After cooking pasta, I use a mesh-type kitchen sieve (aka colander, mesh strainer).

  1. Immediately after getting the pasta out of the water and putting the pasta on a plate, I run tap water onto the sieve for a few seconds to remove the starchy water.
  2. After eating, I clean the sieve with a nylon-mesh-covered sponge and dishwashing liquid.
  3. I let it dry.

Problem: The sieve is never perfectly clean. There are always places where dried starch can be seen in the grid.

Question: How to wash my sieve perfectly, with spending too much time or money on it? kitchen sieve

7 Answers 7


I use a dish brush to clean colanders and other kitchen items that have holes in them (like some cooking spoons). While sponges get torn apart if you scrub them over the mesh of the sieve, the bristles of a dish brush do not have that problem. The bristles also move independently of each other, and can find their way into the tiny holes in the mesh.

enter image description here

I recommend using the same technique dentists recommend for tooth-brushing: apply some pressure of the bristles against the mesh and then move in small circles. This allows the bristles to dig into holes of the mesh, rather than just dragging across the surface of the mesh. Also, you should clean both the inside and the outside of the sieve. (The suds from the dish soap will appear to penetrate from the inside to the outside, making the other surface look cleaned, but scrubbing with the brush is the way to remove stuck-on pasta and starch.)

  • Does the tip of this brush not get "bald" after using it a few times to wash the bottom part of the inside? Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 0:34
  • 1
    I have never had a brush go "bald" doing this. You can't see the scale of the brush from the photo, but whole brush is probably 12 inches long, the head of bristles is 3 inches long, and each bristle is close to an inch long. If the bristles are fairly stiff, they should be able to scrub your sieve for many months before needing to be replaced. Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 1:31
  • You'd have to scrub incredibly hard to remove bristles, and the sieve wires are too blunt to cut anything, certainly not a bristle. I don't understand how it could possibly cause a brush to go bald, any more than scrubbing a pan would (and probably less).
    – Stuart F
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 14:43

Put it in the dishwasher. My sieves come out perfectly clean every time.

  • 2
    I don't have a dishwasher but those who do might want to try, thanks! Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 7:21

Fill a kitchen sink with enough (warm, soapy) water to submerge the sieve (or just the starchy part, if the sieve is big). Leave it to soak for 20 minutes (longer if the residue is really old and layered on). (You can soak other dishes at the same time as long as they are not greasy.) Rub with a sponge, or paper towel, or brush, or even your bare hands. The starch will come off. Then rinse under running water to remove soap.

  • "Leave it to soak": Could you please edit your answer to specify for how long you do it (in your experience)? Let's say it is immediately after getting the pasta. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 3:27

You're really trying to solve the wrong problem here.

I've always hated sieves and similar gadgets; the time it takes to clean them tends to be far more than the time they are designed to save.

For draining thin noodles, simply hold them back with a pair of chopsticks, and for other pastas use the lid, while allowing the water to drain from the pot.

The chopsticks are also a handy way of serving the spaghetti.

Immediately after getting the pasta out of the water, I run tap water onto the sieve for a few seconds to remove the starchy water.

Pasta should be rinsed if you are going to let it get cold (e.g. for a salad, or left in the fridge to use later), because when it cools the surface starch will glue the pieces together.

But if it is going to be immediately covered with sauce, never rinse it; that starch will help the sauce to stick to the pasta. If you rinse it before serving, the sauce will tend to slide off, meaning you get less sauce in your mouth and more sauce left on the plate.

  • +1 Thanks, I might go back to this, I was actually doing that before getting a sieve. I have to note it can lead to steam burns and spilled pasta, from experience haha. About the last two paragraphs: Sorry I reworded my badly-written sentence, I rarely rinse the pasta itself, just the sieve. Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 5:32
  • It depends how dry you want your pasta. If you want all the water off, then tossing it in a sieve is much more effective than trying to drain merely by pouring the water off through a small hole. If you want a bit of pasta water to remain in your pan with the pasta (e.g. to let the sauce out) then you may not want to drain fully, and pouring is OK.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 14:47

I suggest flipping the sieve over and running water through it to make anything trapped in it fall into the sink. Spray anywhere there are visible particles, and flip it back over to inspect it for any remaining objects. This can take between ten seconds to a minute, depending on how dirty it is. I have used this method to clean sieves used to collect coffee grinds, and it is very effective. If you have a spraying attachment on your sink, set that to the highest pressure setting. You can also run it through the dishwasher to get any remaining starch off.

  • 1
    I tried this. Unfortunately it does not wash perfectly. When the tool is dry and you inspect it closely, you can see dried starch in the mesh. Also, 1 minute is a really long time, and at high pressure it must have used like 20 liters of water :-/ Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 7:20

(not exactly what you asked for) I think you can do yourself a favor by using a coarser sieve (if you have one). Searches "pasta sieve" on your favorite internet image search engine will probably yield sieves similar to this. Starch will not as easily get stuck in the wholes and the sponge enters the wholes better when brushing over.

pasta sieve

The downside of those pasta sieves with slits is that with fine noodles like spaghetti, a few will slip through.


My mother gave me a green plastic Tupperware colander as a wedding gift, in 1977.

I have strained every batch of pasta or potatoes I’ve boiled over the last 46 years in it. The holes are small enough to prevent losing angel hair, and any starchy residue washes right off with a soapy sponge and hot water.

Do yourself a favor, save your metal mesh sieve for things that require straining, invest in an inexpensive plastic colander, and enjoy cleanup inside a minute every time.

  • Welcome to Lifehacks! +1 for using the right tool for the job!
    – Stan
    Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 16:51

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