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Not everyone is blessed enough to own a dishwasher, which means those dishes won’t wash themselves. For people who frequently wash dishes by hand, a drying rack is an absolute necessity. They’re not all beautiful, but they’re functional.
Hand drying takes even more time that you don’t have, and that towel can’t be that clean anyway. Plus, putting wet dishes away makes for a mold and mildew breeding ground. So a drying rack it is, then.
Dish racks are designed to promote airflow, which dries your dishes more efficiently. However, they’re not all designed the same, and the perfect drying rack for you will depend on how much room you have and how many dishes you need to clean at once.
I compiled this list of dish drying racks based on quality material, design, and function.
What to Look for in a Dish Drying Rack
With such a variety, it can be hard to narrow down just the right dish drying rack for you. From sturdy stainless steel construction to racks that collapse into almost nothing, there are plenty of things to consider.
If you have a lot of dishes to do at once, you’ll need a larger drying rack. On the other hand, if you’re limited on counter space, a small one might work better. Space is a precious commodity and one you don’t want to waste.
If you’re doing dishes often, as you might be with a large family, your rack is likely to remain permanently on the countertop, which means that space is unusable for anything else. It’s important to consider its size before choosing the right one.
On the other hand, perhaps you can afford to get a large drying rack as long as it’s collapsible, so you can put it away easily when you’re done, no matter how often you may have to do that.
You could even opt for a 2-tier dish drying rack that will take up less square footage on the counter but still give you plenty of real estate for wet dishes.
Your dish drying rack will get wet often, so it’s possible that it will rust or get discolored. While dish racks are made of all kinds of different materials, you want to make sure they can withstand a lot of moisture.
Stainless steel racks should be corrosion resistant, while plastic racks should be easy to clean to prevent stains and discoloration. Any dish drying rack should be easy to clean because no matter how well you wash your dishes, it’s possible to miss spots and end up with dirty water in the bottom of your rack.
Because your dish drying rack will get wet, you need to make sure it can accommodate a lot of water and funnel it away from the dishes effectively. In addition to funneling water away from your dishes, it also needs an effective drainage system that can whisk water away from the dish drying rack entirely.
Look for models that have spouts on the corners or edges. This allows you to let it hang over the edge of your kitchen sink and eliminate water rather than spilling it all over the counter. Some dish racks have holes in the bottom, which may work too, but you need to make sure you have a place to drain the water that leaks out.
Whether your drying rack is made of stainless steel or plastic, you want to make sure it’s durable enough to hold all of the dishes you need to dry. Stainless steel may be more sturdy, but it should have a corrosion-resistant coating to prevent rust; otherwise, it won’t last long.
Plastic drying racks won’t rust, but they may not hold as many dishes as a more sturdy option. They can also stain or discolor easily, so they should be easy to wash. They should also be made of a BPA-free, food-safe plastic material.
All dish drying racks are different, so you need to make sure it has what you need. Does it have separate compartments for silverware? Will it hold your baking sheets and wine glasses? Make sure it’s designed well so you can organize your dishes more efficiently.
Also, consider how attractive it is, especially if you’re going to be leaving it out on the counter all the time.
All dish drying racks should be easy to clean because you have to wash them, too. It will get dirty, even though it only holds clean dishes. You should be able to wipe it down easily and use soap and water when it needs to be cleaned.
Types of Dish Drying Racks
There are plenty of different types of dish drying racks, so you’ll want to learn about each one and then consider which might be best for you.
Traditional dish drying racks
These types of drying racks are pretty basic. They usually have a plastic or wireframe on a platform that will pool water and drain it. The platform may be level, allowing water to evaporate naturally, or it will be sloped so that water can drain into the sink.
Collapsible dish drying racks
The name says it all. These dish drying racks fold up compactly so you can store them more easily when you’re done. They’re excellent for those with limited counter and storage space because they don’t take up much room in the cabinet when not in use but still allow you to dry all of your dishes.
They’re also great options for those who don’t want a dish rack sitting out on the counter all the time.
Two-tier dish drying racks
If you don’t have enough counter space for a large dish drying rack, but you still need to dry a lot of dishes, this is a great option. For large families or homes that go through a lot of dishes, they can alleviate the pain point of always having dirty dishes in the sink.
However, the water from the top layer drips onto the bottom dishes, which means the dishes on the bottom will take longer to dry.
Over-the-counter dish drying racks
These drying racks straddle your sink so your dishes can dry without taking up counter space. However, they block the use of the sink while they’re drying. It’s a good option for fewer dishes because it’s easy to quickly do the dishes, and they will dry more quickly too.
