How to Dry Dishes without a Drying Rack (4 Super Useful Tips)

You’ve arrived at this place because you don’t have space for a dish rack, you hate the eyesore of a dish rack, you can’t be bothered to buy a dish rack, you don’t have time and need a quick solution on how to dry dishes without a drying rack, or you’re just comforted by another reason to avoid doing/drying dishes by reading this blog. 


So rather than bombarding you with a laundry list of dish racks, I’m going to help you solve your problem on how to dry dishes without a dish rack with some pro tips and tricks used by real people instead. 

So What Can I Use Instead of a Drying Rack?

To get those dishes to dry the quick and easy way without a clunky drying rack:

  • Rinse with hot water. Dishes will dry a lot faster (pro tip: use a kettle).
  • Use microfiber drying towels and mats. Microfiber is super absorbent, quick drying, and long lasting.
  • Use hidden and creative spaces instead of the counter top. 
  • Get an evolved dish rack. There are new space-saving forms to minimize the eyesore, like roll ups, foldables, collapsibles.

You CAN dry your dishes (and dry them well!) without a dish rack. So let’s get to it.

Why Rinsing with Hot Water Dries Your Dishes Faster

If you’ve ever been in the restaurant industry like me, or just peeked behind the scenes, you’ll notice that dirty dishes often go into these heavy duty commercial dish washers that just blast the dishes with scalding hot water (without soap even!). The dishes dry faster because the hot water evaporates a lot faster. Hand drying with a towel is nice when there’s time, but if you’re in a pinch, you can air dry your dishes faster after rinsing them with hot water.

Hot Water Pro Tip – The Kettle

If you don’t have one of those flexible faucets to grab and rinse all the dishes in the sink, you can use a kettle. Just boil some hot water in the kettle, rinse, and repeat the next time you don’t have time (to dry dishes

Other Benefits of a Hot Water Rinse

In addition to drying faster, rinsing with hot water helps to remove stuck food, grease, and soap and kills germs. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA Section 1240.10 Effective Bactericidal Treatment), soaking your dishes in boiling water for 30 seconds or hot water at 170 F for 2 minutes are top methods when it comes to sanitizing dishes. Just make sure you use heavy duty gloves so you don’t get 3rd degree burns.

Microfiber will Dry Your Dishes Fast

Microfiber Towels and Mats are Super Absorbent

There’s a reason why most people dry their cars and clean dishes and other surfaces with microfiber towels. They are super absorbent, they dry fast, they’re more hygienic, and they last a really long time. 

According to the Microfiber Fact Sheet published by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF):

  • A microfiber cloth has the same surface area as a cotton cloth four times as large! And it is very absorbent. It can absorb seven times its weight in water!
  • When microfibers are split, they are 200 times thinner than a single human hair. These split microfibers become much more absorbent. They can remove large quantities of microbes, including hard-to-kill spores.
  • Microfiber products are also positively charged, meaning they attract negatively charged dirt and grease. These characteristics of microfiber allow you to clean surfaces without chemicals.
  • Another advantage of microfiber is that, unlike cotton, it dries fast, making it hard for bacteria to grow in it.
  • Microfiber lasts longer than cotton; it can be washed a thousand times before losing its effectiveness.

If there’s one thing you do to up your dish drying game after reading this blog, get yourself some microfiber towels and/or a microfiber drying mat. Giving your dishes a quick microfiber wipe will dry them fast, but if you’re pressed for time, just lay them out on the counter, drop your wet dishes on the microfiber towel or mat, and let them get to work soaking up the moisture. Try these microfiber towels and mats out if you’d like.

Microfiber Towels

Homaxy Microfiber Dish Cloths, Ultra Soft and Super Absorbent Dish Towels - Great for Household Cooking Cleaning, 12 x 12 Inch, 8 Pack (Stripe Designed), Dark Grey
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Microfiber Dish Towels - Soft, Super Absorbent and Lint Free Kitchen Towels - 8 Pack (Lattice Designed Olive Colors) - 26 x 18 Inch (Olive Green)
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Microfiber Drying Mats

S&T INC. Absorbent, Reversible Microfiber Dish Drying Mat for Kitchen, 16 Inch x 18 Inch, White Trellis (497401)
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Grey and Blue Leaves branches Dish Drying Mat 18x24 for Kitchen Gray Leaves Botanical Spring Flowers Dishes Pad Dish Drainer Rack Mats Absorbent Fast Dry Kitchen Accessories
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In the meantime, if you don’t have any of these right now and your wet dishes are staring right back at you, a simple clean towel will do. Emphasis on the word clean for obvi reasons. If you don’t have a clean towel at hand, simple paper towels will do in a pinch.

