Alcohol alternatives for bong cleaning

Published Apr 3, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Geo-grafika

For most cannabis lovers, the moment they learn how to clean a bong is the same one that sparks their desire for a cleaner, more enjoyable experience, but what happens when you run out of your go-to solution to get the job done? In most cases, you would just head to the store or a local head shop to pick up some much-needed gear, but when the shelves are empty, or money is low, that’s not always an option.

The most popular bong cleaning solutions are rubbing alcohol and isopropyl alcohol, and since these items are sold out in stores everywhere right now, due to people using them to create disinfectant and hand sanitizers, we thought it’d be an excellent time to reveal three excellent alcohol substitute recipes that will leave your bong looking good as new in no time.

1. Vinegar and baking soda

Sure, the rubbing alcohol might be flying off store shelves at an alarming rate, but do you know what people don’t care to stock up on? Vinegar. You can use regular white vinegar or apple cider vinegar for this bong cleaning recipe, as either one will rip apart the sticky grime inside of your device.

You will need

  • ½ cup of vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda


  1. Combine the ingredients in a container before using it so soak your bongs or pipes for at least 5 minutes.

  2. Thoroughly rinse away the excess vinegar to avoid any unpleasant smell or taste.

2. Acetone

This one isn’t a huge hit with consumers, as you do have to be careful to thoroughly rinse all of the residues that are left behind from nail polish remover, but acetone does a fantastic job on all metal and glass smoking devices, it’s cheap, and it’s easy to find in almost any kind of store which makes it the perfect alcohol substitute in bong cleaner.

You will need

  • ½ cup acetone
  • ¼ cup water


  1. Mix together both liquids and then pour them into your bong or pipe to sit and slowly break up the gunk inside.

  2. After a couple of minutes, the chemical should have worked its magic and is ready to be washed off under a stream of hot water. Makes sure to clear out every nook and cranny, or you will smell and taste acetone which can be hazardous to your health, and rather unpleasant.

3. Lemon juice

Lemon juice is naturally acidy, and it smells great too. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t work all that well on its own if you water it down without applying a bit of heat, and since large amounts can be challenging to come by, it is best saved for dire situations or smaller jobs that don’t need such a powerful cleaner.

Since it’s all-natural, you don’t have to worry about the juices staying behind, and it will even gently flavor your tokes if you use it on a regular basis, which is why it’s an awesome alternative for alcohol.

You will need

  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of water


  1. Mix the lemon juice and water together before using them to fill and soak your dirty bongs or pipes.

  2. Allow the device to sit in the solution for at least 20 minutes before rinsing it out with cool water, and once you’re done, it’ll be good as new and ready to use.

If none of these rubbing alcohol substitutes works for you due to an allergy or lack of access to needed ingredients, then you can always fall back on good old warm water with table salt, but the recipes listed here are the ideal options for when you’re stuck in a pinch, as they actively break down the natural oils that gather inside of bongs and pipes making it easy to get them clean in no time.

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