As Stoners, we have all had that ‘Oh Crap’ moment when our grinder finally clogs up and refuses to work after months or years of neglected resin build up.
Look, we get it, no one wants to clean a grinder. But we are here to tell you the process of cleaning a grinder is actually easier than you might think. In fact, it’s so easy that we broke it down into just seven steps.
In this guide, we outline Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning Grinders, including:
Alright, now it’s time to get to it! But before we dive into the 7 Steps to Cleaning a Grinder, it is important that we answer a few major questions about the cleaning process.
These next few sections will help you understand the benefits of cleaning your grinder, when you should clean it, and what else you should know before starting.
Why is it Important to Clean Your Grinder?
Cleaning your grinder is essential to keeping it in good condition for a long time. On top of that, it improves functionality, reduces the risk for bacteria buildup, and
1. Improve the Longevity
Resin clogs up the threads that allow your grinder to screw together. Over time, if you let it buildup enough, it can become an impossibly thick almost glue-like substance that is extremely difficult to remove – but not impossible in most cases.
This can cause your grinder to have difficulty opening and closing, and can also lead to the seal of your grinder to be broken. Additionally, this can also cause your grinder to break entirely – we have had lids and bottoms fall right off of grinders before because of resin buildup (what a rookie stoner mistake).
On top of that, cleaning the teeth in your grinder can keep them from breaking under the extra strain put on them when grinding. However, if you know which herb grinder to buy, this shouldn’t be a problem.
2. Reduce Germs & Bacteria
At the end of the day, bacteria can grow just about anywhere. This includes inside of your grinder. While this is usually nothing to worry about, if your bud becomes a little moist and is kept in there for a while, it can develop mold and other bacteria that can be harmful to your health if inhaled.
Knowing the best way to clean your grinder and when to clean your grinders helps to prevent this invasive bacteria, and keep you safe in your smoking experience.
3. Remove Resin & Build Up
We already mentioned that the teeth in grinders become clogged over time, no matter how well you take care of it. Making an effort to check the teeth each time you use them can save you hours of time in the cleaning process later on.
We also talked about how the threads in your grinder can become clogged as well. Another annoying thing that can happen if you do not clean your grinder is that the magnet(s) can become clogged, causing the lid to become loose.
Grinder screens are also prone to clogging and can use a regular clean as well. If left clogged, it reduces pollen collection. Some of the best grinders have removable magnetic screens, which make cleaning much easier, as you can always have a clean one ready to go.
4. Collect More Kief
No one likes a clogged screen. It is bad for pollen collection. Cleaning the screen in your grinder regularly is one of the easiest ways to get more Kief.
Like we mentioned earlier, some grinders have replaceable metal screens. Other top grinder brands are known for their extremely durable screens. There are even 5-piece grinders that have an additional screen for the best pollen production.
5. Smoother Grinding Experience
Look, every first time Stoner goes out and buys a poorly made grinder because it’s cheap, easy to get, and they don’t know what to look for in a grinder. But after using it for a little while, you realize how annoying it is to use, how often it does not work, and how unreliable it truly is.
As time goes on, not cleaning your herb grinder will begin to turn it into that first grinder you bought. To keep your grinder working well and keep your experience smooth, it is best to clean your grinder every few months.
When Should I Clean My Grinder?
Typically, we recommend you clean your grinder every 3 to 6 months in order to keep it free of bacteria and reduce resin build up. Keep in mind, people who use their grinder more may have to clean it more frequently due to more resin buildup.
3 Helpful Tips for Cleaning Your Grinder
Before you can get the process of cleaning your grinder started, there are a few things you need to know:
1. The Type of Grinder Matters – Clean Each Differently
The most important thing to know before you start the cleaning process is that the type of material your grinder is made out of strongly affects the way you should clean it. Otherwise, you can damage your grinder and even make it unusable.
Depending on the type of grinder you have:
- Metal Grinders
There are different steps you must take in the cleaning process in order to make sure you get the job done right.
