The 5 Best Dish Racks of 2023
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The 5 Best Dish Racks of 2023

Nov 04, 2023

In our latest round of testing we found a new top pick, the KitchenAid Full Size Dish Rack, and a new runner-up, the remodeled Simplehuman Steel Frame Dishrack.

Washing and drying dishes is a part of daily life, whether you cook at home or you constantly get carry-out. Even in homes with a dishwasher, dishes can pile up, making it difficult to wash and dry them all if you don't have a good, space-efficient dish rack that can pack in a lot without leaving any delicate items perched precariously. We’ve researched and tested dish racks since 2014, and in tests for our 2021 update, the KitchenAid Full Size Dish Rack came out on top. Its sturdy steel-framed basin is sizable, and it drains water neatly and efficiently.

This steel-framed dish rack holds enough dishes for a four-person household, drains water well, and is sturdy enough to keep your dishes safe.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.

Of all the dish racks we tested, the KitchenAid Full Size Dish Rack offered the best balance of capacity and features for a four-person household. It was one of the few racks we tested that held all the dishes we tried stuffing into them, but at about 20½ inches long and 15 inches wide, it isn't too intrusive on a countertop. The drain tray successfully captures any excess water and funnels it down into the sink. Steel sides reinforce the rack and help prevent dishes from falling out (which can be an issue with more minimal racks such as our upgrade pick). You can also disassemble this rack into three pieces (the silverware holder, the tray, and the actual rack) for easy cleaning, but the pieces aren't meant for the dishwasher. One of our long-term testers tried running hers through, and the tray warped. Instead, we recommend following manufacturer's instructions to only hand wash or wipe down this rack for cleaning.


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

*At the time of publishing, the price was $76.

The Simplehuman Steel Frame Dishrack is the largest of our picks—sizable enough to hold dishes for a four-person household and then some. It was the most effective rack at draining water during our testing, and it has an enclosed basin that won't easily overflow if you accidentally dump a ton of water onto it. The drain tray extends past the rack on one side to catch drips from drinking glasses, and the rack has a swiveling spout that allows you to arrange it on your countertop however you need. An extra rack on the side (with a separate drip tray underneath) keeps fragile stemmed wine glasses secure, a feature not many other dish racks offer. However, this rack has a footprint roughly equivalent to that of a midsize microwave, and it's 7 inches wider than the KitchenAid dish rack. It also costs more than our pick and has more individual pieces to clean (six in all). The utensil holder and wire rack are dishwasher-safe, but all other parts should be hand washed, as per manufacturer instructions.

This high-quality stainless steel model drains very well, looks nice, and holds the same amount of dishes as our main pick, but it typically costs significantly more.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $90.

If you want a dish rack you’ll likely never have to replace, get the Zojila Rohan Dish Drainer. For the steep price, you get a rack made almost completely out of high-quality, thick-gauge stainless steel—only the removable covers on the feet are plastic. The rack holds the same amount of dishes as our top pick, plus its unusual design looks nice on any kitchen counter. The steeply angled drain tray funnels effectively into the sink, and the rack sits high enough off the counter that it's compatible with all overmount sinks, even porcelain sinks with the highest lip. The Zojila also comes with a lifetime warranty. (Annoyingly, though, the company now expects you to activate the warranty by either writing a review on Zojila's website, posting about it on social media, or following Zojila on YouTube or other social channels. There's no requirement for the review to be positive, but it's still an unpleasant stipulation.) This rack doesn't have enclosed sides like the KitchenAid and Simplehuman racks do, so smaller items may escape without careful placement. And, this rack is pretty heavy at 7.2 pounds, so it may not be as easy for some folks to maneuver when it's cleaning time. Zojila recommends hand washing the rack, but cautions against using steel wool, as it may scratch the stainless steel surface

This lightweight, affordable model does the job, 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, but it can still work for a four-person household.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $12.

This drain board pairs perfectly with our budget dish rack pick, keeping your countertops dry on a budget.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $24.

If you need something right now that's a bit smaller and a lot less expensive than our top pick, we recommend the lightweight but decent Rubbermaid Antimicrobial Dish Drainer, which you can pair with the Rubbermaid Antimicrobial Drain Board (sold separately). It is smaller and thus capable of holding less than our other full-size picks; it's also a bit flimsy and likely not to last as long as our other picks. But as we learned in our tests, it does the job reasonably well. And it typically costs about half as much as the KitchenAid rack, even with the additional purchase of a drain board. To keep the Rubbermaid dish drainer and drain board clean, we recommend following manufacturer instructions to hand wash or wipe it down.

