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How to Clean a Dab Pen: Cleaning Tips for Optimal Performance

If you have a dab pen, it’s essential to clean it regularly. Although it can be a time-consuming process, cleaning your dab pen will ensure it works for a long time—saving you time, money, and stress. 

And here’s the good news: Cleaning a dab pen isn’t as challenging as some people like to make out. Yes, it can be more challenging than cleaning dry herb vaporizers or regular vape pens, but it’s simple if you know what you’re doing. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to clean a dab pen to ensure you maintain high standards!

What Is a Dab Pen?

A dab pen—also commonly called a concentrate vaporizer—is a type of vaporizer designed to vape concentrates, a highly concentrated form of a cannabis extract, including shatter, wax, and oil. Dabs are usually small and portable, making them a superb choice if you want to vape cannabis when traveling. 

Dab pens or wax pens often use battery-powered energy and have a heating element to vape the concentrate. Some dab pens also include ceramic or quartz oil, whereas other dab pens use a quartz bowl or ceramic. In addition, dab pens also include variable temperature settings—enabling the user to control the temperature of the vaping experience. 

How Does a Dab Pen Work?

To comprehend how a dab pen works, you’ll need to understand the cannabis concentrates and how cultivators make them. Here’s the truth: Cannabis concentrates are very potent extracts of the cannabis plant that create solvents like CO2, butane, and alcohol to extract the active compounds, cannabinoids, and terpenes. 

After that, the concentrate is refined and purged of any residual solvents before they’re ready to use. In addition, manufacturers design dab pens to vaporize these cannabis concentrates to the point of vaporization. 

The dab pen’s heating element is typically a quartz coil or bowl that’s battery-powered. Once you activate the heating element by inhaling through a mouthpiece or pressing a button, it’ll heat the concentrate on the coil or bowl to vaporize it. 

Some dab pens also feature a variable temperature setting, enabling the user to change the heating elements to control the intensity of the vapor. This benefit is crucial because different types of concentrate vaporize at different temperatures, sometimes cooler or hotter. 

To use a dab pen, the user must load small amounts of concentrate onto the heating element, commonly the coil or bowl, using the dab tool. The amount of concentrate you need to use depends on the potency (which can vary dramatically). Once you’ve loaded the concentrate, you’ll activate the heating element and inhale the concentrate through the mouthpiece.

Dab pens are often more expensive than other types of vaporizers, but they need regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure they function properly. However, they’re an excellent option if you want to vape cannabis discreetly. Likewise, dab pens are also highly customizable. 

What You Need to Clean Your Dab Pen

Thankfully, you don’t need tonnes of tools to clean your dab pen, but here are some important things you’ll want:

  • Isopropyl alcohol: Your main cleaning agent will be Isopropyl alcohol, which you can find in almost all drug stores. 
  • Cotton swabs or Q Tip: You can find cotton swabs (or Q Tips) in many stores; they’re essential for cleaning a dab pen. 
  • Paper towels or a clean cloth: Use either a clean cloth or a dab pen to wipe your bowl. 
  • A bowl or container: A simple bowl or container is key for soaking your dab pen in alcohol. 
  • Water: Good-old hot water is perfect for rinsing off any alcohol. 
  • A toothbrush: By using a toothbrush, you’ll scrape off any stubborn wax or residue. 
  • A scraping tool: If a toothbrush doesn’t work, a specialized scraping tool is perfect.

7 Methods to Clean Your Dab/Wax Pen

Clean Your Dab/Wax Pen Cotton Swab

1. The Cotton Swab Scrub

Cleaning your dab pen with a cotton swab scrub is one of the easiest ways to clean your device. Here’s how to clean your vape pen with a Q Tip or cotton swab scrub:

  • Choose the right type of cotton swabs: It’s a good idea to use 100% pure cotton swabs when cleaning. That way, you’re less likely to leave behind lint or any other annoying fibers that get stuck in your dab pen. 
  • Use a high percentage of isopropyl alcohol: You should use a minimum of 90% isopropyl alcohol when cleaning your dab pen. That’s because it’s more useful for removing and dissolving wax or oil. 
  • Be gentle with the scrubbing: Remember, always be gentle with your cotton swab scrubbing because it can lead to damage and possible malfunction. 
  • Let the dab pen dry: Always let your dab pen dry before using it again to avoid damage. 

If you use these tips to scrub your dab pen, you should have no issues. 

2. The Alcohol Bath

Cleaning a dab pen with an alcohol bath is one of the most effective ways to remove residue and dirt build-up. But, with that said, you should follow these tips for a deep clean:

  • Disassemble your dab pen: You should take apart the dab pen carefully to start. 
  • Prepare the alcohol bath: Ensure you pour around 90% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) into a small glass to properly clean your dab pen. 
  • Soak the parts: It’s essential to soak the parts of your dab pen for 30 minutes to ensure all the residue has gone. 
  • Scrub and rinse the parts: Next, you’ll scrub and rinse the parts to remove all bacteria and residue. 
  • Dry the parts: You should use a clean paper towel to dry your dab pen and wait for 30 minutes until it’s completely air dry. 

You can also follow the same process with baking soda to get your vape pen clean. However we recommend using rubbing alcohol.

Clean Your Dab/Wax Pen Paper Clips

3. Get Creative With Paper Clips

Using paper clips is another popular method for cleaning your dab pen, but you should follow these tips to do the best job:

  • Disassemble the dab pen: Take apart your dab pen carefully to ensure you don’t lose any pieces. 
  • Straighten the paper clip: Now, straighten the clip as much as possible to prepare for the cleaning. 
  • Use the paper clip: Scrape the paper clip around the dab pen to remove the buildup. 
  • Use a cotton swab: After you’re done scraping, use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to remove any residue. 
  • Dry the parts: Use a paper towel gently to dry the parts before letting them air dry. 

