The Best Dish Rack for Draining and Drying All of Your Dishes
It’s said that there are two types of people in the world. And when it comes to kitchen clean-up, that's true: There are those who have a dishwasher in the kitchen, and those who are the dishwasher in the kitchen. For this second type of person, finding the best dish rack is a very, very real struggle.
In 2017, we gathered 13 dish racks and draining boards from various kitchenware brands and gave them a go in the Epi Test Kitchen. In 2020, we added six more contenders to the mix. We wanted to see if any actual disrupters had made it to market since the last go-round in 2017, or if the prior winners still emerged victorious. Of course, what works in a spacious kitchen may not work in a tiny one, so we broke down our research into two major categories: the best dish rack for a standard kitchen, and the best dish rack for a small one. The results revealed three winners, each of which you can read about below. For more details about our testing method and what we looked for in a dish rack, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Best Dish Rack for a Standard (i.e. Large) Kitchen: SimpleHuman Steel Frame Dish Rack
If you're looking for a dish rack with all the bells and whistles—and don't mind the price to match—it's hard to beat this offering from SimpleHuman. The roomy capacity, sturdy wine-glass rack, four exterior hooks (which can hold coffee cups or dish rags), and swiveling drain spout (which can be positioned to best suit your needs) makes it our winner. The Simple Human's large capacity and superior draining capabilities put it well above the competition; some of the (still bulky) racks we tested scarcely held three mugs and a plate, meaning you’d be better off just throwing a towel down on your counter. And the draining abilities of many were inexcusably poor…why take the time to sanitize a bowl if you’re just going to leave it to fester in a pool of stagnant muck?
Note, however, that the SimpleHuman's size is both an advantage and a limitation: it's large enough that you probably won't want to move it around much, or be able to stash it away and pull it out only when you need it. For that reason, this dish rack is for a kitchen that has plenty of space on the countertop. (SimpleHuman makes a "Compact" version of this rack, which we also tested, but we found the compact version too big to really be considered compact, yet too small in capacity to be totally practical.)
Best Dish Rack for a Small Space: Joseph Joseph Extend Dish Rack
Transformer-style kitchen objects are Joseph Joseph’s specialty. Sometimes it feels gimmicky, but when it comes to otherwise inflexible drying racks (which command permanent, outsized real estate on your counter), it’s nice to be able to conform them to your space. This robust rack can be used as a 32x36.4-inch rectangle, or easily expanded up to 52.7x36.4 inches. That means it can accommodate both small or large loads, with tons more capacity than other compact models, and yet still stashes away easily. It also features a flat base with slightly raised ridges for drying odd-sized items and bowls. The drain spout swivels (though not to the extent of the SimpleHuman spout), and the rack utilizes versatile, rubber-tipped steel pegs. One major downside: those pegs sit on the base unattached, and while this feature does make cleaning the base easier (just lift the pegs out and wash), it also makes the unit hard to stow away on its side, since the pegs will just unceremoniously fall out.
How We Tested
We fit plates of various shapes and sizes into the slots of each rack to see how they fit. We did the same with coffee mugs and wine glasses when racks had designated spaces for those items. We then took the top contenders and poured full glasses of water into them to test the draining features. Did it leak all over the counter? Does it pool water instead of drain? (Spoiler alert: every dish rack we tested leaked at least a little bit when we dumped in a full glass of water, so, uh, maybe don't try that one at home. For what it's worth, we also tested leakage with traditionally washed and rinsed plates and cups.) Finally, we tossed utensils big and small into the designated caddy with all the ferocity of a dinner party host left to clean up alone with not one guest offering to help.
Factors We Evaluated
Right out of the box we wanted to know if the dish racks felt stable. If a rack isn't stable to begin with, we don't care to stack our nice dishes into it just to wait for the inevitable game of dish dominoes.
Not just right out of the box, but also each time you pull out the rack to wash it. Are there a lot of moving parts? Do they move around easily?
Yes, you may be loading cleaned dishes into it, but trust us: your dish rack needs a good cleaning.
If you can only fit three plates and a creamer into your dish rack, it's not doing you much good. We wanted to know how many dishes a rack could comfortably hold—or at least ensure it could handle the after-dinner dishes for a family of four.