This all-plastic dish rack has an unusual design that allows it to hold enough for a small household without taking up a bunch of space. It drains well and can work in the sink or on the counter.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $22.

If you have less than 14 by 14 square inches of counter space to work with or a two-person household that doesn't generate a ton of dishes, get the compact Chef’n DishGarden. You can use it in the sink or on the counter, it holds a surprising amount within a small footprint, it drains well, and it's well-liked among reviewers. However, some people find it odd-looking, which may be an important consideration for an item that will likely live on your counter. It also tends to drip water onto the counter when you hang dishes on the outer plastic prongs, but that's nothing a kitchen towel or dish mat can't solve. The Chef’n is dishwasher safe on the top rack, but per the company's guidance, you should remove the item if you’re using a heated drying cycle.

This steel-framed dish rack holds enough dishes for a four-person household, drains water well, and is sturdy enough to keep your dishes safe.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.

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

*At the time of publishing, the price was $76.

This high-quality stainless steel model drains very well, looks nice, and holds the same amount of dishes as our main pick, but it typically costs significantly more.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $90.

This lightweight, affordable model does the job, 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, but it can still work for a four-person household.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $12.

This drain board pairs perfectly with our budget dish rack pick, keeping your countertops dry on a budget.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $24.

This all-plastic dish rack has an unusual design that allows it to hold enough for a small household without taking up a bunch of space. It drains well and can work in the sink or on the counter.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $22.

Haley Sprankle, who wrote the 2021 update to this guide, is an updates writer for Wirecutter. She's familiar with a no-dishwasher life and frequently hand-washed piles of dishes growing up, so she knows how important it can be to have a good system in place. She has also tested oven mitts and pot holders as well as kitchen towels for Wirecutter.

This guide builds on the work and research of Winnie Yang and Rena Behar. Winnie Yang is now a supervising editor overseeing Wirecutter's appliance coverage. Before joining Wirecutter as a staff writer, she worked in the food industry, with stints in a restaurant kitchen, cookware retail, and chocolate making. She was the managing editor of the print quarterly The Art of Eating and has written for that magazine as well as for Condé Nast Traveler, Feast, Jamie, Saveur, and Tasting Table, among other publications. Rena Behar currently writes for Apartment Therapy, covering all things home.

On top of relying on our personal expertise in this realm, we interviewed Alistair Bramley, former senior industrial designer of Smart Design, and Yvonne Lin, co-founder of 4B, a collective of design experts that helps companies understand how to design for women.

Washing dishes is a part of life, but how much you have to wash can hinge on factors such as lifestyle, family size, the presence of a dishwasher, and whether any roommates are pulling their weight. A good dish rack that fits your needs can make all the difference in your dish-washing experience, drying dishes efficiently and neatly while not taking up too much precious counter space.

We’ve collected dish rack options for people with small kitchens or two-person households, as well as four-person (or larger) households.

You can find plenty of options out there for drying your dishes—bamboo dish racks, over-the-sink dish racks, roll-up dish racks. But what actually makes a good dish rack? We considered the following attributes:

Durable: Yvonne Lin, former associate director at Smart Design and founder of design collective 4B, told us that good dish racks are all about mold management and durability. The most mold-, rot-, and rust-resistant materials are plastic and stainless steel, so we focused on racks made from those. 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 requires drilling a hole to make a joint, and that creates 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.

Plastic and metal have some potential downsides, too, though. While plastic models are easier to clean, they still can suffer from mold and discoloration over time (to that end, dark plastic is better). Lower-quality metal models, on the other hand, may develop rust spots after a while. We can't easily test for rusting, as it takes time to build up, but in our research we scoured owner reviews, eliminating racks with reviews where rust appeared as a frequent complaint. We also plan to test our newer picks over the long term to see how they hold up, and many staffers have tested our other long-standing picks for years (so far without any complaints about rust).

