Why do people dry dishes with a towel?

Have you ever wondered why some people wipe their dishes with kitchen towels instead of letting them air dry? Is it Let me shed some light on the subject.

Washing dishes is one of our daily chores, and unless you have a dishwasher, you probably have to do it several times a day. And that results in a lot of wet dishes to deal with.

People mostly use towels to dry dishes for the following reasons:

• They want to speed up the drying process and put the kitchen equipment away as soon as possible.
• Some people dry glassware with a towel to prevent the appearance of white spots caused by the drying of water droplets.
• People who have a small number of dishes often wipe them after washing so that they can be reused immediately.
• If you have to wash a large amount of dishes, sometimes you simply cannot wait for them to dry because there will be no space for the next batch.
• In a small kitchen, where there is no space for a dish drying rack, it may seem like an obvious solution to immediately wipe the dishes dry and put them in the cupboard.
• Some people simply don’t like the sight of a drying rack full of dishes on the kitchen counter.
• It sounds incredible, but some people use a towel to remove additional food residues from dishes that have not been thoroughly washed.

Is it sanitary to dry dishes with kitchen towels?

Tapping or rubbing with kitchen towels is not a sanitary dish-drying method. Kitchen towels can quickly spread bacteria between surfaces and cause cross-contamination. Kitchen textiles are extremely suitable for spreading food-borne illnesses.

Towels quickly become wet and therefore do not effectively dry the dishes. Kitchen towels are consequently among the most contaminated household items, containing large amounts of pathogenic microorganisms. This can be especially dangerous for small children and people with weakened immune systems.

Talking about wet kitchen towels, you may be interested to find out why you shouldn’t use them to hold hot utensils.

According to NHS recommendations, textiles used in the kitchen should be washed separately from other clothes, at the highest temperature that the textile can withstand. You can also use bleach for extra cleanliness and disinfection. It’s a good idea to buy kitchen towels that can be bleached and can withstand a wash cycle of at least 70°C/160°F.


Is it safe to dry dishes with paper towels?

Paper towels, as long as they are clean, are suitable for wiping dishes. Using the same sheet several times, however, can spread pathogens in the same way as textile towels. So, a hygienically acceptable solution would be to use a new paper towel for each dish. This, on the other hand, would produce an unnecessary amount of waste and would also be costly.

Kitchen towels are full of bacteria

What is the most sanitary way of drying the dishes?

According to the guidelines of the HCCP, which is an international food safety system, kitchen utensils must be air-dried. For the food and hospitality industry, compliance with HCCP is mandatory to prevent the spread of foodborne illness.

The most sanitary way to dry dishes is to let them air dry. The dish rack is the most commonly used tool for drying kitchenware. There are also easy-to-clean microfiber or silicone dish mats or plastic draining boards. It is also a hygienic solution to line up the wet dishes on a clean dish towel or paper towel to drain and dry them.

The drying process will be faster if you rinse the dishes with hot water because it will evaporate faster. In addition, good ventilation in the kitchen can also help kitchenware dry faster.

Another important thing when drying dishes is not to stack them on top of each other. Leave enough space between them to allow air to circulate, so the water will evaporate faster.

How should we dry the dishes washed in the dishwasher?

Items washed in the dishwasher are best left in the machine until they are completely dry. Some older dishwasher models have a drying function that uses a heater and fan to dry the dishes.


Modern dishwashers, like the one I have, do not have a separate drying function. In these appliances, dishes are dried by the residual heat of the hot water cycle. The only disadvantage of this method is that after washing you have to wait at least 2 hours before opening the machine, however, during this time the dishes are usually completely dry.

Using a rinse aid speeds up the drying of the dishes in the dishwasher by reducing the surface tension of the water and thus draining the dishes faster. The use of a rinse aid can also reduce white spots caused by water droplets.

Is it okay to put dishes away wet?

Dishes should not be placed wet in the cupboard, you should wait for them to dry completely. Lingering moisture, together with the warm and dark environment in the cupboard, promotes the growth of bacteria and fungi, so it is not worth the risk.

Final thoughts

It often happens that people dry their dishes with a towel after washing them so that they can put them in the kitchen cupboard faster. People with small kitchens and limited counter space also often wipe their utensils dry, as do those who have few dishes and use the same ones for everything.

From a food safety point of view, however, drying dishes with a tea towel is not a safe practice, as kitchen textiles contain and spread harmful microorganisms.



My name is Debora, the founder of My Delicious Sweets, and a qualified confectioner with broad experience in the confectionery industry. On my blog, I will share important, interesting, and fun facts about food, along with some of my favorite recipes.


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