My new apartment came with lots of pros: charming wood floors, a big tree outside the window, and a location just three blocks from the Hudson River. What it did not come with was a dishwasher. Still, this was a feature my boyfriend and I were happy to sacrifice after looking at one apartment without an oven and another without a fridge.
It’s possible to live without a dishwasher, as city dwellers well know, but it takes some strategy and diligence. How were we going to manage two people’s worth of dirty dishes in a tiny apartment kitchen—especially one where we had about three square feet of counter space?
The answer, we discovered, is incredibly simple: an in-sink dish-drying rack. Rather than placing a bulky version atop the counter—aka, the area that’s constantly in use for chopping or plating—the first thing we bought after moving in was a compact metal model that fits neatly inside our sink, hovering a few inches off of the bottom. (Other handy options, like this good-looking one, rest just above the sink.)
I measured carefully before ordering the rack so that it only takes up half the space inside the sink; we can easily wash dishes in one half and dry them in the other, creating an efficient two-part dish-washing system.
The benefits of this smart little invention are many: runoff water and drips from our wet dishes stay in the sink, not on the counter, and it frees up our tiny slice of workspace so that we can actually use it, for cooking and making coffee. Plus, we rinse all our soiled wares in one go—once I’ve finished the dishes for the night and the clean ones are all in the rack, I like to give them a final spritz with the faucet's spray attachment to rid them of any last soap bubbles.
If you don’t want to invest in a new dish rack designed for this purpose, your regular one may work just fine: Simply place your current dish rack, if it’s small enough, in the empty sink while your dishes dry. It’s a little habit shift that will keep runoff water contained and your dishes out of sight.
Fellow small-space dwellers and owners of tiny kitchens: This little swap can revolutionize the dreaded task of dishwashing for you, too. I’ve officially added “little but hardworking kitchen” to my list of pros, right under “original crown molding” and “view of the tree outside our window”—now in full bloom.
Do you have any small-kitchen space hacks to share? Let us know in the comments!