Do you love your wardrobe and take pride in what you wear? Caring for your clothes properly keeps them looking fresh and new -- though sometimes that means they require extra-special attention. That's why a drying rack is a smart investment to protect delicate materials from harsh dryer heat that could ruin them.
Drying racks are an adapted -- and enhanced -- version of the outdoor clothesline. They have a series of rungs to hang clothes for air drying, and in some styles, they're adjustable to accommodate larger garments. Another perk is that drying racks take up less space, since many of them are collapsible and tuck behind doors.
Check out our buying guide on drying racks so you can choose the one that's right for you. We're including our favorite, the Aero-W's Stainless Steel Folding and Drying Rack, which features a wall-mounted design fit for both indoor and outdoor use.
What should I hang on my drying rack?
The most popular items to hang on a drying rack are blouses, lingerie, and towels -- though some people are drying-rack loyalists and hang everything to dry. If you're only hanging select items, follow your garment tags' recommended-care instructions.
Generally speaking, lace, Spandex, rayon, Lycra, nylon, acrylic, silk, wool, and polyester items should be hung. Cotton, linen, and some blends can go in the dryer, but the heat could cause fading, shrinking, or pilling. With that said, drying racks also solve the problem of complicated care. Not every garment requires the same heat level in a dryer, but with a drying rack, everything dries safely at room temperature.
Considerations when choosing drying racks
Drying racks are available in a number of different styles that suit various situations, so consider your needs before deciding.
Pop-up racks: Assembly is simple, and they break down in seconds for easy storage. They're ideal for any home, especially in small spaces like apartments or dorms. However, some styles are a bit flimsy, so they could buckle or topple over with heavier garments or damp towels.
Freestanding racks: These are larger and more durable and are well-prepared to handle a full rack of wet clothes. They often have more adjustable features, especially gull wing racks, which expand to hold longer garments. As such, they take up a considerable amount of space, so they're best used in homes where they won't get in the way.
Over-the-door racks: When the laundry room doesn't have enough floor space, these racks solve the problem vertically. They're often used in bathrooms to dry wet towels as well. These racks are generally more compact, so you're limited as to how many garments you can dry at a time.
Mounted racks: These wall- and ceiling-mounted racks are also convenient if you're short on floor space. Some styles are foldable to optimize space when they're not in use, and they tend to be constructed well enough to handle a full rack of heavy clothes. Since they're essentially permanent fixtures, make sure you're sold on their placement. Removing them could require repairing and spackling drywall or the ceiling.
Portability: Portable drying racks are popular for small spaces, such as apartments, studios, or RVs. These racks could be collapsible for easy carrying, or have wheels to be rolled out of the way. Portable racks are convenient, but they're not always the most durable.
Durability: This should be a top priority when comparing drying racks. Lightweight racks might not cut it if you intend to dry heavy materials like towels, jeans, or sweaters -- especially if you're piling them on the rack. Heavyweight racks are a better choice, especially if you're air drying clothes regularly. They handle the extra weight and withstand frequent pulling and hanging.
Adjustability: Racks with adjustability are ideal if you need to spread out certain garments while they dry, like sweaters or pants. Look for gull wing, accordion, or swivel racks if you need more options to accommodate different types of garments.
For the budget-conscious, a simple pop-up style will cost less than $30. Wall-mounted racks, or those with more rungs, cost around $50. If you need a sturdy rack to handle a full load of heavy wet clothes, expect to spend closer to $80.
Q. I have a dryer, so do I really need a drying rack?
A. Probably. There are some garments that must be hung to dry, especially blouses, fitness apparel, and pants. By using a drying rack for these garments, they retain their integrity and shape much longer.
Q. How long will it take for my clothes to dry on a drying rack?
A. It depends on their material. Cotton blends could take up to a day, whereas polyester clothing dries in a few hours. It also depends on the room's humidity, as the moisture in the atmosphere makes all clothes take longer to dry.
Drying racks we recommend
Best of the best: Aero-W's Stainless Steel Folding and Drying Rack
Our take: Space-savvy wall-mounted design with a shocking weight capacity. Ideal for small laundry rooms.
What we like: Holds up to heavy daily use. Can handle weighty wet clothes without sagging or collapsing.
What we dislike: Not recommended for outdoor use, and installation can be challenging.
Best bang for your buck: AmazonBasics' Foldable Drying Rack in Chrome
Our take: Simple pop-up assembly at wallet-friendly price. Plenty of bars to spread out clothing.
What we like: Portable and can be stored under a bed or behind a door.
What we dislike: Does well with garments, but wet towels are a bit too heavy for this model.
Our take: Many drying options, including a large horizontal configuration for drying long garments or towels.
What we like: Can be adjusted to different angles. Foldaway design fits in tight spots despite its large size.
What we dislike: Not entirely rustproof outdoors, and plastic parts aren't the most durable.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In this Series
- 8 updates