Cleaning / Maintenance
There is a bit of work involved to keep e-cigarettes functioning at their best. E-cigs need to be cleaned regularly and well-maintained.
E-cigs should be kept clean, but e-liquid can be really messy. E-liquid can accidentally spill while you are in the process of refilling your e-cig, can leak all over the e-cig and e-cig case if the plastic tank cracks from using an e-liquid designed for glass tanks, if something is not screwed in properly, or if the tank is overfilled.
They get messy on the inside too. One of the most important maintenance tasks with atomizers involves blowing them out. By blowing into the atomizer while holding a paper towel under the other end, e-liquid will be pushed through and out of the atomizer. Do this when you first receive a new atomizer, as it will be filled with primer fluid, and any time the atomizer seems to begin functioning poorly. Clearing out the atomizer regularly will increase the life of the atomizer.
When atomizers really get bad, you will probably need to replace them. Some people recommend using water to clean out an atomizer, for instance, boiling the atomizer in water, but this can make the device unusable. Once atomizers have lived their useful life, there is very little one can do to revive them. Water may make the atomizer usable again for a short period of time, but they will quickly lose power again after being immersed in water or after having water run through them. One of the disadvantages to an e-cig that uses an atomizer is that once the atomizer dies, there is little one can do to save it.
On the other hand, if you have a clearomizer with a removable heating element, cleaning is simpler. Remove the heating element from the tank and rinse the tank in water. Rinse the drip tip as well. Allow the tank and drip tip to dry completely. Clean any gunked-up e-liquid from around the heating element using a q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Clearomizers do still have parts that need replacing. You will need to replace the coil regularly. The coil should be replaced about once a week or any time you notice a burnt taste or a decrease in performance (be sure to dispose of used coils responsibly).
Whether you have an atomizer or clearomizer, when you are done replacing parts, reassemble the e-cig and fill the tank with fresh e-liquid. Clean the exterior of the tank and battery as well, using rubbing alcohol and a q-tip or cotton ball to pick up any e-liquid remnants. Disinfect the drip tip with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball. Be sure to disinfect the drip tip regularly (alcohol wipes are great for this purpose and sealed packages of them will easily fit in many ecig cases, in a purse, or in your pocket). Keeping your e-cig clean will help it to perform its best.
E-cig cleaning and maintenance takes a bit of time, but will save you money by making your e-cig last longer. It is well worth the time and effort to ensure your e-cig is performing at its best.