How to dry your dishes – the safe way

Open your dishwasher and roll out the racks to make sure your dishes get extra dry.

Drying your dishes might not seem like a chore so important that it would divide people into two teams, but it does. You've probably heard the debate yourself: To air dry your pots and pans, or to towel dry them? On the one hand, dish drying racks take up a lot of space and make the sink-to-cabinet process significantly longer and it's so tempting to just stack plates up and leave them there for days. On the other hand, dish drying takes extra time and an extra set of hands. The debate is about more than convenience, though – as it turns out, the most important thing you should be considering when drying your dishes is your family's health. When dried improperly, plates become a breeding ground for bacteria and can make you seriously sick. So which way is best?

Method one: towel drying
Putting your dishes away in your kitchen cabinets before they're totally dry is the surest way to make them grow all sorts of nasty things. Unfortunately, towel drying your plates and bowls doesn't completely eradicate moisture, leaving them susceptible once they're tucked away in your kitchen cabinets. Towels also run the risk of harboring bacteria themselves, as they hold on to moisture for dear life. They get used for a whole bunch of cleaning tasks, from wiping down counters to mopping up spills, and if more than one person in the family is cleaning in the kitchen (and we hope they are), you truly have no idea where they've been. The last thing you want to do is rub that grime all over your dishes.

Method two: air drying
So what's the best way to dry your dishes sans-bacteria? Air drying. This is usually done using a sink-side drying rack, but if you have too many dishes and not enough rack space on a daily basis, there's a simple air drying hack you can use: Opening the dishwasher door. That's it. There will be enough air circulation for your dishes to have enough room to dry germ-free if you've just run a cycle, and you won't have to whip out a towel.  This technique works just as well for dishes that you hand wash. If you're out of drying rack room or don't have the counter space for one, just roll out an empty level in your dishwasher and leave them there while they dry off.