A huge part of vaping is the hardware. From the smallest pods to the largest sub-ohm capable box vapes, our devices are a core part of the vaping world.
Many of us will spend large amounts of time - and no small amount of money - to make sure our devices are absolutely spot-on for our vaping needs.
But the effort doesn’t just stop at purchasing and tinkering; properly maintaining your vaping device is just as important.
Vapes need to be regularly disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled in order to keep them in top condition.
Without such care many devices will quickly lose their quality, ruining even the best e-liquids and shortening their own lifespans drastically.
You’ll hear a lot about maintaining a vaping device’s coil, its drip tip and the mod itself, but it’s the e-liquid tank that presents one of the most vital (and often most time-consuming) parts of a maintenance routine.
Want to know how to clean a vape tank?
We’ll go over exactly what you need to do, how to do it, what to watch out for and a few extra tips to help you get the most from your vaping experience.
Why Should I Clean A Vape Tank?
As you’ll hear from any seasoned vaper, cleaning your tank is essential to ensuring the quality of your vaping experience.
Tanks will get dirtier with use and, if you aren’t willing to put in the effort to keep your vape in good condition, it will only get worse until it stops working entirely.
Not every last bit of e-liquid vapourises when you take a drag, there’s always some miniscule components left in the tank. Over time this residue will build up, filling parts of a tank with a kind of thick, dark-coloured goo.
This residue carries a foul taste and harshness that can ruin even the nicest of e-liquids. A clean tank will let you get the full flavour out of your chosen e-liquid, preventing old residue from spoiling the taste of your hit.
A clean tank also ensures that every other part of your vape stays in good condition.
Being the part of your device that holds the e-liquid, the tank is both that area likely to have the largest build-up of residue and the greatest impact on every other part of your device.
A dirty tank will mean a dirty coil, which also means a dirty mouthpiece.
When these devices build-up residue they each experience their own unique issues: a dirty coil will fire less effectively and burn-out much faster, whilst a dirty mouthpiece runs the risk of both rubber degradation and a generally unpleasant experience.
If you keep your tank in good condition then it will be easier to keep your entire device in top shape for the longest possible time.
So we know exactly why cleaning your vape tank is important.
But how do you actually do it?
Generally speaking there are two ways of cleaning a vape tank: a basic clean and a deep-clean.
There are a few ways of doing either, but each one serves a particular purpose. Where a basic clean is a minimal, regular action that will help to keep your device in good shape, a deep-clean is for those rarer stains that just won’t shift.
Basic cleaning is nice and straightforward, consisting mostly of a simple rinse, soak and wipe. All you’ll need for this is a soft cloth or a few sheets of paper towel, a small bowl filled with warm (not hot) water and possibly a toothbrush.
This is the kind of basic maintenance you should aim to do at least once a week.
Firstly, disassemble your vape chimney as much as you can, taking care to be sure that you’ll be able to put it back together again afterwards. Next rinse each part in warm running water for about 20-30 seconds.
You want to do an initial wipe at this stage, running through each element with either a cloth or paper towel to rub off the surface layer of residue. After this you can place each individual component into a bowl of warm water, letting them soak for at least a minute.
This will help to lift some of those more stubborn stains. When you’re ready, remove each component and, using either a soft cloth or a toothbrush, carefully rub over and inside each part.
This is where some oddly shaped tanks may prove troublesome, but just make certain that you’re able to reach those awkward corners and deep grooves.
It’s also worth paying attention to joining areas, threads and connectors at this point, as residue in these areas can cause serious issues if left unattended.
Once you’re satisfied with the condition of each piece, place them on a towel to dry. Be careful not to expose them to excessive heat or sunlight, instead just let them dry out naturally.
This is another point where tanks with bubbles or ridges could cause you problems, so be sure to check these small areas before you proceed.
Once you’re happy that your components are as dry as possible, reassemble your device.
In all a basic clean should take you somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes, with another 30 to 60 minutes to allow for drying.
This is the kind of maintenance routine that you should fit into your usual schedule, helping to keep the quality of your experience up throughout any given week.
If you’re noticing that residue is building up despite frequent cleaning, or if you just want a more thorough clean, then you’ll need to deep-clean your device.
A conventional deep-clean works in the same way as a regular clean right up to the point where you place the components in a bowl of warm water.
At this point, instead of rubbing around with a toothbrush, use a cloth dipped in unflavoured alcohol (vodka seems to work best) to carefully rub away at those areas of heaviest staining.
The alcohol helps to lift this stubborn residue from the surface of your tank, cleaning deeper than warm water is capable of. Once you’re satisfied with the state of your components, rinse them again in warm water and leave them to dry.
It is important to note that excessive exposure to alcohol can damage more delicate components, including coils and rubberised tips.
