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We don't have a dishwasher in our house so we have to do the washing up the old fashioned way; by hand. Not only is this more tiresome, as I keep being told by dishwasher owners, but it also requires a separate draining area, usually in the form of a draining rack.
Before any confusion arises let me say that I have always referred to such a product simply as a 'drainer' or sometimes, when feeling suitably sophisticated, a 'draining rack'. The word dishrack just doesn't sit right with me so I will be using the word 'drainer' for the purposes of this review. Drainer is also easier to type. (Try it!)
I got this drainer from Lakeland to replace our old and less swanky-looking draining board (there's another name). This drainer appealed as the ideal replacement because it looked like it would hold more items and also bring a modicum of order and neatness to an area that is usually little more than a shambolic pile of drying crockery and cutlery.
For the price of around £20 at the time it came with a Lakeland lifetime guarantee.
=== Design ===
Dimensions: 17 x 37 x 33 cm (H/W/D) *Height is measured from the worktop to the top of the drainer, which includes a 5cm gap underneath.
Interior drainage space (at the base): 9.5 x 31 x 27 cm (the sides taper outwards slightly at the top)
As is visible from the picture above, the drainer is predominantly white with silver metal legs and a removable silver metal rack inside. These are the only metal parts (stainless steel), with the rest being made from a smooth glossy plastic entailing the main body of the drainer and the cutlery compartment in the corner. There is also a handle on either side if you ever need to move the drainer. Underneath is a plastic spout which directs the water from the drainer to wherever the spout may be pointed - hopefully into the sink and not onto your worktop (yes, this had happened a few times).
The drainer looks quite nice when sat next to the sink in our kitchen and the modern-looking white/silver colour combination fits in well with our white cupboards and surfaces. I also like the high-sided design of the drainer and although it is quite bulky it is also compact and makes the area look neater when stacked with plates, bowls etc. than our previous draining board did. It does a good job at hiding the mass of drying crockery, in other words.
The good thing about the glossy white colour is that it looks nice and clean (when it is actually clean). The downside is that it doesn't stay that way for very long so it does often need a wipe down with a damp cloth to restore its pristine whiteness. The colour is either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your stance when it comes to things that 'look' clean and things that 'are' clean.
The spout underneath the drainer sticks out by about 4cm and can be swivelled around to point into your sink. Unlike our old board, this drainer doesn't need to be aligned precisely with the sink and so provides some flexibility. We have ours positioned at a jaunty angle, because we're cool. The downside to this design is that it still needs to be placed very close to your sink so please take note of this before buying.
When it comes to draining, water and soap suds slide easily through the drainage holes and into the sink via the spout. If you've produced a large amount of suds it can take a while for them to disperse from the bottom of the drainer but the gap between the base and the draining rack keeps any excess suds away from the drying crockery.
=== How does it stack up? ===
Compared to our old drainer, which was essentially a large plastic board, this one is far superior when it comes to the washing up. As is often the case in our house, the stack of dirty dishes tends to pile up long before anyone has the enthusiasm to wash them up. When someone finally cracks or runs out of excuses there tends to be a lot of items to wash up at once. This is where a large capacity drainer comes in very handy. The interior depth of the drainer is about 9.5cm (12cm without the rack) which allows for a fair amount of stacking to take place. Using the high sides as support it becomes very easy to balance a mug on top of another mug for example, or stack four or five bowls on top of each other. This makes it possible to complete the washing up in one go without having to break off and clear some more drying space (which really is a sad experience). To give an example, the latest episode of washing up as performed by myself amounted to the following:
3 large dinner plates, 3 bowls, 1 dish, 5 mugs, 1 large glass, 2 medium glasses, a milk jug, 18 items of cutlery and 2 large knives.
All of this was easily accommodated for without the need for any serious Jenga/Tetris skills. The large plates slotted upright into the draining rack and the cutlery fit easily into the cutlery holder. Most of the other items fit onto the base of the drainer except the odd mug and glass which stacked on top, held secure by the sides. There is still plenty of room for a lot more items to be added...which they inevitably will.
I find the cutlery holder very handy since it keeps utensils separate from the rest of the washing up making them easier to access when putting them away. Knives can also be placed blade-down in the holder reducing the risk of accidentally cutting yourself when removing them. However, the compartment is a little too shallow for longer knives, which can be a bit top-heavy and may not be supported that well. I have this problem with a few of my bread knives so I sometimes put these in the main drainer. I also find it best to rest any plates against the side of the drainer rather than try to stand them perfectly upright because the plate groves in the rack (of which there are 12) are a little on the small side to hold them upright securely. On the other hand this does make the rack more versatile for storing dishes and mugs etc.
The deep drying area is another plus in our house. Our washing machine is (very conveniently) fitted directly under the drainer and when on one of its psychotic fast spin modes it has the tendency to rattle the worktop. Many a poorly stacked piece of crockery has lost its life this way but now the high-sided drainer prevents any unwanted destruction as long as the stacking doesn't exceed the sides. This is a big bonus because things often take a while to get put away in our house.
However, a slight downside to the drainer is the noise it can make. Before you start to think I've gone mad, I'm referring to the interior metal rack which clanks every time something is placed onto it so heavy-handed washer-uppers will make quite a bit of noise. This may seem a bit pernickety but if you like to listen to the radio whilst washing up or enjoy the moment of quite solitude to reflect on life then this might not be the best drainer.
=== Cleaning ===
Besides the occasional wipe down with a damp cloth, the drainer doesn't really need much cleaning. When it does need scrubbing the interior rack can be removed (and washed separately) as can the cutlery holder which clips effortlessly onto the corner. The base of the drainer is sloped towards a central hole where the water flows away but residue does build up on the inside and an orangey sheen can manifest after a while. This cleans off easily with a standard kitchen cleaning spray and scouring sponge and it can then be rinsed under the tap. The handles come in... err handy for this bit but it's still a little awkward to manoeuvre due to its size.
The spout can also be removed from the underside of the drainer with a screwdriver - be careful not to lose the screw and washer when doing so - to be washed separately. This is necessary every month or so to keep it clean because an unpleasant black gunk forms where the spout meets the draining holes. This is the same type of gunk that can be found in a washing machine drawer after a while so is definitely not something you want hanging around.
=== Recommendation ===
If like me you are not blessed with a dishwasher and you are in need of a draining rack for your kitchen then I can definitely recommend this SimpleHuman drainer. Not only does it look very smart and modern but it is also extremely practical. It boasts a large drying capacity due to its high sides and has an efficient draining design with the swivelling spout. Despite being a little bulky it's still quite compact and easy to position around a sink due to the flexible spout. The steep price might be a little off-putting but it's definitely a drainer that's built to last and I can't see any reason why it wouldn't provide several years of reliable service. The main problem with it is that it does such a good job at hiding the dishes when they're drying that they rarely get put away afterwards.
=== Price/Availability ===
Amazon.co.uk - £24.99 (Free super saver delivery)
Lakeland.co.uk - £28.99 (£2.99 delivery charge, free on orders over £30 or free click and collect in store service)
Thanks for reading :)