Dish Draining Solutions that Save Space

Marc Newson via Nova68.comDishwashers may have made drying racks almost obsolete, but there always seem to be a few items that are either don’t fit or are not dishwasher-safe — tall wineglasses, chef's knives, pots and pans, and plastic baby bottles, for example. After hand washing, these items need a convenient place to dry, so here are a few options.

Dry the dishes next to the sink

The old standby for drying dishes is the rubberized drying rack sitting next to the sink. These are typically placed on a mat that slants toward a draining edge and into the sink, and will work on virtually any countertop or sink.

More attractive options include stainless steel and bamboo racks. A variety of collapsible drying racks are also available to save room on the countertop when they are not in use. The collapsible racks fold for easy storage.

Move the draining rack

The problem with sink-side racks may be a lack of space next to the sink. For such cases, self-contained drying racks can be placed anywhere on the counter or even on top of the fridge or range in really cramped kitchens. Modern Design Dish Doctor Dish Drainer Rack by Marc Newson conveniently captures all the drips in a removable reservoir under the pegs and cups for all the plates and utensils.

Dry the dishes in the sink

Another space-saving option is a collapsible dish rack that fits right into the sink. This is particularly convenient for a small kitchen with a dual-basin sink.

Build in the draining rack

Another elegant and clean, if not particularly space-conscious, solution is the integral draining rack. These can be built straight into concrete and solid-surface countertops. Another option is a sink with built-in draining board.

Hang the drying rack

Dish draining racks typically hang above the sinks in many European and Middle Eastern countries. IKEA makes a simple and attractive stainless steel rack that hangs from a rail mounted over the sink. Drying racks can also be integrated into cabinets above the sink, but these will likely need to be custom-made, as drying cabinets are surprisingly hard to find in the U.S.

Make a drying rack

Hire a handy carpenter to create a countertop dish rack for you, or make your own by cutting slits in a half-cylinder of PVC pipe.

The towel on the counter

A final option is just to leave the dishes to dry on a towel on the counter. This makeshift drying rack can disappear after the dishes are dry, freeing up counter space.

Be warned that this method is only appropriate for cooks who are fastidious about cleaning both their counters and dishtowels. Researchers found that 7 percent of kitchen towels harbor a staph bacterium that is connected with life-threatening skin infections, according to Prevention magazine. Avoid using the dishtowel to clean up spills or dry produce, and clean the towels at least twice a week with hot water and bleach.

The dishwasher is often the default drying rack for dishes as well, but that’s not always an option. Fortunately, a range of creative alternatives are available for drying dishes.

Steve Graham writes for

Updated July 25, 2018.

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