This will only happen in extremely high concentrations of alcohol for long periods of time, so be certain never to leave components soaking in alcohol for any extended length.
You should also take care to thoroughly rinse your components afterwards as trace alcohol in a tank or a coil will improperly vapourise, potentially damaging your device.
The other option for a deep-clean is through the use of a cleaning machine, either a purpose-built vape cleaner or a jewelry cleaner.
These machines are designed to use either conventional cleaning fluids, namely water or unscented alcohol, or ultrasonic vibrations to shift dirt from the smallest and most delicate of items.
These are available in many conventional hobby shops, as well as some vape shops and are widely stocked online. If you decide to use a cleaning machine make sure you follow the instructions exactly, don’t set it to a high a heat and be sure that your components are fully dried before reassembly.
Some vapers suggest using either baking soda or vinegar to achieve a deep-clean, using the same technique as an alcohol clean.
Personally we can’t find any particular advantage these methods have over an unflavoured alcohol, but they are an entirely legitimate option.
How Often Do I Need To Do It?
Many people new to the vaping world are surprised by just how often their devices need to be cleaned. There’s some conflicting advice out there about just how often you should do a clean, but for the most part it’s rather straightforward.
Cleaning your device once a week is very much a minimum requirement, helping to keep up the condition of your device without causing too much disruption. Some vapers will insist that cleaning it every few days, or even every night, is the only way to go.
This really is down to personal preference, as some vapers are far more aware of the taste of residue than others.
Of course, the need for cleaning depends on exactly how you use your device, with a frequent vaper using thick e-liquids needing a much more frequent clean than one who only vapes a thin e-liquid a few times a day.
When figuring out a cleaning routine your best asset is awareness. Keep an eye on your device, looking out for any visible residue in the tank or any changes in taste or firing quality.
A sudden change in how your vape hits taste or even how your vape sounds can be sign of bigger technical issues in your device, but more often than not it just means it needs a clean.
Generally speaking you’ll rarely need to deep-clean your device, only being necessary when a regular clean just isn’t enough. Frequent cleaning will help you to avoid those bigger messes that require a deeper clean.
Still, some vapers prefer to regularly deep-clean their devices. So long as you’re sure that you aren’t overdoing it with the alcohol or scrubbing too hard, there’s no downside to this either.
So far we’ve covered the basics of how to clean a vape tank, taking you through the standard procedures people use to keep their hardware in good condition.
As always there’s more to it than just the basics, so here’s a few tips and tricks we’ve picked up over the years.
It might be tempting when you hear the phrase “deep-clean”, but under no circumstances should you ever put your vaping components in boiling water.
Water of this temperature will absolutely destroy vaping components, threatening to crack the tank whilst ruining connector threads and coils.
For the same reason don’t be tempted to soak your components overnight, in water or in alcohol, as leaving them for longer than a few hours can potentially cause degradation.
When you’re scrubbing out your device with a toothbrush, take extra care around those delicate elements of your device. This means the coil, the thread, and any areas where your components screw or click into each other.
This also includes rubberised O-rings, as warping these can cause significant leaks in your tank.
If you’re cleaning with alcohol or vinegar, be sure to rinse your components very thoroughly before reassembling them.
Whilst they do both risk damaging your coil if vapourised, we’re struggling to imagine something that would ruin the taste of your hit more than vinegar mixed into your e-liquid.
Finally, we’ll just reiterate how important it is to take the proper approach to your hardware, taking care of it but also knowing when it’s time to move on.
It doesn’t matter how clean your tank is if your coil is burned out, that hit will taste nasty no matter what you do. Likewise, sometimes a residual buildup around a coil or in a mouthpiece or even a tank is so bad there’s just no saving it.
Cleaning is an essential part of having a good vaping experience, but sometimes things really do just need to be replaced.
How to clean a vape tank is something every vaper should know, whether they’re brand new to the world of vaping or have been puffing away for years.
Caring for your device is as key to vaping as knowing how to fill your tank. Unless you use only disposable vapes - an approach that seems to be slowly fading if the market is anything to judge by - then you’ll need to clean a tank eventually.
Doing it properly can make a world of difference to your vaping experience, ensuring that you get the most out of every hit and only experience the absolute best that your device can offer.
A clean tank will help to make your coils last longer, avoiding premature burn-out as well as bringing out the full range of flavour that an e-liquid can offer.
Some vapers will even deep-clean their tanks when changing out e-liquids, ensuring that they only get the authentic taste of that new liquid without any lingering influence of a previous one.
However you decide to approach cleaning your tank, whether you’ll do a basic once-over every week or a thorough clean every single night, you can be sure that your efforts are helping to improve your vaping experience.
Putting in that time to make sure your hardware is in top shape is what will make your time vaping that much more enjoyable.