Every now and then, a home invention comes along that makes you think, “Where have you been all my life?”
That was our reaction when we saw this dish-drying cabinet. It’s really popular in Finland and some other European countries, but virtually unheard of in the U.S.
The concept is simple: it’s a regular kitchen cabinet on the outside, but instead of solid shelves, it has slotted dish racks. So, you can put wet dishes in the cabinet and let them drip dry directly into the sink. Brilliant!
In small kitchens, a dish-drying cabinet frees up precious counter space by eliminating the need for a stand-alone drying rack. It also saves you the work of towel-drying dishes, or putting them away after they air dry on the counter.
Even if you have a dishwasher, a cabinet like this could come in handy for drying large pots, pans and other hand-wash-only items.
Some models — like this one from IKEA (not currently available at American IKEA stores, unfortunately) — have a removable tray that catches the water.
Finns call this ingenious home feature astiankuivauskaappi, which, according to Google Translate, is a compound word meaning dish (astian), dry (kuivaus) and cabinet (kaappi).
We can’t pronounce it, but we definitely want one — especially since it seems like anyone who has used one of these things is obsessed with it.
Cheryl Quinton, a Canadian scientist who lived in Finland for more than three years, says she still misses her dish drying cabinet. Back in 2008, she even wrote a blog post praising the virtues of this Finnish home staple.
“Why doesn't the rest of the world have this?” she wrote. “I love this thing. I have stuff in this that probably hasn't been to a real cupboard in months ... I can throw lots of stuff up there, then just close the doors and, whoo-hoo, clear counters.”
Quinton stores plates, glasses, cutting boards and pots and pans in her large astiankuivauskaappi.
“The dishes drip a lot, of course,” she wrote in her blog post, “but that’s often not a problem in Finland, because it’s common there to have stainless steel counters and sinks. The trick is to put glassware on the top rack so it doesn't get water spots.”
Sadly, this wondrous kitchen innovation has yet to catch on stateside. Even if you want to custom-build your own, a lot of people don’t have the necessary cabinet hanging over their kitchen sink.
Still, there are ways to integrate the concept of astiankuivauskaappi into your own home.
NEX stainless steel dish drying rack, $49, Amazon
This stainless steel drying rack can be retrofitted over your kitchen sink, saving counter space.
Rev-A-Shelf pull-down shelf, $247, Wayfair
This clever pull-down dish rack allows you to dry dishes in the open air, then simply push the whole contraption back into the cupboard.
Ohuhu roll-up dish rack, $18, Amazon
If an elevated rack isn’t doable, you can still free up counter space with an over-the-sink dish mat. This one can be rolled up for easy storage.
The DripDry classic dish rack, $150, DripDry
If you do have a cabinet over your sink, this company sells kits to build and install your own Finnish-style drying rack.
We’re not really used to daydreaming about dish racks … but this simple Finnish invention is making us rethink everything!
This story was originally published on Nov. 13, 2017.