Does Isopropyl Alcohol Kill Coronavirus?

With COVID-19 quite literally in the air, cannabis consumers are rightfully concerned about how to clean and sanitize smoking gear. The highly-infectious coronavirus is thought to hang around on surfaces of all kinds for days, and glass specifically, for up to five days.

Because the novel coronavirus is making its inauspicious debut, not many scientific studies have been conducted about which disinfectants can kill the virus, leaving scientists to assume that solutions that kill other viruses will also work on COVID.

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Cleaning Your Glass Pieces

Several months into the pandemic, products like disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer are still in short supply, but you may have something stashed in your medicine cabinet believed to kill the virus: isopropyl alcohol – however even isopropyl alcohol is tough to find these days. Before you start putting on your gloves and dousing your gear all willy nilly, check and see if you have the right stuff.

Make sure that that the solution contains at least 70% alcohol for cleaning your glassware.

A smaller percentage won’t be as effective and could put you at risk of infection. Now that you’ve made sure you have the right percentage (do not go higher than 70% since it will evaporate too quickly), you can set yourself up to clean your smoking gear with confidence.

Here at PotGuide, we’ve got a handy guide on how to clean your bong or pipe with isopropyl alcohol, but in the time of COVID, you’ll need to take a few extra steps.

How to Clean Your Piece:

  • Assemble your materials: at least 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, cotton swab, cotton ball, or microfiber cloth
  • Place materials on a clean, disinfected surface (alternatively, you could place some paper towels or a clean wash or dish cloth on the surface)
  • Put on a pair of gloves, preferably disposable
  • Follow the guide to cleaning your piece
  • Once you’ve finished, place all the items on your working area

And here’s where the extra steps begin. Not only do you have to clean the inside, you’ve got to clean the outside of your piece, too.

Extra Cleaning Steps:

  • Soak cotton ball or microfiber cloth with isopropyl and clean the outside surface of your glass, and make sure to give it a little elbow grease
  • To clean small openings, soak a cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol and clean thoroughly
  • Next, remove your gloves safely so you don’t potentially contaminate your fingers, and dispose of them immediately
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds!
  • Before rinsing your piece, give the alcohol a few minutes to work its virus-killing magic
  • Rinse your piece with hot water and let dry

Isopropyl Alcohol Vs Other Cleaning Agents

Since isopropyl alcohol is in such short supply, you may be tempted to skip regular cleanings or try alternatives like hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, tea tree oil, or drinking alcohols with high proofs like Everclear. However, there is no evidence stating that those alternatives work on coronaviruses like COVID-19. Also, keep on the lookout, in some places, iso alcohol is starting to reappear on shelves.

Bleach with a no symbol around it
When cleaning your pieces do NOT use bleach. photo credit

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should not clean your pieces with bleach. Despite its status as an excellent disinfectant for hard surfaces like doorknobs and countertops, it is not a substance that should be used on something like a pipe or bong because it can be very irritating and potentially harmful to the lungs and other organs.

A rule of thumb – that applies to much more than cleaning your gear – is to wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly before and after consuming, store your piece on a clean surface, and do not share it with others. Stay safe out there!


How have you been taking care of your smoking devices during COVID? Let us know in the comments!

Photo Credit: Rosario "Charo" Gutierrez (license)

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