Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

After cooking pasta, I typically drain it in a colander. I have found the starch residue in both the cooking pot and particularly the colander is difficult to clean without hand scrubbing it. I am curious if anyone knows a solution - either a method or product that makes clean-up quicker and easier. Thanks for any ideas you may have!

share|improve this question
Melanie, if you have to actually scrub it ... rather than just giving it a little rubbing with as sponge and soap ... then you're doing something else unusual. Perhaps you could add the steps you go through? – FuzzyChef May 13 '12 at 7:03
@FuzzyChef I think it's just semantics - what I call scrubbing, you refer to as a little rubbing. My primary issue is that the colander seems to look hazy after washing - and often there are simple solutions / "secrets" people have for making things much easier. I think it may also be the quality of the pasta as well that contributes. Thanks. – Melanie May 14 '12 at 18:45

Soaking in water works for me. Put the colander in the pot, fill it with water - preferably before it dries out in the first place - and then leave it alone until you are ready to do the dishes, whether that's after dinner or (gasp!) in the morning. Either way the starch will slip off easily.

share|improve this answer
Thanks Kate. That is generally the way I do it now, but after soaking I still have to scrub considerably. Glad that works well for you though! I appreciate the input! – Melanie May 13 '12 at 3:35
Melanie: Just a tip – if you find an answer helpful you should upvote it by clicking the up arrow on the left side. – Ben Alpert May 13 '12 at 5:33
@Ben Alpert Thanks for the tip Ben! I'm new so have a bit of a learning curve :) – Melanie May 14 '12 at 18:34

In my opinion, the most important part is to rinse immediately after use.

If you use the collander, then let it sit for a few hours (through dinner) or 'til the morning, you're going to have to soak and/or scrub.

A quick spray-down immediately after using will save you a ton of work later:

  • pour pasta into collander.
  • spray down the pot (I have a pull-out sprayer, and I spray around the edge where the ring formed at the water level; you can give it a quick swipe with a scrub sponge, but you have to be careful about soap near the sink if there's a collander of pasta sitting in there))
  • dump out the pot (not over the collander)
  • pour the stuff in the collander back into the pot or whatever serving vessel.
  • spray down the collander (both sides) & move to the dish drain for full cleaning later
share|improve this answer
This is exactly what i do, too. then, once in awhile, i take Bon Ami to the colander. – franko May 22 '12 at 13:26

I've only found that hand-scrubbing works. I use a soap and Bon Ami (no-scratch cleanser), at least for the colander. Regular soap and a no-scratch scrubbing sponge works on the pot for me, too.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, Franko :) – Melanie May 13 '12 at 0:28

If there is some build-up then a soak in mild borax solution will get colander shiny new again. However, starch will then again want to stick even more easily... Prevent it with a wee spray of non-stick. I justify my use in that I spare a good deal of hot water in the clean up.

share|improve this answer
Thanks Pat! Sounds like good ideas. Yes, the hazy build-up bothers me most. I'll give your suggestions a try! – Melanie May 14 '12 at 18:48

I am aware that I address the question indirectly.

What I have observed is that starch is a problem only if the concentration of starch in the water is high.

What I do, is to make sure that I cook the pasta in way more water than most people do. I try to use at least 1-2 L of water for every 50g of dry pasta.

The main reason why I prefer to use that much water is because the quality of the pasta turn out considerably better that way. The easier washing is just a side effect :)

Yes, bringing all that water to a boil does take a bit more time.

share|improve this answer
I'll give it a try! Thank you. – Melanie May 14 '12 at 18:47
I doubt the quality is actually better: – Jefromi May 15 '12 at 17:12

Here's a trick I just discovered.

What I used:

  • Non-Stick dishwasher-safe pot that's starch-encrusted after 2 years of use, a couple times a week every week. (Shush, I like spaghetti..) I've put it through the dishwasher before and tried to scrub it off, but never had any success; it's always looked just as bad after drying of as before I started trying to clean it.
  • Dawn ultra-concentrated dishwashing liquid (The only dishwashing liquid I've used on pots/pans; I use it because my parents did. Others will probably work as well)
  • Disposable scrubbing sponge (Very cheap; I found them at Walgreens)
  • Dishwasher
  • Cascade detergent pacs (powered by Dawn), for the dishwasher

Steps I took:

  • Put a few drops of Dawn in the pot, turn on the faucet at high blast so the agitation makes it foam up. Fill it to the brim.
  • I only let it soak for about 2 hours, more might work better.
  • Use the scrub-sponge over the whole internal surface to get off the loose starch. You shouldn't need to actually scrub hard; I lightly brushed it for a short time, like 2 or 3 minutes, and so much residue was coming off that had I to rinse the sponge often.
  • Put it in the dishwasher.

Come tonight, about 80% of the inside of the pot was completely clean of residue, no evidence it was ever there in the first place. The remaining residue has streaks in it as though the scrubber just didn't get all the surface-starch off. I'm pretty confident that doing this only one or two more times will have it looking as good as new.

share|improve this answer

I was always told to rinse the colander or pot with cold water as soon as the food is removed to prevent the starch from setting up on the utensil.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.