How to Clean Your Vape Tanks and Coils

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My vape has started tasting bad, why?

Have you started getting a funky taste to your vape, or has it lost that fresh clean taste? – Well, that means probably time for a clean.

Maintaining and cleaning your vape gear is the best way to make sure you are always getting optimal performance. Over time the residue left behind by your vape juice will build-up to the point that it will start affecting the performance of your coils and will start tainting the flavor of your juice.

There are some leading culprits from e-liquid ingredients that unfortunately may cause this to happen quicker. Vegetable glycerin (VG), which is found in all juices (at varying amounts), acts as part of the base of e-juice and is the key component behind creating vapor. However, it’s quite a viscous liquid so it can build-up on coils.

How to Clean Your Vape Tanks and Coils

Nonetheless, VG is an essential ingredient to vape juice and isn’t as problematic as some other ingredients. Flavorings also affect the residue left on coils, but dark flavorings seem to be the worst. However, the most significant flavoring culprit that gunks up coils is sweeteners (often referred to as coil killers). Some e-liquid manufacturers tend to go overboard with sweeteners to help accentuate the flavor of their juices. So be prepared if you love that overly sweet tasting juice, that great flavor may not last long before you have to change or clean your coils.

A couple of noteworthy juice ranges we’ve tried recently that really cut back on the sweetener but still deliver on flavor are Naked 100, or Twelve Monkeys Origins, but there are plenty more out there.

So we’ve established that a gunked up coil can lead to weak flavor and reduced vapor production and even a vape that tastes burnt. However, there may be some other reasons why it’s not quite tasting right.

How to Clean Your Vape Tanks and Coils

Mixed juices

You’ve emptied your tank, switched juices, and changed your coil head. Everything should be good, right?

Well no, sometimes flavoring from your last juice will still be lingering and can contaminate your new juice. This is especially true for strong flavorings like tobacco, coffee, licorice, or menthol.

That’s why it’s always best practice when switching juices, and coil heads in a tank to give it a good clean before you start.

How to Clean Your Vape Tanks and Coils

It's a new tank and coil

Sometimes new atomizers or tanks may arrive looking sparkling clean and new but have a slight odor of machine oil.

Sadly, it’s become quite a common case that manufacturers haven’t gone that extra mile to really deep clean the device after manufacturing, so now you have to.

Whether you are having issues due to a well-used coil, mixed juices, or a new (but not clean) tank, there are some simple methods to properly clean everything and get the best flavor experience.

How to clean a vape tank

The first step to cleaning your vape tank is to remove the coil (we cover the cleaning of coils later in this article). Then make sure you drain the tank of any excess liquid.

Most tanks have several sections and can be completely disassembled, which will be best to do full a thorough clean (refer to the manufacturer’s guide or website for full details on how to do this). When taking the tank apart, pay close attention to all the parts, especially o-rings, and make a note of where everything goes. Place all the components in a small bowl, so it’s collected together and then follow one of the following methods.

How to Clean Your Vape Tanks and Coils

Regular rinse

This is probably the easiest and most common method for cleaning your tank and works best if it’s relatively clean in the first instance.

Make sure the tank is disassembled and place each part under running water (warm water works best), and dry them with a paper towel. Then allow them to air dry until no water or condensation is visible.

If your tank still doesn’t look clean or was considerably messy in the first place, then you might need to take the next steps.

Fill a cup or bowl with water and heat it in the microwave for approximately two minutes. While it’s heating, rinse all the parts of the tank, as mentioned previously. Then when finished, remove the bowl/cup from the microwave and place all of the pieces in the hot water.

Leave it until the water has completely cooled down. Then remove all the parts individually and rinse as before, and use a paper towel to dry. As before, leave all the parts of the tank to completely dry with no visible condensation. You can use a blow dryer to speed up the process, but be extremely careful not to overheat and damage any o-rings.

PG rinse

As with the regular rinse method, but instead of water, you can use Propylene Glycol (PG).

Fill a cup or bowl with PG, then place all the parts of your tank inside, allowing it to sit for a couple of hours. Once the time is up, remove all of the parts and place them on a paper towel so they can drip dry.

The use of Propylene Glycol is particularly good at removing any leftover flavor as PG acts as an excellent carrier for flavor. Do not use Vegetable Glycerin (VG), as it’s a much thicker liquid and will make the whole cleaning process far harder.

How to Clean Your Vape Tanks and Coils

Cleaning agent rinse

If you need a deeper clean, you’ll get better results using a cleaning agent. However, make sure you thoroughly rinse them after to remove any remnants and always allow them to dry properly.

  • Vinegar is extremely acidic and can be an effective cleaning agent, but you’ll need to rinse thoroughly to prevent any lingering smell.
  • Ethanol (grain alcohol) is another highly effective cleaning substance. Do not confuse this with Isopropyl alcohol, which should never be used inside your tank.
  • Baking soda is also an excellent cleaning agent and can be used to get tanks sparkling again.
  • Cheap Vodka maybe not as accessible, but it’s cheap enough to get, and does an excellent job at cleaning.

We know some vapers have had good results with lemon juice mixed with water to provide an excellent clean. Others have mentioned dish soap, but we’d advise against that as it’s harder to rinse away, and any traces will ruin your juice.

