Email Answer: Ship Shape Sink?

Q: I love your blog and often check in twice a day. Thank you for your great work! But I have one question: what do you do at the kitchen sink with the few things you regularly use for washing-up/cleaning the dishes and the table (like a sponge, a dish cloth, a brush, dishwashing detergent, maybe gloves)? Are there good solutions out there that look clean, well-organized and perhaps even cool? What would you suggest to anyone who hates having too much stuff lying/standing around in the kitchen? Thank you and greetings from Europe. -Monica

A: Good question! In a nut shell, we keep a dish cloth folded up next to the sink or draped over the sink itself (as seen below):

And we house our sponge in this wire caddy that suctions to the inside of the sink (so it’s not visible unless you’re standing over it looking in). We also have a caddy with soap and lotion by Cucina from Anthropologie next to the faucet- which really helps two otherwise potentially disparate and mismatched items feel like they’re being “wrangled” together for a more streamlined effect. And we usually have a cute bottle of all-purpose cleaner like Mrs. Meyer’s located on the other side of the sink for easy access when it comes to wiping down the counter or the dining room table from time to time.

Oh and we keep our dish detergent and rubber gloves under the sink since we mainly rely on our dishwasher to do most of the after-dinner work for us (and we have yet to find a cool way to store rubber gloves in full sight). But what about you guys? Do any of you have more sink-side solutions that you’d like to share with Monica to help her whip her kitchen into shape without sacrificing function or form? Let’s talk about how you store your soap, your sponges and everything else you use to get ‘er done in the kitch.

Psst- Want more photos and info about what’s cookin’ in our kitchen? Check out this post, this post and this post for all the deets.


  1. says

    My husband and I have a constant debate re: dish drainer vs. no dish drainer. We do not have a double-sink, so we dry our dishes off to the side on a pretty dish towel. I am on the no-drainer side thinking that no-drainer will force us to clear off the counter. Do you have any suggestions? Collapsible drainer?

    • says

      Hmm, we have a double sink so one side has a nice little metal dish drainer while the other side is blissfully bare. But back when we had a large single sink we didn’t have a dish drainer so you’re probably right about it encouraging dish-collecting in the sink while they dry indefinitely. We’ve seen some pretty cute counter-top dish drying racks (like this one or this one) so maybe that’s a solution instead of a sink full of dishes and a dish drainer? Of course you’d have to force yourself to unload it pretty regularly or it’ll just be akin to a sink full of dishes, but at least keeping the dishes out of the sink will make things like hand washing and food prep easier since it’ll be nice and bare. Hope it helps!


  2. says

    I have that same wire caddy and I LOVE it – it’s one of those items that I’m like, “how did I ever live without this thing?” I put my sponge, a little Pampered Chef scraper, and my sink stopper in it. Perfect! I love your soap/lotion container…I’ll have to look into that.

  3. Brittany says

    I found a shiny copper dish drainer that fits perfectly inside my double sink. It’s a HUGE upgrade from my cheapo plastic drainer, and it doesn’t clutter up the counter. I also put antibacterial dishwashing liquid in a soap dispenser. It looks much classier on the sink than an economy-sized plastic bottle, and in a pinch it can be used as hand soap or squirted onto a washcloth for dishes.

  4. Jason says

    They sell kits…

    Pull off the faux drawer front below the sink – hinge the bottoms and add basket on inside and also a pull if you like. Perfect way to put it away!

    DE – J

  5. Jason says

    ps – It looks like in the first picture you had a built in soap dispenser but it’s gone in the 2nd? I’m finishing the kitchen and was deciding whether or not to get a faucet with one. I opted for no for a few reasons – but haven’t installed the faucet yet. Did you have one and like or dislike it?

    DE – J

    • says

      Good eye Jason! We wanted lotion on the counter as well as dish soap, so we reasoned that a caddy that made the soap and the lotion feel more “related” and less disparate was a good thing. It was definitely an easy switch and we get a lot more compliments on our ceramic soap and lotion caddy than on our old built-in soap dispenser (which was a pain in the butt to fill from under the cabinet as well). Hope it helps!


  6. Nicole B says


    I keep my paper towel on a roll-a-thingy that is stuck to the door of one of my bottom cupboards so a) my cat doesn’t eat it and b) so its hiding but also easily accessible. I also have a sink that has a metallic soap dispenser that blends in, although those Cucina ones look nice too! All my kitchen utensils are put away in a drawer including my knives, ladels, you name it. I am in the process of decided to get rid of my $200 microwave that takes up a whol counter and buy an over-the-stove one (also $200) or to just build a shelf that hangs off my cabinets and stick it in there to free up some room on the counter underneath – this is more work but less waste of a microwave and less waste of $200. Suggestions?

    • says

      Hey Nicole B,

      If you think you can hang the existing microwave (or make it appear to be hanging by building a cabinet around it) we say go for it. But if you think it’ll be a lot of work and it won’t look as nice and seamless as a microwave that’s built to hang, we would just say to Craigslist or eBay the microwave you already have and buy one that really works for your kitchen. Hope it helps!


    • says

      I was doing that for a long time as well, but when it would get soapy and wet it would feel like it was about to slip out of my hands. At the time I was using it I also had a porcelain style sink and really didn’t want to drop the glass on it. It is beautiful, but I felt it wasn’t functional enough. I now prefer a pump style for quick soap pumping onto my sponge.

  7. says

    I couldn’t find an exact picture of what we have, but this is close:

    However, after looking for a picture of our caddy/dispenser, I found this one I wish I had instead!

    Ceramic AND bamboo?! Wow. Anyway, we keep the dishsoap in the dispenser and the scrubby/sponge/brush in the side with the open holder. It works great for us and I’ve been surprised by how many people compliment something so small and utilitarian. On the other side of the sink we keep another small caddy with the hand soap/lotion pair. No ideas for the gloves, though.

  8. says

    I see I was beat out for the tip-out tray suggestion! But it’s really a genius idea we have planned to put in our remodel. We actually have something similar to this:|Home_6.5"_Metal_Scroll_Wall_Shelf_Bracket_Black&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=B000R9JUEQ&ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001 holding some shelves up above our sink to the cabinets. With the scroll detail, we use them as hooks for our brushes from Ikea (which have holes in the handles) and measuring cups (since they come on rings) because we make dinners every night and those are our two most important necessities! We don’t have a fancy dish soap holder yet, so it just sits on the counter next to our broken faucet :(

  9. says

    We have a little caddy (really really little) that we picked up at Bed Bath and Beyond. It holds my Dobi scrubby sponge, veggie scrub brush and a pan scraper. Everything is neat, in one place and stainless steel. Love it. I can’t find it on B3’s website, but it was about $10 in the store.

  10. says

    When we redid our kitchen over the summer, one of my biggest to-dos was to hide all of the sink clutter. So, now, only the hand soap stays visible, and everything else is in a small, plastic crate under the sink. It holds dish soap, kitchen cleaner, sponges, a Magic Eraser, and a spare dish drainer-strainer thingie (you know what I mean, right?). We just take the crate out when we need things out of it and put it right back afterward.