The Best Dish Rack

  Polder 4-Piece Advantage Dish Rack System  

After performing 74 hours of research, interviewing two industrial designers, winnowing a field of 110 dish racks across four categories, and doing the equivalent of 41 loads of dishes between our original testing and a new round for 2017, we’ve concluded that there isn’t “one true dish rack” that’s perfect for everyone. Still, we found that the  is the best one for a four-person household that cooks at least five days a week and has a single average-size sink. Share this review on Facebook Share this review on Twitter Save this review on Pocket Share this review on Pinterest Polder 4-Piece Advantage The best dish rack $45* from Amazon $37 from The Container Store Polder Advantage Simplehuman Slim Wire Frame A slightly smaller runner-up $40 from Amazon Simplehuman Slim Wire Frame Dishrack Zojila Rohan Expensive but functional and beautiful $80* from Zojila Zojila Rohan Rubbermaid Antimicrobial Dish Drainer Inexpensive and lightweight $20* from Walmart Buy from Amazon Rubbermaid Antimicrobial Dish DrainerRubbermaid Antimicrobial Drain Board Simplehuman Steel Frame Dishrack with Wine Glass Holder For homes with big counters and lots of dishes $80 from Amazon $80 from Macy’s Simplehuman Steel Frame Chef’n Dish Garden Extra-compact pick $30* from Amazon Chef’n Dish Garden Polder 4-Piece Advantage The best dish rack $45* from Amazon $37 from The Container Store Simplehuman Slim Wire Frame A slightly smaller runner-up $40 from Amazon Zojila Rohan Expensive but functional and beautiful $80* from Zojila Rubbermaid Antimicrobial Dish Drainer Inexpensive and lightweight $20* from Walmart Buy from Amazon Simplehuman Steel Frame Dishrack with Wine Glass Holder For homes with big counters and lots of dishes $80 from Amazon $80 from Macy’s Chef’n Dish Garden Extra-compact pick $30* from Amazon Share this review with E-mail  

Our pick

Stable, durable, low-maintenance, and reasonably priced, our top pick is the best option for a four-person household with a single average-size sink. With the additional pull-out tray, it can accommodate dishes for an even larger family or dinner parties.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.

The  will hold a heavy load of dishes, pots, pans, and glassware, and only take up as much space as a standard toaster oven. Plus, this rack’s utensil holder is one of the largest available and will stay put no matter how much you pile into one end of it. The rack drains effectively and works with a wide range of sink styles, including most overmount sinks.

But the Polder Advantage isn’t perfect—as we’ve discovered, no dish rack is. After watching dishes dry for two weeks straight, we concluded that every dish rack was flawed—some more deeply and/or widely than others. Even the best-performing model, which costs almost twice as much as our main pick, still wasn’t perfect.

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Runner-up

This rack comes with a bamboo knife block, a five-year warranty, and a slightly lower price, and it holds roughly the same number of dishes as our main pick.

If the Polder is sold out or unavailable, or you don’t care for its design, the  is also suitable for a four-person household that cooks nearly daily and has a single, average-size sink. It’s slightly smaller than our main pick and drains out the longer side, so it will take up less space on your counter yet holds about the same number of dishes. The Simplehuman also has some nice added features, including a bamboo knife block and a five-year warranty. This model almost became our main pick, but fell to the runner-up spot due to the number of user reviews mentioning broken parts and other build-quality complaints. The less-open design also means it’s a little trickier to clean and requires slightly more vigilant upkeep.

Upgrade pick

This high-quality stainless steel model drains much more effectively than anything else out there and holds the same amount of dishes as our main pick, but it costs nearly twice as much.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $95.

