Home-How » 5 Easy Ways to Clean a Metal Pipe

5 Easy Ways to Clean a Metal Pipe

In this post, we’ll discuss how to clean metal pipes! Be it a dirty smoking pipe or grimy plumbing pipes, we’ve got you covered!

We’ll share some homemade DIY cleaning options with you as well as give you some commercial solutions. Trust us; you can easily bring the newness and sparkles back to the metal pipes as long as you have the right ingredients and follow the instructions properly.

Read on to find out how to clean metal pipes!

How to Clean a Metal Smoking Pipe?

To begin with, we’ll discuss two brilliant ways to clean your metal smoking pipe in this section. You can either use a rubbing alcohol method or a hot water method to clean the pipes. However, remember that the former is more efficient than the latter, as the latter requires more effort.

1.   Using Rubbing Alcohol Method:

Isopropyl alcohol or the Rubbing alcohol method is one of the most popular and effective ways of cleaning a metal smoking pipe. Remember that if you decide on using liquors or some other types of alcohol, the alcohol content in the solution must be at least 70% for the best clean.

Besides rubbing alcohol and a Ziploc bag to pour the alcohol into, you’ll also need some pipe cleaner, a brush, or Q-tips to remove the remnant resin off your metal pipe.

Also, many suggest that putting a tablespoon or two of salt onto the alcohol solution will act as a great abrasive agent for a perfect clean. Now that we’re all acquainted with the supplies, let’s look at the step-by-step instruction on how to clean your metal pipe.

a)     Disassemble Your Metal Pipe:

Remove the old screen with the help of a sharp object and disassemble your smoking pipe to make sure that the alcohol reaches every nook and cranny.

b)    Prepare the Alcohol-Salt Cleaner:

Fill a quarter of a Ziploc bag and add two tablespoons of salt. Table salt works fine for the DIY cleaning. Insert all the parts of your metal pipe onto the bag and seal it.

c)     Let the pipe soak overnight:

Now, shake the bag for 2-5 minutes. The salt abrasion, even minimal, will work its magic during the shaking. It’s finally time to let the metal pipe sit overnight.

Soaking the pipe parts ina a Ziploc bag overnight might be difficult, given how the bag doesn’t hold its structure very well. You might want to soak the pipe in a plastic container for a proper soak.

Remember not to let your metal pipe soak in the alcohol for more than 24 hours, as the user icanryme2002 has mentioned on Instructables that his pipe leaked after leaving it on alcohol for a  longer duration.

Moreover, remember that if your smoking tube isn’t too dirty, to begin with, it might not need this long soaking time.

d)    Remove the excess residues:

While alcohol dissolves and removes most of the grime, some of it will probably remain stuck to your pipe.

A pipe cleaner or Q-tips will do a decent job of getting rid of these. Gently remove the gunk from the metal cylinder. You can also dip a Q-tip on rubbing alcohol and give one last clean swipe. If the pipe still looks dirty, resoak the pipe in alcohol for a bit longer.

e)     Dry the metal pipe:

While alcohol evaporates pretty quickly, you might still want to dry it using a cloth or a rag. Any trapped leftover moisture might hamper your pipe’s efficiency. So, always dry your metal pipe parts independently before reassembling them.

f)     Reassemble and enjoy:

Finally, it’s time to put in a new screen and reassemble your metal pipe.

2.   Using Boiling Water Method:

Start by disassembling your metal pipe. Bring a pot of water to boil and turn the knob down such that the water is just shimmering. Now, insert all the disassembled metal pipe parts onto the water.

Let the tube and remaining parts soak in the shimmering water for 25-30 minutes. Ensure that you check in frequent intervals before that. If the grime looks soggy, loose, and easy to remove, you might as well turn off the knob earlier.

Once you remove the pipe, it’s time for you to remove the grime from it. The boiling softens the resin, making it much easier to remove using a brush or a Q-tip.

