Deep cleaning

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Might Stick Around
Jan 9, 2022
Vancouver, BC
Hey there, going through my first deep clean with a few on my pipes this morning.

Basically I just clean with Isopropyl, fill with salt and moisten the salt with Isopropyl and leave out over night? How’s that sound?
Also how much difference to taste have you guys found it makes? Just curious.
Many thanks!


Nov 30, 2020
Sydney, Australia
In my opinion most of the foul tastes experienced come from crud accumulating in the shaft/mortise/stem rather than the bowl. When deep cleaning a pipe, this is where I spend the most time.
If the bowl hasn't been cleaned for a while (eg old estates) it may have a ghost or give off an ashy taste when smoked. An alcohol soak will get rid of this. Repeat if necessary.


Staff member
May 12, 2015
Carmel Valley, CA
There's seldom a need to use alcohol on cleaning a pipe, with the exception of trying to get rid of a ghost, then the old salt and alcohol treatment may do it.

But in order of least severe to most, a flush with very hot tap water does wonders. If ghosted, fill the chamber with wet grounds of coffee and let dry over several days. Then water flush and smoke. If still ghosted, then the salt and alcohol. Always simplest, quickest and least stressful solution first!


Dec 22, 2019
Killeen, TX
There are several threads that you can find in the search function where deep cleaning is the topic. Also, Muttnchop Piper has a two part series on deep cleaning that you can find on you tube.

In my opinion, deep cleaning makes a noticeable difference! It's a must for any estate pipe, and even though I keep my pipes very clean, I particularly notice it on the pipes that I use for lat blends. They taste sweeter for several smokes after a deep clean.


Apr 16, 2014
Bryan, Texas
I agree with the above posts. You shouldn't need to do a salt treatment unless it's ghosted. Usually, a good cleaning of the stem and shank will do wonders. There's a lot of discussion about using isopropyl alcohol when cleaning, and for most it works fine. Personally, I find that nothing works as well as Everclear... it leaves a sweeter taste as opposed to the bitter taste that isopropyl leaves.


Mar 13, 2020
NE Ohio
I use isopropyl when things really need cleaned out. In fact, I just did this on a Brigham that's been abused a bit lately. Left to dry overnight, the isopropyl evaporates and I find leaves no taste.

The salt trick isn't any kind of routine maintenance. It's for removing years of nastiness and tars from an old pipe. It works, but for regular maintenance or semi-regular deep cleaning it's not really going to improve things. It's kinda like bleaching your whole carpet to remove a stain when all you really need is some water and a rag.


Nov 14, 2020
Well it turns out my Estate Grabow I recently bought had a bit of Ghost to it, I thought I could smoke out, didn’t work.

So I put in a cotton ball and filled it with Everclear 151, I’ll let it sit over night.

I’ve read a bit about this, seems as though a lot of people have gone the cotton ball route instead of salt, saying it worked and less messy.

I’ll report back how it turns out.



Dec 29, 2010
Pacific NW
To protect the exterior bowl finish, don't let any alcohol touch it. I've got one soaking right now, new pipe I got that's bitter from the get go. May try the coffee grounds method next if this doesn't help. I can tell it won't be easy to smoke it out.
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Dec 25, 2021
Once a week I run everclear through pipes I’ve smoked that week on pipe cleaners. The three antique store pipes I just bought and restored, I did the everclear and salt because the shanks and stems were completely sealed shut with tar. ?


Dec 29, 2010
Pacific NW
Who made the pipe?
It's a Peterson. I've always had good luck with Peterson, good tasting wood. But I just bought four more: two are great from the get go (Harp & System), but the two Tyrones are not so good. One is ok, but the other is very bitter from the start. I scrubbed out the new bowl coating too. Never tried the coffee grounds method but I'll try that on the bitter one.

It's amazing how different the same tobacco tastes in the four different new pipes. The two good ones are the same, but I lose flavor with the bitter ones. I always start with a Virginia to see how they handle it. Hope the soak works. Wonder if they have a new source for wood (used to be Spain).


Can't Leave
Jan 27, 2018
Sugar Land, TX
When covid first hit and we all got sent home to work I used down time to deep clean all my hobby things. 1st was s deep clean on all my rifles, then I moved to the everclear retort method on about 80 pipes. I also used that time to oxyclean/soak all the tarnished and or brown pipe stems. Once I was finally out of fun things to clean, I did some laundry. My wife was suspicious.