Easy to clean: Lin also noted that the best dish racks should work for someone who is 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 gets gross. To keep cleaning simple, racks shouldn't separate into too many parts or require extra tools for disassembly. We also looked for racks with round contours and fewer (or no) tight corners or crevices where water or gunk can get trapped—these designs are less likely to grow mold and are easier to clean.

Generous, versatile capacity: It was important to us that each dish rack could feasibly hold a variety of dishes, and a decent amount of them. We ruled out any racks that lacked varied slots and prongs for different types of dishes, eliminating roll-up dish racks along the way (though we still plan to consider those for future updates). Note, however, that even the best dish racks may not be able to hold every single dish you’ve used throughout the day all at once. We sought out dish racks that could at least hold as many dishes as you might create from cooking and eating dinner in a two- or four-person household.

Space-efficient: We ruled out anything that required more than just simple counter space, eliminating over-the-sink options and wall-mounted racks (cabinet built-ins). Although such models may work for some people, sink sizes and kitchen sizes vary too much for us to test these racks in earnest. We stuck to simple models that maximized minimal space on a counter.

We tested each dish rack to see how well it could hold and dry all of the dishes a four-person household may use for dinner. This selection included four dinner plates, four bowls, four cups, four spoons, four forks, four knives, a 10-inch skillet, and a 6-quart Dutch oven. We drenched the dishes with cold water and arranged them all on the rack to dry for eight hours (about how long dishes would sit overnight after being washed).

After that, we pushed each dish rack to its extremes by loading it with a variety of odd dishes, including a sheet pan, a Dutch oven, and stemmed wine glasses. We checked each rack's stability with two tests, first by putting all the wine glasses on one side, and then by doing the same thing with the heavy Dutch oven. We also poured three cups of water on each rack to see how well the drain trays could withstand an accidental influx of water; although this is definitely an extreme test, it simulates the worst-case scenario, such as when someone neglects to fully empty a pot before overturning it on the rack.

This steel-framed dish rack holds enough dishes for a four-person household, drains water well, and is sturdy enough to keep your dishes safe.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.

The KitchenAid Full Size Dish Rack performed the best in our most recent tests, unseating our longtime top pick, the Polder 4-Piece Advantage. It's large enough to hold a variety of dishes, yet it has a reasonably compact footprint—it's a little smaller than a medium-size toaster oven. Its sturdy build helps keep your dishes safe, and its angled tray effectively drains excess water into your sink. The rack's wires can hold plates both thick and thin, the large utensil holder can house silverware and larger utensils, and the cup tines comfortably store at least four cups. The wires have a rubberized coating that is relatively gentle on dishes and could help prevent rust over time—though we’ll have to continue using this rack to see how the coating holds up. The rack disassembles into three pieces that you can easily wash, as well, ensuring that your clean dishes stay that way.

The KitchenAid held everything we put in it—four place settings each consisting of a dinner plate, bowl, cup, spoon, fork, and knife, plus a 10-inch skillet and a 6-quart Dutch oven, all at once—comfortably drying everything well. The only rack that did a better job holding that much during our tests was the Simplehuman rack, which takes up more space. While the KitchenAid has slots appropriate for plates and other items that may fit, it also has enough open space for you to Tetris your dishes together as you’d like. The three divided sections in the ample utensil holder are another nice touch, as they let you organize your silverware and larger utensils as you see fit. Two of those sections come with removable lids that have slots to keep your silverware upright and prevent it from spooning (pun intended) so it dries better.

The drain tray snaps onto the bottom of the rack with four little pegs. Once attached, the tray slopes toward your sink and allows water to drain down and out impressively well. In our tests, the only time the water didn't drain perfectly was when we poured three cups of water onto the rack—the excess water spilled out the back of the tray. Again, that's an extreme scenario, and as long as you don't dump large quantities of water on the rack, you shouldn't have issues with overflow.

To safely hold your dishes in place, the wire rack has stainless steel panels on two sides. These walls help keep your dishes contained and prevent water from splashing out. Throughout our testing we never worried that dishes would fall out of the rack, as we did with the more open Zojila Rohan, no matter how we loaded it. The KitchenAid rack also has no-slip rubber feet to help keep it in place and prevent countertop scratches.

