Shane's Top Five Pipe Cleaners

Pipe cleaners. We all use them and nobody talks about them, but they are the unsung heroes of the pipe world. We could not smoke so freely without them; when you find a dependable pipe cleaner, it's a consequential event, if you're a pipesmoker. Before I became one, like many other people I thought they were mere craft supplies, never making the connection between their name and function. Now, of course, they're critically necessary pipe accessories. Something so important should not receive so little credit. I decided to do the research, examine the products, and find out exactly which of these important items would work best for me.

5) BJ Long 9 inch Pipe Cleaners (32 pack)


Are you a fan of the Canadian shape? Do you have any extra-long bamboo extensions in your collection? Are churchwarden-size cleaners just too excessive? BJ Long 9-inch pipe cleaners are the cleaners for you. The 9-inch length is custom cut for our Smokingpipes customers. The moderately stiff core wire and extra absorbent cotton is ideal for use during your smoke, especially if you tend to smoke on the wet side. While these cleaners are long, they are thin in diameter to ensure flexibility and a multitude of applications. The length allows you to use both ends of the cleaner without getting foul-smelling tobacco juice on your fingers. BJ Long 9-inch pipe cleaners are my go-to cleaners for longer pipes.

4) BJ Long Regular Pipe Cleaners (100 pack)

BJ Long Regular Pipe Cleaners


BJ Long's Regular pipe cleaners are the best value all around. Since they are not tapered, they fit even the more narrow airways on your treasured antique briars. BJ Long's signature extra-absorbent cotton is great for wicking moisture mid-smoke, and the threadlike core wire is pliable enough to pass through the most deeply bent pipes. If you find yourself with a larger draft hole, they can be doubled over to provide full contact inside your pipe. A time-tested brand, BJ Long has been making quality cleaners for over 80 years and they remain a long-time favorite among pipesmokers.

3) Brigham Bristle Pipe Cleaners (75 pack)

Brigham Bristle Pipe Cleaners at


We've all had a pipe or two that we've smoked a few too many times before we've realized it was overdue for a good cleaning. That's when we need some industrial strength cleaning power, and these Brigham bristle pipe cleaners should be in your arsenal. They have strong, abrasive bristles and a stiff wire core. When coupled with a high proof alcohol, these are great for heavy duty jobs. You can fold one of these bad boys and make a tough little scrubber for your mucky mortise, or bend it into a U-shape and have a pretty sturdy, makeshift reamer for superficial outcroppings in that cakey chamber. My recommendation is to save these for deep cleanings only and to use something less abrasive to deal with moisture during the smoke. I travel a lot and I don't like to lug around a bunch of tools, but I always have a couple of these guys with never know when you're going to need some back up.

2) Peterson Tapered Pipe Cleaners (50 pack)

Peterson Tapered Pipe Cleaners at


We all remember Senior Standouts from our high school yearbook. Peterson Tapered Pipe Cleaners would've been voted "Best All Around." These are an excellent solution for your everyday maintenance needs, and particularly efficient for use in the Peterson System's graduated mouthpiece smoke channel. The conical shape enables these cleaners to be used for a range of draft hole sizes without sacrificing efficiency. The wire is stiff enough to maintain its shape but flexible enough to pass through your pipe from mouthpiece to chamber. The high absorbency of its soft fibers allows you to easily wick away moisture during your smoke. These cleaners are so soft you can even use them with some obsidian oil to polish your vulcanite or cumberland stems. A superior product at a great price point ($1.76), these Petersons always get my vote.

1) Blitz Pipe Cleaners (80 pack)

Blitz Pipe Cleaners at


My personal favorite. Slightly more expensive, at $2.80 a pack, they are worth the extra scratch. While all the cleaners in my list are pretty versatile, these are the most versatile. Again, I travel a lot, and I need the most bang for my buck when it comes to necessities. While they are cotton cleaners, they are lightly bristled for scrub power, but are so gentle they can be used everyday and durable enough for a deeper clean. They delicately taper to accommodate both modern and vintage pipes. Blitz is also my top pick for use during a smoke. These winners never have any issue with shedding lint or poor performance. I love these pipe cleaners and I literally buy them by the case. There, I've admitted it; it was time for the world to know.

This is my list of the best pipe cleaners available, but I don't know everything. The list of things I don't know is long, and you can add to it by telling me, in the comments below, what I've missed. Give me some recommendations. I would love to know what makes your own list!

Category:   Pipe Line
Tagged in:   Accessories Brigham Peterson Pipe Basics


    • Frank J on October 10, 2019
    • Thanks for letting us know your list of best of the best.

    • Kevin M on October 12, 2019
    • Thanks for the nice comparison of cleaner performance. I’ve long wondered why one cleaner slips right through to the bowl, another will do so with a bit of jiggering, and another just refuses to go farther than the shank. In some cases a cleaner will mysteriously move from the last group to the first (!). I’ve been told, apart from drilling, the culprit may be a dull blade on the machine that snips the cleaner, leaving a slight bend at the very end. Any comment?

