One of the easiest ways to save energy (and money) is to air-dry your clothes. After all, electric clothes dryers consume a great deal of energy. By leaving these appliances out of your laundry routine, you can save on bills. It’s that simple. Your clothes may last longer too, not being exposed to the tumbling, friction, and heat of dryer machines.
All you need to start air-drying is a drying rack! This low-tech piece of equipment consists of a simple frame that keeps clothes separated while facilitating airflow. Unlike an outdoors-only clothesline, many drying racks can be used either indoors or outdoors and require only a modest amount of space. Below, get our tips on choosing the best clothes drying rack for your needs, and don’t miss our roundup of top-favorite picks!
- BEST OVERALL: SONGMICS Clothes Drying Rack
- BEST FOR FAMILIES: SONGMICS Foldable Clothes Drying Rack
- BEST FOR KNITWEAR: SUNTRY Folding Hanging Dryer
- BEST FOR DELICATES: Fashion Easy Laundry Drying Rack Clothes Hanger
What to Look for in a Clothes Drying Rack
As you consider the various drying rack options, be sure to pay attention to the construction that best suits your household’s needs and laundry demands. Design, material, purpose, and capacity are all features you’ll want to be aware of before purchasing a drying rack.
Design and Material
Drying racks come in three basic types: freestanding, wall-mounted, and hanging. Each has its strengths, depending on how much space you have and how heavy-duty your laundry tends to be.
Freestanding racks often come fully assembled or require minimal assembly. No installation is required, so the only consideration is storage space. Most freestanding racks collapse and slip easily under a bed, behind a door, or into a closet. Within the freestanding rack category, you will find three main styles to choose from: gull wing, tripod, and tiered.
- Gull-wing racks have a sturdy A-frame base and two extendable wings. This style offers maximum stability, versatility, and heavy-duty capacity when needed, and can also be used both indoors and outdoors. Look for a gull-wing rack that is constructed of high-quality, solid stainless steel.
- Tripod racks are long, tall, and rest on 3 short legs. With their arms fully extended, these racks can take up more room than gull-wing or tiered racks, and are more suitable for outdoors or larger indoor spaces. The main pole is typically made of metal, with plastic sometimes used for legs and hanging rods.
- Tiered racks are the most traditional style and function both inside and outdoors. Built of interconnected wooden or steel rods in an accordion design, they also collapse but are slightly less stable than gull-wing racks.
For most household purposes, stainless steel will resist rust whether you use it indoors or out. However, if you live in a very humid area or by the coast, you may prefer a plastic or coated metal drying rack, which will resist rust even better than unpainted stainless steel.
Wall-mounted racks require some installation, as they attach to the wall and are secured into studs (vertical structural posts) with screws. Many wall-mounted racks are also collapsible, with an accordion design that folds back toward the wall when you are finished with your laundry. This saves space and legroom, making wall-mounted racks ideal for laundry rooms, bathrooms, and poolside changing areas. Look for racks made of rust-proof metal, which may be silver or painted, in a variety of finishes and colors.
Hanging racks are especially good for lighter-weight laundry like delicates and sweaters. Hanging racks come in two varieties: clip hangers and mesh tiers.
- Clip hangers should attach to your laundry without snagging or indenting fabrics. They are typically made of stainless steel. A larger hook then attaches to your shower rod or other horizontal bar, allowing laundry to hang dry.
- Mesh tiered racks are best for sweaters and other knits that require a flat surface. This permits these fine materials to dry without shrinking or losing shape. These units are lightweight and constructed of mixed materials: polyester fabric, plastic, and metal (often stainless steel).
Purpose and Capacity
Most sturdy stainless steel racks can be used both indoors and outdoors, which should be stated on the label. The only exceptions are mesh sweater racks, which are typically intended for indoor use. If racks are built of pure uncoated stainless steel, they risk the growth of rust spots over time. The trouble with these pesky spots lies in their tendency to transfer onto fabric, leaving orange stains on your newly washed clothes. To avoid this, be sure to dry off any excess moisture before collapsing and storing.
Also consider your laundry needs. Do you have a large family? Wash a lot of sheets and towels? In this case, you’ll want a rack that states it is heavy-duty, with a weight capacity upwards of 50 pounds. These will tend to be stainless steel gull-wing racks, though wall-mounted racks can also handle towels and linens. If you’re looking to save your delicates from overdrying in a machine, clip hangers or mesh racks may be your best bet.
Our Top Picks
Among the best clothes drying rack options, our top favorites feature sturdy construction, quality materials, and thoughtful design.
This sleek drying rack is made of pure stainless steel and suitable for indoor or outdoor use. The folding gull-wing design provides 58 inches by 24 inches of flat drying area. You can also hang your laundry on multiple rails with clothes hangers. The bottom rack is designed for shoes and slippers. Collapse the rack to move or store it easily without taking up much room. No assembly is required; just pop the rack into its “A” shape, flip out the two drying wings, and it’s ready for action. The design hits all the right marks.
For extra-large loads or heavy laundry, you needn’t turn to your dryer. Instead, SONGMICS Foldable Drying Rack is an energy-free solution and can hold up to 77 pounds. The stainless steel frame and high-quality connectors are rust-resistant. With 33 rails and a two-tier gull-wing design, your entire load can fit on this rack without overlapping. The fold-out wings adjust for long bath towels. No assembly is required, and when your drying is done, simply fold and tuck out of sight.
Preserve your sweaters and all your wool, cashmere, and cotton knits with SUNTRY’s three-tier drying rack. Constructed of polyester mesh racks held together by stainless steel bars, the materials are high quality and can hold up to 10 pounds of clothing. Simply attach this rack to your shower curtain rod or a horizontal bar using the heavy-duty plastic hook to create an extra-large drying surface in an instant. Now, the instructions ‘lay flat to dry’ sound like less of a chore! The rack can be locked in place to avoid blowing or twisting in the wind and is suitable for indoor or outdoor use. When finished with air-drying, simply follow brand instructions to collapse and store easily.
Never toss your dress socks or expensive underwear into the dryer again. Instead, use Fashion Easy’s hanging clip system. Made of high-quality stainless steel, these clips won’t harm your delicates and won’t take up extra space in your bathroom. The lightweight design is easy to stash in your luggage too, so you can take it along on camping trips or a long holiday. It is perfect for air-drying socks, bras, cloth diapers, underwear, scarves, and even towels, so you’ll never face wrinkles or shrunken laundry again. Plus, use this outdoors or indoors for easy-breezy laundry days.