When cleaning metal grinders, you should make sure that you use Isopropyl Alcohol. We recommend anything between 91% and 97% for the best results. You want to avoid using anything with bleach, as cleaners that are not near a neutral pH can actually damage or even remove the anodized coating which makes some grinders scratch proof.
When cleaning acrylic grinders, you want to make sure that you stay away from cleaning your grinders with Isopropyl Alcohol, as this can actually dissolve and deform acrylic. This will ruin your grinder entirely, making it swell and bubble. If you have an old, cheap grinder you are replacing though – it does make for a fun science experiment.
For cleaning this type of grinder, it is strongly recommended that you either use a soap and water method, which is easy and works very well. You can also clean your grinder in boiling water, which works better for more extensive resin buildup.
We will go more into each of these cleaning methods more in-depth in the next section.
2. Always Dry Your Grinder Before Using It Again
This step is very important. If you do not let your grinder dry out completely prior to using it, not only will you likely run your flower and any pollen it collects, you can also be exposing yourself to bacteria growth.
Bacteria and mold like to grow in damp, dark places with organic matter to feed on. I can’t think of a much better place than a grinder. In order to prevent this process (which one of the main reasons you should clean your grinder in the first place), make sure your grinder is completely dry before closing it or using it again.
Gently drying it with a towel, leaving it in fresh air for 30 minutes or an hour should do the trick just fine. Or, you can always use a hair dryer (as long as it is not too hot on acrylic grinders). Before screwing it together, just be sure to check for moisture one last time, and you’re good to go!
3. Having a Few Helpful Tools Can Make the Cleaning Process Easy
As with any cleaning process, there are a few tools for cleaning your grinder which make the job especially easy. The following supplies are cheap, reusable, and usually easy to find in a common household:
- Paint Brush
- Hair Dryer
- Paper Towels
We will explain how each tool comes into play in the next section, where we explain how to clean your grinder.
How to Clean a Grinder in 7 Easy Steps
Finally, let’s get this grinder cleaned and good as new again! Here are the 7 steps you need to know in order to get ‘er done.
1. Empty & Take Apart Your Grinder
Let’s be honest, I don’t have to tell you to take the remaining herb and kief out of your grinder before cleaning it. But, there are a few ways that you can empty it in order to get the most Kief out of your grinder.
Once all of your loose bud is removed, you want to take your shovel and gently remove any kief you can, pouring it in its own plastic bag to keep it separate from your flower. Be sure to tap it, scrape it, etc…
Next, you want to take apart each section, and begin using the paintbrush, toothpicks, and toothbrush we mentioned earlier in order to get any remaining particles out before cleaning your grinder with alcohol or soap.
2. Clean Your Grinder Using the Right Tools
You may not care to collect Kief when cleaning your grinder, because it is a bit more tedious and usually results in only a fraction more than you have. If you are, you should be sure to perform these next few steps over the bag, as everything you remove from your grinder is reusable. Even if not, you should still perform these next steps before cleaning with alcohol or soap and water.
Be sure to use the toothpicks to clean the teeth of your grinder, as well as the threats and magnet. Then, use the toothbrush afterward to be even more thorough. Cleaning your kief screen can actually be extremely easy, by using a paint brush. Gently tap the screen with the back of the brush, knocking some out. Then use the brush in order to get what remaining pollen you can out of it.
Also, if your screen is not magnetic, you should be sure to use the toothpicks in order to remove any resin and buildup you can from the threads of this section. You also should be sure to clean your Kief catch using the same techniques.
First, use the paintbrush in order to remove any kief you might have left in your grinder after emptying it. Then dig away at the threads and corners with the toothpicks, until you can no longer extract anything else. Lastly, use the toothbrush to give it one more quick cleanse before moving on to the next steps.
3. Put Your Grinder in the Freezer
Wait, what?! Yeah, the best way to clean your grinder is to actually put it in the freezer before moving on to alcohol, soap, or water. But why?
Well, just like lots of materials, metal compresses when it is cold, as does acrylic. This causes them to shift, loosening more of the Kief particles from edges, cracks, and threads.