This dish rack disassembles into three pieces (utensil holder, drain tray, and rack) and is one of the easiest of our picks to clean, without many tight crevices for food or mold to hide. (Most of our other picks also disassemble into basically three pieces, though the pieces of the Zojila are heavier and therefore a little more difficult to wash. On the other hand, the Simplehuman disassembles into six pieces, which can be a lot to deal with.) Dish racks can develop hard-water stains or accumulate gunk over time, even though you’re loading them with clean dishes, so it's important to be able to clean your dish rack regularly without too much hassle. We recommend that you only hand wash or wipe this rack down to clean it—the tray unfortunately warped when one of our long-term testers threw theirs in the dishwasher.

This dish rack isn't exactly petite, but it's not so obtrusive, either. We measured it as 20½ inches long, 15 inches wide, and 6½ inches high. In Haley's small Brooklyn apartment, it fit on her tiny counter space next to the sink. Overall, the footprint is about the same as that of an average home printer or a medium-size toaster oven.

The KitchenAid dish rack is covered by a limited lifetime warranty. If you notice any defects under normal use within the first year, KitchenAid will simply replace it. After a year, the company will either try to repair it or replace it.

Although this rack is sturdy overall, the one thing we would be wary of is placing precious glasses like stemware in the rack, because there's no real secure way to hold them—we found in our tests that keeping tall glasses from tipping over required a little extra vigilance. Not everyone has stemmed wine glasses, or delicate dishes in general, so we don't think this is a dealbreaker. If a spot for drying stemware is important to you, we recommend the Simplehuman Steel Frame Dishrack, which has a wine-glass holder.

During our research, we saw that a small percentage of reviews on Amazon noted problems with rust. It seems to creep up around the soldered joints, which may be where the rubberized coating doesn't protect the wire as well. KitchenAid describes the wires as "rust-resistant," so we’ll monitor that closely during our long-term testing. If you notice rust on your rack, contact KitchenAid, as this issue should be covered by the limited lifetime warranty.

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

*At the time of publishing, the price was $76.

The Simplehuman Steel Frame Dishrack, an updated version of a rack we’ve recommended since 2017, performed exceptionally well in our most recent tests and holds the most of any of our picks. It has more than enough room for dinner dishes for a four-person household (or anyone who goes through a lot of dishes), and the steel-walled basin, as well as a dedicated wine-glass holder, keep your delicate dishes safe and secure. The swiveling drain spout gives you the flexibility to angle your dish rack however you need. Plus, each piece (six total, including the spout and the button-shaped drain cover) is removable and easy to clean. The Simplehuman rack would have been our top pick, but it costs more than the KitchenAid at this writing, and it's 7½ inches wider than that model—about the size of our midsize microwave pick. Though this rack's size may be preferable to those who need the extra space, it could be a significant drawback for others.

The Steel Frame Dishrack held more dishes at a time than almost any other rack we tested (aside from one multi-tiered model). The silicone-coated wires were far enough apart to fit thick dinner plates or sheet pans but still close enough to keep everything upright. The addition of the wine-glass holder allowed us to more confidently dry our stemmed wine glasses without their taking up any extra space in the rack.

The basin effectively traps water and drains it through the swivel spout without risk of spillage on your countertop. Because the Steel Frame Dishrack is fully enclosed, with a drain in the center, it was the only dish rack that didn't spill at all when we poured three cups of water on it. The wine-glass holder and cup prongs on each side of the rack also have trays underneath them to prevent drips on your counter.

This rack was impressively stable throughout our testing, which wasn't the case for some lighter-weight racks we tested, such as our budget pick from Rubbermaid. Every dish stayed in place during our eight-hour drying test, and nothing could throw off its balance. The steel sides contained dishes securely. The utensil caddy fit perfectly inside or outside the basin, and heavier silverware never tipped the rack over, no matter where we put the caddy. Even the wine-glass holder attached firmly to the edge of the rack.

This version of the Steel Frame Dishrack is brand-new, so we haven't spotted many reviews of it on Amazon or elsewhere. What we have seen so far is evidence that Simplehuman somewhat improved one issue we’ve heard complaints about: the cleaning process. Wirecutter managing editor Annam Swanson said that she switched from her old Simplehuman rack to the Zojila because the former had too many pieces that were too difficult to remove and clean, sometimes requiring other tools to take them off. Although the new version has the same number of pieces as the previous model—six total, twice as many pieces as our top pick has—each piece is designed to be removed without any tools. This revision makes the new Simplehuman rack less of a pain to clean more frequently. The utensil holder and wire rack are dishwasher-safe, but all other parts should be hand washed.

