Hand washing dishes: Towel dry or drying rack?

Mitchell Parker
29 October 2015

My compact kitchen · More Info

If you hand wash dishes do you let them dry in a rack or do you use a towel to dry and place back into your cabinets?

Drying rack
Towel dry
Other -- tell us below

Comments (92)

  • PRO
    Studio NOO Design

    I let it dry but NO drying rack, only on a nice tea towel that you can remove easily to let it dry.

  • paradise

    As a teenager, I worked at a local restaurant and towel drying dishes was not allowed under the health regulations. I told my mother that but it still didn't get me out of towel drying at home! I most definitely air dry now!

  • scubanana
    I would love to just air dry mine, but as mentioned above, the horrible hard water spots make the decision to towel dry for me. Same reason I don't use a dishwasher. Just wondering, though, how we got to be such germ-a-phobes in our own homes? These are, after all, CLEAN dishes being dried.
  • eightpondfarm

    i've been having to do dishes outside this past week....i'm air drying on lawn furniture these days. lol

  • foreverfarm11

    I put towel dry, but what I mean by that is put a towel on the counter and lay the items on it to dry lol

  • momof5x

    If just a a couple of glasses and cups, in the dish rack, but a little more, I have cotton Tea towels. I am particular about the tea towels I use though.

  • lindadeniseclaire

    Air dry on a dish rack. I hate the look of the dish rack which is almost always left out but it's definitely the most practical option since I'm washing the odd thing throughout the day. I recently heard, on public radio, that dishwashers get your dishes cleaner but hand washing is actually better for you. Yes, believe it or not, our bodies need germs!

  • Erica

    Why do only Italians have hanging drying racks over the sink, hidden behind cabinet doors ? It is so handy !

  • Sylvia sylvester

    I just moved into a little house from a big one. I didn't have a dish washer in the big house, said I prefered to hand wash. I am a widow and don't have allot of dishes. But now here I am with a dishwasher after years without. I LOVE MY DISHWASHER. I put everything in it all day long, and wash just before I go to bed. . . I cook more often because I don't have a big job to wash up. . . it's great.

  • hetherfether

    i only towel dry the things i need to use again right away; everything else dries on the rack.


    Drip dry and then put away before going to bed, Tea towels seem to be used for everything but the dishes.

  • momwoo

    Agreeing with carol rose: Yes, wear gloves and FIRST wash glass items and stainless flatware in hot water. They steam dry on the rack in 5 minutes. That gives you enough time to be washing the plastics. Put up the glass items right then, rinse and place plastics in rack. At least there are fewer items in the rack.

  • PRO
    Alfred and Mary Interior Design, Inc.

    I love my dishes and I love to hand wash them and dry them with pretty towels that hang on a rack!

    Modern Farmhouse · More Info

  • SueBee

    I let them air dry, sometimes hubby dries them, but I prefer to let them dry by themselves.

  • Erika Zabel
    Both. Depending on the quantity. Rack dry being the first option.
  • joghog

    There are just two of us in the home, and we don't cook a lot. The kitchen is on the smaller side with a large single-basin sink, and I don't like stuff on the counters; so a rack wouldn't work (no space to store the rack when not being used). Usually I hand-wash then air-dry on a towel overnight or in the dishwasher which is usually only run once every week or two.

  • Kim Jones

    Air dry only! Proper handling of dishes notifications in commercial kitchens always says to air dry for sanitary reasons!

  • decanio3

    Nothing shocked a roomful of kids more than when I mentioned we don't have a dishwasher. - brought the lesson to a halt. I hand dry dishes in my small kitchen so I have some flat space to look at. While washing, it's a good time to think, or talk to the person who is drying.

  • Molly M
    Don't have a rack, but put them on a towel to air dry. Towel dry sharp knives, and some glasses though. Don't want a rack, how would my huge cookware pieces fit on a dish rack?
  • susanalanandwrigley
    For things that don't go in dishwasher, air dry on rack. Put away dishes done in evening the next morning, other things throughout the day as schedule allows. Having a drying rack out at all times doesn't bother me as I see the kitchen as a functional spot, and drying rack improves function. Only time we towel dry is if drying rack is overloaded, usually just holiday meals and such. Might occasionally put a large pot back on the (turned off) stove to dry if no room in rack.

    I do hate it when hubby puts a clean wet dish in the drying rack on top of a dry dish that could have been put away first, but after 26 years he is either getting better at not doing that or I'm more relaxed about it, don't sweat the small stuff!
    Highly doubt anyone (unless immune compromised) ever got sick from either drying method. Germs aren't that scary, most of us easily fend off germ attacks constantly!!
  • amanger

    There isn't much that I don't put in the dishwasher, but when I do hand wash I use a drying mat and let them air dry.

