how do you wash a wok

How Do You Wash a Wok?

Woks have been an essential tool in Asian cuisine for centuries, known for their unique shape that allows for even heating and quick cooking. Made from materials such as steel, iron, or even carbon steel, woks are highly versatile and can be used for stir-frying, deep-frying, and steaming, among other culinary techniques. Due to the high heat and various cooking methods they endure, woks can get dirty and develop residue over time. Proper cleaning and maintenance not only helps to preserve the lifespan of the wok, but also to maintain the flavors and quality of the dishes prepared in it. But the main question is how do you wash a wok and reduce the need to continually season?

After each use, hand wash with warm water, avoiding abrasive tools. For stubborn residues, use salt scrubbing or boiling water techniques. Regular cleaning prevents flavor alteration and enhances the wok’s lifespan, ensuring delicious meals every time.

Each method is now detailed in full.

Hand Washing a Wok

Hand washing your wok is a straightforward and effective way to maintain its condition and longevity. This approach preserves the wok’s natural patina and seasoning while ensuring a thorough clean.

  1. Cool the Wok: Allow the wok to reach a temperature that is comfortable to touch.
  2. Rinse with Warm Water: Using a soft sponge or cloth, gently wash the wok with warm water.
  3. Apply Mild Detergent: If there are stubborn stains or residues, use a mild detergent. Ensure you scrub gently to avoid scratching the surface.
  4. Rinse Thoroughly: Make sure to wash away any soap residue with warm water.
  5. Dry with a Clean Cloth: Wipe the wok dry immediately after rinsing to prevent any water spots or potential rusting.
  6. Air Dry: Place the wok in a well-ventilated area, allowing it to air dry for a few minutes. This ensures that all moisture has evaporated.
  7. Store in a Dry Place: Keep your wok in a dry and cool place, away from direct sunlight or moisture.

Salt Scrubbing a Wok

Salt scrubbing is a time-tested technique for removing stubborn residues from your wok without causing damage. The coarse nature of the salt acts as a gentle abrasive, helping to lift and remove stains without the need for harsh chemicals or intense scrubbing.

  1. Warm the Wok: Place the wok on your stove and let it heat up for a couple of minutes on medium heat.
  2. Add a Generous Amount of Coarse Salt: Pour salt into the wok, ensuring it covers the base.
  3. Gently Scrub: With a cloth or a soft brush, work the salt around the wok’s surface. This action will help dislodge any stubborn bits.
  4. Shake Out Used Salt: After scrubbing, tilt the wok and discard the used salt.
  5. Wipe Clean: Use a clean cloth to wipe away any remaining salt particles from the wok.
  6. Rinse with Warm Water: Give the wok a quick rinse to ensure all salt residues are gone.
  7. Dry Immediately: It’s essential to dry your wok right away to prevent any rust formation.
  8. Air Dry Further: After manually drying, let the wok sit in an airy spot for a few extra minutes to make sure it’s entirely free of moisture.

Clean a Wok With Boiling Water

When faced with burnt-on food or heavy residues, boiling water is a reliable method to restore the wok’s shine. The heat from the boiling water softens the stubborn particles, making it easier to remove them without any aggressive scrubbing.

  1. Fill with Water: Pour water into the wok, ensuring the affected areas are submerged.
  2. Heat Up: Place the wok on your stove and turn the heat to high.
  3. Wait for Bubbling: Once the water starts to bubble, let it boil for a few more minutes.
  4. Gentle Scrape: Use a spatula or a soft brush to gently scrape off the softened residues.
  5. Empty the Wok: Carefully pour out the hot water.
  6. Rinse with Cool Water: To cool down the wok and remove any leftover particles, give it a rinse.
  7. Pat Dry: Use a towel to pat dry the wok, ensuring no water droplets remain.
  8. Air Out: Let the wok sit in a spot with good ventilation to ensure it’s completely dry.
  9. Check for Residues: Inspect the wok to make sure all residues are gone. If any remain, consider repeating the process.


How often should I clean my wok?

Regular cleaning after each cooking session is recommended to ensure the wok’s optimal performance. By doing so, you avoid the build-up of food particles, which can alter the taste of dishes and potentially damage the wok over time. Consistent maintenance will enhance the wok’s lifespan and the quality of your meals.

Do I need to season my wok after every use?

While seasoning after every single use isn’t necessary, it’s essential to monitor the wok’s appearance and feel. If the surface begins to lose its sheen or becomes sticky, it might be time for a re-seasoning. Proper seasoning helps maintain a protective layer, preventing rust and ensuring a natural non-stick surface.

Can I put my wok in the dishwasher?

Placing a wok in the dishwasher is not advised. Dishwashers use aggressive detergents and expose cookware to high water pressure, which can strip away the wok’s protective seasoning. It’s best to hand wash the wok using the methods mentioned above to ensure its longevity and performance.

How do I dry my wok after washing it?

After giving your wok a thorough rinse, use a clean and absorbent towel to wipe away moisture. Following that, place the wok on a burner at low heat for several minutes. This step will evaporate any remaining moisture and reduce the risk of rusting.

Can I use steel wool to clean my wok?

Steel wool is abrasive and can damage the wok’s seasoned surface. Using it might lead to scratches and degrade the protective layer. Instead, opt for milder cleaning tools, such as a soft cloth, sponge, or natural bristle brush, to ensure the wok remains in top condition.

How do I remove burnt food from my wok?

Burnt food can be a challenge, but with patience, it’s manageable. After cooking, let the wok cool down a bit, then fill it with water and allow it to soak for a while. This soaking will help soften the burnt bits. Afterward, use the boiling water method described earlier to further loosen and remove the stubborn particles. If residues persist, a gentle scrub with a soft brush or cloth can be beneficial. Remember to always be gentle to avoid damaging the wok’s surface.


Woks are valuable culinary tools, and with proper care, they can last for years. Cleaning a wok is relatively straightforward, and by following the methods above, you can ensure that your wok remains in top condition. Whether you’re using gentle hand washing, a salt scrub, or boiling water, always remember to dry the wok thoroughly to prevent rust. Regular cleaning and occasional seasoning will keep your wok ready for countless delicious meals.