If you want a dish rack that you’ll never have to replace, you should get the . For the steep price, you get a rack made almost completely out of high-quality thick-gauge stainless steel—only the feet are not. It’s compatible with all overmount sinks, even the porcelain ones with the highest lip. The stainless steel drain tray is the most steeply angled one available and drains more effectively than all of the other racks we considered. Amazingly, the rack was completely dry after five hours, but most others, including the main pick, still had a small amount of water remaining after eight hours. The rack works for any sink and comes with a lifetime warranty. It holds the same amount of dishes as our main pick and runner-up and has a smaller footprint than either of them.

Budget pick

This lightweight model does the job for half the money, but it is noticeably flimsy, has a small utensil holder, and doesn’t come with a drain board. It holds somewhat less than our other full-size picks.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $5.

Our budget pick is the lightweight but decent , which you can pair with the (sold separately). It is smaller and holds less than our other full-size picks, can topple over easily, and is a bit flimsy and not likely to last more than a couple of years with regular use. But as we learned from our tests, it does the job reasonably well and costs half as much as our top pick—so consider it if you need something right now and don’t need it to last forever.

Also great

The Simplehuman Steel Frame is a large and sturdy dish rack perfect for large families or active cooks. It can hold even extra-large pots and pans without dripping onto your countertop.

May be out of stock

Some homes need a larger dish rack, and the  is one of the largest we’ve seen. It’s twice the price of our top pick, but that extra cost brings plenty of extra space and sturdiness. In our tests, this rack easily accommodated a Dutch oven, its lid, and some plates from dinner without wobbling or tipping. The rack’s drip-free design and simple rotating-spout system should keep your countertops safe from any water spills. But be warned: All that water collection and runoff can lead to mold, which means more frequent hand cleaning than you would need for our top pick.

Also great

This all-plastic dish rack has an unusual design that allows it to hold a lot without taking up a bunch of space, drain well, and be used in the sink as well as on the counter. It’s good for a two-person household.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.

If you have less than 14 by 14 square inches of counter space to work with or you have a two-person household that cooks most of the week, get the , our pick among compact racks. You can use it in the sink or on the counter, it holds a ton in a small footprint, drains well, and is well-liked by reviewers. It’s not our main pick because it’s a bit too small for the average-size American household of 2.55 people.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Stable, durable, low-maintenance, and reasonably priced, our top pick is the best option for a four-person household with a single average-size sink. With the additional pull-out tray, it can accommodate dishes for an even larger family or dinner parties.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.

Runner-up

This rack comes with a bamboo knife block, a five-year warranty, and a slightly lower price, and it holds roughly the same number of dishes as our main pick.

Buying Options

Upgrade pick

This high-quality stainless steel model drains much more effectively than anything else out there and holds the same amount of dishes as our main pick, but it costs nearly twice as much.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $95.

Budget pick

This lightweight model does the job for half the money, but it is noticeably flimsy, has a small utensil holder, and doesn’t come with a drain board. It holds somewhat less than our other full-size picks.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $5.

Also great

The Simplehuman Steel Frame is a large and sturdy dish rack perfect for large families or active cooks. It can hold even extra-large pots and pans without dripping onto your countertop.

Buying Options

May be out of stock

Also great

This all-plastic dish rack has an unusual design that allows it to hold a lot without taking up a bunch of space, drain well, and be used in the sink as well as on the counter. It’s good for a two-person household.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.

The research

How we picked and tested Our pick: Polder 4-Piece Advantage Dish Rack System Flaws but not dealbreakers Long-term test notes Runner-up: Simplehuman Slim Wire Frame Dishrack Upgrade pick: Zojila Rohan Budget pick: Rubbermaid Antimicrobial Dish Drainer Also great for a lot of dishes: Simplehuman Steel Frame Dishrack with Wine Glass Holder Also great for smaller kitchens: Chef’n Dish Garden Care and maintenance The competition Sources Dish racks in the Wirecutter test kitchen.  Smart Design4B Our picks, clockwise from top left: Rubbermaid Antimicrobial Dish Drainer, Chef’n Dish Garden, Polder 4-Piece Advantage, Zojila Rohan, Simplehuman Slim Wire Frame Dishrack, and Simplehuman Steel Frame.  sellsmetal modelsracks  How we picked and tested Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

The number and variety of products designed to get your dishes dry is pretty staggering. For this review, we decided to stick to racks (also called dish drainers) that are tray- or bin-shaped, made of plastic or metal, and have some kind of draining capability. Aesthetics factored in a little less, because looks are so subjective.

