At first glance, you may believe that your dry herb grinder needs little more than a casual wipe to keep it clean. After all, it’s just dried plant material, right? You may be surprised to learn that the grinding herb always leaves some residue behind, and those bits of plant matter and oil can build up over time and affect your grinder’s performance.
It’s important, then, to take the time to clean your grinder on a regular basis, every month or more depending on how often you use this essential tool. Whether you have a a two-piece or multi-chamber grinder, it’s important to keep every component clean. Regular cleaning can also extend the life of your grinder, so it’s ready to prepare your dry herb material for many sessions to come.
What do you need to clean your grinder, and what steps should you take to ensure a thorough cleaning?
What supplies do you need to clean a grinder?
Before you ready your grinder for cleaning, make sure that you have all the appropriate supplies. Gather everything you need and set up an area in your kitchen or bathroom to begin the process.
You’ll need the following items:
- Isopropyl alcohol or dishwashing liquid: Use the rubbing alcohol on metal grinders and the dishwashing liquid on plastic or acrylic grinders.
- A brush with small, soft bristles: A tiny paintbrush (1” or under) or a soft-bristled toothbrush is perfect for getting in between the grinder’s teeth and removing plant matter from the delicate screen.
- A rolling tray, large paper plate, or cutting board: This catches any valuable kief that may fall out of your grinder. It can also help keep components organized in one place.
- A small container: If your grinder does not have a separate area to catch and store kief, you can store this potent product for future use.
- A multi-tool: This helps get stuck residue out of the grinder. If you don’t have a multi-tool, you can also use a toothpick to assist with this task.
- Tongs and a towel: For plastic or acrylic grinders only, you'll need tongs to dip the different pieces of the grinder into boiling water, and a towel for allowing those pieces to dry afterwards.
- Freezer space: This may help for truly-stuck grime (see Step 2 below for context), but it is not necessary for proper cleaning.
Our easy 5 step process for cleaning your grinder
Disassemble your grinder
Your grinder may have two, three, four, or even more components held together with a magnet or screwed on tightly. Disassemble all components that are meant to come apart. Be sure to check if your grinder has removable screens. If it does, take those apart as well.
Tip: Make sure that you have a clean area set aside where you can keep tracking of all of the parts, as well as have a guide handy for reassembly.
Put your grinder in the freezer
If your grinder has some serious buildup or has never been cleaned, it may be a good idea to place the disassembled pieces in the freezer for about 30 minutes. While this step is not a most, it makes the plant matter easier to remove.
Tip: If you are cleaning a plastic grinder, handle it with care when removing from the freezer. Plastic may become fragile at freezing temperatures.
Remove any residue
Tap the pieces of the grinder against the paper plate/rolling tray/cutting board, to get all the plant matter out of the grinder. Using a dry toothbrush or paintbrush, begin to run the bristles over any metal teeth and the kief screen. This step is laborious, but very important for ensuring a thorough and proper clean for your grinder.
Tip: Many choose to save the residual material that comes off the grinder, as kief is potent.
Start the deep clean
The type of cleaning agent you’ll use depends on the material from which your grinder is made.
For stainless steel and other metal grinders, place the components in a plastic bag, fill the bag with isopropyl alcohol, and let the components soak for approximately 30 minutes.
For acrylic grinders or plastic grinders, drop the components in boiling hot water for approximately one minute. Remove the now-hot parts with tongs and place them on a towel to cool, approximately 10 minutes.
Tip: If you are using the boiling water method, be sure to turn down the heat after the water boils and before you place the components in the grinder. Too hot water can damage or melt the grinder.
Reassemble your grinder
Do a quick visual inspection to ensure all the plant matter has been removed, and that all components are fully dry. Then reassemble your grinder.
Tip: If this is your first time, make sure that everything lines up with the manual or guide that came with the grinder. If you don't have one, check online.
A clean grinder for a clean session
Regular maintenance ensures a fine grind every time, which is crucial for proper airflow and better vapor. The grinder cleaning process may require a little more effort, but it’s essential for the long life of this accessory. No matter if you have a basic two-piece grinder or a multi-part workhorse, every grinder needs a regular and thorough deep cleaning. With this guide, you’ll have all the necessary steps to maintain this essential consumption tool.