salad spinners

How to Achieve Perfectly Dry Lettuce Without a Salad Spinner

I was way off base when I guessed egg-gathering basket. Leslie Hindman, host of the TV show, Appraisal Fair, held up this round cage contraption with folding sides and asked us to guess, “What the Heck Is It?” Salad spinner was the right choice, but who knew people back in the 1880s were wasting their money on needless pieces of kitchen equipment to dry lettuce? 

salad spinners


I used to have a salad spinner. It worked OK, but not as well as the currently popular OXO model. Even it does not remove all of the water from a load of salad greens. And it takes up a lot of storage space.

This does not mean I’ve abandoned my pet peeve for wet, soggy, limp salad greens. I’ve just found a better way to dry my salad greens for a lot less money and a fraction of the storage space required for a big bulky salad spinner. 



You’ll need a clean cotton pillowcase. Wash your greens well, shake off the excess water, and stuff them into the pillowcase. Gather the open end into your hand so that it is completely closed and step outdoors (or into a large space indoors).

With great gusto, swing it around in circles for a minute or two, windmill style. The water will be thrown to the edges of the pillowcase due to centrifugal force, then absorbed by the fabric. Your greens will be crisp—dry lettuce— and you’ll get a little exercise and entertain the neighbors at the same time.

Plastic bag

Grab a clean plastic grocery bag, add the wet lettuce to that along with a few paper towels and then spin as above for the same effect.

If stepping outdoors is not convenient just pin or tie the pillowcase closed and toss it in the washing machine on spin cycle for a minute or two. Seriously!

Bone-dry lettuce

If you want to make sure every bit of moisture is removed before dressing the greens, toss the spin-dried greens with a few sheets of paper towel, each of which has been torn into quarters. The paper toweling will wick away the last traces of moisture. Just be sure to pick out all of the towel pieces before dressing the salad.

Short-term storage

If you’re not quite ready to assemble the salad, simply leave the greens in the damp pillowcase and put the whole thing back into the refrigerator. 

Long-term storage

You can store a large amount of lettuce (even if it’s been cleaned and spun dry) in a plastic container or zip-type bag lined with paper towels. Make sure your container is as airtight as possible and store it in the refrigerator. 

Perk up soggy lettuce

Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a large bowl of cold water and allow the lettuce/greens the soak for an hour in the refrigerator. 

Prevent soggy salads. Place an inverted saucer in the bottom of the salad bowl. The excess liquid drains off under the saucer and the salad stays fresh and crisp. 


Simply classic

It’s hard to beat fresh, cold, dry Romaine topped with freshly homemade Thousand Island dressing. It’s nutritional, economical, and just plain delicious. Here’s my favorite recipe.

1000 island dressing

1000 Island Dressing

Classic, delicious and so easy to make
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Cost: Varies


  • 1 egg, hard-boiled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • dash black pepper


  • In a bowl, mash egg with a fork, stir in the rest of the ingredients until well incorporated. Best when used immediately, or alternatively, this delicious dressing will last up to three days in a covered container in the refrigerator. Yield: About 1 cup. Enjoy!
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7 replies
  1. Karlene Teske says:

    I use a mesh lingerie bag to spin the water out of my garden lettuces. It has a draw string that makes it super easy to spin the heck out of that bag of lettuce – Works like a Charm!! We have a walk out screened deck from the second story of our house, I stand on the stairs and spin it like crazy.

    • Lija Wills says:

      This is true. When I worked at a grocery store years ago, they said that they routinely sprayed the grocery bags with bug repellent.

  2. Betty Thomas says:

    These are great tips and a good incentive to ditch or donate my bulky salad spinner. I’m done shuffling it around to a hopefully better spot. After the cleaning and drying lettuce a great way to store it is in a clean dry mason jar in the fridge. You’ll be amazed at how much longer your lettuce leaves stay fresh with this method. Thanks Mary!

  3. Linda Radosevich says:

    Mary, I’ve been using the pillowcase-and-washer technique for years! I even submitted it once to a women’s magazine, and was dissed for it. NOW I’m vindicated, because Mary says it works! Thank you!


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