Cleaning a spice grinder

I need a spice grinder. For the ease of usage, I was initially shopping for electric, as opposed to manual, or mortar and pestle. Cleaning the electric is a common complaint and subject of discussion.

I’d appreciate an explanation for why you can’t use water. The typical answer is that “it’s electric”

Of course, that’s perfectly understandable if you’re talking about immersing the machine in water, but I ask myself "If I can put liquid in my blender, why can’t I put a bit of water in the spice grinder bowl and spin it to clean, just as I do with my blender or food processor. Is it not a sealed system? If not, wouldn’t some of powder your creating eventually get into the rest of the machine as well?

Might leak, might rust? The warnings are usually against immersing them in water.

We have two, one for savory and one for sweet. Clean them with salt when necessary. I don’t know that water would do a better job or even as good a job.

There are wet grinders made for the Indian market.

Thanks, Those are both quite nice. I found another one that fits the bill. Good reviews. SHARDOR Coffee Grinder Electric, Spice Grinder Electric, Herb Grinder, Grinder for Coffee Bean Spices and Seeds with 2 Removable Stainless Steel Bowls, Black : Home & Kitchen)

I like the way you posted those links. How’d you do that?

I just copied the URLs from my browser and deleted everything after the product number.

I put my spice grinder in the dishwasher no problem.

An electric one?

This thing. The bowl holding the spices is separate from the motor.


We have this same Cuisinart model for spice grinding as well. We’re more or less happy with it but it has some significant drawbacks.

It doesn’t seal that well so a minor amount of ground spices do tend to make their way out of the container, onto the rest of the grinder and beyond. The grind is fairly consistent but hard to change (eg, if you want rough cracked pepper vs whatever fine, pulverized setting you use for most spices).

On the other hand, we specifically got this model because we wanted to put it in the dishwasher and we do. It definitely takes any residual spice or smell out but there’s a rubber gasket that falls out of the clear plastic lid every time that’s a pain to put back in.

As I recall the last time we had to replace our grinder, America’s Test Kitchen (or Serious Eats or Wirecutter, I can’t remember which) recommended a coffee grinder that was all once piece that definitely couldn’t be put in a dishwasher which I found a little curious. Supposedly you can grind a little rice and leave it in overnight to leach out smells but I think I prefer the model that has detachable washable pieces.

I should also mention the grinder also does some slightly wet ingredients okay as well. For example, if I’m making ginger garlic paste for Indian food it makes short work of that. Occasionally I’ll push my luck and try to process a tomato into a smooth texture and that definitely is not a great idea. The spice bowl isn’t leak proof to begin with and like I said, the lid leaks but it can handle drier herbs pretty decently.

Hi WireMonkey,

I should also mention the grinder also does some slightly wet ingredients okay as well.

Yes. The prevailing opinion out there is 'don’t clean with water", but will also mention using recipes with “wet” ingredients. Vinegar, lemon juice, etc not to mention oil.

It seems clear that the detachable bowl is the safe solution. Not to mention greater capacity. The bottom line, of course, is the bottom line…they’re more expensive, which is pretty much the crux of the dilemma.

I don’t know about anyone else, but can you imagine trying to clean an immersion blender blade and bowl without water? That’s the closest comp I can come up with. It’s bad enough that have to dig out all that good stuff that gets, for lack of a better word, stuck in there.

Sorry to keep on about this- we had COVID this week so we were and are a bit foggier than normal. Here’s what is likely the (now updated) article from Serious Eats I originally read about grinder recommendations. They’re not my first stop for equipment reviews but it doesn’t seem like there’s a heckuva a lot of sources I recognize on grinders (at least from a Western, English language perspective). The America’s Test Kitchen review seems even older and is focused on the “coffee” part of “coffee grinder”.

To clarify re: wet ingredients with this unit: I have used this grinder very successfully with non-dry ingredients like garlic, ginger, some herbs, etc. but once they start to actually have enough moisture to drip I would recommend against using the grinder. You can do it, it doesn’t seem to harm the unit with occasional attempts but anything that can actually flow downwards (eg, juice, oil, etc.) will get outside the bowl very quickly. The bottom half of the unit is decently sealed below the bowl but you’d be pushing your luck to use it like that in a consistent manner and it’s a pain to clean (by hand, of course).

As mentioned earlier in this thread, there are non-Western grinders that are probably better suited to wet/dry grinding. Some time ago I watched a lot of Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana videos on YouTube and they frequently feature a grinder that piqued my interest. It didn’t seem available in the US when I looked at the time but was strongly reminiscent of a NutriBullet. Unfortunately I have no experience with those, either, so when our grinder crapped out a couple years back we just went with the Cuisinart model. If the new one craps out again a couple years from now, who knows…?

At Indian stores I’ve seen grinders from India that I haven’t see on Amazon or elsewhere on the web.

Here’s a recent roundup:

Thanks for the link. Not to hijack the thread (because I think this is relevant to the subject) but how do you find Spruce Eats as a source? I veered off of them a few years back when I found some really garbage advice but I’d be willing to check them out again if they’ve improved. In case that seems like I’m singling them out, I also avoided Serious Eats early on after a particularly bad recipe but they managed to turn things around.

Overall, I wish there was more information and attention paid to grinders on cooking sites. We use ours at least a couple times a month (frequently for multiple recipes at any given time) but they don’t get the same broad coverage as other similarly useful kitchen implements. It just feels like there isn’t as much information out there as you’d expect…?

I learned about Spruce Eats from seeing them come up regularly in Google search results, and their articles generally seemed among the most professional and well-informed. I typically compare whatever I see there with other sites.

Blade choppers aren’t great for coffee, that’s how we happen to have two. We used to have one for spices and another for coffee, but I replaced the latter with a Baratza burr grinder.

I clean or neutralize my electric spice grinder, actually a repurposed coffee mill, by grinding raw rice. Just half fill it with raw rice, let run for several minutes, empty rice into compost. Sniff. Should be clean. If not, repeat once. Always works for me.

Maybe obvious but: tip for very fine powder is to rub the pulverized spice through a fine mesh strainer.

Coarse grind is harder.