How To Choose Dish Racks & Drying Mats

Even if you own a dishwasher, you may have delicate items that you want to wash more carefully. These hand-wash only items need special care for drying as well. The best drying rack is going to be durable, versatile and also lets the water quickly dissipate to avoid longer drying times and mold or mildew.

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Why buy a dish rack or drying mat?

Good quality knives or delicate glassware such as wine glasses or champagne flutes can be damaged in the dishwasher.

Air drying allows fragile kitchenware the benefit of not transferring bacteria from a used kitchen towel, and saves you time.

A drying rack or mat can be the perfect solution to air dry dishes while keeping your kitchen counters clean and water-free.

There are so many styles and sizes of dish drying racks and mats available to fit your needs and add a design element to your kitchen.

Do I need a dish drying rack or a drying mat?

In order to make the best choice for your air-drying needs, you must decide whether you want a dish drying rack or a drying mat.

Drying mats

The best option if you do minimal hand-washing and drying of dishes.

They work best for small families or single people.

They lay flat on your counter and collect the water run-off from your dishes and serve as a barrier between the wet dishes and your countertops, for this reason many people choose to place one underneath a drying rack.

They can be rolled up for easy storage, but will need to dry in between uses.

Oversized Machine Washable Drying Mats Set
Rust Resistant Polyester Drying Mat
White Rubber Practical Drying Mat
Stylish Design Rust Resistant Rubber Drying Mat
Non-slip Surface Silicone Gray Drying Mat
Printed Polyester Water-absorbent Drying Mat

Drying racks

A great solution if you have many dishes to wash as they help to organize your washing and allow for flatware such as plates to dry standing to take up less space.

They allow space between the dishes to aid in drying time, many have different compartments for utensils to dry upright as well.

Some racks will fit over your sink to allow water to drain directly into the sink, saving you precious counter space.

A rack is a better option for larger families or people who cook or bake often.

However, they do take up more storage space. Many racks now come in multi-tier designs to both add a bit of flare or whimsey to your kitchen while making it easier to dry more dishes in less space.

Blue Plastic Countertop Dish Rack
Functional Stainless Steel Countertop Dish Rack
Drying Counter Wire Metal Dish Rack
Metal Drying Counter Dish Rack
Modern Compact Drying Station Countertop Dish Rack
Charcoal Wire Countertop Dish Rack

What are the best materials for drying racks and mats?

Microfiber is absorbent and can hold quite a bit of water, dries quickly, machine washable and provides a soft resting place for dishes that are delicate, all while protecting your countertops from scratching or water damage. They are available in a variety of colors, pictures or patterns to blend in with kitchen decor, or add a pop of color or personality to the kitchen space.

Silicone mats are the best option if you are drying a lot of plates or glasses because they most often are ribbed to allow airflow that aids in quicker drying times. They are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

Stainless steel resists rust and other corrosive elements. It will not grow mold and can easily be washed in the dishwasher for your convenience. It's a great option for a sturdy rack that you will not have to replace or clean too often.

Bamboo will not develop rust or mineral deposits and is easy to care for, It is naturally antibacterial. If bacteria or mold spots do eventually appear, they can easily be cleaned to remove mold and soap scum. They add a warm, natural feel to your kitchen.

Plastic racks come in many different colors to go with your kitchen design. It will not rust or corrode, but may develop mildew or other bacteria. Fortunately, they are dishwasher-safe for an easy clean.

Antibacterial Rust Resistant Microfiber Drying Mat
Large Flexible Silicone Drying Mat
Blue Modern Compact 2 Tier Plastic Dish Rack
Functional Plastic Dish Rack Set
Fish Print Colorful Drying Mat
Elegant Stainless Steel Dish Rack

What size dish drying rack or mat do I need?

Depending on how much you plan to use the drying rack or mat and how big your family is, you will need to find a drying mat or rack that will accommodate your needs. You will also want to consider how much space you have to devote to your mat or rack, both while in use and tucked away waiting for its next use.

Dish drying mats and racks come in several different sizes ranges from small to large.

Small sizes are 5" width or less, perfect for a single person or if you're only drying your good knives and the occasional glass or two.

Medium mats and racks are from 6" to 15" width, and are a great solution for the average 4 person family doing dishes 4-5 times a week.

Large ones run over 16" in width and are the best option if you have a large family or cook and bake often.

Stainless Steel Over the Sink Multipurpose Drain Tray
Polypropylene Countertop Plastic Dish Rack
Simple Minimalistic Metal Dish Rack
Simple Kitchen Microfiber Drying Mat
Rust Resistant Gray Metal Dish Rack
Stainless Steel Over the Sink Dish Rack

What kind of rack will match my kitchen decor?

In choosing a drying rack or mat you must first think about whether you want it to stand out or blend in with your kitchen decor. Once you have that in mind, it's easy to pick a mat or rack that looks great with your kitchen style.

For a contemporary kitchen, black or white plastic or coated metal will complement the decor.

Bamboo is a great option for a more homey kitchen, as it adds a bit of warmth and charm. This option is perfect if you already have wooden cutting boards or countertops.

If you have stainless steel appliances, there are stainless steel options that compliment the clean, sterile feel of your kitchen.

There are many different colors and styles that blend in with the esthetics of your kitchen and become almost invisible. Choose colors that match your cabinetry or appliances for a more cohesive look.

A mat with a pattern will be the best choice if you already have a theme to your kitchen. For this, you will want a mat with an image that goes with personal touches already in your kitchen. A bold pattern can also add life to a dull kitchen that needs a punch of color and a quick styl update.

Plastic Countertop Collapsible Dish Rack
White Plastic Simple Dish Rack
Wine Pattern Colorful Decorative Drying Mat
Old-style Printed Water-absorbent Drying Mat
Elegant Mug Tree Plastic Dish Rack
Dry Wine Glass Drying Rack

How do I care for my drying mat or rack?

No matter what option you choose, you will want to keep your dish drying mat or rack clean and free of mildew, mold, rust and mineral deposits. You should wash your mat or rack at least once a week to maintain cleanliness. Here you can find easy-care instructions to keep your items clean and safe to use.

Regular cleaning

Microfiber mats are washing machine safe, just toss it in with the rest of your laundry and tumble dry low.

Silicone mats are dishwasher safe for your convenience.

Dish racks should be taken apart as much as possible and scrubbed with dish soap or by soaking it in enough water to cover it and adding a cup of white vinegar. Then submerge it into clean water to rinse. After that, dry with a clean kitchen towel.

Removing mold or mildew

If the deposits are large, wet down a paper towel with white vinegar and push into crevices or wrap around the area, then let it sit for 20-30 minutes.

If the deposits are not too thick, you can use an old toothbrush or small dish brush to scrub the affected areas, just be sure to sanitize before use if you're using the toothbrush method.

Alternately, you can use ¼ cup bleach to each gallon water and fully submerge your rack for a minimum of 20 minutes, longer if there is a lot of mildew.

Rinse with clean water.

Dry thoroughly with a clean dishtowel.

Removing rust

Use oxalic acid to clean.

Oxalic acid comes in powder and liquid form, simply pour the liquid or sprinkle the powder onto a damp cloth or scrub brush and scrub the rust away.

Rinse very thoroughly.

Use a clean kitchen towel to dry well.