Let me guess. Every bowl of hookah tobacco is starting to taste the same. Or maybe you just loaded your hookah bowl with Starbuzz Pina Colada and all you can taste is the Tangiers Maraschino Cherry from last night’s hookah session. Your hookah may be desperately waiving a white flag! SOS! Help! Clean me!
Knowing how to clean your hookah properly (and actually doing it) will exponentially increase your hookah experience. So go grab that unkempt hookah, grab your cleaning supplies, and let’s bring it back to life!
1. Disassemble your hookah: Take off your hookah bowl, grommets, tray, hoses, adapters, and heba diffuser. Unscrew your downstem from the shaft, and if your shaft separates from your hub, detach it as well. Basically if you were to look at your pieces, a stranger should be able to walk up and think to his or herself, “I sure hope that thing comes with instructions”.
Become familiar with your hookah and its parts. You’ll want to know how to put it together, take it apart, and be able to fix or troubleshoot any issues that may arise. It only takes a few times doing it yourself for you to fully know your way around your hookah.
2. HOT WATER. Use it. All the time. Don’t go from hot to cold or from cold to hot. You’ll end up cracking your glass base and offending us nerds. I learned this the hard way when my Mya Saray Diva Base busted on me. If you’re interested in learning why hot water is better for cleaning than cold water, research kinetics and entropy. This is not the forum for that topic. Where was I? Right. Use hot water to clean your base and shaft thoroughly.
3. Shaft, hub, and downstem: Remember, cleaning brushes are your friends. If you clean your hookah shaft frequently (as you should), it only takes a few passes from end to end to scrub off any residue that might be lingering behind. If your hookah hasn’t been cleaned in a while, it may take several more minutes of scrubbing.
When you look down into your shaft and don’t see that shiny metallic surface, it may be time for a new cleaning brush. Note: cleaning brushes are a lot like toothbrushes. They will eventually become a little dirty with bristles that don’t exactly do what they’re intended to. You wouldn’t brush your teeth with a over-the-hill toothbrush, and you certainly shouldn’t use dirty old cleaning brushes to clean your hookah.
4. Hookah Base: Hot water. Some people use Bling and/or lemon juice. I personally have always used dishwashing soap. I typically use those 3M cleaning pads to scrub my hookah base with. If you cut each one into four equal pieces, they last much longer! Gotta stretch that dollar somehow! But I use a Rotating Hookah so it’s easy to get my hand in there and scrub it all really well.
Other hookah bases make it more difficult to get inside them to clean. Here is where your handy little cleaning brush comes in handy. Make sure every crevice has been scrubbed and there are no lingering substances hiding in the corner. Here is where soap and hot water work their magic to loosen up those tough to reach particles (wow I sound like a commercial). Moving on.
5. Grommets and Adapters: You really just want to make sure each grommet (and Heba Diffuser) has been rinsed off. You may also find that using a mild soap on the grommets and Heba Diffusers will help as well. No need to scrub them with cleaning brushes. However, you will want to run a thin cleaning brush through your hose adapters though.
Rust has a tendency to build up in these causing your BBs to stick. If your BBs are sticking, you won’t be able to clear your hookah base if you ever need to. And if you’re not careful, you could end up blowing water all the way up the shaft and into your hookah bowl if the BBs stick.
You’ll hear three things: Air blowing through the hose, followed by the sound of water sizzling the shisha, followed by everyone in the room shouting, “what did you do that for?” Ah good times. So scrub your hose adapters and make sure your BBs don’t stick. Got it? Good.
6. Hookah Bowl: Treat it like a cereal bowl. No, don’t place it on the floor so that Scratches The Cat can drink from it. That’s not what I’m saying. I am saying to wash it thoroughly, every time. If residue is left behind from bowl to bowl, you’re heating it over and over again and breathing in whatever it is cooking for you. You don’t need an unwanted science project in your lungs. Besides, leftover buildup or residue will ruin a perfectly good hookah bowl in no time.
7. Hoses: If you have Washable Hoses, you’ll want to rinse them with hot water. In other words run hot water into one end of the hose until it flows out the other side. Make sure enough water is passing through to cover the entire circumference of the hose. Once the hose has been rinsed, take the hose to an area where you can swing the excess water out of it. Backyard, bathtub, apartment patio or hallway.
If you would rather let your hoses dry naturally, always leave them hanging so water can fall in a downward motion towards the ground. If you point the ends upward, moisture will build up in the middle of your hoses, and sitting water just welcomes all kinds of unwanted bacteria or mold.
If you do not have washable hoses, my only recommendation is to air them out. Make sure all the smoke has been blown out of them first. Then you can swing them in a circular motion to get as much of the unwanted particles out.
8. Tray: It’s nice to have a shiny tray before the start of each hookah session, but it doesn’t have to be spotless. As long as it doesn’t have residue that would stick to your coals if you placed them on the tray, you’ll be fine. One quick note though, if you wash your tray with water, make sure all of the moisture has been toweled off before coals are placed on them. A wet coal is no bueno. Not good.
9. Put it all back together!
Take pride in your hookah and enjoy the experience in the best way possible. Now that you know how to clean your hookah, there is no reason why your hookah should ever have to cry out for help. Take care of your hookah and I guarantee your clean hookah will take care of the rest! Try your brand new shisha again, for the first time. Happy Smoking!