Photo by Martin Jacobs via Getty Images

It's the most useful thing in—and for—your drawers

Rebecca Firkser
Updated: March 27, 2018

Far be it from me to defend a kitchen unitasker—those one-use tools like an avocado slicer (hello, have you heard of a knife?) or a breakfast sandwich maker (what in the name of heck was wrong with a pan?)—but I need to make a case for the humble salad spinner. A salad spinner is not only extremely useful for, ahem, spinning salad, but it can be used to clean, drain, and dry a bunch of other stuff. From berries to your underwear—you read right—the salad spinner is a superhero.

Washing and Drying Lettuce and Other Greens

The most common use of a salad spinner is of course to wash and dry lettuce and other greens. Tear lettuce (or greens removed from the rib like kale, chard, and collards) into bite-sized pieces and place them in your salad spinner. Fill the spinner with cold water. Dump the water and repeat this step a few times, swishing the greens around in the bowl, especially they’re grown in sandy soil like kale. After the water runs clean, fill the spinner again and add a few spritzes of fruit and vegetable wash or a splash of white vinegar to the bowl. Swish the greens around, then rinse the mixture 2 or 3 times again. Spin the greens in the salad spinner, which will dry the greens, but it will also pull out any extra dirt or sand lurking in the leaves. If you find a lot more dirt in the bottom of the bowl of the spinner after spinning, it’s best to rinse, swish, and soak the greens 1-2 more times, until no dirt shows up after spinning.

Washing and Drying Fresh Herbs

Use a salad spinner to wash fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil. Wash them in the same manner as you would lettuce or greens. Instead of rinsing herbs in your hand and then laying them sopping wet on a dish towel, you can dry herbs quickly and efficiently in a salad spinner. Even the most delicate herbs will be safe from bruising here, as the herbs just spin around with each other.

Washing and Drying Berries

A salad spinner works wonders for washing and drying berries. Wash them in the same way you’d wash herbs or greens. If you’re dealing with very delicate raspberries, you may want to let them dry on a kitchen towel, but blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries should have no trouble handling being dried in the spinner.

Washing and Drying Vegetables

Larger cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy are also easy to wash in a salad spinner. Brussels and baby bok choy are perfectly fine to jump into the spinner whole, but broccoli and cauliflower should be chopped smaller. Big leaves of cabbage can also be washed and dried like lettuce.

Rinsing and Draining Canned Beans or Vegetables

Use a salad spinner like a sieve or colander for rinsing and drying canned beans or vegetables. Dump the canned goods into the spinner insert (no need to use the bowl) and rinse the food until the water runs clear. Place the spinner back into the bowl and spin the food dry.

Hand-Washing Delicate Laundry

Ohhhhyeah. A salad spinner is also the perfect vessel for washing delicate laundry like underwear and bras. Swish the laundry in cold water with a splash of detergent, then rise until all the soap is gone. Spin the laundry a few times to start the drying process, then hang the laundry as you would after any other washing. One note: you may want to have a seperate salad spinner for washing your unmentionables, especially if you don’t use a natural laundry detergent.

Not So Much

Don’t use a salad spinner for straining pasta, as there is a chance the boiling hot water could melt the plastic spinner. Also the grooves in the strainer basket of a salad spinner are probably too big for rinsing grains like quinoa or rice, so unless you want to make your life trickier it’s best to stick with a sieve.

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