On top of that, as the Kief particles begin to freeze, they lose some of their moisture, which is what keeps them stuck together. What was once gunked up can be easily loosened once frozen.
You should keep your grinder in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes to an hour. When you remove it, you will want to give it one more cleanse with your tools before moving on to the next step.
4. Remove Remaining Particulate
Now that you have removed your grinder from the freezer, you want to remove any remaining particulate in order to make sure that your grinder is mostly clean – allowing the water and alcohol to target the hardest to reach spots.
The beauty of this step is that as the ice in your grinder begins to melt, condensation will also loosen up a lot of the remaining particles, allowing you to easily remove them. Once you feel you have done all that you can, it is time to let the rest of our grinder cleaning supplies do the work.
5. Use Isopropyl Alcohol, Soap & Water, or Boiling Water
As we said earlier, depending on the type of grinder you have, you will want to use different cleaning materials in order to get the job done. For a recap, you want to use Isopropyl Alcohol to clean grinders, and soap and water, or boiling water to clean acrylic grinders.
a.) Cleaning Metal Grinders
Simply place your metal grinder in a bag, or container full of Isopropyl Alcohol. Leave it there for anywhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
After this, you want to remove the alcohol and check out how your grinder looks inside. Does it look like all of the gunk is gone? If not, how much is left? Sometimes, there will be very minute spots on your grinder that just can’t seem to get clean – usually, this happens with very old ones, or grinders that have not been cleaned in a very long time (or forever).
If there is still some remaining particulate, try rinsing it out with water, in order to remove what is still leftover. If this does not remove it all, you should try first using your tools; the paintbrush, toothbrush, and toothpicks in order to get it out. If this still doesn’t work, give it another Isopropyl bath and repeat. After a few rounds of this, if it still doesn’t come out, it may just be a permanent freckle on your grinder that is here to stay. Enjoy it, it tells a story and makes your grinder unique.
Unlike some common grinder myths suggest, cleaning anodized grinders with water will not cause it to rust like other metals. For people with other metal grinders, like stainless steel, you do need to be wary of rust, but as long as you dry it well, this should not be a problem.
Either way, you want to BE SURE to let all alcohol evaporate in the air or be washed off by water prior to using your grinder again. You do not have to do this with water, but can. Letting your grinder air dry usually does not take long, as Isopropyl Alcohol turns into a gas at room temperature fairly quickly. To be safe that all water and/or alcohol is removed from your grinder, we recommend you use a hair dryer for about 5 to 10 minutes before putting it back together.
b.) Cleaning Acrylic Grinders
When cleaning acrylic grinders, you want to MAKE SURE that you never use rubbing alcohol. Otherwise, say goodbye to your grinder. Instead, you want to use either boiling water or warm soap and water to clean it.
If you use boiling water to clean your grinder, you want to place your grinder in the pot while the water is cool, as the stove heats up. You should leave it in the water until the water begins to boil, and then remove the pot from the burner. Otherwise, you can risk melting.
From here, let your grinder cool for about 10-15 minutes before touching it or putting it back together, as it is a bit malleable and hot to the touch at this temperature, and using it could either hurt you or damage it.
If you use soap and water to clean your grinder, the process is relatively the same. Simply fill a container with warm soapy water, and let your grinder soak for 30 minutes or so. It doesn’t hurt to give it a few scrubs with a sponge or shake the bin around a bit to loosen material, but you don’t have to.
After this, you want to remove your grinder and be sure to wash off any soap and remaining particulate with water. Otherwise, you can expose yourself to the risk of getting remaining soap on your herbs, which can change the taste and potentially put you in harm’s way.
6. Dry Your Grinder
As we explained earlier, drying your grinder is one of the most important things you can do in the cleaning process. It keeps you safe and also ensures that your grinder will not rust in some cases, or harbor unwanted bacteria and mold spores.
a.) Drying Acrylic Grinders
When drying acrylic grinders, if you use the boiling water method, you want to first let your grinder cool for 10-15 minutes before trying to dry any remaining moisture. You can either use a paper towel, or a hair dryer to do this job.