Yvonne Lin, former associate director at  and founder of design collective , said good dish racks are all about mold management and durability, and the best ones should work for people who are lazy—someone who is not likely to clean the dish rack more than once every few months and who is also not likely to have a dishwasher to throw the rack in whenever it’s gross.

Good mold managers have round contours and fewer (or no) tight corners or crevices where water or gunk can get trapped.

A good rack should hold up to daily use for at least three years, but ideally five or more. For plastic models, problems with mold or discoloration usually arise over time, though with metal the problem is rust. Good mold managers have round contours and fewer (or no) tight corners or crevices where water or gunk can get trapped—which also means they’re easier to clean.

Though bamboo racks have their fans, we eliminated wood models after reading lots of reviewer complaints about mold or rot. Lin also pointed out that constructing a rack out of wood would require drilling a hole to make a joint, and that would create a crevice for mold. Plus, constantly wetting and drying the wood causes it to expand, contract, and eventually crack—and having to oil or wax your dish rack regularly would be more trouble than it’s worth for most folks.

Some dish racks use flat collection trays, others have trays that drain at an angle. Lin got in touch with Alistair Bramley, then a product designer at Smart Design, who told her that most drain trays are not pitched steeply enough to make a difference and that the effect was more psychological than anything else. Heeding his advice, we decided to include in our testing three of the very few models that retained water instead of draining it. However, we found that we still preferred the racks with sloped trays. Even if the effect of the angle is only psychological, it’s nice to get a head start on dumping water out.Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

We eliminated wall-mounted racks (or cabinet built-ins) in the initial stage, too; although they’re common in Europe and a pretty neat solution to the counter real-estate problem, they’re not quite common in the US (IKEA  a couple  and Zojila sells  that are meant to be installed in standard cabinets).

We looked primarily at dish racks that could be used by one- to four-person households that wash dishes at least five days a week. For most people, the main constraint is counter space. The ideal model holds a lot of different-shaped items while having the smallest footprint and/or lowest clearance. With this in mind, we broke down the categories according to their use of space: Full-size, which is big enough for three- to four-person households that eat in every day Compact, for smaller households or less use Over-the-sink/in-sink, for those with double sinks Collapsible, for people with limited counter space or requiring more flexibility in their setup (and because the X-shaped folding model is fairly common)

We didn’t find much in the way of editorial criticism or reviews of dish racks, though there are plenty slide shows and posts (like the ones from and ) that mention discontinued racks and have questionable picks without transparent test data. Real SimpleApartment Therapy

Ultimately, the best source of information for identifying dish racks to test was customer reviews, primarily from Amazon, though we did comb through plenty of reviews on many brands’ websites and other retail-homewares websites. From an initial list of 68 dish racks that fit the categories, and noting the obvious problems that cropped up repeatedly in the reviews or overall negative reviews, we narrowed the field to 28 contenders, pretty evenly divided in each category.

To test the dish racks, we first looked at how much they could hold and how well they did that task. We loaded each with items that were weirdly shaped (sheet pans of different sizes, pie plates, thick-lipped bowls and plates) and fragile (wine glasses). We checked to see if they were stable and balanced if loaded on one side with just heavy glasses. We noted compatibility with overmount sinks, any added features with actual value, and any features or flaws that really stood out.

Most of the racks we considered came with drain trays, some of which were crucial to the rack’s effectiveness, so in general it’s better to buy a dish rack that includes one, rather than try to order a second rack that might not be that compatible. (Our budget pick is an exception, because the drain board that’s sold separately is intended to work with that rack.)

