What's the Best Way to Clean a Pipe?

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Whiskeyguy81

Lurker
Jan 16, 2024
4
16
42
California
I was wondering what's the best ways to clean your pipe? Besides using long cleaners . I heard some people use wild turkey whiskey not sure if that's good or not.
 
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HawkeyeLinus

Lifer
Oct 16, 2020
5,599
41,010
Iowa
I was wondering what's the best ways to clean your pipe? Besides using long cleaners . I heard some people use wild turkey whiskey not sure if that's good or not.
How "unclean" is it? Paper towel and warm water do for 99% of my needs since I do it after every smoke (unless I get distracted then it's before that particular pipe gets used again). Just "normal" sized cleaners so far as I know, whatever the usual BJLong or White Elephant tapers are for length (maybe they are considered "long"?).
 

OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
5,823
30,996
71
Sydney, Australia
I was wondering what's the best ways to clean your pipe? Besides using long cleaners . I heard some people use wild turkey whiskey not sure if that's good or not.
If your pipe is clean to start 1 or 2 cleaners in the airways, then doubled up to “scrub” the chamber will suffice.
If the pipe gurgled I’d dismantle it (when cool) and clean out the mortise.

Long cleaners are not necessary unless you have a churchwarden
If the chamber is dirty, a damp paper kitchen towel, scrunched up and twisted around will clean it up pretty good

Some members are devotees of water flushing.
I tried it on a few occasions, but don’t really find it necessary most of the time.

I use alcohol (always a high proof clear fruit brandy) ONLY if I have to deep clean. I don’t use “coloured” spirits
I only deep clean if the chamber is badly caked, or has an unpleasant ghost.
Or if it is a pipe I have just received.

Ghosting is rarely a reason for cleaning a pipe as I have a large rotation, and educate pipes for various genres.

I start out by reaming out the chamber
Then a couple of cotton balls stuffed into the chamber and filled with said alcohol. Leave for a day. Repeat until the cotton balls come out clean.
I pay particular attention to the shank and mortise As there is where most of the funk reside.
Vulcanite stems are cleaned with alcohol. Acrylic stems are cleaned with water and liquid soap.

Hope this helps
 

HawkeyeLinus

Lifer
Oct 16, 2020
5,599
41,010
Iowa
I will very occasionally give a bowl a little rub of rum after cleaning - but although it smells good I don’t like to waste the rum, so now only happens if I’m having a taste.
 
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Moraviensis

Lurker
Mar 4, 2024
19
102
United Kingdom
Savinelli make a small bottle of a Chartreuse green coloured pipe-cleaning fluid — I haven’t a notion what the chemical makeup is and probably shouldn’t understand it if I were told, but I find that it keeps the bore of a pipe and stem inoffensively clean. Scrape out any ash with pipe tool, gently rub chamber with doubly folded soft pipe-cleaner. I tend to be too zealous a cleaner, the opposite to the photo above.
 
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Briarcutter

Starting to Get Obsessed
Aug 17, 2023
170
963
U.S.A.
Ream them when needed. Use plenty of pipe cleaners. I very rarely take out the mouthpiece. I go months or years without ever taking them apart. My pipes taste good just using pipe cleaners so I see no need in even taking them apart to clean.
 
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jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
24,715
27,315
Carmel Valley, CA
Commercial pipe cleaners or "sweeteners" are pretty close to snake oil. It's just alcohol with God knows what else- perfume??

Unless your pipe is foul, or it's the first cleaning since purchasing an estate, there's no need to use alcohol at all.

A hot tap water flush and a pipe cleaner or two is all you need for 80-95% of cleanings. The remainder require taking the stem out and thoroughly cleaning the mortise.

Haven't mentioned reaming, which to me is a separate and seldom step. How often depends on what, and how, you smoke.
 

jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
24,715
27,315
Carmel Valley, CA
Some of you will recall I put three pipes through my dishwasher on purpose, ---All for science!

They came out clean on the surface, unharmed. It was just to allay fears in some that water should be kept away from pipes. I've also dunked by accident two pipes in a swimming pool, with no harm except the water put the pipe out and ruined the tobacco.

Others have related similar mishaps, or experiments to see how sturdy briar is....Very.
 

proteus

Lifer
May 20, 2023
1,160
1,935
53
Connecticut (shade leaf tobacco country)
Alcohol and water any ratio. Whiskey, rum, vodka, tequila, Graves. No methanol no denatured. Stuff you can drink. Pipe cleaners one wet one dry. 12 guage bore mop for the chamber itself. Reamer if you need it after some years. Various types out there.
 
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