These racks help you dry plastic and reusable bags, but which design works best?
Published July 20, 2020. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 22: Holiday Dessert and Salad
It’s thrifty and eco-friendly to wash and reuse plastic food-storage bags. At upwards of $0.14 cents apiece, plastic zipper-lock bags are pricey, and while they’re recyclable, they don’t biodegrade in landfills. Even if you use reusable storage and produce bags, you’ll need to wash and dry them. But once you’ve washed the bags, how can you dry them without draping them all over your dish rack and countertops?
Enter bag drying racks, which come in a variety of designs and materials. We chose five that were made of wood, metal, or plastic, priced from about $9.50 to about $24.00, and put them to the test. We washed a variety of plastic bags, including our favorite gallon-size food-storage bags, quart-size sandwich bags, and snack-size bags, plus our winning reusable silicone storage bag and reusable produce bags. We also tried drying an inverted water bottle and a travel mug on them. We rated the racks on their performance, ease of use, and durability.
Before we got to the tests, we learned a few essentials for washing and drying dozens of bags. First, forget about turning plastic and silicone bags inside out before washing them—it’s not only unnecessary, but it also damages their seams and seals. Just add warm, soapy water to the bag; seal it and slosh the water around to clean its inside; rinse it; and give the bag a good shake to remove any excess water before hanging it on a rack to dry. (You can pat the inside with a clean dish towel to speed up drying.) Before reusing a bag, be sure that it is completely dry. And don’t wash or reuse any plastic bags that contained raw meat or spoiled food; discard those for food safety.
Plastic storage bags dry faster if they’re propped open and held aloft so that air can circulate inside, and that is what the drying racks in our lineup were all supposedly designed to do. But the designs of the racks varied widely, and their differences affected our results. The arms of the drying racks we tested ranged in length from 5¼ to 10½ inches. The two models with arms longer than 10 inches were the most successful at keeping the bottoms of the large gallon-size bags from crumpling on the countertop or against the drying rack’s base, which would trap moisture and limit airflow.
We also preferred models with lots of arms, which gave us the most drying options and the biggest capacity. The racks in our lineup had from two to eight arms apiece, and those with the most arms allowed us to spread fewer bags open across several arms to prop them open wider instead of loading only one bag or bottle per arm. The best models ...
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.
Lisa is an executive editor for ATK Reviews, cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube, and gadget expert on TV's America's Test Kitchen.