Drawer dish storage and rotation.

palimpsestMay 6, 2013

Some of the questions I have about using deep drawers to store dishes relate to reach/grasp, weight of the stack, and rotation.

Growing up, when the clean dishes were put back in the cabinets, the stack was pulled out, the clean dishes were put on the bottom and then the dishes already in the cabinet got put back on top. This insured an even rotation of dishes so the same ones didn't get used over and over.

Same with silverware: nested, and pulled off one side, replaced on the other. Glasses usually got used enough that this wasn't an issue, but now that there are two of us and I am crass enough to drink the diet iced tea right out of the big plastic jug unless we have guests (I am the only one who drinks it and I drink it by the gallon)--we rotate the glasses.

Anyway, I just think of pulling out that stack of dishes basically using your fingers, since you are reaching down. I have an occupational thing where my fingers sometimes jerk and let go that will only get worse, so I picture dropping a lot of dishes. Particularly in this reaching from the top and pulling up position.

In this regard isn't a cabinet where you can really grab the stack with your hand at the base of the stack better?

Wouldn't horizontal access (cabinet) in the waist to neck height location be almost ideal?

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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

We don't rotate anything. I never heard of rotating, and I don't expect to add that to my rotating chore list.

I do have a chore list that rotates throughout the week. That's the extent of rotating here!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:24AM
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Then how do you make sure you aren't using the same four plates out of 12 over and over again?

It probably adds maybe 1-2 minutes tops to unloading the DW.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:30AM
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I figure that the dishes get rotated - or at least mixed around - on those occasions where we end up with all the dishes dirtied.

I'm planning dish cupboards, not drawers, in my "dream house", but not because I plan to rotate the dishes. It's because it will be more convenieht for table setting and DW unloading ... and there is that wonderful 20-foot wall of cabinets to use :)

If it bothers you, then don't use drawers for dishes.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:48AM
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I am not anti-drawer by any means, but I try to (and have to) think if different solutions for different problems.

Unfortunately I think the ideal storage location for a lot of things is slightly under countertop level to approximately eye level, which puts storage and work space in the same spot, and that is not practical in most kitchens, and it would make the necessary size of the kitchen expand, which would, in turn, decrease its function.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:54AM
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Thanks for asking this, palimpsest - I've had the same question in the back of my mind as we've been planning. I rotate dishes & flatware the same way; also sheets & towels on linen closet shelves. Kitchen towels are folded and arranged in standing rows, folded-edges up in a drawer - I take fresh hand, dish, & clean-up towels from one end of their rows and replace clean ones at the other end.

And looking forward to having enough shelf space (or drawers?) to easily rotate glasses also - right now it's just too crowded in that cabinet!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:55AM
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Hi Pal- I do as you and JBGB do- I rotate dishes and linens (unless I am feeling particularly lazy). There are also just 2 of us. I agree that having dishes at eye level is the ideal ergonomically, but not really functionally unless you have a very large kitchen with lots of extra space, which I don't. I also had a back injury ~ 8 months before we completed the kitchen, so I was interested in having dishes where it hurt the least to place and retrieve them. This turned out to be a combination of smaller things in the drawers, and then larger plates and such in the cabinet above and to the side of the dishwasher.

If your hand problems are somewhat a function of weight, then maybe you could divide things up and place some above and some below.

We plan to live here forever, and we aren't spring chickens (although we still pretend to be), so I am constantly thinking of aging in place with respect to design.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 11:33AM
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I use the dish stack racks from Ikea in my drawers. Each holds a dozen of each size plate and bowl. For buffets, I lift the whole stacker out. With three adults who work primarily from home, our dishes and bowls all get used. No need to rotate, although I understand the need. My everyday dishes are Russel Wright from 1950 in ice blue. The cutlery marks would be noticeable if we used the same three dishes everyday.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 12:02PM
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I do this with my bathroom towels and mats, but not dishes.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 12:10PM
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I never heard of rotating the dishes - what's the point? But in my case, I wait until I've used up all the clean dishes before running a wash - solves the problem of rotating.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 12:58PM
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If you are actually using only 4 plates, why do you need the others in that drawer, if I may ask?

Can't you put the rest elsewhere - in case you ever need them?

It is only 3 of us but with DD wanting a clean dish for every type of food, we go through our 12 really fast, so no rotation needed, LOL. That, and the DW does not always get unloaded on time. :-)

But I have a similar issue with some other stuff so I moved the extras to the pantry.

