Everyone Needs an Astiankuivauskaappi!

That's Finnish for dish-drying cabinet.

Dish draining cupboard above a sink.


When I was a kid visiting my cousins for a week each summer, we children were in charge of washing the dishes after mealtimes. There was always a mountain of pots and plates, so cleanup was a major chore. What made it far easier, however, was my uncle's handmade kitchen design. Above the sink there was a wall of shelves with wooden slats on the bottom and dowels across the front. We kids would wash, rinse, and put the wet dishes right onto the shelves, where they dripped dry into the sink.

I never really thought about this unusual design until today, when I came across an article on Apartment Therapy called "Astiankuivauskaappi is the Finnish Kitchen Staple You'll Wish You Had at Home." Writer Shifrah Combiths goes on to describe essentially what my uncle had built -- a dish-drying cabinet suspended above the sink that, apparently, can be found in every home in Finland.

"Finnish dish-drying cabinets consist of shelving above the sink that, instead of being solid on the bottom, are made of wire or dowels so that dishes can drip dry. Dish-drying cabinets are sometimes bottomless, allowing the dishes to drain right into the sink. Other times, the cabinets have trays or drawers to catch the drips. They can have doors, or not. All that matters is that the cabinet doubles as both a drying rack and permanent storage for said dishes."

This makes so much sense. It saves a significant amount of time spent either drying dishes by hand and putting away, or carefully stacking dishes in a drying rack (while struggling to balance wine glasses and cast iron pots in the same wet heap, which we've all done), only to have to come back later to put them away.

Some commenters complained about the gunky buildup that would happen on the bottom of the slatted shelves or in the area behind the sink, but I'd argue that giving that an occasional monthly scrub (or whatever it needs) is probably faster and easier than towel-drying and putting away all those dishes on a daily basis.

Now, I realize most people have dishwashers in their kitchens, and new ones are highly energy-efficient and thought to be even better for the environment than hand-washing (our TreeHugger article on it is from 2009); but there always will be those items that just don't fit, are too dirty, or you cannot leave till the next day to clean up. And that's where the dish-drying cabinet makes a lot of sense.

I'm a big fan of any kitchen design that facilitates ease of use, and I know that I'd be more inclined to stay on top of extra dishes if I didn't have to unload the drying rack beforehand, a job I despise.

Check out the Apartment Therapy article for lots of ways in which to get an astiankuivauskaappi (or at least some version of one) for yourself.