I have this box grater, and one of the sides is "non-directional" (not sure what this is called) -- that is, the pointy "blade" things are on every side of the holes:

enter image description here


enter image description here

The fibers you see are from ginger.

My question is: How do I clean this side of the grater?

  • Sponges and rags get torn apart and the fibers are left on the grater.
  • Brillo pads same deal, of course.
  • I tried rubbing it out with my fingers but, you know: Ouch.
  • Even scrubbing from the inside doesn't do much like it does for the directional sides of the grater. The food isn't stuck in the holes, it's stuck on the little points.
  • Rinsing it under the highest pressure water my sink has doesn't blow away the food matter either, it's just all snagged there pretty tightly.
  • I found this page about graters and the author there seems to just avoid that side of the grater specifically because of how hard it is to clean, so perhaps there is no hope here.
  • I do not have a dishwasher.

Even though the above picture has ginger fibers on it, I'm not looking for techniques just for this specific case (that just happened to be what was stuck on the grater when I took the picture). I have the same problem with this side of the grater no matter what I grate, e.g. cheese, even hard cheese, leaves bits of cheese there, which are slightly easier to remove with hot water than tangled fibers are, but still not easy.

What can I use to quickly and conveniently clean this after each use? The cleaning difficulty makes this my least favorite kitchen tool. I'm never excited when it looks like I have to use it.

  • 81
    I'm just glad to see that someone uses one of these things. It shows that America is already grating, and that there's no need for radical changes to make it grate again.
    – msouth
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 0:10
  • 12
    @msouth ... so, it has come to this.
    – Jason C
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 1:17
  • 6
    Please, people. We don't need any more answers saying "Use a brush" or "Put it in the dishwasher". These angles have already been covered multiple times. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 13:09
  • 25
    I prefer my method. I call it "Don't use that side"
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 13:30
  • 4
    I protected the question - for those who still have the rep to post, please take care to check if the solution you propose is not already covered in the existing answers.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 13:38

9 Answers 9


A dishwasher gets cheese off even that side - but that's no good if you don't have one, nor is it very effective against ginger and other fibrous foods.

The best I've found is simply a washing up brush (i.e. plastic bristles and a long handle) from both sides. I would then put it in the dishwasher for a final clean unless I'm doing a proper load of washing up, which is rare

  • 15
    Picked up this brush, great success. With a drop of soap it made short work of the ginger fibers and did not get damaged or stuck in the grater. $1.99 at the dollar store (Gain brand, fwiw).
    – Jason C
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 22:17
  • 4
    @JasonC the brush bristles suffer tiny scratches every time. They are just more resilient, but after several uses they will tear. Not all at once, the mileage is great. But they are damaged every use against the grater. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 11:08
  • 12
    @JasonC "$1.99 at the dollar store" Isn't the point of a dollar store that things cost almost exactly half of what you just paid? :-) Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 13:39
  • 8
    @David Yeah it boggles my mind every time I go in there. I think over time the definition has changed to "things that cost dollars".
    – Jason C
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 13:44
  • 19
    @JasonC Ah, so now it just means "store". Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 13:50

Save your old toothbrush, as this guy shows.

enter image description here

Or as this post describes:

enter image description here

  • 21
    I'd suggest buying a new toothbrush for this if you don't want to freak out germophobes (or as I call them: reasonable people who like to uphold a certain standard).
    – user25798
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 20:28
  • 20
    Yes: and make sure nobody's watching when you use it for brushing your teeth between grater cleanings. Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 20:41
  • 4
    Oops, did you think I meant to actually REUSE your toothbrushes? So unnecessary this day and age.
    – Bob Stein
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 21:27
  • 2
    @SnakeDoc "A Brush for Every Tooth"?
    – Jason C
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 21:41
  • 2
    @SnakeDoc haha yes! And so we come full circle: A Grater For Every Meal. Couldn't resist...
    – Bob Stein
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 12:36

I personally use one of these to clean my own cheese grater. palm scrubber

You can buy one of them at walmart for pretty cheap. http://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/scotch-brite-palm-scrubber/6000075838915 Plus as an extra benefit it can be used to quick wash a couple things quickly to avoid a full wash if you just need a plate or something.

