Make sure your dish strainer is capable of holding all of your most-used dishes before you buy. Features such as wine glass, flatware and cutting board holders don't come standard with all models, so be sure to check beforehand. If you regularly use and wash heavier dishes, opt for a sturdy dish strainer that won't buckle under extra weight.
A dish strainer may not be the most glamorous kitchen accessory to grace your countertops, but it certainly is one of the most functional. Even if you already own a dishwasher, using a dish strainer rather than running your dishwasher's drying cycle can help reduce power costs. What's more, many containers aren't dishwasher safe to begin with, making a dish strainer a must-have item for every kitchen.
What to know before you buy a dish strainer
Types of dish strainers
Full-size dish strainers, also referred to as dish racks, are generally large enough to hold dinnerware for a family of three to four. These dish strainers typically feature tall sides, as well as slots for dishes, plates, saucers, glasses and cutlery.
Compact dish strainers are basically miniature versions of full-size models. Most offer all the same features, but only accommodate dishes for one to two people.
In-sink dish strainers have many of the same features as other styles but are designed to sit in one side of a double sink, rather than directly on the counter. Since water drips straight into the sink, these dish strainers don't come with a drain tray.
Over-the-sink dish strainers are meant to be used with a double sink. These generally come in two different forms: small and simple flat racks that attach to the sides of the sink and larger models with long legs that elevate them well above the sink.
Wall-mounted dish strainers attach directly to the wall and can be great space savers for small kitchens. However, it's worth noting that many wall-mounted models lack flatware holders, making them best suited for drying plates, cups or glasses.
Collapsible dish strainers work well in kitchens with limited space as they fold down quickly and easily for storage. These dish strainers are available in compact form, in-sink models and over-the-sink strainers and typically offer space for dishes, cups and flatware.
Two-tiered dish strainers have a stacked design with a dish rack on top and a flat rack for cups or glasses at the bottom. If counter space is an issue, a two-tiered dish strainer is worth considering. Just remember to measure the height between your countertop surface and upper kitchen cupboards to ensure a good fit.
Some dish strainers have quite a large footprint. Always check the measurements and compare these numbers to your available space before you buy. On average, full-size dish strainers measure around 9 by 14 by 6 inches, while compact models are generally sized around 12 by 5 by 4 inches.
Just how many dishes do you need your dish strainer to hold? For families of three to four, full-sized dish strainers or large over-the-sink models are by far the most practical choice. If you only need a dish strainer for one or two people, a compact strainer or simple in-sink or over-the-sink model should suffice. When it comes to collapsible and wall-mounted dish strainers, sizes can vary from model to model, so don't forget to check the dimensions before you buy.
Dish strainer features
Dish strainers are most commonly made of stainless steel, wood, bamboo, plastic, rubber or silicone. In terms of durability, stainless steel simply can't be beat. However, high-gauge stainless steel can scratch or chip delicate dishware, though some are coated with silicone or plastic to prevent damage. Wood or bamboo aren't the most moisture-resistant materials and are best reserved for occasional use. Lightweight and affordable, plastic dish strainers are a popular budget-friendly pick. Unfortunately, they aren't the most durable and may stain, crack or lose shape over time.
Drain boards or trays usually come with dish strainers that stand on the counter top. As your dishes dry, the drain board catches that moisture that drips from your dish strainer, keeping your kitchen surfaces clean and dry.
Some dish strainers come with specialty attachments or holders. These typically include handy elements not commonly found in the average dish strainer, such as wine glass holders or dedicated knife storage units.
Dish Strainer FAQ
Can dish strainers hold wine glasses?
A. Some dish strainers have special wine glass holders while others simply have a flat surface on which you can place wine glasses or any number of other items. Either way, be sure to stack delicate pieces such as wine glasses carefully and remember not to overload your dish strainer.
Can I place a standard cutting board in a dish strainer?
A. Most full-size dish strainers are capable of accommodating a standard cutting board. Some dish strainers even come with cutting board attachments to help save space.
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