Vaping 101
November 9, 2018

How to Clean Your Vape Tanks and Coils

A clean vape is a happy vape

A clean vape is the simplest way to get optimal performance. Although the ingredients of vape juice will generally not stain your equipment, residue will accumulate, and the buildup will eventually affect the performance of your favorite vape. Vegetable glycerin and some darker ejuice flavorings are notorious for gunking up coils, as are most of the sweeteners used in e-liquid manufacturing. A gunked up coil will have lower flavor and vapor production and make the vape taste burnt.

Even if you change the coil head, the flavoring from your last juice might still be lingering in your device. This is especially true for tobacco, coffee, menthol, cinnamon and other dominant flavors such as melon, grape or licorice. Imagine trying to vape a grape-flavored coffee e-liquid – no offense to the grape coffee lovers out there.

What if your vape is new? Sometimes atomizers and tanks will arrive smelling like machine oil. They might not look dirty, but the characteristic smell will give them away. Whether your device is new or well-used, a proper cleaning is a simple way to ensure the best possible experience. Luckily most tanks these days are easy to clean if you know the right steps to take.

How to clean a vape tank

How to clean your vape

First step: take the coil out (we are going to discuss coil cleaning later). And while you are at it, take the rest of the tank apart. Pay close attention to how things fit together, and make mental note of what goes where. Keep it all organized and don’t lose any pieces. This will make cleaning much more efficient, while also familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of your tank. There are many ways to clean your vape tank, but these are the most effective.

The standard rinse

If your tank is relatively clean, warm water works well. Take the tank apart, separating the parts. Place each part under running water, drying them with a piece of paper towel. Let them air dry afterward until no water or condensation is visible. If your tank hasn’t been cleaned for a while, you might have to add an extra step.

Take your cup or bowl and fill it with water. Place it in the microwave for about two minutes. In the meantime, rinse the parts of your tank under the sink, to get the process started. Next, take out the cup or bowl from the microwave and place your disassembled tank inside of it.

Let it sit, until the water cools down, then give your tank one last rinse under the sink. Use a paper towel to gently and carefully dry your tank. Place it aside until completely dry. You can also use a blow dryer to speed up the process, but too much heat can potentially damage your O-rings.

The PG rinse

Instead of water, you can soak your tank in propylene glycol. Simply fill up a bowl or cup with your PG, and let your disassembled tank sit there for an hour or two. Don’t use VG, as that would make cleaning your tank more difficult, since it’s a much thicker liquid.

Once your tank is done soaking in PG, stand it up on a napkin and let it drip dry. This method is excellent for getting out that leftover flavor, as propylene glycol is an excellent flavor carrier.

The cleaning agent rinse

If you want even better results, you can use some simple household items to give your tank a deeper cleaning. Take care to rinse them thoroughly after application and let your tank sit to get dry.

  • Baking soda is a good cleaning agent that can be used to get tanks sparkling again.
  • Ethanol, aka grain alcohol, is yet another highly effective substance for cleaning. Don’t get this confused with Isopropyl alcohol which should not be used on the inside of your tank.
  • Vinegar is a highly acidic cleaning agent but must be thoroughly rinsed to prevent its smell from lingering.
  • Cheap Vodka is not a household item, but chances are you can find it at the grocery store. It will do the job and won’t cost you much.

Some vapers prefer using a little bit of dish soap or lemon juice with water instead. Again, remember to rinse well as vaping dish soap is probably even worse than it sounds.

The ultrasonic cleaner

If you want to get the most thorough cleaning possible for your vape tanks, you’ll need an ultrasonic cleaner. Typically used for cleaning jewelry and precious metals, now used by vapers worldwide to clean their atomizers. While you don’t need an ultrasonic cleaner made specifically for vape gear, having one that can run for cycles over the ten-minute mark will be handy.

Using an ultrasonic cleaner is not a complicated process. Just fill it with water and run it until it cleans your vape tank parts. For even better results you could add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid in your ultrasonic cleaner. Just give your tank an extra rinse afterward and let it dry.

How to clean your coils

How to clean your vape

Cleaning coils is a little less straight forward. Replaceable coils in come in two types: coil heads for tanks, which are encased in a small metal chamber that contain an absorbent wick; and coils for rebuildables, which require the user to install and wick. The approach to cleaning the two types is vastly different.

Replaceable coils

Replaceable coil heads that come with sub ohm tanks and clearomizers can technically be cleaned, but it won’t completely revive them. Best case scenario, you get an extra few days out of a tired coil head. The reason behind that is the presence of wicks. Letting dirty coils soak and having water pass through them will remove some of the residue, but not all of it. And on top of that, you will need to wait for water to fully evaporate, which may take a while.

If you still want to clean your coil heads, then you can follow the old soak and rinse method.

