Essential Tools

How to Clean a Fine Mesh Strainer

March 21, 2016

Have you started spring cleaning yet? Last week, Amanda reminded us that even minor cleaning projects can have a major impact. So we're giving you permission to start small—very, very small—with those peskily teensy holes of your fine mesh strainer.

Those hard-to-reach particles that linger in sieves challenge the cooking community at large. So we've culled the best advice the Internet has to offer (in particular, this Reddit thread, The Kitchn, and our very own Hotline) to jumpstart your spring cleaning:

Soak it immediately.

Don't let your strainer dry dirty. Either clean it right after use, or set it in a pot of warm water (some people like to add vinegar or baking soda) to soak until you can come back to it.

Use waterworks.

Use the water pressure from your sink to work out particles from the opposite side of the sieve. Even better if you have a spray nozzle.

That's a rap (against the sink).

A sturdy rap against the side of the sink is especially effective after the sieve has been soaked, saving you the effort of poking through every last particle. But when you do need to do some detail work...

Round up some pointy tools.

Pipe cleaners, toothbrushes, nail brushes, vegetable brushes, toothpicks—anything that can target specific areas and poke through the fine holes—are the tools of choice for this task.


It seems extreme, but placing the strainer directly over a burner flame can singe off any lingering particles. Three commenters with stubborn sieves declared this to be the method that finally worked for them—though be forewarned that if your sieve isn't hardy enough, doing so can warp the metal. If you're up for trying, hold the sieve at a distance from the flame, moving it closer slowly and carefully. Watch closely, and make sure you've got some ventilation going.

No time like the present:

Have any pro tips for cleaning sieves or strainers? Share with us in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Max
  • Alan Marx
    Alan Marx
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    Andie Paysinger
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Annie Crabill

Written by: Annie Crabill


Max November 10, 2017
None of those work on the plastic mesh strainer I have been trying to clean. And just a warning, a while back I tried to singe something off a metal strainer and what was stuck to it was apparently flammable, the entire end caught fire and burned the protective metal coating off the inner copper on the mesh.
Alan M. August 15, 2017
My favorite method is to use a handled brush, like a dish brush or a tooth brush, like a hammer, gently tapping the bristles against the side of the strainer, forcing the individual bristles through the mesh to dislodge any clogs
Erma August 29, 2016
Q: What is a rap? "That's a rap (against the sink). A sturdy rap against the side of the sink is especially effective after the sieve has been soaked, saving you the effort of poking through every last particle. But when you do need to do some detail work..."
Max November 10, 2017
They mean hit it against the sink, banging the stuff out... doesn't really work. But that is what they mean by a "rap", like "rapping on a door" means "knocking on a door", so they mean knocking it against the sink.
Andie P. April 16, 2016
I have several ultra fine mesh steel chinois or strainers and besides the cleaning methods noted above, I use a stainless steel scrubber, both inside and out (gently) which works wonders on tough, stringy stuff that is difficult to remove (some vegetables and especially celery and its herbal cousin lovage) even when still moist. I have an extra-larger scrubber, a regular size and a smaller on on a wand for getting into tight spots. They go into the dishwasher after every use for sanitizing. One of the chinois has wide strap instead of wires on the sides and to get under there I use a powered toothbrush - which I find handy for many kitchen tasks, cleaning in small containers that can't go into the dishwasher.
Susan B. March 22, 2016
Yup, I rinse mine immediately, inside and outside, whack it on the side of the sink a couple of times and then use a brush if needed.