Updated May 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best dish racks

The right dish rack can make your life in the kitchen much easier. For those without a dishwasher, a sturdy dish rack is a must-have kitchen item that saves time and space. Even if you do have a dishwasher, you can place your dishes on the rack to dry instead of running them through your dishwasher dry cycle, thereby shaving a bit off your energy costs.

If you’re thinking of buying a dish rack, whether out of necessity or for energy-saving purposes, you’ll need one with the right capacity and a good combination of stability and durability. And of course, you want one that looks great with your kitchen décor.

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Parents with babies might be interested in a specially designed baby dish rack. These come in unique designs that cater to odd-shaped items like pacifiers and bottle nipples.

Types of dish racks

Full-size dish racks

Full-size dish racks have a flatware holder, tall sides, and holders for plates and glasses. They consume more counter space than any other dish rack option, but they’re big enough to hold dinnerware for three to four people. They also include a drain tray to catch water.

Compact dish racks

Compact dish racks have the same features that full-size dish racks do, but they hold enough dishes for only one or two people. If you’re short on counter space, a compact dish rack might have the dimensions you need.

In-sink dish racks

In-sink dish racks fit into one side of a double sink. They have flatware, plate, and cup holders. Like over-the-sink models, they don’t have a drain tray because the water drips directly into the sink.

Expert Tip
After all of your dishes are dried and put away, remember to wipe away any excess water from your dish rack. I like to take a bleach wipe to clean off the bottom part of the dish racks. This helps prevent mold and mildew from building up.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Over-the-sink dish racks

Many people prefer the convenience of an over-the-sink dish rack. These racks work best in double sinks.

The rack may have feet that extend outward and attach to the sides of the sink, or it may be a “rollable” wire that covers the sink. Neither design requires a drain tray, as the water drips directly into the sink.

Over-the-sink dish racks work best for drying cups, glasses, and pots. However, some have space for flatware and plates, too. They’re smaller than both full-size or compact models.

Wall-mounted dish racks

Keeping your countertop clear is easy with a wall-mounted dish rack. They’re often seen in Europe, but they’ve gained popularity in the U.S. as well.

Typically made of stainless steel, a wall-mounted dish rack adheres directly to the wall and folds out over or next to the sink. A wall-mounted dish rack is a more permanent option than some others, but most are well-built, and some offer two tiers. You may wish to purchase a separate mat to go beneath the rack.

Notably, many wall-mounted dish racks do not have flatware holders, making them more suitable for drying plates and cups.

Expert Tip
You can flip most drying racks upside down in the sink after each use to ensure all of the water is dried off of it.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Collapsible dish racks

If you have limited storage and counter space, a collapsible dish rack might be a good choice for you. Some collapsible racks are made of flexible rubber that folds down easily. Others have a wood or metal frame that folds down to make the rack smaller.

A collapsible dish rack may have space for flatware, dishes, and cups. Most models also include a mat or drain tray to go beneath the rack. You can find collapsible dish racks in compact, over-the-sink, and in-sink form.

A note about two-tiered dish racks

Two-tiered dish racks give you more drying space with a relatively small footprint. Many of these racks have a dish rack on top and a flat rack on the bottom for bowls, cups, or pots. Flatware holders extend off the ends.

If you’re thinking about buying a two-tiered dish rack, keep in mind that although these configurations don’t take up a lot of horizontal space, they do take up a lot of vertical space, and most aren’t collapsible.

Dish rack size and capacity

Size

How much space can you expect your new dish rack to take? The average full-size dish rack measures around 9 x 14 x 6 inches, and the average compact dish rack measures around 12 x 5 x 4 inches. Check the measurements before you buy to be sure you have enough room on your countertop.

In-sink and over-the-sink dish racks are designed to fit a standard kitchen sink, but it’s a good idea to measure your sink anyway, just to be sure. As for collapsible dish racks, we advise potential buyers to check the dimensions of the rack when both open and closed to make sure it can be accommodated.

"Some dish racks have expandable features, such as a wine rack or cup holders. When not in use, these features stay attached to the dish rack but slide or fold back into the frame."
STAFF
BestReviews

Capacity

How many dishes does your family dirty each night? The capacity of your dish rack ideally reflects this number.

  • If you have a family of four, chances are high that you’ll need a full-size dish rack that can accommodate all the plates, cups, flatware, pots, and pans you need to dry after a meal.

  • If you have a family of one or two, a compact dish rack could work for you.

  • Over-the-sink and in-sink dish racks usually accommodate one or two people, but some have room for more.

