this point distilled water becomes important.

The purity of this water would prevent your tube from getting cloudy. Tap water may be used but you might have to use a cotton wipe to polish the water pipe when it is dry.

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Possible Dangers Of A Dirty Water Pipe

Bacteria thrives in warm, moist environments and a dirty pipe would provide these conditions.

It is harmful and can cause illness or even respiratory infections. A clean water pipe keeps you safe and frees you from unnecessary health risks.

When To Clean A Water Pipe

The rate at which you clean your pie really depends on how often you use it. However, there are some very clear signs which would signify a need to clean. These signs include:

  • Bad smells
  • Dirty water
  • Resin in the body of the water pipe
  • Bad taste
  • Water residue along the fill line
  • Film like residue on the inside
  • Specks that start to appear on the walls of the pipe

If you notice any of these things it is best you clean the water pipe. The earlier you notice and clean the pipe, the better for you in every possible way.

No one really ever had any complaints with using the cleanest water pipe if you know what I mean.

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