For something that’s supposed to keep your clean dishes safe while they dry after a wash, having your dish drying rack itself be dirty quite defeats the purpose. Using a dirty dish drying rack is downright unsanitary, not to mention it looks quite ugly sitting in an otherwise orderly and clean kitchen.
And since it’s almost unavoidable to keep your rack from getting dirty over time, you need to know how to clean your dish drying rack if you intend to buy one for your kitchen any time soon.
But cleaning your dish drying rack isn’t as simple a task as just rinsing it with water over your kitchen sink. Depending on your situation and use (learn of all the ways you can use your dish drying rack here), your dish drying rack may be covered in dust, mold, mildew, rust, or even food stains, so it’s important to know how exactly to deal with each situation.
Only then can you hope to really clean your dish drying rack, instead of just doing a shoddy job at it.
Cleaning your dish drying rack on a regular basis
The first thing you need to remember about cleaning your dish drying rack is that it’s best if you clean it out on a regular basis, say every 2-3 weeks. Cleaning regularly lets you take care of the dust that accumulates over time on your dish drying rack, and it also lets you tackle food stains and grease that accidentally got on the rack while you were washing your dishes.
Follow these steps to clean our dish drying rack on a regular basis:
- Empty your dish drying rack and take it apart as much as you can.
- Rinse each part with water before scrubbing it with a towel doused in dish liquid. Scrub each part completely and use a scrub brush (an old toothbrush would do fine too) to get the hard to reach areas.
- Rinse each part thoroughly to wash off the soap and dirt.
- If you encounter some especially tough stains that don’t come off with a simple scrub, use a towel or brush doused in white vinegar to scrub it off.
- Use a clean, dry towel to wipe off all moisture on each part of your dish drying rack before putting it all back together. Drying your rack is important since it prevents the growth of mildew later on.
As with any cleaning job, the more consistently you clean, the less work you’ll have to do each time, and you’ll prevent the buildup of more serious cleaning jobs in the future. So, pay heed to this advice if you’ve just bought a dish drying rack and would like to keep it clean for as long as possible.
But, whether it’s your fault or not, your dish drying rack can get dirty to the point where a quick, light cleaning procedure such as the one detailed above has no effect. This is usually the case when your dish drying rack is covered in mold or mildew, or when the limescale deposits have built over years of use. If you own a metal dish drying rack, it may even have started rusting over time.
Special cleaning emergencies like these require special attention, and here’s what you need to do in each case:
Removing limescale from your dish drying rack
Limescale deposits are usually the result of using hard water to wash your dishes. Compared to rust and mildew, however, cleaning off limescale from your dish drying rack is a relatively easy task. All you need to get is a few paper towels, a scrub brush or an old toothbrush, and some white vinegar. Here’s how you go about cleaning limescale:
- Douse the areas on your dish drying rack that have limescale deposits with vinegar and use a scrub brush or an old toothbrush to scrub the deposits off. You might need to constantly pour more vinegar as you work on each area.
- If the deposits are thicker in one area, use a paper towel doused in vinegar to cover them, letting it sit for an hour before tackling them with the brush again.
- Rinse and dry each part of the dish drying rack when you’re done to remove any traces of vinegar.
However, it is important to understand that your dish drying rack cannot always be saved from limescale deposits. This is especially true when the limescale covers the majority of the surface of the rack like a grey film, an evident sign that the dish drying rack is nearing the end of its life. Which means you should just throw out your current rack and buy a new one.
Removing rust from metal dish drying racks
Like limescale, rust is often an unavoidable side-effect of cleaning your dishes on a regular basis. Even though many metal dish drying racks come with rust-free guarantees and are made from materials like stainless-steel, once the product gets old enough (or if it’s just a shoddy product in the first place), you’re bound to find rust buildup on it eventually, what with the constant exposure to water and open-air providing optimal conditions for it.
Cleaning rust is a harder task than removing limescale deposits, and you’d actually need to go out of your way and buy an oxalic acid cleaner for this job. Oxalic acid cleaners are usually available in either powder form or liquid form, and both are pretty effective at their jobs. However, we’ve found that the powdered version is more convenient when scrubbing, so it’s the version we recommend you get.
The rest of the cleaning process is pretty much the same as that of removing limescale from off of your dish drying rack (after substituting the vinegar for the oxalic acid cleaner that is):
- Sprinkle the areas on your dish drying rack that are rusted with the oxalic acid cleaner and use a damp cloth or brush to scrub the rust off.
- Rinse and dry each part of the dish drying rack when you’re done to remove any traces of the oxalic acid cleaner.
As with limescale deposits, you should be able to recognize when it’s worthwhile to try and clean the rust off of your dish drying rack, and when you’d be just better off chucking it into the trash and just buying a new one. After all, there’s no point in investing all that time and effort into something that’s close to the end of its life anyway.
Cleaning out mildew and mold from under your dish drying rack
While the buildup of rust and limescale aren’t things that you can really prevent, the same cannot be said for the growth of mold and mildew on your dish drying rack. Mold and mildew growth are usually the result of not properly draining your dish drying rack at the end of the day, letting the water that collects in the tray under the rack stagnate and provide a breeding ground for mildew and slime. And before long, the entire rack is covered with hard-to-remove slime.
Removing mildew is the hardest task when it comes to cleaning your dish drying rack and often takes the longest time to do so too. To get started, you need to first gather a large tub (or you can use your sink if it’s big enough to hold your dish drying rack), bleach, an old brush, and a soft cloth or sponge. The most important item here is the bleach, without which you can’t hope to properly clean the mildew.
Once you’ve gathered all these items, here’s how you go about cleaning the rack off of mildew:
- Fill the sink (or tub) with water, and add ¼ cups of bleach for every gallon of water you pour. Add as much water as you would need to completely submerge the dish drying rack.
- Place the dish drying rack inside the bleach mixture and let it soak for 20 minutes. For more severe cases, you’ll have to let it soak for a longer period of time.
- Take the rack out and gently wipe off all visible traces of mildew with a soft cloth or sponge, and using a toothbrush to clean the corners. Make sure to clean thoroughly, or mildew will return quickly.
- Rinse the rack thoroughly with water to remove all traces of bleach and let it dry completely before using it again.
Your dish drying rack should be free of mildew at this point. However, to ensure mold doesn’t return again, you’ll have to clean your dish drying rack (the normal way) on a regular basis, perhaps even weekly, if mildew is an especially recurring problem.
Another way to keep mildew away from your dish drying rack is to drain out the water collection tray from underneath on a regular basis and make sure your dish drying rack stays as dry as possible.
And that’s about it. Follow these simple steps, and your dish drying rack should be clean in no time.