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How to Clean a Bamboo Steamer Basket: Easy and Effective Methods

Blog, How To


How to clean a bamboo steamer basket

According to culinary expert Ming Tsai, “Clean your bamboo steamer with warm water and a brush after each use.” (1) But wait, there’s a knack to keeping it in tip-top shape.

Let’s dive into the secrets that ensure your bamboo steamer basket lasts for countless meals.

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How To Clean A Bamboo Steamer Basket?

Fill the basket with warm water, white vinegar and a few black tea bags. Let it soak for 30 minutes, then scrub gently with a soft brush or cloth and rinse thoroughly before allowing it to air dry completely.

The Simple Secrets to Deep Cleaning Your Bamboo Steamer Basket Thoroughly

Doing a deep clean of your bamboo steamer baskets is important to keep them lasting. Here are some tricks I’ve learned over the years. 

First, fill the baskets with boiling water and a few black tea bags. The tannins in black tea are great at removing stains from the bamboo. Let it soak for 30 minutes then rinse clean. I always see a big difference.

Next, grab some warm soapy water using a mild dish soap like Dawn. Let the baskets soak for an hour. This loosens any leftovers. Then taking a nylon brush, gently scrub to lift particles and stains. Don’t scrub too hard or you could damage the bamboo. 

Drying the baskets in the air is best. Lay them in the sunshine if possible. Leaving any moisture trapped can cause issues later on. Keeping them dry in the cabinet also helps prevent mold growth between uses. 

Does Soaking or Washing Ruin Bamboo? Best Practices for Wet Cleaning

When it comes to getting bamboo steamer baskets clean, soaking or washing is necessary. As long as it’s done right, the bamboo shouldn’t be harmed. Here are some tips I’ve learned to prevent damage.

Never put the baskets in the dishwasher. The high heat and tough chemicals can degrade bamboo over many washes. Stick to hand washing with care. 

Use lukewarm water rather than hot. Hot can cause the bamboo to deteriorate more quickly. Add a capful of white vinegar to cut through grease and a drop of dish soap. Swish gently, scrub if needed, then rinse thoroughly. 

Always air dry fully before putting away or storing the baskets. Leaving any moisture trapped can lead to warping as the bamboo absorbs water. Pat dry with a towel first if needed.

With proper care, hand washing shouldn’t ruin your baskets. Just take it slow, use mild cleaners, and be sure to fully dry afterwards for long lasting bamboo.

The Right Cleaning Tools and Products – What Works and What to Avoid

When cleaning bamboo steamer baskets, the tools and cleaners you use make a difference. Some can damage while others work best. Here are my recommendations after years of experience. 

For everyday cleans, warm soapy water does the job well. DAWN dish soap cuts through oils without harsh chemicals. Use a soft cloth or nylon brush for scrubbing. Too much pressure could split the bamboo over time.

For monthly deep cleans, boiling a vinegar and water solution inside the baskets leaves them shining. The vinegar deodorizes and kills germs without abrasives. 

Never use steel wool pads, abrasive sponges or Comet-type cleaners. These are too rough and will degrade the natural bamboo fibers. Opt for gentler natural cleaners when possible. 

Don’t risk the dishwasher either! The heat can cause warping while chemicals may leave residue that attracts grime faster. By hand is safer for these steamers.

With the right tools, you can keep your bamboo baskets looking fresh for steaming many more meals to come. Gentle is best for long-lasting natural bamboo.

5 Lazy Hacks for Keeping It Clean Between Uses

Making cleanup easy between uses means your steamer baskets will stay in great shape. Here are some simple tricks I swear by:

Lining the baskets with parchment paper catches drips so the bamboo stays pristine. Just replace between dishes. 

When steaming greens or anything drippy, elevate the baskets on a trivet or rack to separate it from drips below. 

Afterward, do a quick rinse and wipe down while dishes are still soapy and hot. Messes clean much faster when fresh. 

Once cooled, lay a tea towel across the top to speed air drying overnight. Keeps insides dry too without putting away damp.

Storing the baskets upside down in the cabinet prevents collection of water spots and minerals on the bamboo over time.

Little prep and speedy cleanup makes a big difference in keeping these steamers lasting for many dishes to come. The effort upfront saves scrubbing later on down the road.

Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Cleaning Routines

Staying on top of cleaning bamboo steamer baskets is key to keeping them in tip top shape. Here are maintenance routines I’ve found that work great:

Daily – Quick rinse and dry after each use while food residue is still soft. No need to soak when wipe down is all that’s required. 

Weekly – Fill baskets with warm soapy water and let sit for an hour. Scrub as needed then rise and air dry fully. This removes any buildup from regular use. 

Monthly – Make a vinegar and water solution to boil inside the baskets. Let simmer for ten minutes with the lid on to allow the steam to work. This deodorizes, disinfects and whitens between deep cleans. 