Going ultrasonic

If things are looking incredibly filthy and you need to get a real thorough clean going, the best way to achieve it is with an ultrasonic cleaner.

Ultrasonic cleaners are typically used for cleaning precious metals and jewelry but have now become the go-to cleaning tool for vaper because of how incredibly effective they are. You won’t need a specific type for vape gear; any ultrasonic cleaner will do as long as you can run over 10-minute cycles with it.

Ultrasonic cleaners are also incredibly easy to use, just fill it up with water and place you vape tank parts inside, and let it run. You can also add another cleaning agent or a touch of dishwashing liquid, but it’s not essential. Always make sure you rinse your tank after and allow it time to dry.

How to Clean Your Vape Tanks and Coils

How to clean your coils

Cleaning coils can be a lot trickier than cleaning your tank, and in some cases, it might just be better to replace them.

It’s also dependent on which type of replaceable coil you are using as to how you need to approach cleaning it. Stock coils for tanks that have a coil and absorbent wick typically encased in a metal shell can be particularly challenging to clean.

Whereas coils for rebuildable atomizers like RDAs and RTAs can be a lot easier as you can remove the wicking material, thoroughly clean the coil, and then replace the wick with a fresh one.

Cleaning stock coils

Replaceable stock coil heads that come with all sub-ohm tanks technically can be cleaned, but not completely. This is due to the wick material being encased inside the coil head and wrapped around the coil, so cleaning them out won’t completely revive them, but it might just give you a couple of more days of vaping.

To clean your stock coils heads, follow the following method.

  • Let your coil soak in ethanol, vinegar or cheap vodka for a few hours
  • Rinse the coil head under the tap
  • Rinse again, but this time with distilled water
  • Blow air through the coil on one side to force any excess water out of the wicking holes. Repeat several times.
  • Set the coil aside until all water has evaporated. A spot in the sun or a heater will speed up the process, but it will still take some time.

This cleaning method might just remove some of the worst bits of residue, and the coil head might look brand new, but there will still be build up around the coil, and your wicks won’t be entirely fresh. So don’t expect miracles, you may still need to replace the coil head.

How to Clean Your Vape Tanks and Coils

Cleaning rebuildable coils

If you are using rebuildable coils in an RDA or RTA, not only is it easy to clean your coils, but you should do it regularly for proper maintenance and to ensure maximum performance.

Follow these simple steps to clean your rebuildable coil:

Firstly remove the wicks from your coil, as they will need changing, and you won’t want to burn them during this process. Once the wicks have been removed, you can perform a light dry burn of the coil – this is where you pulse the fire button a few times on a low wattage to remove the excess liquid and gunk.

If that does the trick, you can re-wick the coil, and you are good to go. If you’ve done that a few times and feel like it needs a deeper clean, then you can do the following:

  • Remove the wicks from your coil
  • Lightly dry burn your coils (do this on a low wattage and don’t let them glow too much)
  • Remove the atomizer from your device
  • Place it under warm running water
  • Brush the coil lightly with a coil cleaning tool or toothbrush
  • Rinse the atomizer once again
  • Dry burn once more to remove remaining water droplets

You can also do the above with distilled water or dishwashing liquid, but we advise against, making sure you thoroughly clean and dry it if using dishwashing liquid.

Cleaning your coils with the steps above will significantly increase their lifespan. However, if you are still noticing the performance is a little lacking, or the flavor is a little off, then it’s time to replace it with a new one.

How to clean a vape pen

Cleaning a vape pen can be a little trickier depending on the setup of the vape pen.

If the vape pen has a removable tank, then you can follow the usual vape tank cleaning tips. Make sure you also pay attention to the battery section of the vape pen, use a soft cloth to wipe it down. Do NOT use water, and be extremely careful around the charge ports and buttons.

If the vape pen is an all-in-one (AIO) and is together in one piece, then cleaning it is going to be a lot more complicated. Again do NOT attempt to wash the whole device with water, as electronics and water do not go well together. The simplest and safest method for cleaning your all-in-one vape pen is to use a Q-tip (cotton bud). Soak it some Propylene Glycol or distilled water, and then thoroughly wipe the inside of the tank section. You may need to go over it more than once for the best results and try using a dry Q-tip after the soaked one.

How to Clean Your Vape Tanks and Coils

Changing e-liquid

As previously mentioned, mixing e-juices can be another contributing factor to your vape tasting terrible.

Essentially there is no problem mixing your juices or even brands of e-juices. This is especially true if both the liquids have a similar flavor profile, sometimes the resulting mix will taste fine, and the initial juice will eventually flush out, leaving you with just the new flavor.

However, if both the old and new juice are vastly different in their flavor profiles, then things may begin to taste bad. So if you’re switching between very different juices, then it’s worth giving your tank a clean with one of the methods above. If you are using a rebuildable, you might get away with changing the wicks and giving it a quick clean.

Remember, strong-flavored liquids like tobacco, coffee, or menthol will always linger in the tank for a while. For better results flushing out the lingering flavor, you could try vaping some base e-liquid with no flavoring.

Hopefully, using all the tips above should set you on your way for getting rid of that bad-tasting vape, and lead to optimal performance.

Jules M
Jules M
Jules is our vaping font of knowledge. He has been a passionate vaping supporter since 2013 and spends his time trying to educate people with ‘facts’ on the safety and benefits of vaping.

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