How to Clean That Grimy Wooden Dish Rack That Can’t Go in the Dishwasher

published Jan 20, 2022
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Credit: Sarah Crowley

Although the humble dish rack may be easily overlooked in your busy kitchen — especially if it’s perpetually covered by a mound of drying dishes — it’s important to clean it regularly, particularly because it indirectly comes into contact with food. Like anything else that’s exposed to water regularly, it may eventually become slimy or even moldy. And no one wants to put clean dishes on that.

While plastic and metal dish racks can conveniently be thrown in the dishwasher to get squeaky clean, a wooden dish rack isn’t dishwasher-safe. But there’s good news! Short of throwing it out once it gets really gross, a wooden dish rack is fairly simple to clean and maintain. We’re here to show you how in our handy step-by-step guide.

Credit: Sarah Crowley
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Gather your cleaning supplies: Grab a soft scrub brush, a rag, a towel for drying, hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle, and food grade mineral oil.

What You’ll Need


  1. Gather your cleaning supplies: Grab a soft scrub brush, a rag, a towel for drying, hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle, and food-grade mineral oil.
  2. Wipe down your dish rack with a solution of warm, soapy water: At the sink, mix warm water and a few drops of dish soap in a bowl. Dip your rag into the cleaning mixture and squeeze so it doesn’t drip. Wipe down your dish rack, making sure not to miss any spots.
  3. Use a scrub brush in hard-to-reach areas: A soft scrub brush will work the soapy water solution into corners and crevices that are otherwise hard to reach. Once you’ve done that, wipe the dish rack down with clean water. Use a wet rag (without soap) to wash off any residue from your dish rack. This way, you won’t get soap on your freshly washed dishes.
  4. Allow your rack to dry thoroughly: It might seem pointless to dry your rack when you put wet dishes on it all of the time, but making sure it dries after cleaning it ensures that no parts stay wet for too long.
  5. Spray with a hydrogen peroxide solution to disinfect: When you feel like your dish rack needs some extra disinfecting or mildew removal, hit it with a spritz of standard 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. This trusty household staple is known to disinfect against a wide range of microorganisms. (Just spot test the wood first to make sure the hydrogen peroxide doesn’t discolor your rack.)
  6. Rub with food-grade mineral oil: Using mineral oil on your wooden dish rack will go a long way to protect it from the effects of water. Use a clean rag to wipe down your rack, and allow at least four hours for the oil to absorb into the wood. This will keep your wooden dish rack looking nice and working well for a long time to come.

Do you have any tips for maintaining your wooden dish rack? Tell us in the comments below.