  • 8
    Whoa, cool. I had no idea this technology existed. Man, I love living in the future.
    – Jason C
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 22:20
  • 5
    I live in the past and use tooth brushes! (mind you my husband asks if I could stop using his and then putting it back, he hates the taste of oven cleaner) Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 5:47
  • Update? Oh no, Dougal has been upgraded - toothbrush 'n' all. PS: Do you know who/what Dougal is/was? Answers on a postcard.... Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 15:09

Simple enough, but certainly a nuisance:

  • soak a little in soapy water

  • using a plastic bristle brush, clean the inside

  • then take the brush and lightly but quickly scrub the outside using a circular motion

  • rinse, check and repeat as necessary

Note: contrary to what's said here, the dishwasher is a bad choice:

  • it doesn't work - especially for things like cheese. Physical scrubbing is necessary.

  • it will damage plastic/rubber parts over time

  • like a knife, a grater will blunt more quickly when put in the dishwasher
  • 2
    Hm, the main reason knives are bad in the dishwasher is that things bump against them, which doesn't seem to apply here. (Agreed about wearing out plastic and rubber though.) And others have said the dishwasher works for them. So maybe it depends how much cheese is stuck, how dried out it is, how good the dishwasher is, and so on.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 19:52
  • 2
    @Jefromi I know that the causes of dulling have been debated a lot so I'm very hesitant to get into it.. but it's not the only factor by any means. While things like detergent and drying cycles have less of an effect on newer knives, graters are typically made of much cheaper materials and the effect is significant.
    – Niall
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 20:32
  • Sure, not saying those effects don't exist, just that one of the major concerns with knives is not a concern here. I totally believe that it shortens lifetime still.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 20:35
  • 6
    My dishwasher always gets graters perfectly clean, regardless of what they were used to grate. Maybe it does blunt it a bit, but mine still works fine after years of washing in a dishwasher. In short, I'm pretty skeptical of your claim that dishwashers are a bad choice for this task. Maybe it depends on the washer, soap, and water quality, though.
    – Kat
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 6:14
  • 'Grate' for those that have dishwashers.... Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 15:13

I've never had to clean ginger, but to clean cheese or tomato from these types of graters I simply stab the surface with a soapy sponge. That is, with moderate force and speed I press the sponge onto the surface from the normal orthogonal direction. This works very well and does not grate the sponge.

The cleaning motion should be "up-down" from the perspective of the grating surface.

  • 3
    I actually did try this initially, the blotting motion, and it didn't rip the sponge, but I found that it didn't really help release fibers and things that were securely snagged on the points.
    – Jason C
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 21:36
  • @JasonC: Maybe a sticky pet-hair remover is in this grater's destiny!
    – dotancohen
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 22:51

If the box grater is dishwasher safe, you can put it on the top rack. Mine always comes out perfect.

Also, I agree with @GdD about the brush. Something with moderately short, stiff bristles will work.

In the comments and answers to this related question, What's this "pucker" style hole on my cheese grater for? , it is said to wrap it in cling wrap before use. Supposedly it's easier to collect the contents and when you pull the paper off, the grater is clean.

I haven't tried this, but it may be worth a shot. If/when I try it, and if you do, it would be smart to notice if any plastic comes off into the food.

  • 2
    I have tried (and continue to use) the plastic wrap technique for this purpose when I have need of it (say, when zesting a large pile of limes). It works well, not just for making cleanup easier but for wasting less of the precious zest. Note that it doesn't do much of anything to keep food out of the holes, but that's not usually much of a problem when zesting (I never use it for cheese).
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 19:31
  • 2
    @Shog9 do you end up eating some of the plastic?
    – Brad
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 17:58
  • 1
    No, the nibs puncture it and it shrinks back against the flat part exposing the points, @Brad.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 20:13

Make a stiff dough, like the recipies you find to make modeling play-dough for kids or cleaning wallpaper.

Run a ball of the dough over the grater and it will grab up the fibers, but its own messy crumbs come back together with some dabbing from the ball. The dough also washes away with water, if necessary.

Then switch to “young” ginger, and avoid the woody stuff for grating. If you use it, like my wife does for Asian cooking, mince it with a Chinese knife instead. There are also special grater things specifically for woodymature ginger that look like bumps on a plate.


Alternatively, if you have a gas stove you can purify with fire to burn off the left over bits. Once cool, rinse. Though, care should be taken not to burn oneself or melt any plastic parts.

Full disclosure, I've never actually tried this. :)

  • 11
    Another option is my acetylene torch, if I want two smaller box graters instead of one large one.
    – Jason C
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 22:27

If I were faced with this my inclination would be a pressure washer, although I would avoid getting to point blank range. Beware that you would need to do something to keep it in place, otherwise it's going to go flying.

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