For some people, the biggest drawbacks of the Steel Frame Dishrack may be its larger size and higher price. Standing 11½ inches tall, this rack has a footprint of 22½ inches by 20 inches by our measure, comparable to that of our top-pick microwave and about 7½ inches wider than the footprint of the KitchenAid dish rack. If you wash a lot of dishes, this extra capacity might be worth paying $20 more for. But we don't think everyone needs so much space, which is why we made this rack our runner-up.

This high-quality stainless steel model drains very well, looks nice, and holds the same amount of dishes as our main pick, but it typically costs significantly more.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $90.

Combining efficacy and style, the Zojila Rohan Dish Drainer is a modern-looking addition to a countertop. Though it's expensive, it does its job well. The Zojila holds plenty of dishes (enough for a four-person household) and dries them quickly. On top of that, the sleek stainless steel construction and unusual design keep this typically mundane kitchen accessory from being an eyesore.

The Zojila is made of thick, heavy-duty stainless steel wire, and it's the only rack we tested that has a solid stainless steel drain board. In fact, the only parts of this rack that aren't stainless steel are the little removable plastic covers on the feet. The drain board is pitched at a steep angle, allowing water to flow right into your sink. During our testing, this rack retained significantly less water than other models, drying dishes in half the time the other racks required. The utensil caddy is smaller than those on the KitchenAid and SimpleHuman racks, but we like that the divider is removable for easier cleaning and the holder can sit anywhere on the rack, inside or out.

Like any dish rack, the Zojila Rohan has a few downsides. The thick-gauge, uncoated steel wire might be a little hard on some dishes—in our tests, it flaked off a little of the enamel on a Le Creuset pot (though to be fair, that isn't an item we would dry in a dish rack, generally) and scraped a bit unpleasantly against some plates. Fortunately, that didn't seem to be an issue for most people leaving reviews of the rack on Amazon. Because of the all-stainless-steel build, this dish rack is also pretty hefty, which may make it a little difficult to clean for some people.

A few reviewers have complained about smaller items slipping out the sides because there's no railing that wraps around the rack, but this seems like a problem you can anticipate and avoid with some strategic loading. You may have to deal with fingerprints and hard-water spots, but mold and gunk should be far less of a problem on this steel rack than on a plastic one. (You can prevent fingerprints with a super-thin coat of mineral oil, as we describe in our kitchen trash can guide.) If you can ignore the water spots, you can probably get away with cleaning this thing just once or twice a year. When cleaning, you should handwash the Zojila, but be sure not to use steel wool so you don't scratch the stainless steel surface.

Wirecutter managing editor Annam Swanson swapped her old Simplehuman dish rack for the Zojila and has been very happy with the switch. "I love the shape, and how easy it is to position over the sink," she said. "And while we always have a mat or towel next to it for overflow, it does fit a decent amount of dishes!" Annam also noted that every now and then the interior of the silverware caddy seems to start rusting (a "brownish" color begins to develop), but that it "cleans right off" fairly easily. She has never let it rust past those early stages, and the rack seems to be holding up well with regular maintenance. At the time of our research, only five out of 245 reviews on Amazon mentioned rust, and most of those said they noticed only minor spots around the welds of the rack, so rust doesn't seem to be too much of a problem, but we’ll continue to monitor those reviews in addition to collecting long-term test notes on the Zojila rack from our staff. Zojila founder Rony Joseph told us that the discoloration in the silverware caddy "is not rust from the dish rack rusting," but rather "brown spots caused by minerals or rust in the water and that is why they can be cleaned away." He also added that the rack is "entirely made of 18-8 (also known as 304 stainless) and this material does not rust."

Zojila covers the Rohan with a lifetime warranty but now requires you to activate that warranty by either posting a review on the product page, posting to your social media about the product, subscribing to Zojila's YouTube page, or following Zojila's other social media. This hasn't always been the case (Zojila founder Rony Joseph told us he instituted the policy a couple of years ago), and the new policy is certainly frustrating. It also means you should take the customer reviews on Zojila's website with a big grain of salt, since those customers are more likely to leave a review soon after they've received the rack rather than after they've used it for a while. But because the company does not require your review to be positive, we don't think this requirement is a dealbreaker, given that what you get in exchange, namely the warranty coverage, lasts for life. You can always opt not to activate the warranty—judging from our experience, it's still a sturdy dish rack.

