Tiny to store and able to hold lots of dishes, this idea for a dish drainer is perfect for a boat or any small kitchen.

Dish Drainer

Why didn’t I think of that??

That was my first reaction to seeing my friend Jan’s dish drainer (Jan writes CommuterCruiser.com, filled with tips for part-time cruisers).  I had never came up with a good dish drainer on Que Tal, despite trying several different ones.

When Dave and I recently spent some time cruising aboard Winterlude, with our friends David and Jan Irons, I saw Jan’s solution.  It was perfect!

Jan using a chamois as a dish drainerJan uses a chamois cloth just laid on the counter.  A real, leather chamois — not a microfiber “synthetic chamois” or the “dish drying mats” you find in the housewares section.

A real leather chamois absorbs 7 times in water and can be wrung out after using and then hung up.  When it’s dry, you can put it almost anywhere — it’s not very big.  To clean a chamois, throw it in the laundry (but don’t put it in a dryer or use fabric softener on it).  It will last several years and it’s cheaper than a lot of “real” dish drainers and pads.

You can find a chamois in a number of different sizes, depending on how big your counter is where you want to use it.  It cuts easily if you want a non-standard size.

You can find a real chamois at almost any auto parts store, or in the automotive departments at Wal-mart, Target and the like.  You can also order one from Amazon.  Here are a few popular sizes at good prices from Amazon:

Now, if I can just get Jan’s other dish washing idea to work as well:  notwithstanding the photo above, her husband David usually does the dishes!

Tiny to store and able to hold lots of dishes, this idea for a dish drainer is perfect for a boat or any small kitchen.

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  • Jan Irons
    Posted at 26 February 2011 Reply

    WAIT!!! We definitely need a clarification here! David only does the DINNER dishes (admittedly, it’s pretty wonderful), BUT I do the breakfast & lunch dishes.

    🙂 Also, I have used both “real” chamois and “good fake” chamois over the years – in the “tropic tropics” such as Panama and Guatemala they last for a couple years before they get yucky – even after washing. Cheap fakes are horrid (yes, I’ve tried those too — sometimes in other countries you can’t necessarily find what you want!).

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 26 February 2011 Reply

      Thanks for the clarification! I’d hate to give David too much credit . . .

  • Jamie
    Posted at 27 February 2011 Reply

    Great website – lots of little tips and tricks, some of which it took me a few years to discover, some of which are new and useful. Thanks for writing – I’m putting a link up on my website to yours, as I think your topic is very handy for us boaty types! Cheers, Jamie

  • Heather
    Posted at 28 February 2011 Reply

    I’ve had Rubbermaid, folding racks and have finally gone to chamois too. I’ve been happy with the good German fake chamois works very well, absorbs lots of water wrings out nice and drys well. (yes, all the other fake chamois are terrible)

  • Alexandra
    Posted at 12 April 2011 Reply

    I enjoy your tips, but I think I’m going to go with the collapsible dish rack seen here http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0026RI3TK/?tag=theboagal0a-20

    I understand that leather products mold quickly in hot, wet environments. Also, there’s no place on the leather swath to place plates upright.

    I suppose I could dry the dishes by hand using a towel, but then I might miss the sun setting on the horizon 😉

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 12 April 2011 Reply

      No problem! Everyone has different preferences, and those collapsible items made by Progressive International are really innovative. I love them!

      Just FYI, never had a problem with leather things that were in daily use molding — it was items like shoes that were “stored” . . . and I just lean the plates against a cup and let them drip. No dish towels for me!

  • Diane Emigh on Facebook
    Posted at 15 January 2012 Reply

    On Harmony we have double stainless steel galley sinks and very little counter space. I found a very inexpensive rectangular stainless steel cake rack on Amazon that fits perfectly in my second sink. I put silicon pads (small globs of silicone) on the rack feet so my sink wouldn’t be marred. I now use the second sink with the cake rack in the sink bottom as my dish draining/drying location. Water from the newly washed dishes drains through the rack right down the sink drain. My sink holds a LOT of washed dishes and I don’t need to use valuable counter top real estate. The rack remains in the second sink all the time even when clean dishes have been put away and has worked perfectly. I hate to dry dishes and like other commenters would much rather be in the cockpit enjoying the scenery! Here’s the rack I’m using: http://www.amazon.com/Bakers-Secret-1061483–16-Inch-Nonstick/dp/B00091PNTI/?tag=theboagal0a-20

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 15 January 2012 Reply

    Great idea! Do you have a photo you’d be willing to share — if you are willing, I’d like to write an article on your idea as an alternative. Thanks! — Carolyn

  • Diane Emigh on Facebook
    Posted at 15 January 2012 Reply

    Carolyn, I’d be happy to take a couple of photos. I’m sick today with some kind of bug, but will get right on it in a day or so.

