How to clean a strainer

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How do you clean a mesh strainer? In this article we tell you everything you need to know about how to clean a mesh strainer. First we discuss why you need to clean your strainer and how often you need to clean your strainer. Then we give our best tips for cleaning a strainer quickly and effectively. 

This article discusses how to clean a mesh strainer. If you are looking for tips on how to clean a colander you should check out this article on how to clean a colander.  

How to clean a strainer - an infographic with instructions on how to clean a pasta strainer.

Why do you need to clean a strainer?

Why do you need to clean your strainer? It is important that you regularly clean your strainer. When you use a mesh strainer to rinse off food, little bits of food get stuck in the mesh of the strainer. If you do not remove these bits of food after you use the strainer you may experience the following issues. 

  • Rotting food. If you leave food on your strainer and put the strainer back in your cupboard, the food on the strainer will eventually start to rot. Rotting food may produce an unpleasant smell that will stink up your kitchen. 
  • Bugs. Common household bugs such as ants and roaches are pros at finding small bits of food. If you leave small bits of food on your strainer when you are done using it you are basically inviting insects into your kitchen to feast on these bits of food. 

How often do you need to clean a strainer?

How often do you need to clean a strainer? Before we discuss how often you need to clean your strainer we will first make a distinction between two different methods of cleaning your strainer. There are some cases where you will need to give your strainer a deep clean and other cases where a quick rinse will suffice. If your strainer needs a deep clean you should scrub it with soap or another cleaning solution. If your strainer only needs a quick rinse you can run it under warm water for 10 – 15 seconds. 

If you are using your strainer with a food that does not leave behind much residue then you can get away with giving your mesh strainer a quick rinse each time you use it and only giving it a deep clean every 5 – 7 days. If you are using your strainer with a food that leaves behind food residue you need to clean it each time you use it. As a rule of thumb if you can see any food residue left behind or if you can feel any food residue when you run your fingers over the strainer then you need to give the strainer a deep clean. 

Your strainer will need to be deep cleaned each time it comes in contact with the following foods. 

  • Cooked pasta 
  • Cooked rice
  • Cooked beans
  • Soft fruits such as raspberries or blackberries

Your can give your strainer a quick rinse if you are using it with any of the following foods. 

  • Uncooked rice
  • Dried beans
  • Dried lentils
  • Whole fruits with tough skin such as apples and pears

How do you deep clean a mesh strainer?

Mesh strainers are sometimes difficult to clean because they have lots of crevices that food can get lodged in. As with many other kitchen tools, the best way to clean a mesh strainer is to soak it in warm soapy water. Soaking a strainer ensures that the soapy water gets into all of the crevices of your strainer.

Here are the steps you should follow to clean a strainer. 

  1. Turn the strainer upside down and spray it with sink water. Move the strainer around under the faucet and use the stream of water to knock large pieces of food off of the strainer. 
  2. Soak the strainer in warm soapy water. After you have knocked away any large chunks of food you can find you should soak the strainer in warm soapy water. The easiest way to do this is to fill a pot of water with hot water and soap then leave the strainer to soak in the pot. 
  3. Scrub the strainer with a scrubber brush. After the strainer has soaked you can remove the strainer from the pot and use a scrubber brush to scrub away any remaining residue. You are much better off using a scrubber brush with a strainer rather than a sponge. This is because the bristles of the scrubber brush can reach into the mesh of the strainer. 
  4. Repeat. If there is a lot of food residue in your strainer you might need to soak the strainer then scrub it a few more times. 

Tips for cleaning a mesh strainer

  • Remove food from your strainer immediately after using it. The longer you allow food to sit in your mesh strainer, the more entangled the food bits will become in the strainer. If you are washing a hard food that doesn’t leave behind much food residue such as rice you are okay letting your food sit in your strainer for a while. If you are washing a soft or mushy food in your strainer you should remove the food from the strainer as soon as it is done draining. 
  • Do not allow food residue to dry on your strainer. It is much harder to get food out of your mesh strainer if the food dries on the strainer. You should always avoid letting food dry on your strainer. If you do not have the time to clean your strainer immediately after you use it, you should put the strainer in a pot full of warm water until you are ready to clean it. 
  • Use hot water to remove pasta residue. It is particularly difficult to get pasta residue off of your strainer. Using very hot water to soak and clean your strainer helps to dissolve pasta residue faster. 
  • Blast the strainer with faucet water. You can turn your strainer upside-down and blast it with water from your faucet to knock away large bits of food. If your faucet has multiple settings you should use the setting that has the strongest force and sprays the most streams of water. 
  • Use a bristled brush rather than a sponge. You are much better off using a bristled brush to remove food from your strainer than you are using a sponge. This is because the bristles of the brush you are using can poke through the mesh of the strainer to remove bits of food. If you do not have a proper sink scrubber you can also use an extra toothbrush to clean your strainer. 

Other kitchen cleaning tips


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