Twice yearly – For a real refresh, fill baskets with cold water and a handful of black tea bags. Set aside to steep and fully release tannins overnight before scrubbing and rinsing clean in the morning sunlight. 

Being consistent with basic maintenance between uses and regular thorough cleaning is key to bamboo steamers lasting through many meals. The little bit of effort really pays off over the long run.

Deep Cleaning Techniques for Well-Loved Bamboo

How to clean a bamboo steamer basket

With heavy use over time, even diligently cleaned bamboo steamers may start to show more built-up grime or stains. Here are my top tips for giving well-loved baskets new life:

Start with the black tea soak as usual, but extend it to overnight for very stubborn cases. The longer contact allows deeper cleaning action. 

For caked-on messes, use a plastic putty knife or rubber scraper to gently lift larger particles before soaking and scrubbing as usual. 

Make a stronger vinegar solution with one part vinegar to one part water. Boil it inside the baskets with the lid on for 20 minutes to cut through lingering residue. 

Let baskets fully air dry in direct sunlight if possible. The UV rays help whiten and brighten natural bamboo fibers better than artificial lighting. 

For a finishing touch, rub down with a light natural oil like coconut or jojoba oil. This conditions bamboo fibers without introducing harsh chemicals that can build back up over time. 

With patience and the right techniques, it’s always possible to restore your favorite bamboo steamers back to like new for many more uses of steaming delicious food and meals.

Proper Drying, Storage Tips to Maximize Durability

To really maximize the lifespan of bamboo steamer baskets, storage and drying practices are important between uses and cleanings. Here are some tips I’ve learned:

Always allow baskets to fully air dry naturally before putting away. No moisture means no mildew growth inside dark cabinetry. 

If needed, use a hairdryer on a low, cool setting to speed drying in hard to reach slats and crevices for one minute intervals. 

Between cleanings, store baskets upside down with air circulation. This prevents water spotting and preserves the natural color and structure of bamboo over years. 

Avoid high heat, sunlight, and humidity which can cause materials like bamboo to degrade faster through expansion and contraction. 

Condition bamboo occasionally with natural oils like coconut or jojoba. This replenishes lost oils and protects fibers from cracking or brittleness down the line. 

With care taken in storage and maintenance habits, bamboo steamers can last exponentially longer through consistent and considerate care practices between uses and for years of cooking to come.


Caring for a bamboo steamer basket is a cinch with the right know-how. Quick rinse after use and gentle scrubbing with a brush will keep it in top shape. Remember, harsh chemicals are a no-no. Try vinegar for a natural clean.

An interesting tidbit? Bamboo steamers can last years with proper care. Talking about freshness, don’t forget to air dry it completely before storing. That’s your secret weapon against mold. And hey, who knew that regular oiling with a food-safe mineral oil could make such a difference? It keeps the bamboo happy and strong.

Now, let’s hear from you. Have you tried these tricks? What’s your go-to method for keeping your bamboo steamer basket in tip-top condition? Drop a comment and let’s swap secrets!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put my bamboo steamer in the dishwasher?

It’s generally not recommended to put bamboo steamers in the dishwasher. (2) The high heat and harsh chemicals can damage the bamboo over time. Hand washing is safer.

How long should I soak my bamboo steamer when cleaning it?

For heavy messes, 30 minutes is a good minimum time to use a cleaning solution like hot water, tea bags or baking soda to break down food particles. However, you can soak overnight for really stuck on buildup. 

How do I prevent my bamboo from discoloring over time?

Some darkening is natural with use but you can reduce it by not over saturating the bamboo with water, such as limiting how long you soak it. Be sure to dry it completely before storing away also.

Can I use anything other than water to clean my bamboo steamer?

Natural cleaners like white vinegar or lemon juice can help cut grease and brighten the bamboo when diluted in warm water. Tea bags also contain tannins that remove stains without harsh fumes like bleach. Avoid ammonia or abrasive scrubbers.

How do I stop foods from dripping directly onto the bamboo?

When steaming lettuce leaves or cabbage, consider elevating the steamer with a metal steamer rack to catch drips underneath. You can also line the bamboo slats with parchment paper to catch liquids and make cleanup easier. 

Are there any different cleaning methods for well-loved bamboo that shows stains?

For bamboo steamers with heavy staining or built up residue from years of use, soaking overnight or using a stronger vinegar solution (1:1 vinegar to water) can help degrease stubborn messes better than Quick soaks alone. Gentle scaping may also help before soaking. 

What is the best way to store my bamboo steamer between uses?

Allowing the steamer to fully dry naturally before storage helps prevent mold growth. Store it upside down so water doesn’t pool on the slats either. You can also apply a light natural oil before storing to replenish lost oils in the bamboo over time.

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