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How To Clean A Grinder In 5 Easy Steps

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Part of a grinder

Don’t let your lack of knowledge about how to clean a grinder be a deterrent to maintaining your cannabis equipment. There are plenty of good reasons to keep your grinder clean, and it’s really not that difficult when you get the hang of it.

In this article, the experts will show you how to clean a grinder in five easy steps — with no muss and no fuss.

And if a clean tool isn’t motivation enough for you, we’ll show you how to use the leftover plant matter to take your smoke sesh to the next level.

Why You Should Clean Your Grinder

1) Keeps You From Getting Sick

Those nugs of bud we all love were once live plant matter. And even though they’ve been dried and cured, they will eventually start to decompose.

That means bacteria will start to grow on any leftover kief in your grinder. And in case you were absent that day in middle school, bacteria can make you sick. Clean your grinder and stay healthy longer.

2) Ensures The Smooth Operation Of Your Grinder

Part of a grinder

Periodic cleaning ensures that your grinder will work smoothly when you need it most.

Grinding cannabis is a sticky job, and some of that sticky icky will get stuck in your grinder. That can gum up the works and make your grinder not only harder to turn but less efficient to boot.

More effort and less finely-ground grass? No thanks. We’ll clean our grinder, thank you.

3) Helps Extend The Life Of Your Grinder

Entropy is a harsh mistress, that’s for sure. Systems break down. Objects degrade. And the teeth on your grinder get dull. Damn you, entropy!

But you can defy decay by cleaning your grinder regularly. This keeps the teeth sharp and the “turny mechanism” smooth and easy-to-use.

And it really is worth the effort to give the finger to a property of thermodynamics (think about this when you’re high and you’ll understand).

When You Should Clean Your Grinder

Along with how to clean a grinder, many people wonder when to clean a grinder. The answer is every 30 to 60 days.

That, of course, depends on how often you’re grinding. If you pulverize pot every day, the cannabinoids and terpenes (a.k.a. trichomes) will build up faster on the surface of your grinder and necessitate more frequent cleanings

If you only grind your ganja once or twice a month, you can probably get away with cleaning it every 60 days.

How To Clean A Grinder

Grinders come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials. The first two variables aren’t really a concern when considering how to clean a grinder…unless it’s so big or so wonkily-shaped that it won’t fit in your freezer.

If you find yourself in this situation, all we can say is, “Damn, son, send us a picture of that monster grinder!”

Grinder material

The third variable — grinder material — is extremely important when trying to decide how to clean a grinder.

Metals will rust when exposed to water. Acrylics and other plastics will dissolve, warp, and generally degrade when exposed to isopropyl alcohol.

That’s why it’s imperative to figure out what your grinder is made of before you clean it. If you somehow managed to purchase a grinder with both plastic and metal parts, you’re basically screwed.

No, not really. You just have to be extra careful and break the cleaning process down into more steps.

We’ll explain how to clean a grinder made of metal and how to clean a grinder made of plastic in the step-by-step guide below. But first, let’s assemble our tools.

Tools To Make The Job Easier

  • Isopropyl alcohol (for metal grinders)
  • Dish soap (for acrylic and plastic grinders)
  • Hot water
  • Freezer (optional but highly recommended)
  • Large plate or plastic cutting board
  • Container to hold the kief
  • Toothbrush or soft paintbrush
  • Toothpick, metal pick, or dab tool

5 Easy Steps To Clean A Grinder

1) Disassemble Your Grinder

Example of how to clean a grinder

Disassemble your grinder into as many small pieces as possible (without breaking it, of course).

If you use a four-piece, three-chamber grinder, you’ll probably have a lid, the grinding chamber, the collection chamber, and the kief chamber. Two- and three-piece grinders will have fewer pieces (Duh!).

Some grinders will have a removable screen between the collection chamber and the kief chamber. Be careful when you remove this screen. It’s fragile.

Too much force or a sharp nail can break a hole in the screen that will render it about as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle or a screen door on a battleship.

2) To The Freezer!

This step is optional, but it does make the next few steps so much easier.

Place all the pieces of your grinder in the freezer for 30 minutes. This will harden all the sticky plant matter that’s clinging to the surface of your grinder.

This is especially useful for dislodging every last bit of canna-goodness from the screen between your collection chamber and kief chamber.

Handle your plastic grinder with care after you remove it from the freezer. Plastic becomes brittle at low temperatures.

3) Tap, Brush, Scrape

After removing the grinder parts from the freezer, hold them over a plastic cutting board and tap them gently against your hand or the surface of the cutting board.

If you don’t have a plastic cutting board, a plate works just as well. Honestly, you just need a surface where you can collect the leftover plant matter. A cereal bowl or your partner’s belly works just as well.

Next, brush all the surfaces of the grinder with a toothbrush or soft paintbrush. And just so you’re clear, we’re not talking a wall paintbrush. You’ll find it much easier if you use a watercolor paintbrush or something of similar size.

If some stubborn gunk refuses to come off, scrape the area with a toothpick or dab tool.


Just because it’s been living in your grinder for the past month, doesn’t mean it’s not still some good #&@$.

This is the most labor-intensive part of the whole process, but the freezing makes it so much easier. You can skip the 30-minutes of freezer time if you want, but you’ll probably spend two, three, or four times as long trying to pick all the waxy stuff off your grinder.

4) Bring On The Alcohol Or Water

It’s at this point that how you clean a grinder will diverge into two different paths depending on whether you have a metal grinder or a plastic grinder.

For metal grinders, submerge the pieces in a bowl or plastic baggie of isopropyl alcohol. This will kill any bacteria that might be hiding in the nooks and crannies.

Feel free to agitate the bowl or baggie a bit to loosen up any stubborn plant matter. Then let everything soak until the liquid turns a light brown color or until a visual inspection shows that all the last particles have come loose.

For plastic grinders, boil some water on the stove and then drop your grinder pieces into the pot. Reduce the heat to a gentle boil (so you don’t melt the freakin’ grinder, you pyro) and then leave the grinder in the hot water for one minute.

Remove the grinder pieces from the liquid hot magma (a la Dr. Evil) with cooking tongs, and then set them on a towel to cool. Be sure to wait 10 minutes to give the pieces plenty of time to reach room temperature.

5) Reassemble And Enjoy

After the pieces of your grinder are cool, it’s time to reassemble and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Oooh! Feel how easy it turns? Isn’t that worth all the back-breaking work?

The answer is yes.

How To Use The Goo From Your Grinder

Person practicing how to clean a grinder

Remember how we told you not to discard anything you remove from your grinder (DON”T DO IT!)? Here’s why.

That stuff is pure, unadulterated kief. And it’s often of higher quality than the stuff you pull out on a regular basis because it was “fresher” when you ground your cannabis.

So unless you’re grinding cheese or nuts between bouts of cannabis (in which case, eeew), don’t let this ganja gold go to waste.

Not sure how to use the kief you get after cleaning your grinder? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Decarboxylate it and mix it into your favorite edible
  • Sprinkle a bit on your joint before you close
  • Add a smidge to the bowl of your bong
  • Roll your blunt in this fairy dust
  • Use it to make weed tea

The sky’s the limit on how you can use the kief you get after cleaning your grinder. Exercise your imagination and have fun. That’s what cannabis is all about.

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