In the case of an extremely dirty smoking tube, on which the boiling method seemed ineffective, make sure to follow up with the rubbing alcohol cleaning method. Or, simply use a commercial smoking tube cleaner to clean up afterward.

How to Clean a Metal Plumbing Pipe?

1.   Cleaning Rust off of Metal Pipes:

a)    Wear Protective Gears:

Handling rust and rust dissolvent with bare hands is never a good idea. Always wear a pair of work gloves to clean rusts. Moreover, if you’re using commercial cleaners, the fumes can be toxic. So, always wear a mask and safety goggles before handling them.

b)   Remove Big Chunks of Rust:

Start by taking out the big rust chunks with the help of a putty knife. Use a wire brush or a sander to remove coarse layers of rust and smoothen the surface as much as you can.

c)    Apply the Rust Remover:

Now, it’s time to use an appropriate rust removal solution on the metal pipe surface. In general, acids dissolve rust. Many commercial rust removers also contain a certain percentage of acid to break down the rust efficiently.

If the rust is too stubborn, you might want to use a commercial rust cleaner such as Calcium Lime Rust (CLR) or Naval jelly. You can also use vinegar as a DIY rust dissolvent for mild to moderate rusts.

Apply the remover and let it sit as the manual suggests. Finally, rinse the metal pipe and wipe it dry with a paper towel. For future protection, apply rust-inhibiting primer and paint on the surface.

2.   Cleaning Rust from Inside of Metal Pipes:

While removing mild rust and scale from the outside of metal pipes is no big deal, cleaning the insides can be a daunting task. But, no worries. We’re here to help!

a)    Use a wire brush drill:

A drill is one of the most powerful equipment when it comes to household DIYs! If the insides of the metal pipes look too rusty and in desperate need of descaling and cleansing, an appropriate-sized wire brush attachment for your drill can be a lifesaver.

This method works on mild to moderate rust removal from the inside of metal pipes. However, thick, scaly years-old rust might not easily go away from this method.

b)   Use a commercial rust remover:

If the no-chemical, wire-brush method was ineffective on your metal pipe rusting, commercial cleansers dedicated to breaking down rust would definitely impress you.

While these chemicals are pretty effective on their own, our suggestion is to combine this method with the wire-brush method for the best result. Start by wire brushing the inside, followed by soaking the insides with the commercial rust remover liquid.

Let the solution do its job for the time recommended on the label. Take a good look at the metal pipe and determine if it further needs a quick wire brushing before rinsing.

3.   Cleaning Metal Pipes for DIY:

If you’re trying to DIY using new metal pipes, you’ll probably have to clean them beforehand. Start by removing the label of the pipe in the case it has one. The glue, however, remains behind.

Removing the glue completely from these metal pipes can be a tricky task. Luckily, this blog on Creekline House offers two fantastic solutions to removing the label of the metal pipe.

a)    Using Baking Soda and Oil:

Mix equal parts of oil and baking soda to make a paste. Apply the paste on the sticker glue and let it do the magic for a few minutes. Check the pipe after around 10 minutes. The glue must have dissolved.

Wipe away the paste using a sponge, and you shall be left with a glue-less metal surface!

b)   Using Lemon Essential Oil:

Lemon essential oil is another brilliant option for removing the label glue from the metal pipe. Simply soak a cotton pad with essential oil and wipe the glue off. Remember that you might need to apply some abrasion in case of a stubborn glue remnant.

Finally, in order to clean the entire metal pipe, spray some window cleaner onto the pipe and wipe it. You’ll probably notice black gunk on the paper towel. Repeat the process until your metal pipes look and feel clean. Once that is achieved, you’re ready for your DIY!


Have you tried any of these cleaning remedies before? How did it work for you? Also, if you follow any of these methods to clean your metal pipe, feel free to share your experiences with us.

Moreover, we’d appreciate it if you shared your favorite metal pipe cleaning tips in the comments. As we all know sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment