Home » Cleaning, Headline, How-Tos & Tips

How To Clean A Hookah

Authored by William on 13 September 2010 No Comment

Many strong flavors of hookah shisha tobacco can leave their taste behind in the hookah. If the next flavor you choose to smoke is mild, you’ll almost certainly be tasting the last flavor as well. This is called ‘ghosting’, and it can thoroughly ruin your experience. A clean hookah is the key to enjoying your tobacco’s true flavor and often the key to enjoying your session, period.

Smaller hookahs pose little question about how to clean them. They fit in the sink. Larger hookahs, on the other hand can seem pretty daunting. Trying to figure it out for yourself can take a lot of trial and error and can take a lot of time. Some fill a bath tub and clean them that way. Others take them outside and use a garden hose. But this isn’t necessary. Any hookah can be successfully cleaned in a kitchen sink, and with practice, can be done in less than one minute. Reviews here at HookahReport are always performed on a clean hookah, so we’re cleaning hookahs a lot.

Lets get started. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sink with running water; ideally warm water
  • Long stem brush; ideally soft bristled
  • Large base brush
  • Standard pipe cleaners

Disassemble Your Hookah & Discard Old Water

Start by taking the major parts of your hookah apart. Remove the bowl, the bowl grommet and the tray from the stem. Remove the stem from your base and remove the base grommet. Set everything aside. Empty the old water from the base of your hookah.

Rinse The Stem

Rinse the inside of the stem by placing one finger over the end of the down stem, and cup your other hand around the opening of the top stem. Run warm water into your hand forcing it to fill the stem.

Cleaning Hookah in Kitchen Sink placing finger over down stem

Cleaning Hookah in Kitchen Sink filling stem with water

Once the stem is full of water, gently swish the water around inside the stem, then empty it back into the sink. If you’re using cold water, do this two or three times.

Scrub the Stem

Scrubbing Hookah stem with soft bristle brush

Next, with the open end of the stem in the sink, use the soft bristled hookah brush to scrub the inside of the stem. Do this by pushing the brush in and out of the stem aggressively. If your hookah stem is too long for the brush, turn the stem over and force the brush through the other end as well.

It’s important that the open end of the stem is in the sink during this process because you should see a fair amount of green liquid come out the bottom and into the sink.

Once you have finished, rinse the stem in the same fashion you did in the previous step.

Clean The Base

Filling hookah base with water

08-08-10_095835_Cleaning, Hookah, pipe

Cleaning hookah base with brush

Fill the base with clean water and empty it back out a few times. Once you have rinsed your base with water, use the large base brush to loosen and scrub off any residue. Scrubbing your hookah base is not necessary during every cleaning, but it’s good every so often. If you wait too long to scrub the base, you may need to use a chemical solution to remove residue that has formed. vinegar and water, or rubbing alcohol and sea salt generally do a good job.

You’re Done With the Crucial Stuff, Now Lets Get Thorough

At this point, you’re hookah is clean enough to render the flavors accurately. If you’re satisfied, reassemble your hookah and use it as you ordinarily would. However, there’s still areas that debris can form and hinder your smoking experience. The following are things that don’t need to be cleaned every time, but should be addressed every so often.

Clean Your Hose Port

08-08-10_095118_Cleaning, Hookah, pipe The hose port can build up gunk and it should be cleaned periodically.

Cleaning the hose port is simple if you have a soft bristled brush. First, simply run water through the hose port to moisten any gunk that may have formed. Next, use your soft bristled stem brush and force it through the hose port. If the brush is soft enough, it will go all the way through and come out the bottom of the stem chamber. If it gets caught and won’t go any further, turn the stem over and run the brush through the hole on the bottom.

Run water through the hose port again and you’re finished.

Clean Your Purge Valve

Removing Hookah Purge Valve

Disassembled Hookah Purge Valve

Start by carefully removing the purge valve cap on your stem. It’s best to do this over a plate or a bowl because the ball bearing inside the valve is going to fall out. If you lose the ball bearing and don’t have a replacement, the hookah cannot be used until the valve is plugged with something. So do this carefully!

Running water through hookah purge valve

cleaning hookah purge valve with pipe cleaner

Once the valve is disassembled, run warm water through it to moisten any debris. Next, take a standard pipe cleaner and gently run it through the valve until it comes out the bottom of the stem chamber. The pipe cleaner will likely have lots of gunk on it. Run water through the valve again to wash away any left over debris.

Next, with a small amount of dish soap, gently clean the ball bearing to remove any sticky debris that might have formed on it. Rinse the ball bearing and dry it.

Run warm water through the purge valve cap as well. Now put the purge valve back together.


Your hookah is clean!

Cleaning your hookah stem is the most important, and should be done before, or after each smoking session to ensure the optimal flavor. An extended cleaning of the hose port and purge valve doesn’t need to be done as frequently. Once ever 5 – 10 smoking sessions is probably sufficient.

Now, go enjoy a clean hookah and a fresh smoking session!

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.