Pipe Cleaning 101

Pipe Cleaning 101

By Tarleton Walmsley

As we find ourselves with more hours in the day than we're used to, it's a great time to utilize the tools we've got to help keep us motivated and sane. Nothing helps me find a sense of control in a chaotic world more than cleaning. And that's why, after having cleaned every other nook and cranny in the house, I've moved on to more detailed projects. 



Before we get started, it’s time for a confession. I’m a Virgo, and by nature you’d think I keep it clean when it comes to my growing pipe collection. Sadly, that isn’t the case. I’m secretly lazy and somewhat of a procrastinator when it comes to certain tasks like laundry, cleaning litter boxes, and cleaning my pipe regularly. Over the weekend I looked at a few of my tried and trues, and am embarrassed to admit they were so dirty that it was possibly a health hazard. Not a full on COVID-19 situation, but still my bad. So I set to work. Below is the process I found worked the absolute best, but I think there is no wrong way to clean your piece in the end. Other than to not clean it at all, but who would ever do that!?!?;) 

I have fallen in love with the Miwak Junior & Primary Limonene Dream Terpene Wash collaboration. What you need to know up front about the wash: it smells like a lemon grove. Truly, a lovely scent that isn’t overbearing and yet masks a lot of the odor that comes with cleaning dirty pipes. It’s free of synthetic dyes, harsh fragrances, or preservatives and the formula consists of plant-based, biodegradable limonene, an antimicrobial terpene. The formula is highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Using a teaspoon, add the solution to a bowl of steaming hot water and let your piece sit for at least an hour. Mine were NEXT LEVEL dirty so I left them in much longer. 

After a quick rinse with warm water, the pipes ended up bright and shiny. But there was a peskier, more stubborn pipe in the mix, shown above. I used the Higher Standards Pipe Stix and alcohol wipes first, and was able to get even more gunk out. And for those trickier pieces, please allow me to recommend Spicwalla’s Cypress Flake Salt. They definitely didn’t endorse this message, and would likely prefer that you use this delicious salt in a recipe instead BUT..I was in a pinch, I love buying local, and the flaky salt is actually the perfect texture to help break down all of the unwanted gunk. You can just as easily get away with using any coarse salt you’ve got. Combine the salt, terpene wash, and pipe in a stasher bag (or a ziploc or heat-safe container) and shake. I think the terpene wash would add a nice element to that process instead of rubbing alcohol, but whatever works best. A little shake, and then you bake. Sorry, my bad. Could not help myself. 

And voila, there you have it! A fresh piece ready for use. This process took a bit of time, and did require a lot of elbow grease on my end. But again, don’t wait so long to clean your pipe! I’ve learned that lesson, and will definitely implement the Higher Standards Alcohol wipes for in-between cleanings. Kinda like when your dentist says to floss more, the wipes are essential for weekly maintenance. I also love that they are textured so that the nasty stuff grips onto the wipe effortlessly. Do you have another tried and true product or method? We would love to know!



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