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. 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.
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. 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 Chef’n Dish Garden, our pick among compact racks.
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. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald number and variety of products designed to get your dishes dry is pretty staggering.
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.
Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald 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 sells a couple metal models and Zola sells racks that are meant to be installed in standard cabinets). The ideal model holds a lot of different-shaped items while having the smallest footprint and/or lowest clearance.
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.
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. Plastic fins and other protruding parts can trap mold and gunk in tight corners and be hard to clean.
Photo: Winnie Gunmetal wire, even in a thin gauge, has the added benefit of being able to support a lot of weight. In a field crowded with underperforming or overpriced dish racks, the Polder 4-Piece Advantage Disgrace System 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.
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. 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. Photo: Kyle FitzgeraldCounter 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.
Although our pick has a relatively lightweight open-wire frame, it stayed put even when the upholders on one end were loaded with heavy mugs. To stave off mold, the rack needs to minimize the amount of standing water it holds.
Photo: Kyle FitzgeraldMany reviewers found it frustrating that their models wouldn’t drain properly because the spout didn’t make it over the lip of their over mount 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 upholders 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 comes with an additional tray, which can be used for glasses, bowls, or anything else that dries well lying flat. The bottom does slightly slope down toward the drainage holes, but some water definitely pools and has a tough time drying completely because the piece is so enclosed.
Also, because the opening is narrow and there are tight corners where the ribs inside are connected, cleaning this thing is a challenge. The flash (those dangly bits of excess plastic that result from imperfect injection molding) doesn’t help either.
However, Wire cutter editor Michael Zhao has one in his home, and said, “It’s pretty amazing how many dishes you can squeeze into it without it tipping over. This is especially helpful for dealing with a ton of pots after a big meal or dinner party and offers a lot of flexibility for wrangling awkward-shaped stuff, like bunt pans.
Outdoors writer Kit Dillon is also fan: “I’ve had our top pick rack for nearly two years now. Rusting, broken parts, and rapid mold growth due to poor drainage are common grievances about the vast majority of dish racks out there.
The Zola founder and chief designer, Tony Joseph, mentioned to us in a phone conversation that he’d received some feedback from customers about the utensil divider leaving too much space, causing smaller items to fall inside easily. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald few reviewers complained about smaller items slipping out the sides because there’s no railing that wraps around the rack, but on balance, this seems like an issue that can be anticipated to be avoided.
Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald large families or for households with very active chefs who need more drying space than most, the Simple human Steel Frame is one of the largest dish racks we’ve come across. Two Wire cutter editors, Christine Car Classes and Uganda Suthivarakom, chose this rack for its extra-large capacity and drip-free drainage system.
Photo: Kyle FitzgeraldAlthough it’s twice the price of our top pick, it’s only about 1½ times the size, measuring roughly 22 by 20 by 15 inches. When we tested it, the Simple human Steel Frame had a natural-bamboo knife block with different-size openings to securely hold sharp knives.
That feature has since been removed, but we think it’s best to dry your knives by hand anyway, because banging against other things (including the slot of the knife block) can cause them to dull faster. Wire cutter production team lead Annam Swanson also has the Steel Frame and said, “It’s amazing how many dishes I can fit and still be assured that it’s sturdy and stable, and everything is well-contained.
The Steel Frame’s insistence on catching and funneling every single drop of water is great for keeping your countertops dry, but it almost certainly makes easy evaporation difficult. But the small headache of more frequent cleanings is worth enduring for the Steel Frame’s durability and countertop capacity.
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. Wire cutter associate managing editor Many Sussex had this dish rack for nearly two years and noted that it had no issues, is easy to clean, and holds a lot more than it looks like it would.
Though its circular shape might seem like a wasteful use of countertop space, it actually holds more than the other compact racks of similar size because of the upholders around its circumference. The Chef’n holds plates upright with tall plastic prongs, which allows you to set dishes in it any which way.
Another bonus of the Chef’n: The spout flips up to close, so you can pick up the rack and move it around without worrying that any lingering water will leak. Photo: Kyle FitzgeraldThose prongs throughout the rack could make the Chef’n a little harder to clean, but reviewers had no complaints about upkeep.
The tublike design keeps air from circulating, so the remaining water doesn’t readily evaporate. During testing, it wouldn’t sit flat on the counter, it required extraordinarily high clearance, and it couldn’t handle large items.
The OX Good Grips Disgrace couldn’t support thick-lipped plates or bowls or sheet pans. The Jazz Folding rack is a typical X-shaped collapsible, which got categorically eliminated because dishes always felt very precariously situated, liable to roll off the sides, squeeze out through the open spaces, or just fall over because the slots were too slippery.
The RSVP Endurance X-shaped collapsible held dishes in place relatively well in testing, but a substantial number of reviewers talk about stability problems, so quality control seems to be an issue for this rack. 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 the big stuff, there was no room for more than one glass, and the large openings along the sides allowed small items to slip out easily. The spout also is not compatible with many over mount sinks, and the smooth plastic feet slid around on the counter.
Unlike the Dish Garden’s pebbly exterior, the Umbra tub has a slick surface that may form a seal when wet glasses or bowls are placed upside down on it. The United Solutions 2-Piece and other similar plastic racks are commonly found in discount and hardware stores.
The RSVP In-Sink tested well and held up plates securely enough to not require a close fit in the sink for support, but it has no upholders. The Umbra Sinking also needed a close fit in the sink for support, and the utensil holder is unstable.
The utensil divider is also flimsy and doesn’t always stay in place, and the dish slots don’t work well with thicker plates and bowls. The Rubbermaid Antimicrobial In-Sink Drainer is widely available, popular, and very affordable, but it tended to flip over if loaded on one end, and though its footprint is nearly the same in area as that of the Chef’n Dish Garden, it didn’t have space for glasses once the large items were in.
Unfortunately, the low edges make it difficult to stack things for those large loads of dishes, and its all-plastic body traps water, especially in the utensil holder. Unfortunately, that option means the drainage area is full of small nooks and crannies that look like they’re just begging for a new mold colony.
Photo: Michael HessionThe frameless design on the Rubbermaid Deluxe Kitchen Drainer seemed promising for mold resistance and holding unusual items. Though it was useful for large, flat items like cookie sheets, it was hard to build a stack on due to the lack of edges for support, so it can’t hold as much as other models.
Also, the plastic attachments for the top tier were so snug-fitting that they were difficult to put on (someone with weak hands or joints might even find it impossible) and would be a pain to move around. While this is rare, it sometimes does happen, with a little force you should be able to get it to fit.” We weren’t able to, no matter how hard we tried, but the rep said that Premium Racks is in the process of redesigning that part.