How to Clean a Hookah Base
Note: This blog has been updated as of September 15th, 2021
We’re back with another “Hookah How To” where we’ll be giving you some advice on how to get the most out of your hookah and shisha, providing you with all the necessary knowledge to have a fun, enjoyable smoke session.
It’s no secret that all of us over here at Hookah-Shisha find proper hookah cleaning and maintenance to be one of the most important aspects of not only making sure you have a good session but also helping give your hookah and hookah accessories the best chance of having as long of a life as possible.
In this week’s blog, we will be primarily focusing on the base of the hookah, i.e. the piece of the hookah that you fill with water, and all the different ways that you can help keep that base sparkling clean.
Why do I need to clean my hookah base?
Some of you may be wondering why you even need to clean your hookah base in the first place. While in an ideal world, water should be the only liquid you are using in your base, even water (combined with regular use of your hookah) can have some unpleasant effects on your hookah session such as bad smells, flavors, or just plain old germs.
A variety of tell-tale signs can arise in an environment with that much moisture that will let you know your base needs a good scrubbing. The main signs to look for are as follows:
- Bad Smells/”Funk”
- Dirty/Discolored water
- A thin “film” on the base
- Water “stains”/residue
While some of these signs may be worse than others (i.e. mold is a much bigger issue than a water “stain”), any single one of these will tell you that it’s time to break out the cleaning supplies and go to town on that base.
Hookah Base Cleaning Methods
In our experience, there are two main types of cleaning that you will inevitably need to do on your hookah. The first type is “routine cleaning” and the second type is “deep cleaning.” Which type of cleaning you need to do will ultimately depend on just how dirty your hookah base is.
NOTE: When doing ANY type of cleaning on your hookah, routine or otherwise, take care not to “temperature shock” your base with extreme temperature changes. Putting hot water into a base that just had cold water in it, or vice versa, can cause the glass to stress and fracture, potentially causing your base to crack or completely break. While we’re talking about bases specifically here, this is a good rule to follow when dealing with any type of glass or clay.
When we say “routine cleaning,” we mean cleaning that isn’t going to involve anything too crazy. We’re talking a bit of soap, a light brushing, and a quick rinse just to make sure any immediate residue or particles in the water gets rinsed out and washed down the drain. It won’t really involve any hard cleaning products like alcohol, chemical solutions, or anything like that.
Routine cleaning is something that we recommend you do after EVERY session. This will help you prevent any of the more “extreme” types of dirt/filth that can show up in your base, such as mold. Health concerns aside, nobody wants to smoke a hookah with mold in the base, so it’s best to do everything you can to never let your base get to that point.
For this routine cleaning, you’ll need a minimal amount of supplies. Really, all you’ll need is:
- A hookah base cleaning brush
- A source of running water (like a kitchen sink or a bathtub)
- Liquid dish soap or lemon juice
As mentioned previously, we highly recommend cleaning your hookah after every session. That being said, depending on your own personal feelings about it, you may be able to get away with smoking 2 or 3 sessions before giving your hookah a light cleaning.
We DO NOT recommend waiting any longer than that, and we especially do not recommend letting your hookah sit overnight with water in the base as this can lead to more serious cleanliness issues.
Routine Base Cleaning Guide:
Step 1: Empty out your used base water and give the base a preliminary rinse with warm water.
Step 2: Put a couple of drops of mild liquid dish soap (we use Dawn dish soap, but really any brand will work) or some lemon juice into your base.
Step 3: Fill your base about halfway up with warm water. Cover the top opening on the base with your hand. With your other hand, grasp the base firmly and give the base a light shake. Make sure you have a good grip on that base, as you wouldn’t want it to fall and break. This step is to help the soap or lemon juice cover every part of the inside of the base.
Step 4: Take your base cleaning brush and insert it into your glass base. Spin the brush a couple of times in each direction to get a light “scrubbing” on the inside of the base.
Step 5: Pour the water out and give the base a good rinse. You will want to make sure to fully rinse your base, taking care to get all the soap or lemon juice out of there. Especially when using soap, if there is even a small amount of soap left in the base it can cause your next session to taste, you guessed it, like soap. Speaking from experience, that is not a good flavor.
All in all, this routine cleaning process shouldn’t take more than 4-5 minutes and will help prolong the life of your hookah base. It will also help make it so you don’t have to “deep clean” your hookah base as often.
Now we’re going to get into the fun stuff: deep cleaning your hookah base! As compared to the “routine cleaning” we just talked about, deep cleaning your hookah base is going to be a bit more intensive of a process. This process is not something that you have to do all the time or after every session.
When we say “deep cleaning” your hookah base, what we mean is that the base itself is going to go through a more intense cleaning process that uses “harder” solutions, such as alcohol-type solvents or other forms of cleaning solution.
Situationally speaking, going through this process is something you will need to do if some of the more “extreme” forms of dirt or filth show up in your base, such as mold starting to grow, a “film” that appears along the inside of the base, or hard water stains.
NOTE: When we’re talking about hard water “stains,” that is something that is different than mold or a film growing in the base. Hard water stains are likely not something that can be prevented through routine maintenance or anything like that. Hard water stains are ultimately dependent on your region’s water supply. These are caused by an excess of minerals in your water that can leave these stains after the water has dried or otherwise evaporated. They are not harmful and will not impact the quality of your session overall, but they are typically something that requires a deeper cleaning to get rid of.