Plastic parts that are thin or protruding (as in dish slots or fins on a drainboard) tend to be harder to clean because they have tight corners.

To approximate the dish output for dinner for a four-person household, we gathered four full-size dinner plates, a large salad bowl (a 4-quart Pyrex or standard stainless steel bowl), a 4.5-quart Dutch oven with lid, a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, four drinking glasses, three large utensils (wooden spoon, spatula, serving spoon), and four sets of forks and knives, recording the maximum amount we could sensibly (but not that conservatively) load onto each rack.

To assess how well the racks actually dried dishes, we immersed each item from the predetermined maximum load into a tub full of warm water and held it in the air for two seconds before placing it into the rack. We allowed the dishes to sit undisturbed for at least eight hours, checking about halfway through to see how it was going. Many racks didn’t even make it this far; they were eliminated early on for being unstable or not holding up dishes well.

In general, metal performed better than plastic because plastic racks typically require a more enclosed shape, which prevents air circulation and means standing water evaporates less easily. Plastic parts that are thin or protruding (as in dish slots or fins on a drainboard) tend to be harder to clean because they have tight corners. And if the quality control is poor, plastic models will have flash (the excess bits of plastic from leaks in the injection molding) or burrs that can trap moisture and mold. Plastic fins and other protruding parts can trap mold and gunk in tight corners and be hard to clean. Photo: Winnie Yang

Metal wire, even in a thin gauge, has the added benefit of being able to support a lot of weight. One thing we did not expect, however, was that stainless steel might be too hard on dishes and pots. The thicker the gauge, the less flexible it was, which meant that wire slots could potentially chip or scratch enamel or scratch dishes. Rubber-coated steel was gentle on dishes but unfortunately tended to be slippery.

What was clear at the end of that battery of testing was that no dish rack was perfect.

What was clear at the end of that battery of testing was that no dish rack was perfect. The results were pretty dissatisfying. Even the best-performing dish rack had issues, and for about $90 you would expect no issues, so that clearly couldn’t be the top pick. The next best one cost about $30 less but had a substantial number of complaints about rusting and parts breaking. That one would work for a runner-up but not as the top pick. So we went back and took another look at two models that we eliminated early on because of reviews. In retesting we found our top pick and a basic option worthy of consideration.

For our 2017 update, we looked at 15 new dish racks and tested three of them head to head with our reigning pick, the Polder. We loaded just the utensil holders and stacked one side with heavy glasses to test balance before subjecting them to a variety of item-specific capacity and stability tests, including wine glasses, half and quarter cookie sheets, a heavy cast-iron Dutch oven, and thick-rimmed glass bowls. We also tested to see how well they could hold an estimated standard dish load (four sets of utensils, four plates, four drinking glasses, a glass serving bowl, large wooden spoon, two spatulas, a 12-inch skillet, and a 2-quart saucepan). We then rinsed that same set of items and set them up to dry in each rack to see how well air circulated and where the water either drained or pooled. We didn’t let each load sit for eight hours this time, because all the racks that made it to the drying round will dry your dishes eventually, and focused more on any spots that looked like they would hold water and create possible mold issues. Our pick: Polder 4-Piece Advantage Dish Rack System To stave off mold, the rack needs to minimize the amount of standing water it holds. The Polder Advantage’s drain tray is angled steeply enough and has sufficiently high sides so that most of the water drained immediately into the sink. The channel was wide enough not to be overwhelmed by a large flow and also not so wide that controlling the direction of flow was a problem. After eight hours, the rack still had about a tablespoon of water left in it, and although the other racks from the final cut performed better, this was an acceptable result. Our top pick, the Polder 4-Piece Advantage Dish Rack System. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald  

Our pick

          Polder 4-Piece Advantage The best dish rack

Stable, durable, low-maintenance, and reasonably priced, our top pick is the best option for a four-person household with a single average-size sink. With the additional pull-out tray, it can accommodate dishes for an even larger family or dinner parties.     $45* from Amazon   $37 from The Container Store

*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.

