Your Dish Drying Mat Is *Loaded* With Bacteria—Here’s Why You Should Use Diatomaceous Earth Products, According to a Microbiologist

Photo: Stocksy/Leah Flores
Not unlike your bacteria-covered bath mat, your dish drying mat is totally gross. It's true. Just because your dishes are freshly-washed doesn't mean bacteria isn't lurking. "Even after cleaning, there may be enough bacteria to support growth, as these mats tend to be damp and kept in warm places," says microbiologist Jason Tetro, author of The Germ Files. Fortunately,  antibacterial dish drying mats solve the problem.

The best antibacterial dish drying mats at-a-glance

While most of the bacteria found on your dish drying mat is harmless, it's not uncommon to find more nefarious pathogens. "Studies have found Salmonella," he says. "About one in five dish drying mats have levels high enough to potentially transfer and spread pathogens." To fix the problem, ditch your regular dish drying mat for one of the many antibacterial options on the market.

Experts In This Article

"Antimicrobial dish drying mats are commonplace, but some are far more effective than others," says Tetro. "Those that either prevent or reduce the amount of stagnant water can remove the opportunities for growth. In addition, the use of coatings that have been proven in the lab to be antimicrobial may also be worth a look."

What is diatomaceous earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a natural material made of fossilized remains of eukaryotic organisms. It's been used in many household items like dish drying mats and bath mats because of it holds 150 percent of its weight in water, so you're not left with soggy (or worse, moldy) surfaces in your home. It also naturally binds to bacteria and dehydrates it, which makes is a naturally antimicrobial material.

Keep your kitchen squeaky clean by choosing one of these antibacterial dish drying mats. And don't forget to disinfect the surface on a regular basis—Tetro says weekly!—to keep your space extra tidy.

The best antibacterial dish drying mats

dorai dish pad
Dorai Dish Pad — $90.00

Aside from looking nice on your kitchen counter, this dish pad also helps prevent bacterial growth. Because it’s made from fast-drying diatomaceous earth, there’s never water sitting around—it literally disappears before your eyes the instant it hits the mat. (Seriously—watch the video below.) It’s also encased in silicone to protect your dishes.

oxo dish tray
OXO Good Grips Large Silicone Dish Drying Mat — $17.00

This silicone dish drying mat has a ribbed design that elevates your dishes and allows maximum air flow to keep bacteria at bay. It’s also really easy to clean and store once you’re done using it.

Yamazaki Foldable Silicone Drainer Tray
Yamazaki Home Foldable Silicone Drainer Tray — $34.00

This ridged mat is unique in that it rests right over the edge of your sink, allowing the water to drip off. That also ensures no water is sitting around and allowing bacteria to grow.

Burke Decor Dish Tray
Burke Decor Dish Tray — $45.00

This trendy arched dish drying mat is made of silicone, which dries much more quickly than fabric options. Cleaning is a breeze, too; you can wipe it down in record time.

Rubbermaid Drain Board — $25.00

This mat—which can be paired with a dish drainer—has a lip that allows you to drain excess water into the sink as your dishes dry. It also has built-in antimicrobial protection to fight off bacteria. It comes in two sizes and six colors.

hay dish tray
HAY Dish Drainer Tray — $55.00

Aside from adding a pop of pastel pink to your kitchen, this dish mat’s ridges help maximize air flow. Your dishes will dry quickly, and you won’t need to worry about any funky stuff.

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