How to Clean a Bamboo Steamer (7 Easy Ways)

Now that you’ve invested money into an authentic bamboo steamer, you’re probably excited to try all the dim sum options.

But it’s important to know how to clean a bamboo steamer so it can last a long time. 

Tools for Cleaning a Bamboo Steamer

With a few simple tools, you can keep your authentic bamboo steamer in great shape and use it regularly.

In addition, proper cleaning and storage of this device will keep it lasting through the years. 

Be sure to have one or more of these tools on hand when you want to clean your bamboo steamer: 

  • Soft cloth
  • Clean sponge 
  • Soft nylon brush 
  • Lemon 
  • Black tea bag
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

Things to Consider When Cleaning a Bamboo Steamer 

Bamboo is durable, but it can be fragile if you try scrubbing too hard. Take care when cleaning to avoid causing any damage to the baskets or lid of the bamboo steamer. 

You should never use harsh chemicals to clean your steamer since it can wreck the material and soak it into the bamboo. 

Always check your manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning procedures. Some bamboo products may have alternative care instructions that you need to follow when cleaning. 

Avoid putting your bamboo steamer in the dishwasher.

Doing this will expose your steamer to high temperatures with chemical soaps that could be hard to get out of the material and cause damage. 

First-Time Cleaning

Your new bamboo steamer will need to be cleaned and prepared before you use it for the first time.

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This step will help remove any dust, odor, or factory residues on the surface. 

  1. Use a sink of hot water with a small amount of mild dish soap to wipe down all pieces of your steamer.
  2. Allow the bamboo steamer to soak in clean hot water for 30 minutes 
  3. Steam the empty baskets and lid in fresh water for 30 minutes
  4. Wipe the pieces dry and let stand to ensure they are completely dry before storing for later use

You only need to follow these steps the first time you bring a bamboo steamer home.

We have seven other easy methods to clean your bamboo steamer once you use it often. 

How To Clean a Bamboo Steamer – 7 Easy Methods 

You need to clean your bamboo steamer after each use.

This task is especially crucial when preparing different types of foods to avoid any cross-contamination or foodborne illnesses.

Because bamboo is a natural, organic material, you cannot clean it with other dishes.

Dishwashing liquids can soak into the porous bamboo, and in turn, leak out during subsequent uses. 

To effectively clean your bamboo steamer, try one or more of these seven easy methods: 

  • Rinse briefly with warm water 
  • Use a soft cloth, sponge, or nylon brush
  • Try using a cut lemon
  • Use a black tea bag
  • Try baking soda and water 
  • Use vinegar and water
  • Soaking

#1 – Rinse Briefly With Warm Water

If you line your steamer with parchment paper or cabbage leaves during use, there shouldn’t be any food particles stuck on your steamer.

If that’s the case, you can simply clean it with warm water. 

Run the lid and baskets under warm water briefly and wipe with a clean, soft cloth or brush.

Let these pieces dry naturally before putting them away for storage. 

#2 – Use a Soft Cloth, Sponge, or Nylon Brush 

Sometimes food will stick to your bamboo steamer during use.

When this happens, all you need is a soft cloth, sponge, or nylon brush to wipe away these food particles from the surface gently. 

Use gentle, even strokes, and do not use any excessive pressure; scrubbing too hard will cause damage.

After everything is gone, rinse with cold water, and let it dry naturally. 

#3 – Try Using a Cut Lemon

Lemons can be terrific tools to help clean your bamboo steamer.

They are an inexpensive, natural disinfectant, and act as an organic cleaning agent.

The acidity from lemons can also help remove any stains or residual smells from foods. 

Cut a lemon in half and use the flesh to rub the surface clean of any debris. Rinse your steamer after use to get rid of any residue and let sit to air dry. 

You can also steam a lemon cut in half on its own to help remove any smells that linger once it is clean. 

#4 – Use a Black Tea Bag 

Black tea contains tannic acid, which helps to clean the bamboo surface without causing any damage.

Soak a black tea bag in hot water for a minute or two, then remove. 

Gently rub all the surfaces with the bag, being careful not to tear it open. Once your steamer is clean, give it a thorough rinse, and let it dry naturally.

Pro tip: In case the soaked tea bags tear easily, you can wrap it in a tissue or thin cloth and then clean the bamboo steamer 

#5 – Try Baking Soda and Water 

Baking soda is a terrific product to remove any smells that linger in your bamboo steamer. You can use this element in a couple of different ways.  

Liberally sprinkle baking soda directly on all the surfaces and let it sit for a few hours.

Shake the excess off, then gently wipe your steamer clean with warm water and a soft cloth. 

#6 – Use Vinegar and Water 

Vinegar is a well-known natural cleaning agent that also works as a disinfectant.

Occasionally, bamboo steamers may develop mold from improper storage. You can solve this problem by cleaning it with vinegar. 

Use 1-part vinegar with 2-parts warm water and wipe with a soft cloth, sponge, or brush to remove any visible mold. If odors persist, you can use a vinegar solution in a wok or pot.

First, place your steamer upside down with the lid on top of the base for five to ten minutes.

Then, steam it in clean water for an additional 5 minutes to remove any lingering vinegar smells. 

#7 – Soaking 

Sometimes your bamboo steamer will just need a good soak to help lift stubborn, stuck-on foods from the surface.

While this is a good practice, you should not fully immerse bamboo in water for an extended period, or you risk damaging this material. 

Place all the parts of your bamboo steamer into a sink with plain hot water, ensuring it is completely covered. You can let it soak for up to 30 minutes.

When it is done soaking, you can wipe the surfaces with a soft cloth, sponge, or brush to remove any remaining food debris. 

Clean Often and Store Your Bamboo Steamer Correctly 

You must clean your bamboo steamer after each use, even if there are no visible food particles on the surface. With proper cleaning, the material will last for years.

Improperly stored steamers are susceptible to mold and mildew growth, creating a bigger problem for you to clean off later.

Never place your steamer in a bag or an airtight container—these storage methods can encourage mold and mildew to grow since air doesn’t have a chance to circulate. 

Storing your bamboo steamer in a dry place and ensuring it is completely dry before you put it away will help minimize the amount of heavy cleaning and care in the long run.

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