Just a thought...

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:10PM
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When there are just the two of us home (98% of the time), I also rotate the dishes. If you have a cupboard at chest level more-or-less, it might be a viable alternative, although I see problems there too. In a cupboard, you need to pull out the plates in front to reach the ones behind - probably not the dinner plates since they take up the whole width of the shelf, but the rest.

My dish drawer is just about mid-thigh height:

When the stack of plates needing to be moved is too tall/heavy, I pull them out in manageable sizes and place them on the peninsula above, and then put them back. Except for that stack of saucers in the back right - I can't even remember the last time we used a saucer. Maybe for cat snacks.

Before we had this drawer, the dishes lived in the upper over the DW. Reaching up to head height while stretching over the counter left something to be desired. If the DW was open, it became even more of an exercise. I would never willingly go back to that system. Have you considered making the dish drawer be the top one in the counter-height stack? A deep enough drawer for dishes isn't standard, so you'd need a custom solution for that. Another thought: use lighter weight plates like Corelle which, in addition to reducing the weight, also solves the breakage issue.

P.S. My white plates are Centura Ware and were a wedding gift at Christmas, 1970. They were the newest and greatest and guaranteed not to break. Turns out to be a true claim. What a surprise that they didn't make them for very many years before they were discontinued. I do sometimes wish for some of the lovely flowery plates I see here, but these white ones with the embossed tulip border are perfectly good and we don't have storage for more than one set of everyday plates. Also, they remind me of the aunt and uncle who gave them to us and knew what we needed more than we did.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:14PM
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We wait until the DW is full, and since we've had an 18" DW in three places since 1995, it fills up faster than a full size.

However, we have a set of 12 for everything and we would never leave 10 sets of everything dirty waiting for the last two. That also leaves things you may have just a couple of sitting in the DW and it's wasteful to handwash a small amount of stuff, especially if stuffs been hardening on it for days and it takes a lot of time and hot water. Also in the urban, multidwelling environment, it leads to a problem with mice and roaches. Our dirty dish leaving downstairs neighbor constantly has mice problems ( eight in a week once: we have to get them for her) and we had one lone mouse in 12 years. We had opened a hole in the floor and that's when we got it. It was one of her leftovers.

That means you rotate or you use the top of the stack over and over.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:15PM
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I don't see any harm in using the same 4 plates all the time and letting the other 12 "just sit" most of the time. Even with an extra 1-2 minutes per dishwasher load, that's time I don't need to spend.

If you're into that, I wouldn't say it's bad . . . but it just isn't something I'd bother to fit into my schedule.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:20PM
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With regards to waist high to eye level storage and drawers vs cabinets, I will be planning a new kitchen and I can design this aspect of it however I want. There is space for a run of cabinets that can't be 24" deep so there will be no prep space. There will be some counter there, but most of the area can be floor to ceiling whatever I want.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:28PM
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Interesting! I have never heard of rotating dishes. Why not just stop doing it? Wouldn't that solve the problem and make life easier?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:39PM
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If your drawers are tall enough (this particular setup is not as space efficient as some that I've seen):

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:56PM
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I have that same hand problem, and so far, I have not had any dish problems. I have my everyday salad sized plates in a plate rack, and we go through them pretty quickly. In the restaurant we rotated, so the bottom plates did not get grungy, but not at home.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 2:01PM
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use a shallow drawer just for plates - put them in small stacks of maybe 4? move from stack to stack for use.

I have 2 trigger fingers (and 2 more that seem to want to join them). I bought a set of corelle for 4 that I use now. works fine for me.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 2:02PM
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Fori is not pleased

Yup, do what Steph says--just plan to have space for two stacks of everything that needs rotating.

(No, I don't rotate. My dishes aren't that great. And we go through them frequently enough anyway. But I wouldn't if I didn't. I consider it an accomplishment to get the da** things all clean at once.)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 2:16PM
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I rotate towels to make sure they get used evenly. It never occurred to me to rotate my dishes, but they're white with no design painted on, just the one made by the shape of the dishes themselves.

You should, of course, do what makes sense to you, but I'm just curious about why you rotate your dishes. I don't think of dishes as something that gets worn out the way towels do. Is there a design that will eventually get worn away?

In any case, if you have the room, I would second desertsteph's suggestion. Make more, smaller stacks.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 2:32PM
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I too rotate my stuff. I want similar wear pattern over time. The dishes get worn by getting metal marks from the cutlery. The glaze gets worn and they do not look so shiny over time. You can see that in restaurants. They have a ton of metal marks and they look dull.

I put my dishes on plate racks that are designed to go into cabinets. They sell these at Container Store etc. The dishes/plates stand up and I pull out what I want in a vertical motion.

My plates and mix and match patterns. So I select the patterns I want by picking out what I want in a stack that is not necessarily organized.

Here is a link that might be useful: You can use something like this.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 2:50PM
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I think it may take some time for uneven wear to show on dishes, but since it shows on everything else it must be happening on dishes, too. If you think about having 12 dishes and washing the top four 3 times a week and not washing the ones below that unless you have company (and more than another couple) several times a week vs. a couple times a month must have some cumulative effect.

Is it enough to warrant rotating the dishes? I don't know, but as soon I was old enough to unload the DW and or set the table, that's what I was told to do, so I've done it.

If you think *this* couple minutes a day is a waste of time, I won't even mention the process behind the using the "good" dishes and sterling :P

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 4:18PM
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This post was edited by palimpsest on Mon, May 6, 13 at 16:21

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 4:19PM
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Sherrie Moore

Gosh!! Never really paid attention to "rotating" dishes... or even thought it was worth bothering about. On parties or big family dinners everything gets used. Otherwise, who cares! Can't say I have ever noticed some dishes being "too worn" !

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 5:01PM
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Fori is not pleased

"Good dishes" usually show wear faster than everyday dishes though! You have to look after them and if anyone makes fun of you for that, one ought to be ashamed. :P

And sterling and silverplate do acquire a patina and a place setting looks goofy if you have a mirror finish on the salad fork and a mellow glow on the dinner knife. If you don't rotate them, you have to at least match up the place settings.

My fish forks will never work.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:14PM
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I have a couple dozen settings of white bone china for entertaining stored in wonderfully compact stacks, but if they've been sitting around for a while I can always toss an appropriate number in the dishwasher before use. No rotation.

Our dinner dishes are a top-of-stack few of those and a similar number of two other patterns, depending on mood. This is one concern I won't be following up. If I'm supposed to rotate, I'll forget or it put off, then then feel bad about about my failure to meet even my own standards. :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:25PM
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I do spontaneous rotations. Every once in awhile, I decide it is time to rotate things around - but since our DW holds quite a bit, it is easy to do - I just move a couple of left over plates to the top. I do the same with glasses in my upper cabinet.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:58PM
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I've never heard of rotating dishes. I've used the same set of oven-to-dishwasher-to-tableware for over 20 yrs and can't see any uneven wearing of the finish. Mind you, one of the 12 developed a crazed finish early on and I always make sure it is on the bottom of the stack, and only used when absolutely necessary.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 8:59PM
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Wow, it's never occurred in thirty+ years of housekeeping to rotate my dishes or glasses. You learn something new every day. One day it's garbage in the freezer, the next day rotating your dishes, lol...

What about rotating the stack, say, on the first day of every month? That way you'll still get relatively even wear over time but it won't be much of a hassle with the dish drawers.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 9:03PM
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"Wouldn't horizontal access (cabinet) in the waist to neck height location be almost ideal?"

In my galley kitchen, the 14.5" deep dish cabinets are directly across from the dishwasher and every day dishes, mugs, and kids' glassware go there. The shelves start just below waist height and go to above the shoulder. A breeze for me, and the 8 and 11 year olds can unload without too much slinging of dishes, up or down.
As to rotating, I had to grin at Rosie's post
"then feel bad about about my failure to meet even my own standards" heehee

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 9:43PM
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i have a similar set up as the pic socialsister posted. i'm not a huge fan of stacking dishes in drawers one on top of the other. i really prefer the divided drawers, although i like to keep my storage options open so not all the drawers are customized to this extent.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:25PM
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I have no answer for the drawer question, but I just wanted to say that I rotate dishes and silverware (and sheets and towels, etc.), too; and I'm soooo glad to find other people who do the same thing. I sometimes wonder if it's really necessary, but I keep doing it anyway. At this point it would be harder to stop than to just keep it up. However, I'm not so obsessive that I get upset on the rare occaions when someone else empties the DW and doesn't follow my rotation system---I just resume the rotation the next time.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 3:07AM
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