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Save your dishwasher for big loads and use one of these handy dish racks instead. Guaranteed to make kitchen clean-up a cinch!
A dish-drying rack simplifies your kitchen clean-up routine by giving you a place to set clean dishes and utensils to air dry. The best ones also minimize the possibility of dish ware being chipped or scratched by holding such things as plates and bowls securely in an upright position. Thanks to the evaporative power of air, dish racks require no electricity and take up minimal space—especially if you buy the right one for your sink.Whether you need a small rack for the odds and ends that can’t go in the dishwasher or a rack large enough to keep up with daily meal prep, we have the solution for you. Ahead, our tips on what to look for in a dish-drying rack, along with details on our top-favorite picks in the category:
- BEST OVERALL: PremiumRacks Professional Dish Rack
- BEST FOR LIGHT DUTY: Sweet Home Collection 3 Piece Rack Set
- BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: HEOMU Over The Sink Dish Drying Rack
- MOST ECO-FRIENDLY: Bambusi Collapsible Dish Drying Rack
- HONORABLE MENTION: Neat-O Over-The-Sink Kitchen Dish Drainer Rack
Key Shopping ConsiderationsLuckily, dish-drying racks are a pretty straightforward purchase. That said, there are still a few things to consider beforehand. You’ll want to weigh the best design options that are compatible with your kitchen sink area, as well as determine the size, material, and accessories that will make your dishwashing and drying time easier and faster.
Countertop vs. In-Sink DesignTo choose the best design for your dish-drying rack, consider your kitchen sink and surrounding countertop space.
- If you have a square section of countertop right beside your sink, this may be the perfect spot to position a countertop dish rack. This self-contained unit is easy to pick, move, and store, and it requires no installation and minimum set-up.
- A behind-the-sink rack, also known as an over-the-sink rack, is designed to sit on the countertop space behind rather than beside your sink. For this option to work, you’ll need to measure carefully and ensure that you have at least a foot of free space behind your kitchen sink.
- If you have a double-bowl kitchen sink, an in-sink rack cuts down on countertop loss. This type of rack fit into the smaller sink bowl, using coated wire handles that sit on top of the sink’s lip. No need to worry about drainage, since wet dishes drip directly into the sink. One potential downside is the inconvenience of lifting the rack in and out when you need to use your whole sink. In-sink racks are also smaller than countertop models, so you’ll have a bit less room for drying dishes and cookware.
SizeWhile each brand makes racks to different specifications, you can find drying racks in three main size categories:
- Compact racks are perfect for small countertops, apartment living, and even dorm rooms. For countertop racks, expect to use up to about a foot or more of space beside your sink. Look for dimensions around 12” x 19” x 5” or smaller. In-sink racks are great options for small kitchens and measure approximately 13” x 8” x 5”.
- Classic racks are suitable for average-sized kitchens, with enough countertop space beside the kitchen sink. They come in a range of sizes between 12” x 19” x 5” and 18” x 12” x 13”. You’ll want to measure your countertop space before purchasing. Also, look for a rack that collapses and stores easily.
- High-capacity racks measure around 18” x 12” x 13” and often come with extra attachments, as well as expandable trays for even more drying space. Behind-the-sink racks are even larger—measuring 36” x 12” x 31” or more. These racks make use of both vertical shelving and horizontal stacking, for storing and drying more dishes.
MaterialYou’ll find drying racks in the following types of material or a mix of metal and plastic parts.
- Stainless Steel: The benefits of stainless steel include durability and, in most cases, rust resistance. However, if the stainless steel is exposed to too much dampness or humidity, it still can rust, so make sure to wipe down your rack after heavy use. Most high-quality drying racks are made of 304 stainless steel, which contains both nickel and chromium. These metals boost the rust-resistance of stainless steel and are common in kitchen implements. Expect to pay $40 to $50 for a good-quality stainless steel drying rack.
- Vinyl-Coated Wire: An alternative to stainless steel is vinyl-coated wire. The vinyl coating helps protect your dishes and utensils from scratches and is also rust-resistant and easy to clean. Vinyl-coated racks should be less expensive than stainless steel. You can find sturdy units for around $20.
- Plastic: Typically, drying racks are not solely composed of plastic, but instead contain plastic accessories like utensil or knife holders. Plastic is lightweight, won’t scratch your cookware, and is easily sanitized with soap and water or a cleaning spray. It also doesn’t rust.
- Bamboo: For a 100 percent sustainable material, bamboo drying racks are also affordable (around $20) and easy to maintain. Just wipe with a little food-grade oil every once in a while to preserve the wood grain and integrity of the material. Bamboo also has anti-microbial properties, resists odor, and won’t rust.
DrainageCountertop racks sometimes come equipped with drainage boards, especially those made of stainless steel or wire. Some have side-drainage channels, which drip directly into your sink. Others have a drain hole, which can be opened or closed as needed. In-sink racks are made of wire, so water drips directly into the sink itself.
Behind-the-sink racks may not have a drainage board, so you’ll have to monitor moisture on the surface of your sink and faucet area. Bamboo racks, which are built in an X-shape, collapse easily but don’t have any drainage features, so you’ll want to place them on a countertop or other surface that can be dried easily.