The Little Tip That’ll Make Cleaning Your Sink Strainer a Million Times Better

updated Apr 8, 2021
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Strainer in sink filled with food.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Dealing with crusty, dirty dishes isn’t exactly my favorite job. But it’s the sink strainer that really gets me. More often than I’d like to admit, I get to the bottom of my pile and find the strainer is filled with what our Lifestyle Director, Lisa, calls, “drain salad,” which is extremely accurate, but also, ew. Even though I scrape my plates into the trash before I put them in the sink, there’s still lots of food that ends up gathering in the strainer. Yes, it’s better than having that food go down the drain and clog things up, but it’s still pretty gross.

I have OXO’s Silicone Sink Strainer, which is amazingly great at both catching food and also dumping it out. The silicone cup sort of pops out, forcing the food out and into the trash can. But still, the whole thing tends to get very slimy over time. Even after just a few days! Up to this point, my best practice for strainer cleaning has been popping the cup in and out of place, knocking the whole thing on the side of the garbage can, then washing it by hand. I really hate to use a sponge on it (you know, the same sponge that I use to clean plates), so I’ll often just put dish soap on my dish gloves and clean the whole thing that way. It’s very hands-on and I’m squirming just thinking about it.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

The Best Way to Clean a Sink Strainer

I still empty the strainer into the trash (obviously, this is super important!). But I’ve recently added two key steps. I now use a toothbrush to quickly scrub out anything that gets stuck in the tiny holes. Then — and here’s the aha moment — I toss the thing in the top rack of the dishwasher. Let the dishwasher do the work! I add it to the dishwasher any time I’m running a load and it always comes out perfectly clean. No slime, no grime.

Don’t have a dishwasher? Fake it with a small bowl! Fill the bowl up with warm water, add a squirt of dish soap and plop the strainer in. Let it soak and maybe even swirl things around a little. Once it’s clean, just pop it back in the sink. Not only will your sink drain better with a cleaned-out strainer, but it will also just look nicer.

Do you use a sink strainer? Got any other tips to add? Tell us in the comments below!