If you follow these simple tips, you should have no concerns about cleaning with a paperclip. 

4. Huff and Puff Into The Mouthpiece

One of the best ways to clean your mouthpiece is by simply blowing into it. Here are some simple steps to follow:

  • Dissemble the dab pen: You should begin by removing all the parts of the dab pen to ensure you don’t lose anything. 
  • Hold the mouthpiece: It’s essential to hold the mouthpiece to your lips like you are about to take a hit. 
  • Blow air into the mouthpiece: Gently blow air into the mouthpiece like you’re exhaling smoke. That will help you to dislodge any residue or build-up. 
  • Use a cotton swab: It can be a smart idea to use a cotton swab to remove any of the leftover residue. 

5. Keep Your Connections Clean

Keeping your dab pen connections clean is essential to maintaining a healthy dab pen. Here are some key tips for proper cleaning:

  • Clean and disconnect regularly: You must clean and disconnect your connections all the time to prevent any problems. 
  • Use alcohol: The best way to keep your connections clean is by using a small amount of isopropyl alcohol (or lemon juice) and gently rubbing it along the connections. 
  • Avoid over-tightening: Don’t tighten your connections too much because it can make your connections dirty. 

Ensure you follow those 3 tips to keep your connections clean and avoid damaging your wax pen.

6. How To Burn Off Leftover Wax on Dab Pen

Another excellent option to keep your dab pen clean is burning off the leftover wax. You can do this by following these tips:

  • Hold the pen upside down: by keeping the pen upside down, you will keep the wax closest to the heating element. 
  • Burn off the wax: Let the pen heat up for around 10-20 seconds, with the heating element facing down, to remove any remaining wax. 
  • Clear the pen: After the wax is completely off the dab pen, use a cotton swab with alcohol to remove any residue. 
  • Dry the pen: Now let the pen air dry to ensure all moisture is gone. 

7. Use Coil-less Atomizers

Using coil-less atomizers is another excellent way to keep your dab pen clean. They don’t have any heating coils that get dirty or clogged, resulting in an overall cleaner experience. 

Is it Necessary to Clean Your Dab Pen?

Unfortunately, many bad things can happen when you don’t clean your dab pen properly—and this can impact the taste and potency of the cannabis concentrate. Here are some of the biggest problems you’ll encounter if you fail to clean your dab pen:

Residue Build-Up

Perhaps the most obvious downside of not cleaning your dab pen is the residue build-up on the heating element, most likely the coil or bowl. This is a problem because it can reduce the potency and quality of the cannabis, resulting in a poor smell and taste. 

Similarly, the buildup of residue often makes it more challenging for the heating element to properly warm up, leading to a shorter lifespan on your dab pen!

Clean Your Dab/Wax Pen Bacteria Build Up

Bacteria Build-Up

If there’s something you don’t want when using a vape pen, it’s the growth of bacteria. When you use a dab pen, your body fluids and saliva will come into contact with the mouthpiece, leading to bacteria and germs on the device.

Over time, this can create a build-up of harmful bacteria that pose a risk to your health. 

Battery Damage 

One of the biggest issues with not cleaning your dab pen is the damage you can cause to the battery. In some cases, as bacteria grows on the heating element or other parts of the device, it can cause a reduction in the device’s overall lifespan and efficiency.

Ultimately, this can lead to costly repairs and replacements. That’s why it’s essential to follow a cleaning process above to prevent any long term battery damage.


Clogging is a nightmare for dab pen users. One of the biggest downsides of not cleaning your dab pen is with too much residue left there is an additional risk of further clogging. This makes it more challenging for vapor to pass through the device, causing weak potency and poor performance. 

Furthermore, the clogging can be so severe in some cases that you’ll require professional cleaning or a total change of device. In both cases, it’s an additional cost that you’d rather avoid. 

Are Dab Pens Safe To Use?

Dab Pens have become increasingly popular worldwide as a way to consume cannabis. However, there remains limited research on the negative side effects of using dab pens. But there are various things to consider when choosing this method of cannabis consumption:

Harmful Exposure to Chemicals

One of the biggest concerns people have regarding dab pens is the possible contaminants and harmful chemicals. 

Although the long-term effects are still unknown, cannabis concentrates can contain residual solvents and other impurities that can risk your health if you ingest them in vast quantities. That’s why you should always use reputable manufacturers for your cannabis concentrates. 


Another possible danger of using dab pens is the potential to burn yourself. When using a dab pen, the heating element can become extremely hot and lead to burns or worse if you’re not careful. 

Therefore, it’s extremely wise to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when touching the heating element, which will usually be in the instruction book. 

Final Thoughts 

Cleaning your dab pen or vape pen cartridge might feel tedious, but it’s essential to maintain your devices for optimal performance. Failure to clean it will shorten its lifespan and ruin the potency and flavor of your concentrates. It can also cause health issues if you’ve let bacteria build. 

But here’s the good news: Cleaning a dab pen, once you know how to do it, is simple. It may only take you 30 minutes, and you’ll have a far healthier, stronger dab pen when you’ve finished. That’s something every cannabis fan wants to hear!

Jules Martinez
Jules Martinez
Jules Martinez, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of our vaping site, brings a decade of expertise in vaping, CBD, and cannabis. His comprehensive knowledge and editorial rigor ensure high-quality, accurate content, positioning us as a trusted resource in the community.
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