  • tink23
    I use dishwasher almost exclusively, but when there's overflow or an odd pot or pan, I hand wash and immediately dry and put away. I can't stand dishes in my sink or on my counters. Neat and clear counters are a must. In fact, I have banned drying or dish racks. They take up prime real estate, make the kitchen look cluttered, and can collect grime or look unclean. So long as you use a clean dish towel (mine are routinely bleached), toweling is clean, and really doesn't take that much effort.
  • francieo

    I LOVE my drying mat. My downsized condo is wonderful, but there's not enough room for a dishwasher. No problem. The drying mat is perfect for one to two people; any more and i pull out the rack.

  • marcybronfman

    I only hand-wash when something is STUCK on the dish which didn't come off in my dishwasher. I air-dry when that happens.

  • lisaskier

    I hand wash everything then use the dishwasher as a drying rack[with the door slightly open] .....more hygienic than towel drying & the kitchen stays tidy!

  • kimemiles33

    Don't have dishwasher, hate unsanitary racks...use a towel on the counter instead of rack, hang towel to dry between uses, throw towel in wash every few days and get another. Use vinegar in the dish/rinse water to help with hard-water problems.

  • marcybronfman

    You could also wash the rack with vinegar.

  • qofmiwok

    I've tried a lot of things in my life but found the simplest is to place a towel on the counter, and put the washed/rinsed dishes on the towel to dry.

  • marcybronfman

    That's TRUE but the dishwasher SHOULD dry them.

  • louiseize

    At the cottage, my hubbie lined a cabinet directly over the sink with stainless steel and put in small drain holes, and drying racks. Perfection.

  • Malcolm Reyes
    I do jst the same as lisaskier
  • tmg53
    When hand washing, I use very hot water which makes for quick drying either in the rack or with clean dish towel.
  • Valery Montagnon-Jones
    I can't stand dishes on the side so stuff has to be tried and put away immediately.
  • autrytx

    I actually do both. It just depends.

  • hilldl

    Always hand wash our dishes and usually let them air dry in a drying rack, but when there are more dishes than will fit in the rack, I towel dry (or when company's coming and I want the counter to be clean).

  • Anita Robertson

    Why dry when the air can do the work?

    As someone who's collected depression era and older glassware for much of my life - and I'm one who USES it - I have rarely owned or wanted a dishwasher (which destroys the finish of older glassware). Always hand-washed and air-dried.

  • Susan Hitchcock

    Ha I place them in the dishwasher ( used as my drying rack ) out of sight !!

  • marcybronfman

    But also out of reach.

  • beekay33

    Air dry on a drying mat.

  • Eric

    I don't hand wash much either, only a few large items and I always let them dry by themselves.

  • imgonefishing

    I hand wash all my knives and all my glassware because we have super soft water and glassware will etch in the dishwasher - no matter which soap I use. I hand wash just like Martha Stewart. Hot water, dish soap, little vinegar, rinse in super hot water. I let them air dry on a special towel that allows air circulation.

  • Hope Williams
    Being a certified chef, I know by regulations alone, that air drying is the only option. Towels spread way too many germs. Whether freshly laundered or not. And I'm not a germaphobe.
  • toriat
    I usually use the dishwasher but sometimes I use a drying mat on my counter next to the sink.I just bought a new one out of silicone I like. Normally I just have a cup or plate and a few utensils on it. I can easily stash it away if needed. I dislike any racks and hate those things you put in you sink.
  • Susan Schutz

    Since my dishwasher has an issue right now - the detergent door is not functioning - I use my dishwasher as a drying rack. If I want to sanitize further after hand washing I can use the sani-rinse and heated dry cycles. The cost of having the dispenser replaced is not worth it on an 11 year old dishwasher. When we get new counter tops in the next year or so the dishwasher will be changed out as well.

  • PRO
    RCKsinks Inc.

    New to the market-

    Reality Sink · More Info

    With the built-in dish rack, the Reality Design is always there when you need it.
    Reality Sink · More Info
    An elegant solution to keeping your counters clutter free!

  • momof5x

    I have to go with drying as some utensils and even wooden chopping boards either will form rust or mold if not dried straight away. Cups and glasses I don't mind leaving to dry on a rack, but the rest has to be dried. Plus, I hate seeing a collection of pots on sink, I like to leave it ready for next wash.

  • naytime
    Air dry. Always.
  • PRO

    Air drying is much more sanitary. Towels are magnets for bacteria, and are best used for cleaning spills.

  • inkypaws

    What doesn't go into the dishwasher would get hand dried. I can't stand stuff being left on the countertops.

  • PRO
    J Design Group - Interior Designers Miami - Modern

    Air dry if it looks organize and won't affect, Towel dry if you need to have the space free.

    J Design Group | Interior Design company in Miami, FL
    225 Malaga Ave
    Coral Gables, FL 33134
    Ph: 305-444-4611