Ultimately, the main thing keeping us from naming the Zojila Rohan as our top pick was the high price. But the lifetime warranty may help justify the price if you consider this rack to be an investment that will last for years to come. If you want to save a little, Zojila also offers factory seconds on its site for 10% off (with a discount code at checkout), and you still get the lifetime warranty (with the same annoying requirement for activation).

Although the Rohan used to be available through Amazon (and a listing on that site, albeit one that's sold out, still exists as of April 2021), Zojila doesn't—and doesn't plan to—sell on Amazon anymore, instead offering the Rohan only directly on its site.

This lightweight, affordable model does the job, 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, but it can still work for a four-person household.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $12.

This drain board pairs perfectly with our budget dish rack pick, keeping your countertops dry on a budget.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $24.

The Rubbermaid Antimicrobial Dish Drainer is a less expensive option that remains unobtrusive and works just fine. In comparison with most of our other picks (except the Chef’n DishGarden), it has a smaller footprint, but it manages to hold about the same amount of dishes as our top pick does. This rack doesn't come with a drain board, but the Rubbermaid Antimicrobial Drain Board is designed to work with it, and the combination is still a bargain at about half the price of our main pick.

The Rubbermaid rack's coated wire is a bit on the flimsier side and can bend relatively easily, but that's not necessarily a bad thing; the bendiness can be beneficial, sometimes making it easier to fit unwieldy dishes or to angle your cups on the tines as you please. In our tests, the cup holders still managed to support heavy glasses well, and they had enough space between them to avoid any clanking or scratching. However, because the rack is so lightweight, it was inclined to tip over when we placed more than two glasses on one side with nothing else in the rack. The coated wire is gentle on dishes, but the dish slots are angled in such a way that it may be hard to put pots or other large items within them—those pieces may have to rest on top instead, or you may need to bend the slots. We found that thick-lipped plates and bowls stood up well, though.

The Rubbermaid can also serve as an in-sink dish rack, which solves a few of its shortcomings—with it situated in the sink, you don't need a tray beneath it, it can't tip over, and letting your heavier dishes rest against the rigid sides of the sink makes the rack's flimsiness less of an issue. To keep this dish drainer and drain board clean, Rubbermaid recommends hand washing or wiping it down.

Sold at hardware and discount stores, the Rubbermaid is also one of the most widely available dish racks. It's inexpensive even with the drain board, but if you’re looking to spend as little as possible, you could try buying the dish rack by itself and placing it on top of a good kitchen towel instead.

We’ve wiped up gallons of spills with 25 different towels over the past four years, and the Williams Sonoma All Purpose Pantry Towels are the best we’ve found.

This all-plastic dish rack has an unusual design that allows it to hold enough for a small household without taking up a bunch of space. It drains well and can work in the sink or on the counter.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $22.

If you don't have much—or any—room on your countertop, get the Chef’n DishGarden. It can't handle all the dishes from a four-person household, but it's just right for a two-person household. Though its circular shape might seem like a waste of countertop space, this rack actually holds more than other compact racks of a similar size because of the cup holders around its circumference.

The Chef’n holds plates upright with tall plastic prongs on the outside and shorter prongs on the inside, which allows you to set dishes in it any which way. (Figuring out the best configuration does take a little practice.) The cup-holding prongs around the outside do a good job of containing smaller items, but cups and larger items hang over the edge; that can be a problem in countertop use, with water dribbling everywhere, but it's a bonus for in-sink use. If you’re worried about drippage, Wirecutter staff writer Kaitlyn Wells recommends using a dish mat.

The Chef’n comes with two utensil holders that you can place anywhere on the rack, which adds to this rack's flexibility. However, during our tests we found that they took up considerable space in the rack, so you may not want to use both of them all the time.

Because the base is steeply angled, the rack drains fairly well through the spout. Although a little water does end up puddling around the spout, the rack's open design combats typical air-circulation problems, and water evaporates quickly. The spout also flips up to close, so you can pick up the rack and move it around without worrying that any lingering water will leak. The textured exterior prevents glasses from suctioning themselves to the plastic, a problem we found with lesser plastic racks.

