vaporizer and marijuana buds

Cleaning Your Vape

By MK Thomson

September 28 2023

Vaporizing cannabis, hash, or concentrates with a vaporizer has many advantages over smoking a joint. However, it’s essential to ensure these devices continue to function properly, and that’s why you need to clean a vaporizer regularly. If you skip doing this (guilty as charged …), your vaporizer won’t work efficiently, might taste like a chimney, or even break down. Therefore, cleaning your vaporizer regularly is highly recommended.

In this blog post, we go into detail about why, how, and what things need to be cleaned. We will primarily be focusing on handheld vaporizers since they are by far the most popular, and because disposable vapes do not need cleaning. 

Keep in mind, as we’ve said in previous blog posts – it’s not wise to vape concentrates or hash out of battery-operated handheld vape pens unless it’s specifically designed for it or has specific attachments for vaping concentrates. Concentrates and hash liquify when heated up and can seep into nooks and crannies in your vape pen. This is no bueno and can render your pen useless very quickly.

vaporizer and marijuana buds

Cleaning your vaporizer – Why do it?

First and foremost, you should keep your vaporizer clean because a dirty one will affect the flavor and “harshness” of the herb that you smoke. Even though you are vaporizing the cannabis and not actually burning it, there is still residue and build-up that will change the way your cannabis tastes. Every time you draw on the mouthpiece, the vapor passes through this gunk. Yuck!

Second, over time a dirty vaporizer will stop working. Many people might think their vape is defective, but more often than not it’s because the vape is dirty, clogged or resinated. When the components become clogged, vapor has a harder time passing through the mesh or screen – essentially, the vaporizer won’t produce vapor. 

When dirt builds up inside the vaporizer, the heat has nowhere to go. Most of the components inside are designed to withstand heat, but not if it lingers for too long. Some buildup and residue might even liquify due to the heat, allowing it to seep into the mechanisms themselves and lead to irreparable damage. 

And lastly, dirty vaporizer isn’t good for your health. You’ve decided to vape instead of burning and smoking cannabis, but a dirty vaporizer will create a lot of the same toxics that end up in your lungs – which ain’t good for your health, to say the least.

dirty vape mouthpiece
Don’t let your mouthpiece get this dirty!

Cleaning a Dirty Vaporizer Pen

Vaporizers are not cheap and a good one can set you back a bit, so with the reasons above it’s just a good idea to keep your vaping gear clean. I’m terrible about cleaning any of my smoking apparatuses, but I can attest to a dirty vape making effective the functionality, taste, and enjoyment of vaping cannabis. 

So have enough reasons to clean your gear? Here are some ways to keep your handheld vape clean. Most vapes come with several tools for cleaning

  1. Clean after each session. This doesn’t mean a full-blown cleaning, but just wipe all the extra debris and residue off as much as possible. Clean out the cannabis chamber and scrape the inside as much as possible. There will be some charring – especially with ceramic cannabis chambers – but it’s the loose leftovers you are trying to get rid of. I also give the empty chamber a big blow to force out any last pieces of dirt or charred cannabis.
  2. Regularly Replace Screens: Just like pipe or bong smoking, it’s wise to replace the screens regularly. Screens are the tiny metal meshes in your vaporizer, typically found at the bottom of the heating element or herb chamber and inside the mouthpiece. Over time, they get dirty and should be replaced. Some vapes come with extra screens or the manufacturer has them (and other pieces) available for purchase. Screens – even for vapes – are incredibly inexpensive, so do as I do and get several on hand. You’ll know when you need to change your screen when it becomes sticky, discolored, or hard to clean.
  3. Use Wool: An excellent tool for keeping the oven or herb chamber clean is wool. This is degummed hemp fiber used as a protective layer. Put a small piece of vaping wool in the cannabis chamber and put your cannabis, hash, or concentrates on top. Cover it with another piece of degummed hemp fiber, and your heating element stays cleaner for longer. Also vaping wool doesn’t have any taste and is 100% safe for inhalation. (Though, honestly I don’t vape concentrates or hash in these types of pens, so use wool for hash/concentrates at your own risk.)
vape pen

Deep cleaning your vaporizer

Even if you clean after each session, it’s still recommended that you do a deep cleaning every once in a while depending on how much you use your vaporizer. It doesn’t take too long and it’s well worth the extra work. You’ll have more pleasant vaping sessions and will be doing better for your lungs.

Most but not every vape comes with cleaning tools, still you can use everyday household items for cleaning. If you’ve been smoking from pipes or bongs, then you likely have most of these items: pipe cleaners, rubbing alcohol, stretched-out paperclips, tweezers (I use needle-nose tweezers), Q-tips, cotton balls/pads, salt and alcohol wipes. You can also purchase resin cleaning solution at any smoke shop and at some dispensaries.

  • Take the vaporizer apart as much as possible. Remove all parts that can be detached from the vaporizer, including the mouthpiece, oven, screens, or airpath.
  • Use a scraper or brush (I also use an old toothbrush) to remove all visible dirt and residue from both the individual components and the vaporizer itself.
  • Take a plastic container and place all the detached parts inside. Either use a cleaning solution designed for vaporizers or some rubbing alcohol and a little salt, and fill the container. If you’re using a marijuana resin cleaning solution, follow the directions on the bottle.
  • Let the parts soak in the container for 30 minutes, occasionally slightly shaking the container. After 30 minutes, continue gently shaking until all dirt loosens.
  • If the dirt doesn’t come off easily, carefully remove the parts from the container and use pipe cleaners or brushes to clean the remaining gunk.
  • Rinse the parts thoroughly and make sure all cleaning solutions are rinsed off. Sniff the components to make sure they don’t smell of the cleaner or alcohol (if that’s what you’re using).
  • Allow the parts to dry completely before reassembling them onto the vaporizer. This is important – do not put wet or damp components into the vaporizer. It can severely damage your gear. Always ensure that the inside of the vaporizer does not get wet. 
  • Finally, use alcohol wipes and/or cotton swabs with alcohol only for non-electronic parts. Do not let alcohol drops leak through the heating element or cannabis chamber of the vaporizer.
vape pen and ground up marijuana

Happy vaping!

You can prevent the need for extensive cleaning by giving your vaporizer a brief cleaning after each session. This prevents the accumulation of dirt, and you’ll only have to follow the above steps once in a long time.