Dealing with Dirty Dish Towels (& a Look Under Our Kitchen Sink!)
I wish I could say that my oh-so-catchy post title was just a metaphor and I’d be chatting about how to deal with the dirty, annoying things in life. But alas…it’s not. Today…I actually, really want to chat about dealing with dirty dish towels since it’s a nuisance problem that’s been driving me crazy for forever. Sure enough…with just mere months left in this house, I finally came up with a solution that is working brilliantly, and you can definitely file this one under “why didn’t I think of this sooner?!?” If you too always seem to have piles of dirty dishcloths, cloth napkins and rags cluttering up your kitchen counters, you’ll love this easy, budget-friendly, out-of-the-way solution to keeping them corralled until it’s time to throw them in the washing machine!
In our family, we use a lot of re-usable cloth items to keep our home tidy: dish towels, cloth napkins and reusable rags. I love that this approach keeps cost and waste down, but since our laundry room is on the second level, we never had a practical place to toss dirty, wet dishcloths so that they could 1) dry out, 2) stay out of the way, and 3) eventually make it into the wash cycle. For the last (almost) three years, I’ve had a pile of dirty kitchen towels sitting in the corner of the kitchen counter, just waiting around until laundry day to be lugged along with the other loads upstairs.
It’s been one of those problems that has been nagging and nagging me, but I never really took the time to think through a solution. I’m not sure if it’s because our home seems to be in a constant state of chaos lately (Sam has reached full toddler destruction mode) or if the impending stress of our move has me looking for any way to streamline our living, but I suddenly decided I was sick of the damp towel pile and wanted to come up with a solution once and for all (or at least…until we move!).
I started out looking on Amazon for some sort of dirty dish towel hamper to hold all our wet towels, and even considered heading out to our Bed Bath & Beyond to find something juuuuust right. Before doing so though, I decided to check my stash out in the garage to see if I had anything that might work…and came across this:
This wired hanging file basket was leftover from my old office before I re-did all our paper organization. And although it wasn’t quite what I thought I was looking for, it actually checked all my requirements: 1) compact enough to fit under the sink yet sizable enough to hold a week’s worth of towels and rags; 2) could be easily hung to reduce clutter along the base of the cabinet, and 3) the open sides/top would allow towels to thoroughly dry out so they wouldn’t lock in odors or harbor germs or bacteria by being enclosed in a moist environment. The open-top also had the added bonus of allowing us to easily toss rags right in without having to remove a lid or open a zipper, making it the simplest answer for our dirty towel problem!
I figured it was at least worth a shot before buying and trying something new. Then…imagine my delight when I opened our under-sink cabinet and noticed that the previous occupants of the house must have also had something hung because two screws were already inserted into the side of the cabinet. Although the existing screws didn’t fit into the hanging holes on the basket, the wire rim could slide right onto them, keeping the basket firmly in place!
TIP! If you’re a renter or just don’t want to screw into the insides of your cabinets, Command-style hooks like these would allow you to hang a similar basket in a completely damage-free way!
This turned out to be such an easy, no-brainer solution that I’m honestly a little embarrassed it took me this long to figure it out! With how the basket fits and functions, I’m not sure I could have found a better solution had I scoured stores and my favorite online sites. Talk about a win for the whole “using what you’ve got” approach!
A Look Under Our Kitchen Sink
While we’re here, I figured I’d give you a wider look at the cupboards underneath our kitchen sink. I hate showing photos of it because with the plumbing and garbage disposal, it’s never a really “pretty” area. But I know so many people struggle to keep it organized so here is how our’s looks! We don’t keep much under our sink: just a few dish-related supplies and our trash cans.
Whenever possible, we try to keep our trash cans inside cabinets in order to save on kitchen floor space, prevent kids from getting into them, and keep smells at bay. But admittedly, the trash cans do eat up quite a bit of good storage space. Thankfully, right next to the large cabinet under our kitchen sink, we have another, more narrow cabinet that we use for the bulk of our cleaning supplies. These cabinets are deep and primed for losing items way in the back; so as usual, I employ a series of open bins to help keep everything tidy and easily accessible.
The white baskets are a great size for holding cleaning supplies and…you guessed it…all of our clean, ready-to-use towels and rags. Once the rags are washed each week, they get folded and placed back into this basket…
Since the basket on the shelf has handles, it almost serves like a drawer, making it easy to get towels…
…or other cleaning supplies…in and out quite out easily! The larger, white baskets hold the items we use on a regular basis. The clear container holds concentrates and other supplies we don’t use as frequently.
The lid from one of those white baskets is what I use as trays to corral the dish supplies under the sink. Not only does a tray make everything look better, but the edge on the tray also prevents items from getting pushed too far back!
All in all…a few smart-fitting baskets and bins across two different cabinets help keep all of our cleaning supplies…including our dirty/used rags…corralled, tidy, and easily accessible whenever we need them!