    • Lord Steven H. Cohn on October 13, 2019
    • After 50 years of pipe smoking, the pipe cleaners that I buy by the case are the Dill's pipe cleaners. That being said, I have recently bought a wide selection of different pipe cleaners for my own comparison. I must agree with you on the BJ Long pipe cleaners. They are exceptional.
      My quest is for the pipe cleaner that sheds the least amount of fuzz, as I use them to clean my airbrush as well. I am an avid military modeler. I specialize in tank models and WWI aircraft.
      If you have any additonal information as to which pipe cleaners shed the least amount of fuzz, I would greatly appreciate the information.
      Keep up the excellent articles, as even us "elderly" pipe smokers can always learn something new every day!

    • Smokey on October 13, 2019
    • I keep BJ Long tapered in my smoking bag and at home. They’re good all ‘rounders for everyday. I recently discovered the Blitz cleaners you mentioned and their gentler taper is an improvement. I’ll be stocking up as I like to run a cleaner through any of my pipes after every smoke. The Petersons deserve a try too since most of my pipes are Peterson's, they may be just the thing.

    • Jim McCoy on October 13, 2019
    • Pipe cleaners are the cheapest part of pipe smoking, so don't skimp or find yourself without the right kind. If a pipe cleaner refuses to go all the way thru the pipe, throw it away and try another. (The pipe cleaner, NOT the pipe!) Altho' I have always preferred straight or gently curved (1/8 bent) pipes so I rarely have a problem with that and don't take the stem off except when doing a thorough cleaning (or with Army mounts that are designed to come off with no wear on the tenon.

    • Arkie Fred on October 13, 2019
    • Great article Shane! After 50 years of smoking pipes I have learned to run a pipe cleaner through my pipe after each bowl. That keeps my pipes cleaner between cleanings. I have a question for you. I have always preferred Dill’s Pipe Cleaners because they do a great job cleaning my pipes and will go through most any stem. Why does no one have them for sale anymore? Keep writing these articles as they are very enjoyable and informative.

    • Bill on October 13, 2019
    • ‘pipes for almost 60 yrs-Dill.

    • truculentfrogs on October 13, 2019
    • Tx for the overview. The info is useful. I see no mention of Fluffy cleaners and they are my favorites for cleaning cobs.

    • Richard on October 13, 2019
    • Love the BJ Long cleaners. But, I must say I was not a fan of the 100ct bag. For some reason BJ Long's 56ct roll of I'd suppose the same "standard" cleaners just work better for me and seem stiffer. - Glad to see the 9" cleaners, I'll have to give them a try!

    • Gary Hansen on October 13, 2019
    • I am personally very appreciative of your incites I do try different pipe cleaners and it's always great to read about other people's experiences who are on the same page, I have used the ones you have commented on and agree.

    • Gary Hansen on October 13, 2019
    • It is always nice to here other expert opinions I like most of us have tried numerous cleaners, some good, some not so good. I agree on the cleaners you mentioned in your article however I learned about a new brand, Blitz never heard of them and now I will try them. Appreciate you articles always a pleasure.

    • Linwood on October 13, 2019
    • I've used BJ Long cleaners for manymany years, perhaps as long as Shane (and others at has been alive. Love 'em!. I did buy the Gloredo (sp) when you had them, very good cleaners, but much too expensive at the rate I use cleaners. Re the 9" ones: BJL also makes 7" - which I use for my long shank pipes, and they are fine, but if one uses both ends, as Shane mentioned one may get his/her fingers yucky.

    • Bryan Webber on October 15, 2019
    • I like the blitz brand as well.,

    • Paul Schmolke on October 20, 2019
    • Peterson, in their tradition of well engineered products, has produced a pipe cleaner that fits their pipes to a tee. I at first thought they looked sorta small but it turns out that they comfortably fit Peterson’s boring’s from stem to bowl. As a dedicated Peterson smoker, I have now put an entire package in my pipe bag as it fits the Peterson’s perfectly and is good for most of the others that I may take along from time to time. I tried them at your suggestion and am really glad I did. Cleaners are a pretty humble accessory item but quite necessary for keeping pipes happy and tasty.

    • Stephen S. on October 27, 2019
    • While I myself prefer and continue to use Dill's, I'd be interested in reading a comparative guide on the quality of the cut and finishing (if any) regarding the wire ends that have the ability to gouge out a bit of stem material (especially in bends, and increasing so on those made of softer material than acrylic). I'd highly recommend being mindful not to run bristled cleaners through your stems, as they also have the potential to remove a bit of softer materials such as hard rubber based (ebonite, vulcanite, etc.). For anything near mission critical, where you want to use a pipe cleaner as apposed to a micro brush (Oral-B makes some dental brushes that are great for gently cleaning around the outflow port(s) of your soft flame lighter), you can run a lint/pet roller over each one to remove the majority of the excess cotton fibers to free them of their electro-static bond.

    • Mokusei Dryad on December 12, 2019
    • How many Blitz Pipe Cleaners are in one case?

    • Mokusei Dryad on December 12, 2019
    • How many Blitz Pipe Cleaners are in one case?

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