How to Clean a Hookah With a Few Simple Steps

Written by Jacob - Hookah Enthusiast

Last updated May 11, 2023

If you are a hookah enthusiast who wants to create the perfect hookah experience every time, you should know the basics. And I mean the maintaining basics. Do you remember the last time when your hookah had bad taste?

That’s right. I remember it too from back in time when I started smoking hookah. I didn’t even know why my hookah had such a bad taste. Then I started cleaning the hookah regularly and I started to enjoy my sessions again.

Seriously, there is nothing worse than a dirty hookah so in this article, I will explain to you how to clean a hookah quickly and easily.

What you need to clean a hookah


  1. Regular soap or hookah cleaner
  2. Hot water
  3. Stem and base hookah brushes
  4. Baking soda & lemon juice (for extreme situations)
  5. Some patience
    Hookah cleaning brushes

    Hookah cleaning tips

    How to clean your hookah at home

    The very first step is to unload and completely disassemble your hookah. Remove the bowl, unload it, throw away the ash from the ashtray, pour the old water from the base into the sink and disassemble everything that can be removed from your hookah. Now, with everything removed, you can start cleaning the hookah parts.

    1. Start from top to bottom

    Get your hookah bowl and rinse everything with water. If you have a clay bowl, you can let it sit in warm water with some regular soap inside for 20-30 minutes. Then remove and rinse the bowl with water and rub the holes with your brushes. If you don’t have a special brush, use a regular toothbrush. Rinse again with cold water and make sure the water that comes out is clean. Dry your bowl completely

    2. Ashtray cleaning

    The hookah ashtray is a metal plate, designed to put your colas on during a coal replacement or just to remove the ash from used ones as the name suggests. Rinsing it with cold water is more than enough, but it’s important to dry it well with a towel. This will avoid soaking water in your charcoal, which is not a good idea as you can probably imagine.

    Hookah ashtray cleaning

    3. Clean the hookah stem

    The stem is usually made from stainless steel, copper, or other metal. The surface inside is nice and smooth but it can still build up leftover pieces and juices from burned shisha. To start cleaning the hookah stem, run hot water for several seconds. Then use soap and a long brush to remove build-ups and bad smells from the shisha

    Hookah and stem

    4. Cleaning the hookah base

    This is one of the most important steps of the hookah cleaning process. The water inside plays a “filter” role, so you should take care of the base properly. If you smoke too many shishas with the same water you will get a very bad taste as a result.

    On the other hand, if you finish your session and leave the water in the base for a few days, it will be harder to remove the bad odor, or even worse – it could lead to mold accumulation inside the vase.

    To clean the hookah base, you will need a vase brush, soap, and hot water. First, remove the old water and pour in some fresh hot water and soap. Shake well for 10 seconds and rinse. Repeat the process but now use a vase brush to scrub the build-ups. Rinse with hot water and dry well.

    5. Washing the hose

    This could be a tricky step because there are different hookah hoses on the market but not all of them can be washed. I have a detailed article on how to clean hookah hoses so you can check it out.

    For regular rubber (silicone) hose cleaning, run water at high pressure inside the hose. This will wash every build-up inside. You can use soap for better results. Leave the hookah hose to dry well before using it again.

    Hookah hose connect

    How to clean a hookah (for extreme situations)

    I consider a hookah to be extremely dirty when: 

    1. It has been sitting for more than 1 week with dirty water inside
    2. It has been used with the same water more than 3 times
    3. It is smoked for more than 3 hours

    In those cases, I advise you to use next-level cleaning techniques and solutions. Here comes the lemon juice and the baking soda which can be used for the stem, bowl, and base cleaning.

    Clean the extremely dirty hookahs by adding a couple of teaspoons of baking soda and lemon juice then scrub the parts with a hookah stem/vase brush. Rinse all of the parts well with warm water and let them dry.

    Alternatively, you can use other cleaning solutions or even vinegar to remove bad odors and build-ups.

    Hookah cleaning with lemon


    Cleaning your hookah after each session will ensure your satisfaction, better taste, good hookah appearance, and better overall hookah smoking experience. Be consistent and just follow the simple steps I shared with you. I hope I’ve provided a useful guide on how to clean a hookah with this article. One great tip is to avoid using the hookah parts while they are wet. The goal is to let them dry completely. Enjoy and until next time!

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