Those prongs throughout the rack could make the Chef’n DishGarden a little harder to clean, but owner reviews we’ve seen have expressed no gripes about upkeep. Some reviews do complain that the rack is small—which is pretty much what you’re looking for in a compact dish rack. Some people simply don't love the way the Chef’n rack looks. Manya Susoev, Wirecutter's associate managing editor at the time of our earlier testing, had this dish rack for nearly two years and noted that it had no issues, held a lot more than it seemed like it would, and was easy to clean (the Chef’n is dishwasher safe on the top rack,—though it won't hold up well to heated drying). One small problem that stood out among owner reviews and in our own experience: The sticky labels on this dish rack are frustratingly difficult to remove. Have some Goo Gone or other adhesive remover on hand if you get this rack.

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Unless your MO is to use a dish rack until it's so disgusting that you have to throw it out, occasional cleaning is necessary no matter what model you have. Dish racks with lots of corners and crevices need a thorough scrub more frequently—maybe once a month, at least—and are also more of a pain to clean. A cleaning-only toothbrush is good for dealing with these hard-to-reach areas. For hard-water spots, a little vinegar and water should help.

The KitchenAid unseated our longtime top pick, the Polder 4-Piece Advantage Dish Rack System. Although this dish rack could hold a substantial amount of dishes, ultimately it was subpar in comparison with current dish rack offerings. The wires screeched every time we loaded thicker dishes into it during our 2020 tests, and with open sides, it sometimes failed to prevent dishes from falling out.

The frameless design of the Rubbermaid Deluxe Kitchen Drainer seemed promising for resisting mold and holding unusual items. Though we found the rack useful for large, flat items such as cookie sheets, it was hard to build a stack on due to the lack of edges for support, so it couldn't hold as much as other models we tested.

The all-plastic Sterilite 2-Piece Large Sink Set drained poorly because the tray wasn't angled enough.

The Yamazaki Double Decker Dish Rack looks nice and could be a countertop space saver, but in our tests the water from the top tier dripped onto the bottom rack, leaving those bottom dishes still wet after eight hours. Also, the drain tray is flat, so it pools water rather than angling it toward the spout to flow out properly.

After testing the PremiumRacks Professional Dish Rack a second time, we still found attaching its snug plastic parts to be too difficult, and overall it simply required too much assembly. This rack did have the most space of any model we tested, but we wouldn't trust it to hold fragile or heavy dishes, as it felt flimsy.

The IKEA Ordning required annoying, fiddly assembly. During our testing, it refused to sit flat on the counter, it required extraordinarily high clearance, and it couldn't handle large items. The rack also requires a mat underneath.

The OXO Good Grips Compact Dish Rack couldn't support thick-lipped plates or bowls or sheet pans. Water from larger items dripped outside of the tray, and plates tended to roll out the sides. This rack is designed to retain water in its tray, and the prospect of having to put dishes away more frequently in order to dump out the water, or of water spilling over the sides, prompted us to eliminate this rack from consideration.

Water pooled in the silverware caddy of the OXO Good Grips Aluminum Dish Rack. Many owners also complain about water leaking onto their countertops, and although that didn't happen during our eight-hour drying test, it did when we poured three cups of water onto this rack.

The Neat-O Deluxe Chrome-plated Steel Small Dish Drainer, which, like our similarly priced budget pick from Rubbermaid, requires you to purchase a drain board separately, couldn't compete with the Rubbermaid. It wasn't sturdy at all—when we loaded the silverware first, the whole rack tipped over into the sink.

Plastic models in general did more poorly than metal racks in our tests because most of them are basically basin- or tub-shaped. The more enclosed the rack, the more slowly it dries, presumably because of poor air circulation, which was the issue with the Umbra Basin. Though this rack did manage to hold all of our big stuff, it had no room for more than one glass, and the large openings along the sides allowed small items to slip out easily. In addition, the spout is not compatible with many overmount sinks, and the smooth plastic feet slid around on our counter.

The Umbra Tub drains through an opening, not a spout, so it too would not work for many overmount sinks. On the plus side, its high sides not only hold everything in but also allow for stacking. They don't do much to promote air circulation, however. In contrast to the Chef’n DishGarden's pebbly exterior, the Umbra Tub's slick surface may form a seal when wet glasses or bowls are placed upside down on it. And the Tub could use grippier feet to keep it from sliding around on countertops.

