I've managed to destroy a number of items by running them through the laundry in various pockets I've neglected to empty: valuable checks, essential phone numbers, flash drives, and a chocolate chip cookie I left in a shirt pocket, a cookie whose flavor was detrimentally modified by the soap cycle. I still miss that cookie. I use a lot of pockets, so it's difficult to maintain efficient offloading techniques, especially with a fishing vest filled with pipe cleaners, tamper, phone, notebook, pen, wallet, tobacco pouch, pipe pouch, a lighter, a back-up lighter, reading glasses, sunglasses, bear repellent (you never know), binoculars, magnifier, flashlight, flint-and-steel, water filtration kit, folding knife, handkerchief — you get the idea. The watch pockets in jeans are tough too, particularly for lighters, because every time I disrobe, I'm so distraught by my reflection in the bathroom mirror that I can't seem to remember a watch pocket exists. I'm still observing the enigma but am working on an academic paper regarding the vanishing of watch pockets in jeans until after the wash cycle, when they reappear containing lighters in various modes of distress. It's quantum physics, and the math is slow going for me, but the solution is nigh.
I've washed Old Boy-styled lighters many times, and they don't seem to care. They've ignited without complaint after a bout in the washer and dryer, and given the amount of handling they receive, a thorough scrubbing on occasion is appropriate. I have a 20-year-old Colibri pipe lighter that's still going strong, but it takes about three days to recover from a laundry ordeal. In lighter years, it's as old as I am, and I take about three days to recover from the laundry, too, so I'm patient. Disposable pipe lighters do not fare as well, in my experience. They lose their will to live after the rinse cycle. I've not tried washing a Dunhill or Dupont lighter with this technique, but you'll know when I do, because you'll hear the sobs.
Laundrifying a pipe lighter is not a recommended cleaning technique, and as efficient and painless as it may be, no lighter should be subjected to that indignity. While I've not personally experienced the spin cycle, I imagine it's disorienting, and then the dryer itself is a nightmare. My brother and I took turns, when we were young, spinning each other in a laundromat dryer, because it was like a carnival ride that cost only a quarter, and while the "cool down" and "fluff" cycles were fine, I do not recommend high heat, especially in a load of damp bed linens, which tend to asphyxiate participants. My brother remains skittish around linens and since that time has slept exclusively in sleeping bags.
We all keep our pipes clean, but lighters need care as well. You've probably noticed the carbon build-up on lighters, and even a washing machine is incapable of removing it, so other strategies are necessary. Like all of life's problems, however, this quandary can be resolved with the bountiful employment of alcohol.
Everclear is my favorite. If you drink enough Everclear, you won't care how your lighter looks, but there's another way that removes the carbon itself rather than your consternation. Instead of drinking it to reduce the visibility of the carbon, try the counterintuitive method of applying the Everclear directly to the lighter itself.
You've probably noticed the carbon build-up on lighters, and even a washing machine is incapable of removing it, so other strategies are necessary. Like all of life's problems, however, this quandary can be resolved with the bountiful employment of alcohol.
It may sound wasteful of good Everclear, but substitute alcoholic beverages are acceptable, though Everclear has been a favorite solution of mine since before I even smoked pipes, when instead of carbon removal I used it to disable brain cells, especially the ones that still remembered junior high school. Everclear can fix anything, but for carbon removal, rum or gin or brandy can work. Tequila, while an impressive solvent, should under all circumstances be avoided. I have significant experience in this area. Tequila is a portal into an impetuous dimension from which return and restoration are perilously complex.
Battling carbon build up requires a heroic, transparent fluid with elevated alcohol content, and I recommend you always have plenty on hand for cleaning needs, impromptu picnics, and zombie apocalypses. If your lighter has been building carbon for quite a while, it may take some time to clean it, but alcohol will prevail.
Carbon builds around the nozzle of the lighter, where the butane ignites. It's a natural byproduct, even when using multiple-refined butanes, and in Old Boy-style lighters, like IM Corona, Dunhill, Sillem's, Peterson and Kiribi, the moving arm and the flint tube are quickly covered. Carbon builds on other lighters as well, but it's all removable by dipping a pipe cleaner into alcohol and slowly scrubbing it away. Sometimes the nozzle itself will begin to splutter when partially blocked. I've always been able to remedy that dilemma with an alcohol rubdown.
For everything regarding pipes, including pipe lighters, I recommend only edible products. I've never used isopropyl alcohol for cleaning pipes and don't intend to, and I urge others not to use anything they can't safely swallow. Alcohol is also flammable. If you douse a lighter in alcohol and then immediately test it, you may be impressed by the result, but watching your whole arm ablaze isn't the most efficient use of your time. Let the alcohol evaporate for five minutes and avoid the potential for flaming eyebrows and independent-minded fireballs careening through the house.
Carbon is a particular problem for those of us who use a lighter excessively. I probably light a pipe lighter 200 times a day. I don't light a pipe and smoke it to the end; I take a couple of puffs and put it down, then relight, again and again. That's a lot of wear on a lighter, and a lot of carbon build-up.
It may take several applications, but once the lighter is clean, it's easy to keep clean by repeating every couple of weeks. Your lighters will soon be as sparkly and beautiful as your pipes, and in my opinion, they will be happier and better adjusted after a few sessions with a high-proof alcohol that both you and your lighter can appreciate for its restorative properties.