How to Clean a Salt and Pepper Grinder

Salt and pepper are two of the most popular and effective seasonings in the world. And salt and pepper freshly ground in a high quality mill are even better! As well as giving you control over how coarse or fine you want your seasoning, salt and pepper grinders offer storage space for those little kernels of flavour. 

But, like any ingredient storage jar, it’s a good idea to give your salt and pepper mills a clean once in a while to keep them in tip-top condition. A handy time to do this is when you need to refill your grinder. You may also need to clean your mill if you notice less seasoning is coming out — this may indicate a clog which you’ll need to remove.

How to clean a salt grinder

Cleaning the external body of your salt grinder is quite straightforward. The best way to clean it is to use a damp cloth. Plain water is sufficient — do not use any cleaning products such as antibacterial spray. Always dry the salt grinder thoroughly before putting it away.

If you’re looking to clean the inside of your salt grinder, you’ll need to follow a few more steps. However, before you start, it’s worth noting that salt is only suitable for use with a mill that has a nylon or ceramic mechanism. So if you’re cleaning both your salt grinder and pepper mill at the same time, remember not to put any salt in a mill containing a steel grinding mechanism!

Firstly, unscrew the top nut so you can remove the top of the salt grinder.

Turn it upside down to remove any remaining salt granules. This is easier to see with transparent mills — if you have a wooden or metal salt grinder, you may need to look a little more closely.

Then use a small brush (such as a paintbrush or pastry brush, depending on the size of your mill) to gently clean the inside of the mill. This will dislodge any small particles.

Clean the bottom of the grinding mechanism in the same way. 

Once you are happy your salt grinder is clean, you can refill it, then replace the top and screw the nut tightly. You may need to test the grind a few times and adjust it to your preferred level, so it’s ready to go next time you cook. 

How to clean a pepper mill

To clean a pepper mill, you need to follow the same steps for cleaning a salt grinder. A damp cloth is ideal for wiping the outside of the mill, but don’t use any cleaning sprays.

Some salt grinders have nylon mechanisms that are not suitable for peppercorns. So if you are cleaning a nylon salt mill at the same time as your pepper mill, make sure you replace each one with the correct seasoning!

Unscrew the nut on top of the mill (this is the part you use to adjust the pepper grind). Remove it so you can take the lid of the mill off, too. 

Turn the mill upside down to remove any peppercorns. If there are any lodged low down in the grinding mechanism, you can try replacing the lid and cap and then grind the mill a few times to get rid of the lodged peppercorns. 

As with cleaning a salt grinder, use a clean, dry brush to gently remove any debris and peppercorn oil. If you don’t have a paintbrush or pastry brush, you can use a soft, dry cloth. 

Clean the bottom of the grinding mechanism in the same way.

Once your pepper mill is clean, refill it with fresh peppercorns, then replace the top and screw the nut — the tighter it is, the finer the grind. As such, you may like to adjust the grind and test it out until you have the desired level of coarseness.

How to clean salt and pepper grinders

At Cole and Mason, many of our salt and pepper mills contain a high-quality ceramic grinding mechanism, which means you don’t need to worry about mixing up your salt and pepper. Of course, having an elegant salt and pepper mill set, like the Marlow or Southwold Classic collections, is a stylish way to keep your seasonings fresh and neat. But if you do accidentally switch them up, no harm done!

Just remember that our Precision+ designs, including the Milston Precision+, feature carbon steel for the pepper mills, so it’s important not to put salt in these. 

Whichever salt and pepper grinders you go for, whether it’s a traditional wooden design or something a little more contemporary, just remember to keep water away from the mechanisms.

Where should I store my salt and pepper mills?

It might be tempting to store your salt and pepper mills beside or above the stove so they're in easy reach when you’re cooking. Although this may be convenient, the heat and steam from your oven and hob may cause your mills to clog up. This is especially true for salt grinders, as the salt can clump together if it gets damp. The more your seasonings clog up the mills, the more often you’ll need to clean them, and there’s a chance the grinding mechanisms could become damaged.

Try to store your herbs and spices away from the heat of the stove. You want to keep them somewhere cool and dry, away from too much moisture or direct sunlight. A rotating spice rack carousel can be a great storage solution whether you store it on your kitchen counter or in a cupboard, you can easily get to all your seasonings, including the all-important salt and pepper.

Alternatively, you can keep your salt and pepper in stylish standalone mills and display them on your kitchen table. Why not explore the Cole and Mason collection to find the perfect salt and pepper mills for you?

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