I often hesitate to share these random, small and imperfect spaces and solutions. But every time I do, I’m reminded it’s actually these quick and easy-to-implement ideas that seem to be the most helpful to you guys! As such, I hope what I have here gets you thinking about your own kitchen cabinets, how you corral nuisance items like dirty dish towels, and/or new ways you can use items you already own!
16 Comments on “Dealing with Dirty Dish Towels (& a Look Under Our Kitchen Sink!)”
I love it! Our laundry room is right off the kitchen, so I usually toss our dirties right into the laundry sink, and then lift it all into the washer when the time comes. If something is wet, we just drape over the sink edge until dry, then knock it into the sink. It wasn’t an intentional thing…just kind of happened and works for us. If the laundry room door is open, I can often just turn around from the sink and toss it in–score! LOL I like your idea, though–it functions well and it’s much prettier than mine!
Enjoy spring break!
Genius! I am totally going to try this once i dig through my house for the perfect box. Thanks for sharing!
You’re smart to hang the basket. I had a similar system, also with a large wire basket, that sat on the cabinet floor. Problem was, I had a slow leak I didn’t know about, and the cloths in the open basket soaked it up so I didn’t find it until there was water damage and the bottom layer had mildewed–I only wash kitchen linens about once a month. I always let them dry before they go in the basket, so mildew had never been a problem before.
Beautiful under the cabinet. Mine is a big mess. I love the baskets for cleaning items. It’s something for me to think about. Now to find me some of the baskets. Thank you for this post. You are so smart.
The dirty dish towels have been a problem for me too. Thanks for the tip. Another problem I have is finding just the right dish rag……..one that is just the right size, absorbent and doesn’t hold odors. Have you found a brand that you recommend?
This is a great idea. Thank you especially for sharing your under cabinet solutions. I’ve moved twice in the last three years. Downsizing from our home of 22 years and now in my largest kitchen ever with more cabinets than I can use. I have room to put your ideas in place. Thank you for sharing.
Yes, please do “share these random, small and imperfect spaces and solutions”! You are correct in that they are often so helpful. I have a corner sink and the large cavernous space has been so challenging. I just reorganized it last week using found items in my garage. I love when I can do that! I really like your idea of putting the dishwasher tablets in a smaller container. I’ll be doing that today–and it will only take a few minutes. Score!
Enjoy your time off with your family. Thanks so much for sharing all your ideas!!
So smart to not pack stuff under the sink, especially if you ever get a leaky pipe! I love the shelf liner, can you share what brand it is?
I use a mesh laundry bag that is hanging inside the pantry. When it’s laundry time, I can dump everything inside the bag straight into the washer – and the bag itself gets cleaned as well.
This was a great idea 💡! It looks really nice too. It took me a really long time to find something to use for my dirty dish towels also. I’m sure you’ve thought about this, but it looks like you might have enough room under your dish towel basket to slide a clear shoe box with a lid to store some other items you might have. Thanks for sharing your ideas. They’re very helpful! Have a Great spring break!
You win the prize for neatest under sink cabinet!!! I love your organizational ideas and learn much from your examples!!
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
My laundry room is in the basement, and the basement door is off the kitchen. I bought a laundry bag that hangs on the basement door. It has a round opening at the top to throw dirty towels and rags in, and a zipper on the bottom. When I’m on my way downstairs to do laundry, I just unzip the bottom, and all the stuff falls into my laundry basket. Down the stairs I go to do the wash. It’s made out of nylon, so it doesn’t absorb odors or moisture, so I can throw damp dirty stuff in there without worry. I have a small kitchen, so storage space is at a premium, and I can’t fit another thing under my sink!
It was about $15 on Amazon. Here’s the name of it in case anyone is interested: KEEPJOY Saves Space Door-Hanging Laundry Hamper Bag, 2 Stainless Steel Hooks and 4 Adhesive Hooks, Oxford Fabric Large Size Storage. Extra Large-Gray
Love your idea! But sadly have sucha small kithcen sink and under cabinet that it won’t work. However it’s given me ideas for my laundry closet that’s in the kitchen!
I love hearing when my ideas spark solutions for my readers! I know not everything will apply, but getting your wheels turning to find a workable solution in your own home is always my goal! So glad you figured something out!!
Wow, your under the sink space is so empty! I too accumulate dirty dish towels and cloth napkins on the counter and it drives me bonkers. Sometimes I throw the dirty stuff down the basement steps which is in the kitchen but I hate doing this cause then it’ll be me tripping on them next time I take a basket of laundry down and forget it’s there. While I don’t have room for a basket under my sink, you and along with a reader’s comment, inspired me to hang an old laundry bag that had a broken zipper on the wall inside the basement door. Putting use to something that was broken and getting the dirty napkins and towels off the counter and faucet, win win! Question, what kitchen towels do you use? The ones in your little basket. Thanks!
Your posts are always so useful! Thanks.