How To Clean A Bamboo Steamer

Published Categorized as Cookware, Cookware Advice, Guide

Hey! This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

Even though they might see a bit exotic at first if you haven’t used them before, bamboo steamers offer a wonderful and easy way to cook healthy food.

Bamboo steamers are (you’ve probably guessed it) made of bamboo, and they usually consist of two or three steamer baskets stacked on top of each other. This kind of setup allows you to cook different foods at the same time, but sometimes bits of food and smells can linger on your steamer.

Steamers made of bamboo are probably the nicest looking options out there when it comes to steamer baskets, and they work beautifully, but a lot of us aren’t used to having bamboo cookware in our kitchens.

Since bamboo is quite a gentle and porous material, it is important to clean it the right way in order not to damage it.

So how do you clean a bamboo steamer? Today, we’ll cover all the tips and tricks that will allow you to keep your bamboo steamer in a perfect condition.


Regular Cleaning Is Important

Just like almost everything else, bamboo steamers need to be cleaned regularly in order to keep them looking as new. In fact, when it comes to bamboo steamers, cleaning after every use is even more important than usual.

Cleaning the steamer right away will prevent the bamboo from soaking in the remains of food and the smells.

So how exactly do you clean a bamboo steamer? First of all, it might be wise to check the instruction manual if you have one. While some steamers can take quite a bit of beating – you can soak them overnight and even put them in the dishwasher sometimes, not every bamboo steamer can withstand this.

In any case, the basic way to wash a bamboo steamer is rinsing it in warm water. In fact, this should be enough in most cases, but sometimes you do need a bit more effort. If your bamboo steamer is still dirty after rinsing, you might want to try using a bit of dish soap.

However, you should be very careful with this. As bamboo is porous, it can absorb the detergent and let the smell out into your food afterwards. If you are using detergent, make sure it’s mild and without a strong smell. Put a few drops in a large bowl of water and then run the steamer through this water.

In case the smell of detergents lingers on your steamer baskets, you can try steaming the empty bamboo steamer with a slice of lemon for a couple of minutes. This should help get rid of the smell.

All of this is fine, but sometimes there are stubborn bits of food sticking to your bamboo steamer. In this case, try to refrain from using steel wool and other strong abrasive products. Try using a chopstick or a wooden scraper to scrape the bits of.

A soft nylon scrubber might also help, or a soft nylon brush. In any case, don’t scrub too hard as not to damage the bamboo. Just keep scrubbing gently and be patient – everything should come off eventually.


Soaking in warm mother is another method that can help you clean your bamboo steamer gently, without using strong chemicals. However, it is advisable to check the instruction manual in this regard. While some bamboo steamer can be safely soaked overnight, sometimes this is not a good idea.

For a gentle wash, you can soak the steamer baskets in warm water for 30 minutes. This will keep the bamboo in good condition and help with heat distribution inside the steamer when you are using it.

For a thorough clean, you might want to submerge the steamer in hot water and leave it overnight.

Don’t use detergent, though, as you might never get the smell out! In any case, once you are done soaking the steamer, rinse in warm water and let dry before storing away.

Removing Odors

Sometimes the smell of various foods, like fish, meat or spices, can linger on your steamer baskets long after cooking. This is no reason to throw the steamer away, though, as there are a couple of methods that can help you get rid of the smells

One thing you can try is rubbing a slice of lemon across the surface of the steamer to remove the odors. Once you are done seam your bamboo steamer over an inch of water in a wok or pan, and everything should be fine.

Another method you can try is steaming the baskets upside down. Just warm up some water in a pot or pan that you usually use for steaming, and place the steamer basket you are cleaning inside in an upside-down position.

Put the lid on top of the inverted basked and let sit for 5 minutes. If the smell or dirt is still there, you can also use a mixture of equal parts of white vinegar and water as a cleaning agent. Just use a damp cloth, dip it into the mixture, and wipe the surface of your bamboo steamer.

When you are done, steam again for 5 minutes to remove the smell of vinegar. The vinegar should actually evaporate while the baskets are drying, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

Finally, there is another simple method for removing smells that actually works for just about anything around the house as well as your bamboo steamer – use baking soda! To remove smells from a bamboo steamer, just dust it heavily with baking soda.

Make sure all the surfaces are covered. Let it sit for a couple of hours and then rinse with warm water.

All of the smells should be gone!

Final Thoughts: Caring For Your Bamboo Steamer

The easiest way to keep your bamboo steamer in a good condition for as long as possible is by being mindful about how you use it.

Using a liner when cooking sticky food (or pretty much anything except plain vegetables), will go a long way in keeping your bamboo steamer clean and make your job a lot easier. In any case, we hope this guide has helped you.

Enjoy cooking in your bamboo steamer!