Best Dish Drying Racks
If you’re looking for a dish drying rack for your kitchen, there are a lot of options. Here are some of the best options I found.
This is a compact dish rack that looks sleek and clean. It contains a fingerprint-proof coating as well as corrosion-resistant materials. There’s also an anti-residue coating, so your dishes won’t leave water spots.
There’s plenty of room in this dish rack to fit your dishes as well as pots and pans. There’s a built-in utensil holder to keep everything organized, and it’s easy to assemble out of the box. It’s also easy to take apart and clean when needed.
The drain spout swivels so you can turn it any way that makes sense on your counter for easy drying and cleanup. It also has side glass holders that allow you to drip dry your glasses without taking up room inside the bin, but it does mean they will drip onto the counter.
- Sturdy and spacious
- Swivel spout
- Side glass holders allow water to drip onto the counter
This budget dish drying rack can stand up to dish racks that are twice the price. While it may not have a lot of bells and whistles like coatings that keep it clean, it will hold a lot of dishes and drain itself. If you can spare the counter space, this is a great pick for people who do a lot of dishes. It’s incredibly affordable and sturdy enough to last a good amount of time. It’s also easy to clean, which can help it last a bit longer.
- Low price
- Large capacity
- Prone to rust
- Not as durable as more quality options
This dish drying rack is perfect for times when you have a lot of dishes to dry and times when you don’t. It’s expandable, so you can dry as many or as few dishes as needed at once. At first, it looks like a fairly small square dish rack, but when you need the space, just slide it open, and it doubles in size.
It has prongs to hold your dishes securely in place. The attractive design means you can leave it on the counter all the time if needed. The drain spout is adjustable, so you can turn it any way you need.
- Great for large and small kitchens
- Attractive design
- Adjustable spout
- It doesn’t hold cookware well
You will often find dish drying racks in small kitchens because there’s no room for a dishwasher. However, that also means there’s not a lot of counter space for a dish drying rack either. In cases like this, it’s best to use a two-tier dish rack.
The Yamazaki tower dish rack from Wayfair is the way to go, as long as you have enough height between your countertop and the bottom of your cabinets. It’s made with stainless steel, so it will be durable enough to hold heavy dishes, even on the top.
It has a removable bottom tray with a built-in drain spout and adjustable hooks that allow you to hang things that are awkward or don’t fit. It’s a bit too small for a large pot, but you can still dry a pan on the top shelf with room for a few more dishes.
- Removable bottom layer for easy cleanup
- Stylish design
- Durable stainless steel
- Adjustable hooks for hanging
- The top layer drips onto the bottom later
Bamboo dish drying racks are fairly simplistic in design, which makes them more affordable than other solutions. However, this plain style choice is often one of the most elegant. This bamboo drying rack is foldable, so you can collapse it and put it away when you’re done.
When it’s open, it forms a unique slatted X shape that increases airflow for faster drying times. It doesn’t come with a utensil holder, but you can get an attachment sold separately. It also doesn’t have a water spout or a drain tray, so you’ll want to place it on a towel or drying mat.
- Slats reduce drying time
- No utensil holder
- No drain spout
If you don’t want to take up room on the countertop, and over the sink dish rack is a great option. However, it’s usually only a viable option for those with a two-sided sink, so you don’t restrict the use of the sink for other tasks while your dishes are trying. You can use it in a single sink, but it means you can’t use the sink for other tasks while your dishes are in it.
This dish rack was designed very intentionally to be multifunctional. It works as a drying rack, like a colander for washing produce, and can withstand temperatures up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, so it also works as a trivet.
The built-in utensil holder increases functionality, while the silicone will hold items up and out of the way, making room for even more dishes. Plus, it can roll up to almost nothing, making it easy to store in a small kitchen.
- Functional design
- Several uses
- Rolls up for storage
- Built-in utensil holder
- It doesn’t hold very much
KitchenAid makes a full-size dish drying rack with a steel frame for durability. It holds enough dishes for a household with four people. Drainage is superior, and the strength of the frame will hold heavy things. The sides are also reinforced to keep your dishes from falling out.
It’s easy to keep dishes balanced, even if you load them from one end to the other. It won’t tip over if it’s heavier on one side. While it can hold a lot of dishes, it’s also not overly large, so it won’t seem too big on your counter.