  • Let your coil soak in ethanol, vinegar or cheap vodka for at least a couple of hours
  • Place it under the tap and rinse
  • Rinse once more with some distilled water
  • Blow air on the open side of your coil to force water to the wicking holes
  • Set it aside until all water has evaporated

A bit of sun or a heater will speed up the process, but it will still take time. You will notice that the wicks will look much better after that but, again, don’t get your hopes too high. You will still need to change the coil head soon despite how new it will look.

Rebuildable coils

If you are using a rebuildable atomizer, not only you can clean your coils, but you actually should clean them! Gunked up coils will quickly start suffering in flavor and vapor production. But you can follow some simple steps and have your coils almost as good as new in no time.

The first thing you have to do is remove the wicks from your coils — you don’t want to burn them. If your coils are not that bad, a light dry burn will do the trick. Pulse the fire button a few times until you remove the remaining liquid, let them cool down and re-wick.

But if you have already done this a couple of times, dry burning might not do the trick. In that case, you can follow these steps for deeper cleaning.

  • Remove wicks from coils
  • Dry burn your coils lightly (don’t let them glow too much)
  • Remove atomizer from your mod
  • Place under running water
  • Brush them lightly with a toothbrush or a coil cleaning tool
  • Rinse once again
  • End with a final dry burn to remove the last droplets of water

You can also use a bit of dishwashing liquid when brushing your coils, but take care to rinse them thoroughly afterward in hot water.

If your coils are still gunked up, or if flavor production has dropped significantly, then it’s time to rebuild your atomizer. Proper cleaning will greatly extend the life of your coils, but at some point they will succumb to time and extensive use.

How to clean your vape pen

How to clean your vape

If your vape pen comes with a detachable tank, following the vape tank cleaning tips will do the job. Maintaining the battery section clean is also important, but take care to not use water on it. A soft cloth will work for everyday maintenance, and stains can be removed with the use of a wet towel. Just make sure you don’t get buttons and charging ports wet.

For vape pens that come in a one-piece design, things get a little trickier. Since water and electronics don’t go well together, even if you try to rinse your device carefully there are many things that can go wrong. The safest and easiest way to clean an AIO vape pen is using a Q-tip. Soak a Q-tip in propylene glycol or distilled water and wipe the inside of the tank section thoroughly. For even better results, go over it once more with a dry Q-tip. This way you will be able to remove most of the gunk effectively.

How to change e-liquid

How to clean your vape

First thing to note is that different brands of e-juice are fine to be mixed. Whether you like the taste of the mix is different. For most people, thoroughly cleaning their vapes every time they change e-liquid sounds like a lot of work. Is cleaning your tank between juices necessary? It doesn’t have to be.

If you’ve vaped your tank empty before changing e-liquid, it shouldn’t take long for the previous flavor to be completely flushed out. In fact, when vaping on similar flavor profiles, some of the in-between puffs might even be very tasty. But if the two juices are very different, chances are you are not going to appreciate the flavor mix. Here’s what you can do to save yourself some time.

Remove all e-liquid from the tank and take some short duration puffs – this will dry up the wicks. Don’t take more than 3-4 puffs as a dry hit is lurking. If you are using a regulated device, lowering the wattage will give you some extra safety. With the wicks relatively dry, switching flavors will be much faster — although you might still have some mixed flavor puffs in between.

For users of rebuildable dripping atomizers, the process is even simpler. In fact, RDAs are the most efficient atomizers for flavor switching on the go. Just take the top cap of and blow on your coils while firing your device. You will notice that your wicks are drying up and turning white — again, don’t overdo it as you can burn them. Drip some of your new ejuice on your coils and vape on.

For even better results you can try vaping some base e-liquid between different juices. This works for both tanks and RDAs, and will get rid of lingering flavors more efficiently.

My first attempt at vaping came back in 2009 on some of the first cigalikes to ever reach Europe. A couple of attempts -- and vaping tech generations later -- I managed to quit smoking in 2016, and have since then developed somewhat of an obsession with all things vaping. When I am not consuming vape reviews I am either tinkering my NBA fantasy teams or playing board games with friends.

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3comments

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1

Nice article. Important thema. I use the dish soap and very warm but not steaming hot water. Went to rebuildables from the very same reason. After taste ?. Even some lay down coil in pure PG it always stays some gunk between wires. The ultrasound cleaner is my next step ’cause it’s amazing effective and uses no chemicals. Only down side is if you have bad paint on your tank…

2

Try denture cleaning tablets, it’s what I use and I have never had an issue. Glass of hot water, dump the components in, drop 1 tablet, when it has broken down, add a second….JOB DONE!!

3

Maybe it’s overkill, but I use soapy water in an ultrasonic, then a vodka rinse. The alcohol displaces the water and evaporates faster giving you ready to use gear faster.

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