How Do Dry Dishes Without Counter Space? Use Creative Spaces Instead

No Eyesore – Use Cabinets to Dry and Store Your Dishes

If your main goal is to get rid of the eyesore and you have some cabinet space above or below the sink, then a dish drying cabinet may be the thing for you. This is a solution with double the benefits because you end up drying and putting the dishes away at the same time!

Here are a few ideas to choose from:

Simple Houseware Plate Drying Rack with Drainboard, Chrome
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2 Pack Dish Plate Storage Drainboard, Tomorotec Pot Lid Holder Dish Rack Plate Drying Drainer Stand Cabinet Organizer for Kitchen
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Save Counter Space – Go Vertical and Try Out Over-the-Sink or Wall Dish Drying Solutions

If saving counter-space is your main goal, then you can get vertically creative. by using the space above your sink or even wall space to stack your dishes to dry.

Over-the-Sink Dish Drying Racks

Over-the-sink dish drying solutions have the added benefits of saving your counter space and dripping right into the sink. Eliminating the need for drying mats saves time and money with less clean-up. I mean, you’ve already cleaned the dishes, right?

Over The Sink Dish Drying Rack, Packism 201 Stainless Steel Dish Rack with Utensil Holder Large Over Sink Dish Rack Shelf, Dish Drainer for Kitchen Counter Top, Non-Slip, Rust Resistant, Silver
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Wall-Mounted Dish Drying Racks

If you’ve been staring at that open space on the wall and thinking “yes, this is my blank canvas” but art isn’t your thing, why not go for functional? Wall-mounted dish drying solutions are a lovely space saver because that countertop is your real (recipe) canvas!

Eastore Life Hanging Dish Rack,Collapsible Dish Drying Rack with Drainboard, Stainless Steel Dish Drainer, Black
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Pusdon Wall Mounted Dish Drying Rack, 3 Tier Stainless Steel Hanging Dish Drainer with Cutlery Holder, Drainboard and Hooks, Fruit Vegetable Kitchen Supplies Plates Bowls Cups Storage Shelf, Black
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No Space for a Dish Drying Rack? Get an Evolved Dish Rack that Rolls-Up, Folds, or Collapses

Not all dish racks are bulky! If you do decide to go for a space saving solution for your small kitchen that involves an actual dish rack, there are new space-saving forms to minimize the eyesore like roll-up drying racks, foldable racks, and collapsible racks. 

Roll-up Drying Racks

There’s something zen about roll-up mats (conjuring up images of sushi mats and yoga mats). We like these roll-up drying racks for kind of the same reason. You can cleanly roll it up over your sink, dry those dishes, and then cleanly roll it away. And even if you forget or don’t have time to roll it back up and put it away, there’s hardly an eyesore! 

Here are a few of our faves to give you an idea:

Roll Up Dish Drying Rack, Seropy Over The Sink Dish Drying Rack Kitchen Rolling Dish Drainer, Foldable Sink Rack Mat Stainless Steel Wire Dish Drying Rack for Kitchen Sink Counter (17.8''x11.8'')
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Umbra Udry Rack and Microfiber Dish Drying Mat-Space-Saving Lightweight Design Folds Up for Easy Storage, Standard, Light Grey
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Collapsible or Foldable Drying Racks

In terms of level of eyesore-ness and space-saverness, collapsible or foldable drying racks are next in line. These are more bulky than the over-the-sink roll-up drying racks, but also a bit more functional. Depending on which you choose, you can have specific spaces for your dishes, cups, and cutlery. Plus, you’ll be able to stow these away in a jiffy and get your space and zen back.

Thinking about it? Here are a few to get you started:

SAMMART Collapsible Dish Drainer with Drainer Board - Foldable Drying Rack Set - Portable Dinnerware Organizer - Space Saving Kitchen Storage Tray (1, Grey)
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OXO Good Grips Aluminum Fold Flat Dish Drying Rack, 2-Tier, with Drainboard, for Kitchen Counter, Collapsible
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You now have what it takes to get your dish drying game on in ways that save space and give you back the zen of a clean counter top. If you’re looking for more space-saving tips for your kitchen, check out these articles:

22 Incredibly Smart Kitchen Space Savers for Small Kitchens

No Room for Kitchen Bin? 6 Ways to Stash that Trash

* Featured image by Ekrulila from Pexels