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Compact Dish Rack

Published April 2020
More on the Best Dish Rack
We also tested and highly recommend the larger version of this dish rack. You can find our in-depth testing and full product comparisons here.

How we tested

We love our favorite full-size dish rack, the Simplehuman Steel Frame Dish Rack, for its sleek design, excellent drainage, and thoughtful extra features such as a wineglass rack and a drainage spout underneath that swivels. It’s sized to accommodate enough dishes for a family of four (or a household that really loves to cook), but it can be a bit bulky in smaller kitchens. For those working with less kitchen space, the company also makes a compact dish rack—the Simplehuman Compact Steel Frame Dish Rack, priced at about $50—that looks like a shrunken version of our full-size favorite. To see if this compact version performed just as well, we loaded it up with enough dishes to accommodate a household of two.

Despite its size (at 15 inches by 11.9 inches, it’s about three-quarters the length and half the width of the larger Simplehuman rack), the compact rack accommodated all the dishes, glasses, and utensils a typical family of two would use with room to spare. Even when we added a saucier, a skillet, a 10 by 12-inch cutting board, and a quarter-size rimmed baking sheet, there was still plenty of room for air to circulate and allow all the items to dry quickly and evenly. Like the larger rack, it’s designed to work on either side of the sink in either long or short orientations; its drain spout can be adjusted to face the sink no matter which way you position the rack. Its sloped drip tray easily drained water (no pooling or puddles), and the whole dish rack came apart easily for occasional cleaning. 

If you have the space, we still recommend the larger dish rack from Simplehuman; it has a few extra features that make it worth the upgrade: more slots for plates and more hooks for cups, a wineglass drying rack, and a low platform for drying big knives. While the smaller version doesn’t have these extra features, it’s a great option if you’re short on space and you’re usually doing dishes for just one or two people. 


Methodology

  • Test the Simplehuman Compact Steel Frame Dish Rack, priced at about $50

  • Test fit with enough wet dishes for a household of two: 

    • Two 10-inch dinner plates

    • Two water glasses

    • Two forks

    • Two spoons

    • Two butter knives

    • Two wineglasses

    • 12-inch frying pan

    • 4-quart saucepan

    • Quarter-size rimmed baking sheet

    • Metal spatula 

    • Rubber spatula

    • Wooden spoon

    • 1-quart glass storage container

    • 1-pint glass storage container

    • 8-inch chef’s knife

    • Vegetable peeler

    • 10 by 12-inch cutting board

  • Measure how well the rack can drain 1 cup of water

  • Sprinkle the dish rack with coffee grounds, disassemble, and clean

Rating Criteria

Design: We looked at drainage, dimensions, ease of use, and ease of cleaning.

Capacity: We evaluated how well the dish rack could hold dishes for a family of two, including plates, cups, pots, pans, and utensils.


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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*