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 15 January 2012 Reply

    No rush — sorry to hear you’re sick! That’s awful!!

  • Elizabeth Halter
    Posted at 17 January 2012 Reply

    Thanks for the tips and can not wait for the new book to read. We have a 45 St. Frances Catamaran. The Galley is very narrow and not a whole lot of counter space and washing dishes are never fun. Always looking for new ideas and advise. Anything that will help make this Galley Chef’s job more enjoyable.

    Thanks again,
    Northwest Indiana
    Lake Michigan

  • Island Yacht Club Toronto on Facebook
    Posted at 15 June 2012 Reply

    These are the best tips!

  • Peggy D.
    Posted at 09 July 2012 Reply

    Hi, Carolyn! Great website, just came across it & love all the tips, tricks & hints. Great stuff here for us yachties!

    Our boat (a Catalina 38) has a double sink, for draining dishes I use a Dri-Dek tile (upside down) in the bottom of the sink– it’s vinyl so it curves nicely to fit the sink, & the nubs on one side of the tile are great for holding dishes upright as they dry. Neither of us like to dry dishes, so having things dry in the sink makes for less of an adventure if we’re in a rolly anchorage. All those nubs make it kind of a pain to clean, but a good soak in warm soapy water plus a good scrub with a deck brush seems to do the trick.

    I do like your idea of the chamois, though — I’ll get one of these to use at the dock!

  • Belinda Wolfe
    Posted at 20 March 2014 Reply

    I found a mini white plastic dish drainer for one side of my small double galley sink at CAMPING WORLD. I find a lot of boat sized items, intended for RVs at Camping World and usually about half the cost it sold at marine store!! Check out their web site. But for a counter top drainer I don’t think you can beat the silicone dish drainer/ hot pad by XOX. I found mine at Target but you can get one at Amazon straight from TBG website.

  • Rita Atkinson
    Posted at 21 March 2014 Reply

    What an excellent idea!

  • Nicola
    Posted at 16 July 2015 Reply

    I love my OXO silicone pad from Target. It is non-skid and heat-resistant so i leave it on the counter always. I can set hot dishes on it straight out of the oven and it even holds things from slipping while we are heeled over sailing!

  • Frances Liz Fernandez
    Posted at 28 February 2016 Reply

    Great idea.

  • Karen
    Posted at 16 March 2017 Reply

    I use chamois for every thing. But I don’t get leather ones, too expensive. I get 3pk Original German Shammy Towels Super Absorbent Chamois Cloths Large Size 20×27 Inch For Home Kitchen Bathroom Car Pet Stains (Orange)
    by The Original German Shammy
    $ 9 94 Prime
    In stock on March 21, 2017
    More Buying Choices
    $9.94(3 new offers)

  • Paula Schubert
    Posted at 07 June 2017 Reply

    I do the same thing. It fits well in the small space I have and does the job! If it gets too crowded, I just bring out a drying towel.

  • Tom Kober
    Posted at 07 June 2017 Reply

    Why real vs Microfiber,

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 07 June 2017 Reply

      The microfiber might be okay, although they can get a little stinky as they don’t dry quickly. Real chamois lasts far longer and absorbs a lot more water than fake (a few people have said they’ve had good luck with particular brands of “fake” but more have told me of bad experiences).

  • Rosalind Franks
    Posted at 07 June 2017 Reply

    What a great idea! Thanks for sharing

  • Judith Nelson Cruzan
    Posted at 07 June 2017 Reply

    Great idea! At first look I thought it was a sham wow. I use a sham wow to defrost the old dorm fridge at work.

  • John Date
    Posted at 15 June 2017 Reply

    Ok I see four spouts at the sink. Care to divulge as to their feeds? Salt, large fresh, aaaand?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 15 June 2017 Reply

      Air vent for water tank, pressure fresh water, foot pump fresh water, salt water

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