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Converting Your Broken Dishwasher Into The Best Dish Rack Money Won’t Buy

In this article, I’m going to cover how, and why, I didn’t replace my broken dishwasher but made the best dish rack in town.

I have a broken dishwasher, but I have the best dish drying rack around. I’ll show you how I converted our old, broken dishwasher into a super-sized, hidden, and convenient dish rack for drying our hand-washed dishes.

DIY Broken Dishwasher Into The Best Dish Rack

It’s Free – It’s Easy – It’s Smart

I’m not an energy nut or against technology, I’m just cheap. We’ve gone through three different electric dishwashers in this house since we bought it fifteen years ago, and there were many more in our previous homes. I’m sick of shelling out hundreds of dollars up to a grand on a machine that makes too much noise, does a horrible job, and takes all day to do it. Mostly the money thing. 😉

The kids are grown and gone (finally) and it’s just my wife and me. The amount of dishes we generate rarely amounts to enough to justify running a dishwasher anyway, so when ours broke it wasn’t much of an issue.

Since I (yes, me) do the dishes most of the time (And the cooking if truth be told), I’ve been just handwashing them and putting them in the dishwasher to dry. The funny thing is they were completely dry, in most cases, by morning. That wasn’t the case with our old dishwasher. It got hot enough to melt the paint off the walls but still didn’t dry very well.

Ooh, That Smell!

That Smell - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Ooh, that smell
Can't you smell that smell?
Ooh, that smell
The smell of death surrounds you

After a few weeks, I started to notice an unpleasant odor when I opened the old dishwasher door. I washed the inside with disinfectant and kept on keeping on. Well, after a couple more weeks – ooh that smell! It was almost like a sewage backup.

I knew what was going on. All those dishwashers – I installed every one of them myself. I knew there was water in those lines and that pump and I knew it was getting nasty. It had to go. Crap.

Then I decided to go all-in on the best dish rack I could wish for, but one that didn’t smell like a goat threw up in it. That’s always a nice idea for something you put your clean dishes in.

I converted my old dishwasher from a broken expense waiting to happen to the best dish rack around. It was big – with two large sliding racks. It has a large silverware compartment. Best of all, it’s convenient and out of sight.

Here’s How I Made The Best Dish Rack Around

The first step – cut the power. In my case, I simply needed to unplug the dishwasher. You may need to actually ‘cut’ the power. Be careful and seek the help of a professional if you have any doubts. It’s not worth getting electrocuted over.

Power outlet
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Under-sink outlet for the dishwasher power plug.

Next, turn off and disconnect the water supply and water return line. Again, mine may be different from your setup, but I just needed to turn the water off at the water shut-off valve that I installed years ago. If you don’t have a separate water shutoff and think you might want a dishwasher again in the future, this might be the time to install a water shut-off valve.

Dishwasher water supply shut-off valve.
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Dishwasher water supply shut-off valve.

I left the water lines, both supply and return (drain) because at some point I imagine we’ll want a dishwasher again. I capped my drain line with a metal threaded cap plug I had in the garage while looking for a dowel rod. I know you can get a proper plug from the hardware store, but who wants to put on shoes and pants when you don’t have to?

Dishwasher drain line capped off
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The dishwasher drain line capped off.

Now that the dishwashing machine was unhooked, I carefully pulled it out from under the kitchen counter cabinet. Since I’ve been down this nasty road before, I knew to keep the machine closed and, while keeping it upright, carefully carried it outside. There was smelly water in that pump and lines just waiting to spill all over the kitchen floor.

Tools I used
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These are all the tools I needed. You may need others.

Once outside on my garden bench, I began removing anything that held water, ran electricity, or remotely looked mechanical. In less than twenty minutes, with just a pair of wire snips, slip-joint pliers, and a Phillips screwdriver, I had the pump, wiring, and housing removed. I left the door assembly and sliding dish rack mounts.

Best dish rack cleaned and dry
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Stripped, cleaned, and drying in the sun.

Now we’re all done short of a thorough cleaning and disinfecting, so I sprayed Lysol disinfectant and scrubbed the entire thing, inside and out. While it all sat out to dry in the sunshine, I went inside to clean and disinfect the huge hole under the kitchen counter.

Once I placed the stripped-out and much lighter dishwasher housing into place, I lined the bottom with a bath towel. This will make for easy clean-up. Every few days I just need to toss the towel into the clothes washing machine.

It was actually super easy. I didn’t need to be careful not to break anything, so I was pretty aggressive in taking it apart. It’s taking longer to write this article with my two fingers than it took to have the best dish rack in town. Oh, and it’s zero energy so, yeah, there’s that.

Helpful Tips Your Mom May Have Told You

Don’t just put the dishes on the dish rack all willy-nilly and stuff, use a little strategy. Tilt glasses and bowls, and such, at an angle, so the water drips off. That way you don’t have a teaspoon of water sitting at the base of your cups and glasses, for example.

Dish placement
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Notice the 45-degree (or so) angle.

This comes naturally to me but no one else in my family ‘gets’ it. DO YOUR DISHES AS YOU COOK.

Yesterday I cooked burgers outside on my Blackstone griddle. By the time I was handing out food, all the dishes were done, other than the glasses we were using (we used paper plates), the food put away, and the griddle cleaned and oiled for next time. That’s the way my mother did it, and that’s the way I’ve always done it. Why in the world would anyone intentionally create a pile of dishes to do after dinner?

Burgers on the Blackstone
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Burgers on the Blackstone Griddle.

If you did let the dirty dishes pile up, start with top-rack items, e.g. glasses, cups, small bowls, etc. Then move onto plates, mixing bowls, cutting boards, etc. Leave pots and pans for last. Why? Because it makes sense, I think. 😁

I’m done. See ya, Brian

About This Author

Brian D. Hawkins is a late-blooming thought leader in his mind. So please don't disturb his happy thoughts. It's all he has.

Brian D. Hawkins has been a blogger for over twenty years, having written thousands of public articles on dozens of websites. He currently blogs for and his personal blog at

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