Cleaning Your Hookah: How to Properly Clean a Hookah

Does every bowl you smoke on your hookah taste like Double Apple…even though you’ve not had Double Apple in a week? Does your hookah base have a “fill-to” line built up from the last 20 sessions? If you answered yes, it is probably time to clean your hookah. If you answered no, it is still probably time to clean your hookah. Hookah cleaning can be quick and simple, but does tend to cause water splashes, so select a place to clean your hookah where you can make a bit of a mess. Small hookahs can be cleaned easily in a kitchen sink typically, but you may want to clean larger hookahs outdoors using a garden hose. In all cases, it is a good idea to dry the outside of the shaft with a towel or cloth after cleaning to prevent water spots and to reduce the chances of oxidization (corrosion) in some models. You’ll want to begin cleaning your hookah by emptying the water from the base, tobacco from the bowl, and ash from the tray (make sure all coal embers are extinguished!). Disassemble your hookah, including removing the hose connectors (if they’re designed to be removed), ball bearings, and the bowl stem (if designed to be removed). With your hookah disassembled, turn the water on and start rinsing!

Each component of the hookah should be rinsed initially. After rinsing, you may use a solution to help remove flavours and odors from the hookah. In addition to the popular, Bling Hookah Cleaning Solution (not to be used with acrylic bases or any hoses), you can mix lemon juice and baking soda together for a great cleaning agent that’s safe for hookah components of all composition. Lemon juice and baking soda is particularly efficient at removing bad smells from a shaft or hose. You don’t have to be exact about the baking soda-lemon juice recipe; you can mix any amount of the two together for an effective and safe cleanser. When using Bling, be sure to read the instructions on the back of the bottle. Gentle dish soap is also suitable for hookah cleaning, but we advise against any harsh cleaners – remember, you’ll be inhaling through this thing!

Hookah Cleaning Brushes and Hookah Cleaning Rods work very well for scouring hard-to-reach areas inside the hookah. The longer, thinner brush is for the shaft.

post cleaning hookah 1While the wider brush is for the base. Large cleaning rods will require you to pull a thin strip of cloth through the eyelet in the end, which is then ‘swabbed’ through the shaft, as one would swab a gun barrel. Medium or small cleaning rods have a pointed end, which is used to push a strip of cloth through the shaft. Cleaning rods are less effective on bases, but with proper maintenance, the base can be quite easy to keep clean.
Pour a little of the cleaner through the shaft, and swab it out a couple of times with the shaft brush. You won’t need to scrub the shaft; a couple of passes with the brush will be fine. The majority of the shisha residue is water-soluble, as it is mostly honey, molasses, or glycerine: all of which dissolve easily in plain water. Don’t forget to clean the threads where the hose connectors or bowl stem screw on – over time, build-up can cause them to freeze and it will be difficult to remove them. Give the bearings a good rinse too, and then set them to dry. Rinse

post cleaning hookah 2The shaft thoroughly, and then dry the outside with a clean cloth or towel before setting it in a well-ventilated area (so that the inside of the shaft dries quickly).
You’ll want to wash the base in a similar fashion, using the base brush. Glass bases can be difficult to hold when wet, especially when wet and soapy, so be sure you’ve a good hold on the base – we see an unfortunate number of bases that are broken in the cleaning process. Thick glass bases that have no paint may be washed in a dishwasher, but bases with thinner glass, or paint or metallic trim, should be washed by hand. Allow the base to air-dry (it isn’t necessary to dry with a cloth) before reassembling the hookah.
When reassembling your hookah, you may choose to coat the ball bearings in vegetable or olive oil to protect them from corrosion and help prevent sticking (from the build-up of smoke residue). You won’t be able to oil bearings in any auto seal connector, but their design makes them virtually non-stick.
Unless you have a Nammor Hookah Hose or a Washable Hookah Hose, we don’t advise washing the hoses. Most other hoses contain an inner metal coil that will begin to corrode with repeated washings. Traditionally, hookah lounges reserved one hose for each flavour to avoid flavour contamination and washing the hose. While that may be a bit much for today’s smoker, if you’re using non-washable hoses you might consider assigning one hose to stronger flavours and another to lighter flavours.

For washing a washable hose, you’ll want to simply run water through it, or rinsing the lemon juice/baking soda solution through the hose with water. Hang the hose up to dry, or, holding the hose by one end, swing it around in a circle to fling the water out. If swinging the Nammor hose to fling the water out, don’t forget to remove the mouthpiece first!
Now you’ll never have to taste last bowl’s leftovers through your hookah, and your hookah will serve you longer, better! As always, if you have any additional questions, we’re available live and online seven days a week to answer them!
Happy Smoking!