Woks have worked their way from ancient China into mainstream America, and with good reason. They’re fantastic for stir-frying yet versatile enough for other cooking applications. With properly-maintained woks, its structure and nonstick surface mean food rarely gets stuck. But cleaning can sometimes be difficult, and a wok brush can come in handy.
Selecting the right wok brush is critical to keeping your wok’s hard-earned patina — see our guide to seasoning wok in the oven. Traditionally, wok brushes were made of bamboo. But today, you’ll see a plethora of choices, from nylon ones to sisal and palmyra-built brushes, with varying densities, lengths, and other attributes.
The “best wok brush” comes down to personal preferences, so we thought it best to categorize them per bristle material. Consequently, this is a list of the best wok brushes you can buy in 2022, based on the material of your choice.
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Best Nylon Wok Brush: OXO Good Grips Cast Iron Pan Brush
Angled bristles coupled with a superb grip make brushing a breeze.
Pros: Excellent grip; top-rack dishwasher safe
Cons: Having nylon bristles means you can't use the brush on hot surfaces
With sisal brushes of around two inches in length and a total height of about three inches, the Bamboo Dish Scrub Brushes by Subekyu
For staunch believers of keeping everything in tradition, nothing beats a bamboo wok brush that’s just like the brushes used in Ancient China. The 7-Inch Cleaning Whisk by Wok Shop fits this bill.
This traditional wok brush is made entirely of bamboo — bamboo bristles are tied together by bamboo fibers.
While this brush does cost less than its contemporaries, it also doesn’t last as long as, say, the OXO Good Grips or Malish 170416. In other words, it’s a compromise between durability and price.
Much like the bamboo dish scrub by the Subekyu, this bamboo wok brush is biodegradable, with risks of molds and bad smells. This Wok Shop brush, too, isn’t dishwasher safe.
Be that as it may, sticking to tradition is appealing, and we can’t fault anyone for getting this whisk. But please don’t misunderstand; bamboo wok brushes work! After all, it served the ancient Chinese for millennia.
Wok Brush Buying Guide
Getting a hold of the brush is always best for first-time buyers, so we recommend buying in-store when you can. That said, we do appreciate the convenience of online retail. Buyers' reviews are available online, too, if you're inclined to search beyond this list. Nonetheless, here are some of the attributes we think you should consider when buying a wok brush.
When it comes to the bristles' material, some of the choices currently available in the market include bamboo, sisal, palmyra, and nylon.
The first wok brushes were all made of bamboo. This went on for centuries and is a manifestation of the effectiveness of bamboo. While bamboo doesn't last long as nylon, bamboo has commendable strength. In fact, bamboo can withstand extreme heat. However, bamboo can develop molds and unpleasant smells when exposed to water or moisture.
Over time, the list expanded to include nylon and the other plants, including sisal and palmyra. Like bamboo, sisal is a plant fiber. Sisal produces stiff fibers used in many applications like rope-making. Palmyra is another plant that produces stiff fibers — at least for this list, the palmyra option by Malish yields stiffer bristles.
And finally, nylon bristles are also an option. Nylon isn't as stiff as bamboo, sisal, or palmyra, and hot surfaces melt it. But nylon doesn't rot and lasts longer with proper use.
Length of Bristles
Clearly, the length of bristles matters, and longer ones are generally preferred over shorter bristles. Long bristles keep your hands safe from hot surfaces. But there is a tradeoff. Excessively long ones are prone to breakage, so it's about finding a balance between two extremes.
Similar to the length of your bristles, wok brush handles impact usability. Specifically, the best handles are ergonomic and sufficiently long. Although, it is difficult to say what makes for a good wok brush handle because how pleasant it feels comes down to personal preference. Still, this is an attribute worth noting.
Bamboo wok brushes are prone to molds and nasty smells. Your bamboo wok brush should be kept dry and clean to avoid these unpleasant reactions. This means making sure to remove food residue from its bristles before hanging out to dry.
Your choice of bristle material will dictate how to properly use the brush for cleaning your wok.
Bamboo, sisal, and palmyra wok brushes can withstand heat, so you may use them on warm to hot woks. This also means you can run hot water on your wok and wok brush without worry.
Conversely, wok brushes with nylon bristles should be used on completely cooled woks since heat can melt their bristles.