Drying your grinder with a hairdryer only takes about 5 minutes or less. Just be sure to not have your hair dryer on ‘hot as the sun, my eyes are about to melt’ mode, or you can cause warping in your grinder.
b.) Drying Metal Grinders
Drying metal grinders is the same thing, you can choose to air dry, use paper towels, use a hair dryer, or any combination of the three.
7. Reassemble Your Grinder
Alright! It’s time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your cleaning labors, with a fresh, clean, brand new grinder. Put this Bad Larry back together and get to grinding!
Sometimes, you may experience that magnets or threads do not work as well as they once did. This could be a sign of some permanent damage done to your grinder by years of neglect and resin buildup. This can be caused by grinding of metal threads and weakening of magnets over the years.
There are replacement magnets and screens, but you can get a new grinder for about the same price, so it is usually not worth it in our opinion.
Other Grinder Cleaning FAQ
So you may be sitting here scratching your head with a few extra questions about how to clean your grinder. No worries, we have heard a lot of them over the years, and chances are if we didn’t answer your questions in the guide above, it’s somewhere in this FAQ section.
Q. How do you deep clean a grinder?
Make an effort to clean it a small amount each time you use it. This includes:
- taking a look at the bottom of the teeth to make sure no loose bud is mashed in there,
- maintaining your threads over time and removing any clogs as they emerge,
- keeping your kief catch and pollen screen clean,
- and avoiding waiting too long to clean your grinder again.
Taking these simple steps to keep your grinder clean will make a world of difference in the long run in terms of performance and overall ease of use.
Q. How do you clean a Kief grinder screen?
To clean your grinder screen, you should first try to extract any loose pollen by first using a paintbrush to gently brush it out. Then, you should use a toothbrush for some more serious scrubbing, but be sure to do so gently so you do not dent the screen. After that, you will want to remove any hard to get at particulate from the threads and corners with a toothpick. Finally, place your Kief screen in a container of Isopropyl Alcohol to remove any remaining resin buildup. Be sure to dry it completely before using again.
Q. How do I clean my metal grinder?
When cleaning metal grinders, you want to generally try avoiding soap and water, as some soaps can damage the outer coating of anodized aluminum grinders (which keeps them scratch and corrosion proof). Water can also cause rust in other types of metal grinders like stainless steel ones. Instead, use 91% or higher Isopropyl Alcohol to safely clean your metal grinder.
Q. What can I do with Kief resin from my grinder?
You can keep it and add it to your Kief collection. You can also use it to create THC butter, which can be used in a number of recipes. Lastly, it can also be used in order to create oils and other types of
Q. Should I clean my grinder?
Yes, you should clean your grinder at least every 3-6 months in order to reduce resin buildup, kill bacteria, and maintain longevity.
Q. How do you clean a grinder with alcohol?
First, make sure it is a metal grinder. Acrylic grinders will warp with rubbing alcohol, and be useless afterwards. Simply take your grinder apart and empty it. Then, place it in a bag or container filled with alcohol and let it soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour. After it soaks, let it air dry or use a hair dryer to ensure it is dry before using it again.
Q. How long should I put my grinder in the freezer?
If you are putting your grinder in the freezer in order to clean it or collect Kief, we recommend leaving it in there for about 20-30 minutes or no more than 1 hour at a time. Any longer than this, and you can risk causing damage to your grinder, making its components brittle, or exposing Kief to even more moisture which can ruin it or promote mold and bacteria growth.
Learning More About Herb Grinders
Hopefully, your grinder is completely clean now, and ready to grind up some fresh herbs as a reward for all that hard work you put in.
You can also shop our selection of herb grinders from our online head shop for great deals on high-quality herb grinders.
If you found this blog helpful, have any questions, or have grinder cleaning tips that have worked for you in the past, please leave us a comment. Thanks for reading, have an awesome day, and as always, Stay Up.