My Material Life

DIY Dish Mat

Now this is something I’ve been planning to do for ages, this dish mat.  I just dispensed with the yucky dish drain system I’ve used for years.  You know the one with the plastic mat and the coated wire rack.  That system had so many problems:  the coating on the rack was chipped, the mat would get covered with hard water deposits, and the water from the draining dishes would run under the mat and pretty much just stay there which is never a good thing.  And it just took up so much space (physically and visually) on my counter top.

I think the idea that I might get by without the old system came from my sister and brother-in-law. They’re the kind of people who actually do their dishes before they move on to the next task and they are one of those rare married couples that tend to work together.  They don’t need to leave their dishes to drain in a rack because they’ve got the other to dry and put them away.  All they use is a towel spread on the counter to hold the pots and pans until they are dried.  That’s a beautiful method, but I’m just not that disciplined; I need to leave those dishes to dry, so a regular dish towel that will just get wet and pretty much stay wet won’t do it for me.  That’s where the Trader Joe’s Super Amazing Reusable Kitchen Cloth comes in.  Have you tried these?  They are 100% viscose, a fabric that Trader Joe’s claims will absorb over 10 times its weight in any liquid.  I use them to wipe my counters, and I wash them with my kitchen towels.  I try to remember not to throw them in the dryer because they should be allowed to air dry – something they do very quickly.

The towels are made in Germany, and they come in a variety of colors.  I decided to use four different colors of towels that I would stitch together to form a mat.  Stitching different colors together is decorative of course, but the seams themselves provide a functional element.  The seam allowances create ridges on the mat that allow air to circulate under your dishes. If that’s not good enough for you, you can always add some kind of rack like this stainless IKEA Rationell Variera pot lid organizer.

I love that you can fold this rack closed and stow it away.  I’m not sure how it will hold up to water, though. Those pegs are screwed on and I have a feeling I might get rust at the joints.  Time will tell.  I’m very happy with the mat, though.  It’s functioning beautifully and it looks so much better on the counter than my old dish drain set-up.  The finished size is 13-1/2″ x 17″.

To make a mat like this (well, you can make two mats actually) you’ll need two packages of kitchen cloths (four cloths total; two per package).  That’s only if you want four different colors though.  If you’d be happy with four bands of just two colors, one package is all you need (they typically package two different colored cloths together).  Begin by cutting each cloth down the center of the short sides of the cloth.

Next, determine a pleasing arrangement for your bands of color.  I decided to use the Trader Joe’s logo as a graphic element.

Pin bands wrong sides together.  Place pins at either end of seam first to make sure your edges will be even.  Stitch seams with about a 3/8″ allowance.  Clip threads.  Wash and air dry your mat, and it is ready for use.  Just remember to throw it in the wash with your kitchen towels and to let it air dry.


  1. j-t

    hi there! i know this is an older post, but did this ikea lid organizer rust at the joints? i was thinking of using it as a dish drying rack too!

    • Well I thought I’d dip the rods in plasti-dip to soften the edges for the dishes … bought the plasti-dip, but never got to it. I still use that dish mat (and want to make a bigger one), but never put the lid organizer to use. Guess we won’t know about the rust till we try it! Or I wonder if it could be dipped to cover that joint? Good luck and please let me know if you try it.

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