How to Properly Clean a Grinder

By Liam Noonan - 11/3/22

Use a grinder enough and it’s inevitable that the inside will get gunked up from the sticky flower. If the top piece gets stuck as you try to twist your grinder, it’s time to give it a clean. Not only are dirty ones harder to use, but the built up residue can also deteriorate the quality of your grind. Next time you take the opportunity to sanitize your bong or pipe, make sure to pay a little attention to your trusty old grinder. 

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What Materials Do You Need to Clean a Grinder?

When it comes to materials, there are a few different things you’ll need to reliably and easily clean your grinder. The good news is you probably have most of these items lying around your house or apartment. 

  • toothpick
  • isopropyl alcohol
  • toothbrush
  • ziploc bag or suitable container
  • paper towels
  • freezer
  • grinder cleaning brush (optional)

Step-By-Step Guide to Cleaning a Grinder

1. Take apart your dirty grinder

The first step in cleaning your grinder is taking apart all of the separate chambers for easy access. If your grinder has a kief catcher, make sure not to spill any of the precious kief while prepping for cleaning.

2. Remove all of the plant residue you can 

photo of an empty weed grinder

While disassembling your grinder, pour out all of the leftover plant residue into a separate bowl to continue. We also recommend keeping the leftover kief separate from the flower in the main chamber. Use a toothpick and/or a toothbrush to scrape off the plant residue stuck to the teeth of your grinder. You won’t be able to get everything off at this point, but that’s what the next step is for. 

2.  Place your grinder in the freezer

Yep, you read that right. Placing each piece of your grinder in the freezer for a minimum of 30 minutes helps harden the sticky residue and makes it easier to clean the metal teeth. This step is the most important part of the cleaning process if your grinder has a considerable amount of plant material stuck to the edges. Once again, make sure not to spill and waste any of the kief inside your bottom chamber of the grinder. 

4. Take the grinder out of the freezer and remove additional residue

After at least 30 minutes, it’s time to take your grinder out of the freezer. At this point, all of the plant residue should be a little more brittle allowing you to remove the rest of the leftover gunk stuck to the metal. If it’s still to difficult to scrape the plant material off, you can stick the grinder back in for another 30 minutes to help get the job done. 

5. Soak your grinder in rubbing alcohol

This next step is arguably more important than breaking up the plant residue with the freezer method. Grab all the different pieces of your grinder and place them in a ziploc bag or jar. Pour in enough isopropyl alcohol to completely submerge all of the pieces then leave it be for at least 30 minutes. It’s important to note that if your grinder is made of plastic or acrylic, the rubbing alcohol can damage the material. In this case, we recommend soaking in warm water rather than the isopropyl. 

6. Rinse the grinder off with water and dry

At this point your grinder should be pretty close to done. Prior to rinsing away the isopropyl alcohol, go over the insides with a toothbrush again to completely remove the last bits of stubborn grime. All you have to do now is rinse the grinder off with clean water and air or pat dry all of the pieces. Once everything is completely dry, it’s time to start grinding up for your next session!

Cleaning a Grinder: How-To Video

Reasons to Keep Your Grinder Clean

1. A clean grinder is easier to use

Built up gunk from previously ground weed can make it nearly impossible to get a nice grind going on your flower. In the worst case, the top of a grinder can become completely stuck making it extremely difficult to spin to use. 

2. Dirty grinders can end up holding bacteria 

The flower you smoke is probably already dried and cured, but that doesn’t mean old weed won’t go bad sitting inside your grinder. Without proper cleaning, the gunk inside the grinder can decompose releasing bacteria that make you sick and even cling to the leftover kief.

3. A clean grinder will produce a better grind

One of the most important reasons to clean a grinder is for the fact that it will give you better quality grinds. Sticky plant residue can cling to the teeth of the grinder mean your flower doesn’t get completely ground up. On the other hand, the more you need to grind your flower the more it will deteriorate the important trichomes and cannabinoids. 

How to Harvest Kief From Your Grinder

Kief catchers are a must have in any grinder, but you’ll still need to put in a little work to get all of the sweet potent kiefy powder. The first step is harvesting what you can from the kief chamber using the little scooper that came with your grinder. Alternatively, you can use a guitar pick or something similar.

Once you’ve done this, take a small coin (preferably a dime because it doesn’t have a copper smell) and put it in the main compartment of the grinder. Seal your grinder back up with the coin inside and give it some good shakes. If you want to catch even more kief, place your grinder in the freezer overnight and give it another good couple of shakes in the morning while the coin is still inside. This should help you loosen up and collect all of the remaining kief powder. 

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