Cooking Tips

A Fine-Mesh Strainer Is a Pain to Clean. We Can Help.

It’s a fiddly task, but here are a few of our best tips from the test kitchen.

Published Jan. 17, 2022.

Whether you’re straining a puree or making your gravy extra silky, fine-mesh strainers are an essential kitchen tool. But they come with a frustrating downside: cleaning out the grainy remnants left behind can take more time and patience than you may be willing to part with.

“If anything, a finer mesh can make it easier—not harder—to clean, because the openings are smaller, and less stuff can potentially snag on it (bigger stuff will just sit on top),” Miye Bromberg, who reviewed fine-mesh strainers for ATK, said. “But really, if you have a strainer, it's annoying to clean, no matter how fine or coarse the mesh.”

Rösle Stainless Steel Round Handle Kitchen Strainer

Our favorite strainer, the 5.5-cup Rösle Fine-Mesh Strainer, Round Handle, 7.9 inches, 20 cm, isn’t cheap, but it’s built to last—it survived our abuse without so much as a scratch.  
Buy Now

But while Miye admits that this annoying yet necessary task may still take some elbow grease, she does have one tip that could make all the difference the next time you’re cleaning out your strainer.

“Wash it as soon as possible after you've used it,” Miye said. “I use a dish-cleaning brush to help get bits of food or flour out of the mesh while I'm washing. That and the most powerful spray setting on my sink's wand attachment—it helps to try to blast stuff out.”

It's a lot easier to get wet debris out of the mesh than it is to get dry, caked-on bits out.

“At the end of the day, there are no magic tricks, really. But I love my strainer and use it often enough that I have learned to deal with this small vexation. Worth the payoff!”

And while you’re cleaning out your strainer in the nick of time, Deputy Editor of ATK Reviews Kate Shannon offers this insightful trick.

“The food you're straining will likely cling to the underside of the basket. Swipe it off with a spatula—but make sure it's a clean spatula and not the one you've been using to agitate whatever it is you're straining,” she suggested.

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

So while it may always be a drudgery to get your fine-mesh strainer sparkling clean, these tricks of the trade should hopefully make the work a little lighter. 

Top tips for cleaning a fine-mesh strainer

  1. Wash your strainer right after using it—you don’t want to let any grainy bits dry and cling tighter to the mesh.
  2. Scrub with a dish-cleaning brush for extra grit-loosening power.
  3. Use your kitchen sink to “blast” out any hard-to-get bits.
  4. Scoop a clean spatula on the underside of the strainer’s basket: that’s where most of the separated stuff will cling.

And while you’re at it, you might as well be putting the work into a tool that works hard for you, too. Click here to find out about our favourite fine-mesh strainers.

This is a members' feature.