How To Clean A Dab Rig: Everything You Need To Know

how to clean a dab rig with a cotton swab

At Honest Marijuana, we love to dab (the cannabis concentrate, not the gesture from a few years back), and it didn’t take us long to master the process. What did take us a while to get the hang of was learning how to clean a dab rig correctly.

Dab rigs, like bongs, can get notoriously dirty after just a few smokes. The cannabis resin that builds up inside the glass is a tarry mess and can be extremely difficult to remove if left too long.

We’ve even heard stories of dabbers using harsh chemicals like carburetor cleaner to get the resin out (don’t do that). These caustic substances can leave behind trace amounts of residue that can be toxic when heated.

All you really need is a few natural ingredients and a bit of elbow grease to get the job done.

In this article, we reveal what those natural ingredients are and discuss everything you need to know about how to clean a dab rig.

How To Clean A Dab Rig

pipe with a dab rig on a beach


  • Hot water

    Isopropyl/rubbing alcohol (the higher the percentage the better)


    Hand towels

    Cotton balls


    Small sealable plastic baggies or food storage containers with lids

    Bottle brush or pipe cleaners (optional)


1) Dump Out The Dirty Dab Water

The first step in learning how to clean a dab rig is to dump out the dirty dab water.

You’d think this would be a given and not worth mentioning, but we’ve seen plenty of dabbers forget this simplest of steps and wind up with a lap full of dab water.

Don’t set yourself up for failure. Always dump the dab water first.

2) Disassemble The Dab Rig

The next step in learning how to clean a dab rig is to take everything apart. Separate the nail or the banger from the rig itself. If you’ve got a carb cap or a converter, remove that too.

If your rig has any other movable or removable parts, you guessed it, you need to take those apart as well.

At the end of the process, your dab rig will be completely disassembled.

3) Rinse All The Parts In Hot Water

how to clean a dab rig with hot water

Hot running water is a great way to start the cleaning process. It dislodges the surface resin that builds up over time and starts to dissolve the bonds that bind the gunk in place.

Get the water as hot as you can tolerate and consider wearing dish-washing gloves (those ugly yellow things). The gloves allow you to make the water hotter which turbo-charges the process.

If you think about it while you’re rinsing, fill from the top and empty from the stem opening. This will minimize the chances of the loose residue getting caught anywhere else.

4) Put Each Loose Piece In Its Own Container

This step in our guide on how to clean a dab rig requires that you put each loose piece in its own container.

It doesn’t matter if you use sealable sandwich bags or food storage containers as long as you can seal them.

And, no, you don’t have to put the bulk of the dab rig itself (the water chamber and neck) in a sandwich bag or closable container. We’ll wash that by hand in a later step.

5) Add Natural Cleaning Agents

how to clean a dab rig with rice

After you’ve got each loose piece in its own baggie or container, pour in at least ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol along with at least one tablespoon of salt.

For larger pieces, go with ½ cup rubbing alcohol and two tablespoons of salt. The proportions aren’t really important, just so that both ingredients are there.

Why alcohol and salt?

Rubbing alcohol is mildly acidic which helps to break down the sticky resin that builds up inside the bong.

Salt is an abrasive that works in concert with the acid to add scrubbing power to the solution.

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, you can use vinegar (another mild acid). If you don’t have salt, you can use rice to help scrub the dab rig clean.

If you choose to use rice, don’t let it sit too long in the alcohol (or vinegar) because it will start to absorb the liquid and soften. If it gets too soft, it won’t be abrasive enough to do any good.

And if you do decide to use rice, don’t eat it no matter how hungry you get. Those pesky (or awesome) munchies can make you eat some really weird stuff. Resist the urge to make stir fry with the rice you use to clean your dab rig…no matter how delicious it looks.

6) Shake It, Baby

Next, seal the baggies or put lids on the containers and shake them vigorously. This moves the alcohol and the salt through all the tiny curves and crevices and breaks up the ganja resin that’s gathered there.