As far as how often you need to deep clean your base kind of depends. We recommend giving your hookah a regular deep cleaning once a month or so, whether or not you see any of the previously mentioned warning signs. This is just a good habit to get into and will help keep your hookah base pristine. That being said, if you start to see any of the more severe warning signs (mold, a “film”, etc.), then you will need to immediately deep clean your base.
There are a variety of products out there that can be used to “deep clean” your base, but we’ll be going over the ones that we personally use and recommend.
Bling! Hookah Cleaning Solution
Bling! cleaning solution is a product that many of us here at Hookah-Shisha use regularly and love. It is a non-toxic, alcohol-based cleaning solution that contains cleaning “crystals.” This product acts as a disinfectant, deodorizer, and “scrubbing” solution all in one and leaves your hookah base sparkling clean.
The pineapple scented alcohol solution will disinfect your base, getting rid of any unwanted bacteria while also getting rid of any funky smells that may be leftover after numerous sessions. The “crystals” act as an abrasive material that “scrubs” your base clean of any residue or grime that has formed inside the base.
How-To Use Bling Hookah Cleaning Solution
Step 1: If you have not already done so, empty out any used water that may be in your base.
Step 2: Take your bottle of Bling! and shake it to make sure the alcohol solution and cleaning crystals are evenly dispersed throughout the solution.
Step 3: Squeeze an equal amount of cleaning solution and crystals into your base. The amount needed will ultimately depend on how dirty the base is, so just use your best judgment and adjust as necessary. I personally use about ¼ to a ⅓ of a bottle.
Step 4: Cover the opening on the top of the base with your hand. With your other hand, get a good grip on the neck of the base, or place it on the bottom of the base, whichever way you feel more comfortable.
Step 5: Take care to have a good hold on the base as you wouldn’t want to accidentally drop it, shake the base vigorously. This will allow the cleaning solution and crystals to be dispersed evenly and clean every nook and cranny of the base.
Step 6: Empty out the cleaning solution and rinse your base thoroughly with warm water. Make sure to fully rinse out all of the cleaning solution to prevent any adverse effects on flavor when you go to smoke the hookah.
Step 7: After rinsing your base out, inspect it thoroughly to make sure any mold, dirt, or residue has been completely cleaned away. Typically speaking, one pass with the Bling! solution is all you would need, however, if you notice any remaining dirt, mold, or residue, repeat these steps as necessary.
OxiClean is a product that originally gained popularity as a laundry cleaner, however, over the years the hookah community found it to be an excellent way to really deep clean your hookah base. This method does take a little while longer to complete, however, it is extremely effective and is more “hands-off” than some of the other cleaning methods.
Before we get into “how” to use OxiClean to clean your hookah base, we need to talk about which specific OxiClean you need to buy. There are a variety of different OxiClean products on the market, all in different forms that have different purposes and can contain various perfumes, dyes, or chemicals.
There is one, and only one, type of OxiClean that you should be using with your hookah and that is OxiClean Versatile “Free.” This version of OxiClean comes in powder form and is free of chlorine, free of dyes, and free of perfumes.
It is basically just the cleaning solution without any of the “smell good” chemicals that are perfectly fine in laundry, but not so good for your hookah. You can find this product in a moderately sized tub that contains a green lid. I repeat: this is the only form of OxiClean you should use on your hookah base.
How-To Clean A Hookah Base With OxiClean
Step 1: Empty out any used base water and give your base a preliminary rinse with warm water.
Step 2: Open up your OxiClean and you should see a plastic “scoop” inside the tub. Use anywhere between ¼ of the scoop to ½ of a scoop of OxiClean powder in your empty base. The amount you use will really depend on just how dirty your base is.
Step 3: Now that the OxiClean powder is in the base, fill your base about ¾ full with warm water.
Step 4: Cover the opening of the base with one hand, grasp the base with your other hand and shake it lightly once or twice. This will allow the OxiClean cleaning powder to fully and evenly mix with the water. If you overfill your base with water, it is possible the liquid may “bubble over '' and make a small mess. It won’t hurt anything but can be annoying to have to clean up.
Step 5: Once the solution is mixed, let your base sit for 30 minutes to an hour. This allows the OxiClean solution to sit and fully “eat away” at all of the germs, dirt, and grime that may be in your base. You will see that the liquid in your base is quickly forming small bubbles. This means that the solution is WORKING and is totally normal.
Step 6: After the time has elapsed and the solution has had time to work, empty your base into your sink or bathtub.
Step 7: Insert a base cleaning brush into the base and spin the brush several times in each direction. This will remove any leftover residue that the OxiClean didn’t get or that may be clinging on.
Step 8: Rinse thoroughly with warm water making sure that ALL of the cleaning solution is rinsed out of the base. You may have to rinse the base several times before all of the cleaning solution is gone.
And that’s that! You should now have all the knowledge you need to fully and properly clean your hookah base, whether that be just a quick “routine” cleaning or a more intensive “deep” clean.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about cleaning your base (or anything else hookah related), feel free to reach out to our friendly customer service team via phone, LiveChat, or email!