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.
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
The OXO Good Grips Cast Iron Pan Brush is marketed as a cast iron brush, but it's generally a gentle, less abrasive brush that works well with woks. Its bristles are made of nylon and are light enough to avoid damaging your woks.
As it is with nylon-made brushes, its bristles can break and stay on your wok. While this is a hazard for metal-based brushes, nylon melts under extreme heat and is less of a health hazard.
But of course, this also means you can't use the brush on hot woks. If you plan on getting this, or any other nylon wok brush, then you'll have to stick with cold water and cooled down woks before cleaning. This caveat also holds true when using dishwashers since these cleaners can have different heat levels — some able to melt your nylon bristles.
Nevertheless, the OXO brush is very user-friendly, and its "Good Grips" label stays true, letting you securely grip the brush even when wet. At 3.52 pounds, it isn't the lightest, but still very easy to move around.
The brush's unique design stands out. Unlike most brushes on the market, the OXO's bristles are at an angle, and to us, this makes a difference. Also, this wok brush comes with a scraper you can use to clean the edges and corners of other kitchen equipment.
In a nutshell, we're convinced this is the best nylon-made wok brush you can get.
Best Sisal Wok Brush: Bamboo Dish Scrub Brushes by Subekyu
We love this biodegradable wok brush that comes with your choice of base.
Pros: Environmentally-friendly product; comes with a dish accessory; versatile brush you can use on woks, vegetables, chopping boards, and so on
Cons: Relatively short; may develop molds and smell; not dishwasher safe
With sisal brushes of around two inches in length and a total height of about three inches, the Bamboo Dish Scrub Brushes by Subekyu is undoubtedly small by wok brush standards. We caution anyone using this to clean hot woks. Nevertheless, it gets the job done and is the best sisal brush on sale.
Sisal, a plant with the botanical name Agave sisalana, is a flowering plant that yields a stiff fiber used to make rope. While Subekyu calls it “Bamboo Dish Scrub Brushes,” its bristles are, in fact, made of the sisal plant. Here’s the rundown:
- The wok’s bristles are made of sisal fiber
- The handle is bamboo-made
- Its rope is out of hemp
Despite their relatively small size, these brushes still manage to pack a punch. It is a versatile brush you can use to clean virtually anything, from vegetables to fruits, chopping boards, and other kitchen tools.
Interestingly, Subekyu offers this wok brush in three variants. You can get the wok brush with a ceramic plate, a set of three brushes with one ceramic base, or a set of two brushes with one sandstone base.
Unlike the OXO Good Grips brush, Subekyu’s brushes are entirely biodegradable but not dishwasher safe. And as it is with biodegradable brushes, they should be kept dry when not in use. Leaving this wok brush moist will stimulate mold growth and unpleasant smells, so make sure you hang it on its rope after washing.
Overall, this is a strong “buy” recommendation from us. These dish scrub brushes are incredibly versatile brushes you can use on woks and more.
Best Palmyra Wok Brush: Malish 170416 8-Inch Wok Brush Wood Handle
This durable and long-lasting brush is effective enough to remove most residue in one go.
Pros: Versatile and durable brush you can use to clean rough surfaces
Cons: Quite expensive for a brush
The Malish 170416 8-Inch Wok Brush Wood Handle has bristles made of palmyra palm plant. Palmyra fiber bristles have good resistance to heat and are very durable. For some context, palmyra brushes are so strong that they’re also used in construction and rough cleaning works.
Its stiff bristles scrape off debris in one go without much force. Unfortunately, this also means you should be careful when using the Malish palmyra wok brush since it’s easier to damage your wok’s patina.
The heavy-duty palmyra brush is also on the higher end of the price spectrum. Considering its durability, though, you can think of the price as a long-term investment. This is a versatile and durable brush worthy of a spot on our list.
Best Bamboo Wok Brush: 7-Inch Cleaning Whisk by Wok Shop
A traditional bamboo wok brush that remains true to Chinese roots
Pros: Affordable; nostalgic
Cons: May develop molds and nasty smells; not dishwasher safe
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.