In a field crowded with underperforming or overpriced dish racks, the  came out on top not because of outstanding performance on any particular metric, but because it didn’t have any major flaws among the qualities we looked at, and it offered a great overall balance compared with the competition. It was durable, did what it was supposed to do reasonably well, and didn’t cost a (relative) bundle. According to a reader survey we did for our 2016 update, the major complaints people have about their current dish racks are low capacity and lack of mold resistance, and the Polder should have no issues with either. Polder 4-Piece Advantage Dish Rack System

The Polder Advantage can hold all the dishes a four-person household would use if cooking regularly, as well as odd-shaped items like baking pans, pie plates, and fragile wine glasses, while not taking up that much counter or vertical space. It drains effectively, works with a wide range of sink styles, and is stable, durable, and low maintenance. Our top pick can hold all the dishes a four-person household would use if cooking regularly. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Counter real estate is hard to come by for many, so if you’re going to dedicate any of that precious space to what amounts to a holding area, it better be used efficiently. As far as footprint, the Polder Advantage, at 19 by 14 inches, fell pretty squarely in the middle of the pack, but among the best performers, it had the lowest profile (about 6 inches, along with the Rubbermaid Antimicrobial). We had to work harder to maneuver wet plates into the Simplehuman Wire Frame (our previous runner-up, measuring 21 by 16½ by 8½ inches), and the Zojila Rohan (18 by 13½ by 7½ inches) because we have lower cabinets.

Although our pick has a relatively lightweight open-wire frame, it stayed put even when the cupholders on one end were loaded with heavy mugs. The Polder Advantage’s extra drying tray. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Many reviewers found it frustrating that their models wouldn’t drain properly because the spout didn’t make it over the lip of their overmount sink, but the Polder Advantage gives you about ¾ inch of clearance, which works for many sink styles.

The last thing you need when you’re wrangling fragile glasses or heavy pots is for your dish rack to collapse or topple over. Although our pick has a relatively lightweight open-wire frame, it stayed put even when the cupholders on one end were loaded with heavy mugs. And because the utensil holder’s clip attachment spans the entire width of the rack, holding it flush against the side, it stays stable even if you pile your weightiest silverware into one end. The Polder Advantage’s drain tray is angled steeply enough and has sufficiently high sides that most of the water drained immediately into the sink. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

For durability—which for metal racks mostly involves rust, though weak or broken joints or deformation are also possibilities—I relied on the reviewers to assess how the rack handled frequent use over a longer period. A few complained of rust, but that’s actually true of all metal racks. Design expert Yvonne Lin explains that quality control is a problem for every manufacturer, especially because nearly all of these products are made in China: “The factories aren’t making very much money, so if they want to make a profit, they’re going to have to cut corners as much as they can.” The rust complaints about the Polder made up just a small fraction of total feedback; this was true of all the highly rated racks. The Polder Advantage’s utensil tray. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

There were also complaints about standing water leading to mold and gunk buildup, but they were few—and a few, we suspect, were the result of putting the rack on top of the drain tray (which messes up the angle) instead of placing the tray where it’s intended to sit, right above the feet.

The ribs on the Polder Advantage’s drain tray do have some tight corners, but the ribs are quite short and the tray is mostly an open expanse that gently curves up to the rim, which makes for relatively easy cleaning.

The Polder Advantage comes with an additional tray, which can be used for glasses, bowls, or anything else that dries well lying flat. It stows below the drain tray when not in use. It also has a draining side, so if you’re also using the rest of the dish rack, it may take some creative arranging to get both trays to drain into the sink at the same time. Also, the extra tray’s very slight angle may need a little jerry-rigged boost at one end to drain properly.

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