Cleaning a flour sifter

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Senior Cook
Jul 3, 2004
I hadn't done any "real" baking in years but, as I'm now retired and have the time, I decided to bake up lots and lots of batches of Christmas cookies just prior to the holidays. Since the cooking shows almost always state that it's a good idea to sift flour when baking, I purchased a simple metal flour sifter. There are two screens with some type of blades in between and you squeeze the handle and the flour sifts through. It worked perfectly fine. You all probably all are familiar with the thing I am describing. Now, my question is, although I carefully washed and allowed it to dry before putting it back in a cabinet, when I went to use it again yesterday (ran out of cookies, but still had the makin's on hand) multiple brown particles also sifted out along with the new flour I was using. Ugh. I don't know how to clean in between the two screens. I tried soaking it, using a toothbrush, and lots of rinsing, but there is still debris inside this thing. So, how do you all clean yours? Thanks for any help you may be able to offer.


Senior Cook
Feb 22, 2004
There's two approaches to cleaning sifters.

1. Don't. Many people just sift the dry ingredients, give the sifter a good shake, and put it away.

2. I recently purchased a stainless steel sifter for the sole purpose of being able to soak it/wash it. I wouldn't soak a tin/chrome sifter, but a stainless steel sifter can be completely submerged in water overnight, if need be, and be no worse the wear.

If you have especially bad lumps of dough that can't be removed with soaking overnight, try tossing the sifter into the oven on 300 for maybe 10 or 15 minutes. This will cook any pieces of dough and make them easier to dissolve.

Even if you can wash a sifter, I wouldn't do it every time, as just a hand washing doesn't really get to the stuff between the screens - only soaking will.


Senior Cook
Jun 16, 2002
Eastern Kansas
Ditch it, and get yourself a stainless steel sieve. Beautiful sifting, easy cleanup, lots of other uses.

BTW, I swiped a page from the books of the television chefs, and tap the sieve rather than shaking it. Flour goes where you want it to instead of taking off on its own. I've also found that a hefty THWACK of the handle against the sink edge gets out about 99% of the flour, so there's not much left to wash away.


Head Chef
Sep 1, 2004
And I agree with both Scott and leigh here.

Those brown bits are rust and mean the whole sifter should be tossed into the trash ASAP.

I wouldn't wash a sifter any more than I would wash a pasta roller. I would simply tap (in the case of the pasta machine, brush) away the majority of flour, then store in a ziploc or other bag and not worry. Flour doesn't attract any poisoning critters in its dry state, so there's nothing to worry about.

I don't use a sifer, though, and haven't in years. Like leigh, I opted for fine-mesh strainers since they are so much easier and faster to sift with. It also much easier to incorporate soda, baking powder and salt and the like. Definately don't shake, but tap if you want to limit the spread of the stuff.

If you wish to use a sifter, and many prefer them, either use a stainless steel model (definately worth the few dollars more) that can be washed, or never wash the thing. I'd personally still use a stainless model, regardless.
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