  • Collapsible and wall-mounted dish racks vary in size and capacity.

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Expert TIp
You can store most dish racks under your sink when not in use.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Dish rack materials

When shopping for a new dish rack, you’ll find models made of plastic, stainless steel, rubber, wood, and bamboo. Which should you choose? Here’s a look at the different materials on offer.

Wood or bamboo

Wooden or bamboo dish racks work best for those who only dry dishes once in a while. Though they’re made of sustainable materials, they don’t withstand moisture as well as plastic or metal.

Stainless steel

By far the most durable material used to make dish racks, stainless steel can withstand the weight of a lot of dishes and hold its shape. It also offers the best stability. On the downside, high-gauge stainless steel is tough enough to scratch or chip delicate dishes. Some dish racks have a stainless steel frame coated in plastic or rubber to protect dishes.

"Know your cooking style. If you plan to use your dish rack for drying oddly shaped items like pots, pans, food storage containers, and ladles, look for a stainless steel model that offers extra strength and has several types of holders to accommodate the variety of utensils you use most often."
STAFF
BestReviews

Rubber

Rubber and rubber-like materials are used in some collapsible dish racks. They fold down and store easily, though they don’t hold their shape as well when fully loaded.

Plastic

Lightweight and inexpensive, plastic will always be a popular choice. However, it stains easily and isn’t as strong as stainless steel. Over time, a plastic dish rack may lose its shape. Many dish racks are made of both plastic and stainless steel to benefit from the best qualities of both materials.

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For your safety
Some plastic dish racks have antimicrobial properties, but you’ll still need to clean them regularly and be sure that all water is removed from the drain tray after the dishes have dried.
STAFF
BestReviews

Dish rack prices

Inexpensive dish racks

For less than $25, you can find dish racks that hail from all the different product types, including some two-tier models. Materials used to make these racks include plastic, rubber, wood, bamboo, or plastic/stainless steel combinations.

Mid-priced dish racks

Between $25 and $75, you’ll find more full-size dish racks and two-tier dish racks made completely stainless steel. These larger, sturdier dish racks provide enough space and stability for the dishes of three or four people.

Expensive dish racks

For over $75, you’ll find full-size dish racks with some unique designs. These racks often have an architectural flare not found in the lower price ranges. You’ll still see some stainless steel and plastic/stainless steel combination models, too.

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Did you know?
Some dish racks come with a rotating spout attached to the drain tray. A rotating spout gives you the flexibility to place the dish rack where it’s most convenient for you.
STAFF
BestReviews

Tips

  • When it comes to dish racks, cleanliness is best for the prevention of problems like mold. Wash and dry the drainage tray after you’ve put away your dishes to prevent issues associated with standing water. Some dish racks can be disassembled for cleaning in a dishwasher.

  • Check stainless steel dish rack components occasionally for rust. Although stainless steel is rust-resistant, rust can still begin to form if the coating gets nicked.

  • Looking for a dish rack with added versatility? Some dish racks come with several attachments, such as a cutting board or cup holders, that extend off the sides of the dish rack.

  • For cleaning ease, look for a dish rack that’s easy to assemble and take apart. That will make it easier to get to all the hard-to-reach places where water might hide.

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Clean your dish rack regularly. Because it’s exposed to moisture, be sure to dry it completely before putting it away.

FAQ

Q. Can a dish rack hold a standard-size cutting board?

A full-size dish rack can hold a standard-size cutting board. If you hand-wash and dry your dishes, you may want to look for a dish rack with a separate cutting board attachment. These attachments hook onto the side of the dish rack so you won’t take up valuable space inside the rack.

Q. Can dish racks safely hold wine glasses?

If you’re putting delicate items in a dish rack, be sure not to overload it. You don’t want crowded items, especially delicate ones, to slip, fall, or get scratched. Some dish racks have expandable or detachable wine glass holders. They hold the glasses upside down by the base of the stem.

Q. How does a dish rack drain water?

The answer to this question depends on the type of dish rack you own.

  • Full-size and compact dish racks come with a drain tray to catch dripping water. On many models, the tray lies at a slant so water drains toward the sink. Others have a spout or funnel that directs the draining water where you want it to go.
  • A few dish rack designs have completely flat trays that must be emptied once the dishes are dry.
  • Some collapsible dish racks come with a tray or mat; others don’t. Those that don’t are often in sink models, but if not, you’ll have to purchase a drain tray or mat separately.
  • Wall-mounted dish racks usually have an attached drain tray that directs water toward the sink.
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