The drain tray will capture dripping water and funnel it through the spout and into the sink. The entire rack comes apart in three pieces so you can clean it and store it more easily. While it’s not dishwasher safe, the idea is that you probably don’t have a dishwasher anyway.
- Steel frame with reinforced sides
- Effective drain spout
- It comes apart for easy cleaning and storage
- Not dishwasher safe
This is a high-quality stainless steel dish rack that comes at a high price but offers excellent functionality. It looks simple but stylish and drains very well. It can also hold enough dishes for a 4-person household. It’s likely you’ll never have to replace this one because it’s that sturdy. It’s worth the cost if you think you’ll be using it for years to come. It even has a lifetime warranty, so you’ll get a replacement if it doesn’t last.
It’s made of thick-gauge stainless steel. The only plastic parts are the feet covers. It has an angled drain tray that funnels water to the sink and sits up off the counter, so it’s compatible with all kinds of sinks, even those that have tall lips.
This rack doesn’t have enclosed sides like other designs, so it can be difficult to place small items that may fall out. It’s also a lot heavier than other dish drying racks at 7.2 pounds. However, it’s stylish, functional, and easy to clean.
- High-quality, thick-gauge stainless steel
- Sturdy and durable
- Lifetime warranty
- Excellent drainage
- Open sides
This is a great budget option because it’s inexpensive and lightweight. While it’s a bit more flimsy than higher-priced options, it does have a utensil holder. You can still make it work for a 4-person household with careful planning.
At this price, you can use it until it breaks and then buy another one. It’s functional and will work for most people. However, the drainboard is sold separately, which will increase your cost a bit, but not much. It’s also easy to wipe down for cleaning, but it’s not collapsible, so you’ll have to find a spacious place to put it if you don’t want it sitting on the countertop all the time.
- Built-in utensil holder
- Easy to clean
- Not collapsible
- Drainboard sold separately
This is a unique pick for those who need something incredibly compact. It’s made of plastic and has a design that gives you enough space for all of your dishes in a smaller household with 1-2 people. It also works on the counter or in the sink.
If you don’t have a lot of counter space to work with, this could be the solution for you. It’s compact and easy to use, so you can even leave it on the counter all the time. It also drains well but may drip water on the counter if you hang dishes on the outer prongs.
The good news is that this dish rack is dishwasher safe on the top rack, but if you don’t have a dishwasher, it’s still easy to clean.
- Unique design
- Drains well
- It can be used on the counter or in the sink
- May drip on the counter
Answer: Our buying guide should help you determine how to select the right dish drying rack for you, but it all depends on your needs. You should evaluate your household size to determine how many dishes you need it to hold, but you also want to make sure it’s durable and easy to clean.
You may also want to consider the price because while a stainless steel option will be more sturdy than a plastic one, it will be more expensive. However, you can also consider that you’ll be replacing your plastic one when it breaks, whereas you may not have to replace your stainless steel rack very often or at all.
Answer: Over the sink drying racks will save a lot of space on the counter and make drying your dishes a lot easier because they drain directly into the sink for minimal cleanup afterward. However, they prevent you from performing other tasks in the sink until the dishes are done drying.
Answer: If you don’t have a dishwasher, a drying rack can make doing your dishes by hand more efficient. Even if you enjoy towel drying your dishes and getting them to put away quickly, you can use a drying rack to hold your wet dishes until you’re done scrubbing everything.
If you leave your dishes out to dry, using a drying rack with a drip tray will allow you to keep your dishes up out of the water until their dry, reducing drying time by overlaying them on a mat or towel.
Answer: Some people choose to use dish drying mats rather than racks, but like your bath mat, it can get gross pretty quickly. As it collects water, it can create a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and other types of bacteria.
Most of this bacteria is harmless, but it’s important that you’re careful to wash the mat after every use.
Answer: If you leave water in your dish drying rack after you put your dishes away, it can breed mildew. If you put a towel under your dish rack to catch the overflow, you need to replace it every day to prevent mold and other bacteria from growing.
When you’re looking for a dish drying rack, you need to find the one that will work the best for you. Base your decision on criteria like price, material, and household size. My favorite dish drying rack is the KitchenAid full-size drying rack because it will hold a lot of dishes. For a large household, it’s the perfect option, but it’s even great for a small household if you tend to leave the dishes from several meals. It drains well, and it’s sturdy.
Bamboo drying racks are some of the most stylish options, while there are plenty of other unique designs and configurations to choose from. It’s up to you what you choose, but anything on this list is a great option as long as it suits your needs.