Are Sieves Dishwasher Safe? Here’s how to clean your sieve

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We’ve all been there:  it’s time to clean up in the kitchen, and you start to load up the dishwasher. When you got to the sieve, have you stopped to ask yourself: can this go into the dishwasher? Will the sieve be damaged by the washer, the hot water, or the soap I’m using? Will it even get clean enough? We thoroughly researched, for you, the options for getting your fine-mesh sieve – and some other cookware and utensils – skillfully cleaned and damage-free.

As tempting as it might be to include it along with the other dirty dishes, it’s not a good idea to put a sieve in the dishwasher. Food particles may wash back into the mesh and then bake on during the drying cycle. And don’t forget that the sieve itself, with its rough edges, could be agitated against the plastic coating of the dishwasher rack, nicking the coating and exposing the metal underneath, damaging the inside of your dishwasher. Additionally, hot water, harsh dishwasher soap, and the high heat of drying can negatively affect some types of metals and other materials. 

We’re going to give you some pointers on how to efficiently clean a sieve and best practices of washing utensils and cookware to be confident that your articles of cooking and serving are clean and safe for you and your family to use.

female chef sifting white flour using sieve, Are Sieves Dishwasher Safe Here's how to clean your sieve

How to Clean a Fine Mesh Sieve

Sieves can be particularly challenging to clean because of the rough edges and tiny spaces that trap food particles. Do yourself a favor, and don’t wait until after dinner when the debris may have dried and clogged the fine mesh making it more difficult to clean. Soak your sieve soon after use in a large enough bowl or dishpan for it to be fully immersed in hot water and dish soap. If you miss this step and find that the sieve has dried out, you may salvage it by soaking it overnight in soapy water.

After soaking it for a bit, use the rough side of a sponge over the inside and the outside of the sieve to scrub and loosen the food particles in the sieve, then swish it around in the bowl or dishpan, now filled with clean hot water. Repeat as many times as necessary. If the food particles are pulpy or otherwise challenging to remove completely, a bottle brush or clean toothbrush can help. Finish with a good rinse using a spray attachment from the faucet.

How Do You Dry a Sieve?

To dry, place the sieve on a clean cotton towel or drying cloth, and let it air dry completely; never put a sieve away wet, which would invite bacteria formation.

What utensils can be washed in the dishwasher?

Great question; researching the major appliance manufacturers reveals that there is no industry standard for labeling something “dishwasher safe.” You can check the manufacturer’s manual, the label on your dishwasher soap, or the labels on the items themselves when possible–you may learn what’s probably okay to put into the dishwasher, but in the long run, you’ll need to use your best judgment.

You can expect your everyday glassware, ceramic dishes, and flatware will be safe in the dishwasher, but check the item labels to be sure. Items made of stainless steel, such as flatware, mixing bowls, and serving utensils, are usually a safe bet to wash in a dishwasher, but take heed of any additional materials that may be part of the item, such as the handles or decorative parts. Wood will dry out and crack, plastic may melt, and ornamentation that is painted or glued on may come off or otherwise be damaged.

What should not be washed in a dishwasher?

Some materials should never be placed in a dishwasher. Here is a list of common items:

  • Fine china and delicate glassware may be shifted around by the strong agitation of the hot water and get chipped, or the harsh soap may damage the delicate surfaces. Glass stemware may snap.
  • Painted or glued-on ornamentation may come off or be damaged.
  • Sharp knives and other blades may become dull.
  • Place some plastics labeled “dishwasher safe” may be in the top compartment of the dishwasher where the water is not as hot, but other plastics not labeled safe for dishwashers may melt or crack.
  • Wooden items, including wooden handles, can heat and crack in the dishwasher’s harsh environment.
  • Pots and pans made of aluminum, cast iron, copper, and other metals, can become spotted, pitted, discolored, rusted, or otherwise damaged, and ultimately unsightly or useless.
  • Non-stick surfaced items may lose their nonstick coating, which may later flake off during cooking.
  • Silver or silver-plated items are safe to wash in a dishwasher under certain conditions. Silver will react with other metals like stainless steel. Both may become discolored with black marks that are difficult to remove, so be very careful to keep them separated. Some dishwashing soaps may be harsh on silver–avoid citrus and phosphates. High heat can also be detrimental to silver. Only you can decide if it’s worth it to isolate the silver from other items, to check the soap you are using carefully, and to regulate the heat.

This is a general list and by no means exhaustive of all items that may or may not be safely put in a dishwasher. Again, if in doubt, wash it by hand.

woman sifting flour into a glass bowl with daughter watching

Do dishwashers kill bacteria?

Dishwashers will usually kill most bacteria, sanitizing your dishes and utensils. Most food-borne bacteria will die at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Household dishwashers usually run from about 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, but check your water heater’s output.

For more technical information on this topic and to understand the NSF certification of dishwashers, see the National Sanitation Foundation website at nsf.org.

Of course, the dishes may be sanitized while they are in the dishwasher, but take care in removing and storing them, too. First, make sure your hands are clean before handling the dishes; no sense in touching clean dishes and utensils with dirty hands.

Second, make sure the dishes are completely dry before you store them. Bacteria can grow in moist conditions, so be especially careful with items like bowls and plastic food storage containers that nest snugly inside each other.

Summary

Since there is no industry standard definition of “dishwasher safe,” use your best judgment when loading your dishwasher. Some items may end up damaged or discolored, or they may even damage the inside of the dishwasher themselves. A sieve is one of those items that you can wash by hand by using a few simple steps. If in doubt about any of your cookware or utensils, wash by hand. Unload the dishwasher with clean hands, and make sure everything is dry before you put it away.

The small extra steps you take with your cookware and serving utensils will ensure they remain good-looking and safe to use.

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