Graphic: Shep McAllister
5 Neat ThingsJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “[Ask a Clean Person](” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives.   

Drying racks! Are actually not the most exciting topic in the world, but they are incredibly handy items to have as part of one’s laundry arsenal. The thing is about drying racks is that they come in all sorts of different designs, and there’s one for every need. Since we’re here this week (and probably next week, too) talking about laundering delicate items like bras that really are best air dried, I figured I’d make you a primer of different drying rack styles so you can pick the one that’s best for your needs.

Home-it Bamboo Clothes Drying Rack

Bamboo drying racks like this one are lightweight, and can fold up thin for easy storage when not in use.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

They’re a classic for a reason: Wooden dowel-style clothing racks are lightweight, fold up flat for storage purposes, and the accordion design doesn’t require any assembly. This rack, which is made of bamboo, has a slatted flat top for drying clothes and accessories flat or hanging, and nine lower rods for hang drying. It collapses down to 5 inches, so it can easily be stored in a utility closet or under a bed. And, because it’s bamboo, it won’t rust when exposed to outdoor elements.

Cresnel Stainless Steel Clothes Drying Rack

Gullwing style steel racks are durable and great for heavier items like pants, but they can rust if you use them outside.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

The beauty of this gullwing-style drying rack is that it can accommodate garments that can be hung dry, by draping them over the rods, and things that can be hand- or machine-washed but need to be dried flat, like sweaters, or sneakers. And, because it’s stainless steel, it’s sturdier than its wood or plastic counterparts, making it a good choice for drying heavy items like jeans; but beware that it’s not ideal for outdoor use in coastal areas, because exposure to salt water can cause rust spots to form. Best of all, it folds up to 3 inches when flat, so it won’t take up a lot of storage space while not in use.

Storage Maniac Sweater Drying Rack

Sweaters should always be dried horizontally, this these mesh racks make it easy to dry multiple sweaters at the same time.
Photo: Amazon

We’ll talk much more about this when Sweater Weather rolls back around but: Most sweaters benefit from being hand- or machine-laundered rather than sent out to be dry cleaned. The thing is with washing sweaters is that they should not be dried in the dryer (they’re like bras in that way). But they also need to be dried flat, rather than hung to dry, so that weight of the wet fibers doesn’t cause the sweater to stretch out and become misshapen. The mesh allows air to circulate around all sides of the garment while it’s drying. If space is limited, a similar style is available as a hanging rack that doesn’t require floor space.

Bartnelli Accordion Wall Mounted Drying Rack

If you’re able to install a drying rack on your wall, this one accordions out when you need it, and folds back up into the wall when you don’t.
Photo: Amazon

One of the biggest rules of maximizing a space is to use vertical surfaces, and this wall-mounted drying rack does just that. It has 8 stainless steel accordion rods that telescope out to hang everything from small, delicate items like bras, to heavy garments like jeans — up to 60 pounds (that’s A LOT of laundry). When not in use, simply fold it back up to sit flush against the wall. This style can work in a laundry room, but in smaller homes, can also be installed in a bathroom without taking up too much extra space.

Whitmor Clip and Drop Hanger

Clip hangers are great for apartment dwellers that are short on space, and can turn your shower rod into a really useful drying rack.
Photo: Amazon

While clip-style hangers for drip drying aren’t ideal, they have a few things going for them: They’re cheap, and they’re small, so they don’t take up a lot of storage space — making them great for use in apartments or for people who don’t do a lot of air drying. It’s also a good gateway into the world of hang drying, as has been discussed in this space. Basically, these are the starter homes of drying racks: You’ll probably end up upgrading to a bigger drying rack with more amenities, but it’s a good place to start.