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how to clean icing tips & piping bags
Kitchen cleaning

How to clean icing tips and piping bags

Do you love decorating birthday cakes? Check out our easy step-by-step guide to effectively cleaning icing tips and piping bags after use.

Whether you love to bake every day of the week, or limit yourself to celebratory cakes on special occasions, there’s a handy piece of equipment every baker should have in their cupboards: a piping bag, complete with a variety of nozzles (otherwise known as icing tips).

Unfortunately, disposable icing bags and tips have a tendency to tear easily, which is why many bakers prefer to purchase high quality reusable bags and nozzles. There is one drawback, however: how do you clean them?

Fortunately, cleaning your piping bags and tips isn’t as difficult as you may think. In fact, the main challenge is getting into all the tiny nooks and crannies. If you want to know how to clean a piping bag and icing tips, then read on (you can also click here for advice on cleaning silicone bakeware). Here’s everything you need to know:

How to Clean a Piping Bag

The inside of a good quality piping bag will be waxy, which prevents the buttercream or frosting from sticking to the bag, and helping it move downwards towards the tip as you’re piping. However, this non-stick quality isn’t perfect, and small amounts of frosting will always be left inside the piping bag after use – it’s inevitable.

It’s always best to wash out your piping bags as soon as possible after use. Think about what’s in there – butter, citrus juice, and sugar perhaps – all things that can grow bacteria if they’re left in the right conditions for long enough. The quicker you clean it, the better. The first thing you’ll want to do is to get rid of any leftover icing. There are two ways you can do this:

  • Some bakers like to submerge their icing bags in a bowl of hot water mixed with a few drops of dishwashing liquid – a good quality product like Persil washing up liquid is best. The cleansing action of the soap, coupled with the hot water, works to loosen the icing – so it can easily be removed with a washing up brush. You may find it easier to turn the bag inside out to do this.


  • An alternative method some bakers swear by is to pop the piping bag into the freezer after use, leaving it there from 30 minutes up to an hour. This works in much the same way as freezing bubble gum – it allows you to simply peel the icing off the inside of the bag and throw it into the bin. Freeze the bag the right way around, and then turn inside out before peeling away the frosting.

Next, you’ll want to wash the inside of the piping bag as thoroughly as possible. Due to the canvas material, it’s best not to use a dishwasher. And, as you’ll be using the bag for food purposes, it’s best not to use a washing machine or laundry detergent designed for clothes. This means hand washing – but it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Wash in hot water with dishwashing soap, and use a washing up brush to gently scrub and remove any remaining food.

Allow your piping bag to air dry naturally. The best way is to open it as much as possible so that air can circulate throughout, and to stand the bag up rather than laying it down (use a mug to lean the bag against if you need to). This lets the piping bag breathe, and prevents the enclosed, damp conditions that could trigger mould growth. Once completely dry, store as normal.

How to Clean Piping Bag Icing Tips

The problem with icing tips is that icing and buttercream can easily become trapped, and while you can choose to put them straight into the dishwasher if you wish, this isn’t always the best option. The pressure that an icing tip is subjected to in the dishwasher may not be enough to dislodge caked-on buttercream or frosting, and any frosting that is dislodged could attach itself to another object, leaving your plates covered in soggy icing. Here’s a more effective method that’s really quick and easy:

  1. Run a bowl of hot water, and add a small amount of dishwashing soap to produce a few suds. Pop the dirty icing tips into the water and allow them to soak for a few minutes. You will want to leave the tips soaking for longer if you’ve been putting off cleaning your baking equipment, and the frosting has hardened and really become caked on. What you want is for the icing to become very soft.
  1. Empty your basin, and turn your tap on – the cold tap is fine. Turn the handle until you have good water pressure, and hold your icing tip up underneath the flow. The high pressure of the water should loosen the now soft icing, forcing it through the nozzle and out into your sink. Always remember to remove bits of icing from your basin to prevent a blockage.
  1. To ensure a thorough clean, and to make sure all of the soapy suds have been removed from the icing tip, pop the nozzles into your dishwasher. It’s best to put them into a lidded basket to make sure they don’t move around, or in a mesh bag designed for dishwasher use.

How to Clean Icing Tips: Small Nozzles

You can clean most of the larger icing tips using the cleaning products and techniques mentioned above. But what about those smaller, fiddly tips, like the leaf tip or the thin string tip?

The trick is to use a small, flexible bottlebrush after the soaking process, but before the dishwasher stage. The bottlebrush will be flexible enough to get into even the tiniest of spaces, and can push out any tiny bits of buttercream that have become trapped in the gaps. It really is that simple. Give it a go, and see just how easy cleaning your piping equipment is – you’ll be surprised!

Top Tip

Not all piping bags are exactly the same, so it’s important to read any instructions from the manufacturer about cleaning yours before you attempt the methods below. Different materials may require different cleaning products and methods.