Every cannabis enthusiast remembers the feeling of contemplation they had when they were considering their first herb grinder. The experience could have been via scrolling through pages of these multi-chambered tools or simply looking at a shelf full of vibrantly coloured choices at your local head shop.

No matter how you were able to secure your first weed grinder, I am willing to bet you never stopped and asked yourself:

How do I deep clean a grinder?”

This question is critically important, but yet, it is often neglected by newbies and professionals alike. A maintenance habit worth developing, cleaning a grinder is something that you should focus on in order to take care of both your overall smoking experience and personal health.

It seems like a simple solution, but if you care about the quality of the cannabis going into your marijuana grinder, then a clean grinder is critical to maintaining that quality. Even better, it can all be done with household products.

Why you should regularly clean your grinder

A direct comparison is the habits you develop in the kitchen. Similar to your herb grinder, your kitchen utensils are used for regularly processing organic materials, and taking care of them prolongs their lifespan. If you neglect to clean a blade after each use, it will accumulate rust from the moisture attached, become dull even quicker and generally deteriorate your knife. So, why don’t you treat your grinder the same?

This leads us to the primary reason for cleaning your grinder – to prevent decomposition. Arguably the most beautiful quality of cannabis is that it grows organically. However, this means it is also subject to developing bacteria and mold just like any other organic matter.

So the next time you’re looking at your grinder wondering if learning how to clean a grinder screen is really necessary, consider those lungs of yours. Smoking the resulting contaminated bud from an unclean grinder could cause long-term health complications or possibly even lead to infection.

Fear-mongering aside, preventing these negative side effects is quite easy. The basics needed to clean a grinder are easy to acquire and can be found around most homes.

how to clean a grinder
Two-piece grinders are more simple to clean than multi-chamber grinders

What you need for cleaning a grinder

  • Isopropyl Alcohol (A.K.A. rubbing alcohol)
  • Dish Soap (non-scented, non-aromatic)
  • Hot Water
  • Container (acrylic or glass, this will be used for holding your collected kief)
  • Freezer Safe Container
  • Small Brush (toothbrush or similar)
  • Small Pick (toothpick or an item of a similar size)

There are several types of materials which grinders are generally made from:

  • Metal
  • Acrylic/Plastic
  • Wood

Each type of grinder has its own unique cleaning method, but they all have the basics in common. The first steps to learning how to clean a grinder are all about removing and saving the loose kief – or THC crystals – which remain on your weed grinder after use.

These methods are not likely to damage your herb grinder unless they have already started to degrade either due to neglect or simply through regular use.

Initial steps

Remember, these initial steps can be applied to any type of grinder.

  1. After you have ensured that your clean surface has been sanitized prior to cleaning your grinder, disassemble your grinder sections and use your small brush to begin your cleaning. During this stage, your aim is to remove the loose kief or particles. Be sure that you are catching all those precious kief particles in your container for later use. You can use this kief for baking, adding to a joint, or with enough patience, even making concentrates.
  2. Optionally place your herb grinder within a freezer-safe container, and then place it inside your freezer. You should only have to wait approximately 30 minutes, or until you can visibly see it is starting to look frosty.
  3. Once the cold temperature has hardened the organic matter stuck to your grinder, take each of the individual chambers and with force, bang them against your clean surface. The freezing process will have loosened the organic matter from your cannabis grinder, regardless of type.
  4. Most of the kief particles should be loose from your grinder by now. Take a detailed eye, your small brush and your small pick to begin deep cleaning your screen as well as the remaining chambers of the grinder.

How to clean a metal grinder

If you have sensitive skin, be sure to have gloves on hand (…pun intended) for this process.

  1. Carefully and gently, rinse or brush your cannabis grinder with the isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). It is best to do this over a sink for easy cleaning. The isopropyl should further loosen any stubborn bits of plant matter than remain.
  2. Following this step, use the small pick to ensure all plant matter has been removed, and rinse thoroughly with water to remove all traces of the isopropyl.
  3. Finally, if you wish to be absolutely sure that the grinder is free of any contaminants, you can follow the steps below and clean your metal grinder using the boiling method that you would use for a plastic grinder.

How to clean a plastic grinder

It is important to be very aware that you CANNOT apply isopropyl alcohol to plastic grinders. Depending on their composition, some will melt or degrade on application.

  1. Prepare your hot water for use, and submerge each of the grinder sections. Let them soak in the near-boiling water for approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the grinder from the water and allow each of the individual chambers to air dry to the point that they have cooled to the touch. Inspect the grinder again to ensure that it is completely clean and, if necessary, use the toothpick to remove any remaining plant matter.

How to clean a wood grinder

Be very careful to lightly apply any sort of liquid to a wooden grinder. As a natural product, it is very porous and may absorb some of the additional moisture applied.

  1. Cleaning a wooden grinder relies heavily on the initial set-up of the cleaning process. A thorough eye with a small brush and small pick are best in this case. Be sure to loosen and remove as much of the organic matter as you can. If needed, you can take a very lightly dampened cloth and wipe your disassembled wooden grinder.
  2. To lengthen the lifespan of your wooden grinder, a secondary step in this process includes oiling your grinder like a fine piece of furniture. You can lightly apply canola or vegetable oil to the exterior of your wooden grinder and in the locations where wood will make contact with other wood.
  3. If you are going to either wipe the wooden grinder or apply oils, be sure to allow ample time for your tool to air dry. As the moisture may be caught within the wood of the grinder, it is important than none of this contaminates your marijuana.

How often should I clean my grinder?

This is a difficult question to answer as each cannabis smoker uses their grinder at a different pace, but a sanitary routine with your herb grinder is always a great habit to develop.

With that said, a general recommendation would be to follow these steps approximately once each month. If this sounds like a lot, think of the positive side, you will be increasing your storage of kief and THC crystals, which have many other applications.

It is also very important to emphasize that if you are using any of the cleaning products outlined in this piece – that it is your responsibility to thoroughly rinse to be sure that your grinder does not have any residual cleaning products.

If you are not careful, this could contaminate your marijuana and counter all of the work you just did!