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If you aren’t blessed with a dishwasher, or if you live alone and prefer to hand wash your dishes, welcome to the wonderful world of dish racks. A good dish rack isn’t exactly the most exciting purchase you’ll make for your home, but you will certainly appreciate its virtues every single day. Likewise, a bad one purchased with little thought will have you cursing slimy buildup and crowded, disorganized dishes. These are the six we recommend the most, whether you have a ton of counter space or need something compact that can be stowed away when not in use.
What to Consider Before Buying a Dish Rack
Once you understand what to look for based on your space and needs, buying a dish rack should be relatively painless. Here’s what to think about:
The most important factor is size, both of your kitchen and of the rack itself. If you live in a tiny apartment with limited counter space, search for something collapsible or, well, small. That’s also true if you live alone and don’t wash a ton of dishes at once, or if you have a dishwasher already but need something for those pieces that need to be hand washed. On the other hand, if you live in a larger house or with more than two people, you need to look for something more heavy duty. Consider a two-tiered rack to take advantage of vertical space, or something wide that can accommodate a lot at once. And if you have double sinks, consider an over-the-sink rack to save on counter space.
Aside from the traditional dish rack style, there are a few models to keep an eye out for:
Collapsible: Collapsible or folding racks are great if you have room to store your dish rack when it’s not in use. Collapsible racks are generally larger and can be folded down to be more compact, while folding racks are slender enough to be placed in tight spots. While these racks are great if you have limited counter space, you’ll need cabinet space to store them.
Two-tier: This style is smart if you want to double your drying space without sacrificing more of your countertop. There are a ton of options for this style, from compact models to really heavy-duty, restaurant-worthy beasts. Just make sure the one you choose has good drainage, since there will be double the space and double the water residue.
Over the sink: This style is generally best if you live alone and don’t have a lot of dishes to dry, or if you have absolutely no counter space. On the other hand, it’s a smart thing to have on hand if you have a dishwasher or another traditional dish rack and want something to handle any extra dishware.
What We Look for in a Dish Rack
We tested a wide range of dish racks for our list, judging them on the following criteria:
Yamazaki’s iconic Tosca rack checks all the boxes: functional, decently sized, and totally stylish. A perfect example of clean Japanese design, this rack has room enough for dishes, cups, cutting boards, and more—plus, you can conveniently hang your dish towel over the wood handle for easy access. Have you struggled with drainage in the past? This dish rack has a high-sided tray that keeps water from puddling on your counters, and can be removed for cleaning to disposing of excess water. The removable utensil holder can be placed anywhere, and the whole thing is super lightweight if you want to store it elsewhere when not in use. But when it’s this nice to look at, why would you want to?
This folding bamboo dish rack was one of my first apartment purchases, and I still think it’s one of the best options. At just under $27, it’s a fantastic price for what you’re getting and is ideal for small spaces thanks to its folding design. Place bowls and plates on the top and mugs and cups on the bottom, and you’re set. There are a few flaws, though: There’s no drainage system, so you’ll need a mat or tray to keep your counter from getting wet (I recommend this one), and it’s not very convenient for drying larger pots and pans. There is a matching utensil holder, but it’s sold separately for $11. All in all, it’s a very bare-bones purchase, and you’ll need to spend some more to get everything you need for your setup, but it’ll get the job done well (and look good while doing it).
If you’re looking for something heavy duty, look no further than Simplehuman’s steel dish rack. As usual, Simplehuman leaves behind all the competition with their attention to detail—not only does this dish rack have a sloped drip tray to keep water flowing into the sink, but it also has an anti-residue coating to speed up drying time and prevent buildup. There’s even a nicely sized utensil holder, side holders for mugs and cups, and a built-in wine glass rack that holds up to four extra-large red wine glasses. (And don’t worry, there’s an extendable drip tray for the cup holders!) Honestly, this thing is a beast, and will carry you through all your kitchen messes—but it’s definitely not ideal for smaller spaces with limited counter space.
This OXO dish rack just so happens to be the one we use in the AT office, and it’s exactly what you would expect from the geniuses over at OXO. It’s an ideal size: not too small that it’ll fill up immediately, but not too big that it’ll take all the space (and attention) in your kitchen. It’s smart, too, with a center plate rack that folds down to accommodate larger cookware pieces and side cup racks to keep glassware safe and secure. The best part, though, is the fact that it’s collapsible, making it super easy to hide away when you’re not using it. Either fold it up and place it in a cabinet, or, if you don’t have room, fold it down and leave it out—the compact shape and light gray color will make it hardly noticeable on your countertop.
What can I say? Yamazaki knows what they’re doing. This two-tier dish rack is the latest in the Japanese brand’s collection of kitchen tools, and it’s a great option for smaller households. Minimalist and compact, this rack is small but packs in a ton of features. The bottom tray is removable to easily get rid of excess water, or you can take it out to create more room for pots and pans (just remember a drying mat). There’s also a water spout for easy draining and extra hooks you can hang on the sides for awkward utensils, as well as a spot to place your dish towel. It’s a very cute option (which is not a word I would use lightly to describe a dish rack), but take note that it is pretty small and best suited for one- or two-person households. It is, however, perfect for apartment living.
Who It’s Best For: Those who have limited kitchen space; those who want something stylish.
Good to Know: You can place the bottom tray on a higher tier so that it fits right beneath the top rack to prevent dripping.
Maybe you actually have no counter space, or maybe you have double sinks and simply don’t want a clunky dish rack taking over. Whatever the reason, an over-the-sink dish rack is for you, and this roll-up option that’s just $23 on Amazon is the best choice. It’s rust resistant, surprisingly durable, and won’t slip around—an important feature if you’re using it to dry fragile pieces like wine glasses. Its best feature, of course, is the fact that it easily rolls up when you’re done with it, and is small enough to be stored in a drawer, no extra cabinet space necessary. Even if you already have a traditional dish rack, you might want to grab one of these anyway for any extra dishes you don’t have room for. Personally, this is what I do, and I highly recommend it for smaller spaces!
Who It’s Best For: Those with zero counter space; those with double sinks; those who want a backup.
Good to Know: It’s heat-resistant up to 400°F and dishwasher safe!
This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: The Best Dish Racks for Every Kitchen