When you think you’ve shaken enough, shake more. Depending on how dirty your rig is, you may need to do this for at least five minutes to really dislodge the sticky mess.

If you’ve added enough alcohol to completely cover each piece, you can let them soak for 10 to 15 minutes, and then come back and shake some more. This is especially useful if you’ve built up layer upon layer of rig resin from years of use.

Once the small pieces are clean to your satisfaction, set them aside (still soaking in their baggies), and turn your attention to the main event: how to clean the dab rig itself.

7) Pour Salt And Alcohol Into The Rig

how to clean a dab rig with salt

Add at least two tablespoons of salt into your glass pipe; three would be better. Depending on the size of the rig you’re using, you may want to add four or five.

However much you add, keep in mind that salt dissolves in liquids, so put enough salt in the water chamber that some stays out of solution (not dissolved). This helps increase the abrasiveness of the solution you’re making and removes more of the gunk from the glass.

Next, pour at least ½ cup of rubbing alcohol into your dab rig. Again, depending on the size of the pipe itself, you may need to add more. Don’t worry about the ratio of salt to alcohol. It really doesn’t make any difference as long as there’s enough of both to get a good swishing going.

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, use vinegar. If you don’t have salt, use rice.

8) Plug The Holes And Shake

Though this sounds vaguely dirty, it’s one of the most important steps in the whole process of learning how to clean a dab rig.

Using hand towels, plug all the holes in the glass. You can also use plastic wrap and rubber bands to seal the holes if that works better for you. If the holes are small enough, you could also use cotton balls or scotch tape. And, if you really wanted to get fancy, you could purchase a few beaker stoppers from your local beaker store and plug the holes that way.

If you live in an area with no beaker store (we feel sorry for you), just place one hand over the mouth and one hand over the hole where the stem goes. Don’t forget to put a finger over the carburetor hole.

Then, just like you did with the small pieces in their baggies, shake that sucker vigorously so that the alcohol and salt solution moves around on all the surfaces. Continue to shake the whole thing for at least five minutes. Then shake longer.

While you’re shaking the bong, you can feel good about the fact that you exercised today (thanks, dynamic inertia!). Who knew shaking would be such hard work?

9) Rinse All The Pieces With Hot Water

cleaning a dab rig

Remove the small pieces from their baggies or containers and dump the alcohol/salt solution from the dab rig. Rinse all the pieces with the hottest water you can get.

Rinsing helps to remove the residual resin, the salt, and the alcohol from the surfaces of your pipe. If some stubborn gunk remains (particularly in the bowl or the stem), use a Q-tip or a bottle brush (probably available at your local beaker store) to pick away at the mass.

After you remove that last little piece, rinse again with hot water and let everything air dry before lighting up again.

10) Repeat

This step is optional, but if you never learned how to clean your dab rig and it’s got lots of gunk on it (first, ewww), you may have to repeat the entire process again (and again, and again).

Eventually, the alcohol, the salt, and the repeated agitation will peel away the layers of goo to reveal the sparkling glass underneath.

The Key To How To Clean A Dab Rig

A dab rig near a pool

As you can tell from this article, learning how to clean your glass rig isn’t all that difficult. And once you’ve got it down, the whole process won’t take but a few minutes to complete.

You can avoid long, involved cleaning if you live by one simple rule: rinse with a few natural ingredients after every use. That’s the key to how to clean a dab rig.

If rinsing it every time is just too much, every other time will suffice.

And you don’t have to use caustic cleaners that contain all kinds of toxic chemicals. If you take care of your equipment, the only cleaning agent you’ll need will be hot water, salt, and isopropyl/rubbing alcohol.

With these items and a bit of diligence, you can keep your dab rig sparkling and crystal clear as the day you bought it. Happy dabbing!

For more information on all things cannabis and to check out our 100% all-natural marijuana products, visit today.

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