Materials & Use

How To Clean A Grinder: Easy To Follow Steps

Gabi Antunes

Aug 22, 2019

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 leaf material, right? You may be surprised to learn that the grinding process always leaves some residue behind, and those itty bits of material can build up over time and affect your grinder’s performance.

First and foremost, a clean grinder ensures proper function. After a while, the buildup of oil and small bits of plant matter can make it difficult to turn the grinder and achieve the fine grind necessary for consumption. 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. 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 metal grinder or a plastic grinder, a two-piece grinder or a three-chamber grinder, it’s important to keep every component clean. 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.
  • 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.
  • Hot water, tongs, and a towel (for plastic or acrylic grinders): You’ll use this water to boil the pieces of acrylic or plastic grinders, tongs to retrieve them from the water, and a towel (paper or reusable) for the components to cool.
  • A small container: If your grinder does not have a separate area to catch and store kief, a small container 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.
  • Optional – freezer: This may help for truly-stuck grime, but it is not necessary for proper cleaning.

Easy Steps to Clean Your Grinder

Step 1: 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: If this is your first time cleaning your grinder, you may want to have a user guide nearby so you can reassemble it properly. If you don’t have a manual, search online for a guide pertaining to your grinder, or you can take detailed notes to follow later and retain for future use.
Step 2 (optional): Place the disassembled 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.

Step 3: Remove any residue. Tap the pieces of the grinder against the paper plate, rolling tray, or other flat surface of your choosing, to get all the plant matter out of the grinder. Using a dry toothbrush, dry small paintbrush, or the multi-tool, begin to run the bristles over any metal teeth and the kief screen. This step is laborious, but very important for ensuring thorough and proper grinder cleaning.

Tip: Many choose to save the residual material that comes off the grinder, as kief is potent.

Step 4: Get to cleaning! 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 or until the most stubborn grime begins to loosen.

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.

Step 5: Reassemble your grinder. Do a quick visual inspection to ensure all the plant matter has been removed, then put all the pieces back together.

Tip: Let all the components dry fully before reassembling your grinder.

A Clean Grinder for a Clean Session

Regular maintenance ensures a fine grind every time, which is crucial for proper airflow in portable vaporizers and other consumption accessories. The grinder cleaning process may require a little elbow grease, 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 cannabis consumption tool.