How to Clean a Dish Drying Rack


Philip asked: How do you clean those trays for drying dishes? My trays have got mildew on the bottom from the tap water.

Dish racks often bring about a love-hate feeling. We love them because they keep our dishes upright and allow them to dry quickly with minimal spotting. However, they collect water in the trays and require frequent cleanings to keep away mildew and slime from developing underneath. There are many varieties of dish racks available: wood, plastic, vinyl-covered, and even metal. Each type has its own pros and cons. Though one thing is for sure, no matter what material your dish rack is made from, it will require periodic cleanings to keep it mold and mildew free. These cleaning methods will keep the mold away so your dishes are clean and ready for use.

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Bleach
  • Sink or tub
  • Soft cloth or sponge
  • Old toothbrush

Steps to Clean the Dish Rack:

  1. The most effective way to disinfect and remove mildew is with bleach.
  2. Start by filling a sink, bucket, or tub with water. It needs to be large enough to fit the rack inside and submerge it in the water.
  3. Add ΒΌ cup of bleach for each gallon of water.
  4. Place the drying rack in the bleach/water mixture and allow it to soak for at least 20 minutes. If the mildew is severe, allow some extra soaking time.
  5. After the rack has soaked, use the soft cloth or sponge to gently wipe away any remaining mildew or slime. Clean each bar on the rack to ensure all of the mildew is removed or it will quickly return.
  6. An old toothbrush works well to get in all of the corners and tight spaces.
  7. When the rack is completely cleaned, rinse it thoroughly with clean water.
  8. Allow it to dry completely before use.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • Clean your dish rack weekly to avoid the growth of mold and mildew.
  • If a tray is present under the drying rack, clean that as well using the same method as above.
  • Remove water from the tray frequently to remove the excess moisture that mildew requires to grow.
  • If you place a towel under your drying rack, replace it daily at a minimum. It is best to hang it after each use so it can dry completely.


  1. Barbara says:

    My dish rack and drainer has white hard water stains. I’ve soaked with bleach, but the white stain still remains. How can I get these stains out?

  2. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Plastic. This article might also help; How to Remove Hard Water Deposits from an Ice Dispenser.
    Good luck!

  3. Beth C says:

    My dish drainer was stained and it is white as well. I used bleach to disinfect it, then after rinsing it, I scrubbed it with a toothbrush and baking soda. This removed most of the stains from mine. Hope it helps.

  4. Lora says:

    My dish drainer is not white, but a dark green. Will the bleach change the color and/or leave it spotted?

  5. Melanie says:

    The bleach is supposed to be diluted (1/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water). When bleach is properly diluted, it does not usually stain. Just make sure you add the bleach to the water, so that it is immediately diluted (rather than adding the water to the bleach, which would mean the bleach sat undiluted on the item).

  6. Barb says:

    I was wondering what the brownish -black stuff is at the bottom of our dish strainer that we put our clean dishes in to dry??
    My husband, Dan, says it is just from rusty water and just needs to be washed with dish washing soap or multipurpose cleaner without beach.
    I think it is mold and needs to be cleaned with bleach; also with an old toothbrush to get in the tight places!

    Who is right?
    Thank you for reading this controversy!

  7. Winnie says:

    How to get rid of built up in dish drainer?

    Check it out! We’ve answered your question! Yay!

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