We Tried The Viral Dishwasher Hack To Prevent Pooling And We're Not Impressed

If your goal is to win the hearts and minds of millions via social media, posting a good dishwasher drying hack is about as close to a sure thing as you can find. The reason is simple enough: It's really irritating to open a $1,200 dishwasher after three hours of drying and find water pooled on the dishes inside. And this problem is never more common than it is for people with young children; each toddler or preschooler requiring the purchase and cleaning of about 75 plastic sippy cups and the like. And it's no secret that you're as likely to successfully dry plastic in a dishwasher as you are to dry a giraffe.

Some TikTok users propose that solving this problem is not only possible but dead simple and that you'll be amazed at the two hacks they have discovered. The user @keepitsimplesparkles shared a TikTok featuring both hacks that, she says, changed her world. The first involves canting your top rack at an angle "so the water falls off as it dries." In case your dishwasher doesn't have this feature, her backup plan involves placing a hand towel on top of the glasses at the end of the wash cycle, which supposedly absorbs moisture before it can condense on your dishes.

What you'll need to try the hack

As @keepitsimplesparkles warns, the first couple of dishwashers we checked didn't feature an adjustable rack. These included one model that was quite old and another that was very new. On our third attempt, we found one and hooked it up in the workshop. Then we located a handful of glass jars, mostly Ball and Mason jars, which have relatively moderate and uniform depressions in their bottoms ... perfect for holding water when upended. We also threw in some plastic: Two cups, a bowl, and a clear storage container.

A couple of facts about this dishwasher might be relevant to a discussion of drying hacks. The first is that it has a full stainless tub, which most claim will improve the dishwasher's drying capabilities. The second is that, other than the items mentioned above, we ran the dishwasher empty. The hot water used by the dishwasher measured 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which should have some bearing on the temperature of the tub and the items within the dishwasher ... and, therefore, on the likelihood of condensation.

The second hack was about as simple to prepare for. The TikTok video features a hand towel somewhere between a typical tea towel and a terrycloth bathroom hand towel. Not sure which to test the hack with, we tried it with both a standard terry towel and a flat-woven tea towel.

How our test went

The tilt test results were underwhelming, and we already suspected they would be before even starting the dishwasher. TikTok's enthusiasm overlooks some fairly obvious questions: Why would water continually run off during a drying cycle rather than just all running off at once? And aren't the items on a dishwasher's top rack already at an angle to begin with? Indeed, the adjustability angle available on our dishwasher was about 4.1 degrees, which was a noticeable tilt in the rack, but which actually leveled most of the dishes that were initially canted in the other direction. In fact, we measured the capacity of each piece of glassware to hold water, and the capacity increased slightly for the jars that were effectively un-tilted by the hack. After each cycle, we used absorbent blue paper shop towels to soak up the water remaining on top of the glass and plastic dishes.

Unlike most versions of the towel hack, which require that your towel be closed in the door, and only partly in the dishwasher, this hack placed the entire towel inside. Since the point of the hack isn't to towel-dry your dishes in the dishwasher, we tried to leave some glassware partly uncovered, but the towels still soaked up most of the water immediately on contact. Therefore, we couldn't quantify the water left by the towel trick.

Did the hack live up to the hype?

The rack-tilting hack works to some extent. We found that the glassware and plastic that were tilted more because of the rack lowering had slightly less water on them by the end of the drying cycle. On the other hand, the dishes that were leveled by the hack ended up with about the same amount of water standing on them (that is, very little).

It appears that whatever water runs off immediately when the rack is tilted is the bulk of this hack's effect. Assuming that's true, the best approach might be to temporarily tilt your rack, allow the water to run off for a couple of seconds, then return it to its normal position (or potentially tilt in the other direction as well). Incidentally, some dishwashers appear to have a tilt mechanism, but the top rack can't be fully seated against the water port in the back, so the dishwasher door will not close. In those cases, this approach of only tilting for a moment could prove valuable.

The hand towel hack didn't seem to have any effect at all; aside from the water the towels soaked up on contact. This was true for both types of towels. This seems consistent with those like JRMHacks on YouTube, who claims the hack doesn't work. Most other videos that successfully and unsuccessfully tried this trick used the towel-closed-in-door version of the hack, not the towel-completely-in-dishwasher version we tested.