The Joseph Joseph Extend has a clever design that can expand for an additional 8 inches of space, and the wire frame comes out for easier cleaning. You can also choose to let water run out of the spout or cover the opening with the included drain cap if you’d rather just let it air-dry or the orientation doesn't work for your counter. Unfortunately, that option means the drainage area is full of small nooks and crannies that look like they’re begging for a new mold colony.

An X-shaped collapsible model, the Better Houseware Folding Dish Rack does not come with a drain board. Also, though the rubber-coated wire is gentle on dishes, in practice the coating was a little too effective: Our dishes slipped out of the slots, and the catch mechanism that was supposed to hold the rack open would slip out as well, causing the whole thing to collapse.

The X-shaped RSVP Endurance Dish Rack held dishes in place relatively well in our testing, but a substantial number of owner reviews talk about stability problems, so quality control seems to be an issue for this rack.

The OXO Good Grips Foldaway Dish Rack had potential because of a few well-considered design features and a sturdy build, but in our tests it couldn't hold nearly as much as our other picks because its plastic plate dividers limited its versatility. Those inflexible dividers couldn't hold up pots, pans, or large vessels, and using the remaining space for bigger items required precarious stacking and left no room for glasses. The utensil holders worked like bookends for plates on either end of the dividers, so removing one or both to make more space meant losing one slot for a plate.

The RSVP Endurance In-Sink Dish Rack tested well and held up plates securely enough not to require a close fit in the sink for support, but it has no cup holders.

The Umbra Sinkin also needed a close fit in the sink for support, and the utensil holder was unstable. We found that the slots weren't compatible with some types of dishes.

The Rubbermaid Antimicrobial In-Sink Drainer is widely available, popular, and very affordable, but in our tests it tended to flip over if loaded on one end, and though its footprint is nearly the same as that of the Chef’n DishGarden, it didn't have space for our glasses once the large items were in.

The ClosetMaid Over the Sink Drainer was the most promising of the over-the-sink models in the quality of the materials and construction—a handful of reviewers wrote that it lasted seven years or more before the coating wore off and it started to rust or otherwise fall apart. Unfortunately, it's too small to be useful for a household with two or more people and just a smidgen too big for two to work together in a double sink. It does not come with a utensil holder.

All the in-sink and over-the-sink racks could handle heavy items in our tests, but the models that were basket-shaped, such as the Polder Expandable In-Sink Dish Rack, filled up fast and weren't versatile in what they could hold. We couldn't safely put glasses in it alongside large, heavy items—and, in general, putting any glasses in this kind of rack seemed like a bad idea, because it had nothing to hold them securely in place. This rack lacks a utensil holder, and laying utensils in the basket proved both frustrating (they fell through the mesh) and dangerous (sharp edges and pointy ends everywhere). Heavy items caused the extendable arms to bow out and scrape against the sink because the plastic sleeves didn't extend all the way around, and most of the weight ended up being borne by those points of contact.

The Better Houseware Adjustable Dish Drainer did not come with a utensil holder, though the manufacturer sells a small one separately. It simply didn't hold as much as the Chef’n DishGarden.

Progressive International's PrepWorks Collapsible Dish Rack is unusual among hanging-basket racks because it's all plastic, and reviewers say the plastic eventually cracks. The utensil divider felt flimsy and didn't always stay in place, and we found that the dish slots didn't work well with thicker plates and bowls.

Alistair Bramley, former senior industrial designer, Smart Design, interview

Yvonne Lin, co-founder, 4B, interview

Haley Sprankle

Haley Sprankle was an updates writer at Wirecutter covering kitchen gadgets and financial content. She loves French bulldogs, French tucks, and french fries. It's a wonder she hasn't been to France yet, but it's next on her to-do list.

Winnie Yang

Winnie Yang is the former supervising editor of Wirecutter's appliance coverage and formerly the editor of guides to baby and parenting gear. In a previous life, she served as the managing editor of Culinary Backstreets and The Art of Eating, and she has written for Condé Nast Traveler, Feast, Jamie, Saveur, and Tasting Table, among other publications.

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