In order to keep our pipe well-preserved, in good working order and to avoid bad smells, it is recommended to devote some time to cleaning it, which is not too demanding. Ideally, this should be undertaken regularly after each smoke. However, do not be daunted, as this is simple and quick maintenance, and all you need is a good quality pipe cleaner.
Fortunately, the market offers a vast array of pipe cleaners, and so it is up to the smoker to choose the most suitable pipe cleaner on the basis of preference and requirements. However, attention should be paid to two fundamental aspects that contribute to a good quality pipe cleaner: first and foremost, the cleaner should have a sturdy wire inside, so that it doesn’t bend accidentally during use. The second feature is the quality of the absorbent material surrounding the wire, which should do the job of cleaning without shedding annoying fibres inside the stem and shank, which could eventually block the airhole.
There are three main types of pipe cleaners:
ABSORBENT: These are recommended for daily use. They are made of cotton and should be used after each smoke (or even during a smoke, if necessary), to clean the airhole in the stem/shank, and the bowl.
BRISTLE: This type is abrasive, being a combination of cotton and nylon bristles. The nylon bristles are extremely affective for more thorough cleaning. Bristled pipe cleaners are ideal for sporadic maintenance when extra scrubbing is required.
DUPLEX: These combine two features, being both absorbent and abrasive. They are instantly recognizable, having a blue side that is abrasive, and the white side that is absorbent. Their use is the same as mentioned above for absorbent and bristled pipe cleaners.
Another feature that needs to be considered is the shape of the pipe cleaner itself, which can be straight or tapered. The straight pipe cleaner can be considered the standard and most commonly used type of pipe cleaner: it is straight and of the same width the whole length. The tapered pipe cleaner is wider at one end and thinner at the other, thus facilitating the cleaning of most pipe airholes.
The length of the pipe cleaners is pretty much the same for most types and brands, although those for the Churchwarden pipe are much longer and designed specifically for that pipe model.