The Best Shower Caddy
If I were buying a shower caddy to keep my shampoos, soaps, and toiletries tidy and handy while bathing, then I would buy the OXO Good Grips 3-Tier Shower Caddy. Its solid build, thoughtful layout, and great price have kept it our top pick for the past three years.
After spending 15 hours researching more than 100 shower caddies priced between $14 and $300, inspecting four dozen models in stores, and personally testing what appeared to be the 12 best, the 3-Tier came out the winner in 2013, and the updated version withstood challenges from three new competitors in 2014. For our 2016 update, we tested the OXO against two new adjustable models from simplehuman over the course of a month and found that the OXO is still the best value, but that the new models could still be better for some situations.
If you want adjustable shelves, we like the simplehuman Adjustable Shower Caddy. Not only do the shelves adjust vertically and horizontally, but this caddy also has a sturdier screw-on attachment mechanism and a more attractive finish than the OXO. If you don’t need the adjustability, the cheaper OXO is a better value. Alternatively, if you have a higher-up shower spigot or a hand shower with a hose that will get in the way of a normal hook caddy, consider the even more adjustable simplehuman Adjustable Shower Caddy Plus. The Plus has all of the same features as the regular version, but can extend to 39.6 inches long to accommodate even the highest shower spigots.
Table of contents
- How we picked and tested
- Our pick
- Flaws but not dealbreakers
- Who shouldn’t get this
- Runner-up (for adjustability or high spigots)
How we picked and tested
Showers encourage soap scum, hard-water spots, mold, mildew, and rust to build up on a caddy. (Some people go so far as to recommend drying your caddy or spraying them with a clear coat when you first get one.) And liberal building and plumbing codes allow showers to be all sorts of unpredictable shapes and sizes. A caddy that hangs neatly on a typical showerhead—one with a 0.5-inch-diameter shower pipe and roughly 28 inches between the shower pipe and flow controls—won’t work in a slightly smaller shower with a handheld showerhead attached to a flexible hose.
Our goops and creams only add to the difficulties. Slender 1-ounce tubes, salon-size 32-ounce bottles, and melting blocks of soap require different kinds of shelving.
Unfortunately, few impartial experts offer guidance as to which is best. Editors of Apartment Therapy sometimes round up what they consider stylish caddies, but they decline to recommend one over the others. By necessity, most of our review was compiled by reading user comments everywhere from Walmart.com to high-end home furnishers (some six hours’ worth), appraising models in-store (for two hours), and then performing extensive testing (six weeks’ worth).
We focused on the classic over-the-showerhead design because it’s the most popular and easy to install, so it seemed likely that the wide variety of offerings were also the most refined. We expected them to do four things: stay put, hold shampoos and soaps and loofahs and razors for two adults, resist rust, and look good at a fair price. They won bonus points for easy cleaning and extra features such as multiple hooks. Dealbreakers? Blocking the shower stream and failing to support a full load.
In the case of shower caddies, we favor metals like stainless steel and aluminum for their proven durability and value.
Caddies made of bamboo have a pleasing organic feel, but many users suggest they mold faster, which seems logical, and attract soap scum. Teak is similarly appealing, but often either extremely expensive or unsustainably harvested.
For once, plastic made sense. (Along with metal, of course.)
In our first round of tests in 2013, we spent more than a week, inspecting them when they arrived, assembling them, scraping any metal 30-times back-and-forth with a metal blade (a wire…cutter), and then showering with them.
In the fall of 2014, we added two additional hours of research, looking for any new caddies that met our criteria. We wound up testing the most recent version of our previous winner, the OXO, along with InterDesign’s Linea Adjustable Caddy and Zenna’s Never Rust caddy, which each hung in a shower for two weeks at a time—long enough to get a feel for how well the design worked in the space, though not long enough for any rust issues to show up.
The 3-Tier’s X-shaped suction cups at the bottom increased the feeling of solidity and were easy to attach. I reached around the caddy’s slender, central wires, then rotated the X until the majority of its eight tiny suction cups landed on smooth tile, and pushed. Over several weeks of use, the caddy stayed locked in place.
“I’ve had this for six months now and it … has never slipped down the shower bar,” corroborates Amazon commentor NM Mom, from New Mexico. The Zenith, by comparison, fell off twice within the first three minutes, the hard-plastic hook sliding forward and my bottles avalanching down.
As for features, the 3-Tier also hit the sweet spot. Loofahs or washcloths can hang off two hooks on the bottom. Two holes in the bottom shelf allowed me to place shampoo and body wash upside down, draining the last bits of liquid into the cap. I could squeeze it into my hands without removing the bottle.
The drain tray for soap sits on the bottom tier of the caddy—the 2014 version’s tray half the size of the 2013 model, but still fits one bar of soap comfortably. (The latest model also excludes the draining clear-plastic cup for holding toothbrushes and razors, but you can always hang razors in either of the hooks below the soap dish.)
The lack of adjustable shelves turns out to be a non-issue. All of our toiletries fit comfortably in the OXO’s fixed configuration. By comparison, getting the same amount of usable space from the shorter simplehuman required unattractive and less functional rearrangement of its shelves.
The 3-Tier’s straightforward design makes preventative cleaning simple. The sturdy plastic shelves snap out to be washed by hand or in a dishwasher and the minimal tubing is easily and quickly scrubbed with a sponge.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
On Amazon, some owners of the previous version of our pick cited rust as a problem. “Only few words can describe the disappointment that I have with this shower caddy and most of them are four letters,” wrote Colonel Klink of San Francisco. “I have had this product for 2 months and it has left rust stains all over my shower wall.”
Rust is a serious concern that we’ve tracked and tested over time–and our OXO did develop a few rust spots here and there, mostly around the welded connections, after about five months. But they didn’t spread.
But Klink’s comments are hardly proof of shoddy assembly or cheap materials. When I scraped the 3-Tier 30 times, the large-gauge stainless steel tubing showed no scratches or tiny whorls of plastic coating, which suggests top-quality construction. And plenty of other commenters vouch for the 3-Tier’s corrosion resistance. AngliGreek from Cobleskill, New York, for example, wrote, “We bought this same shower caddy about 10 or 12 years ago, and after all that time, it finally started to rust a little.”
Editor Brian Lam also chose this caddy with his own blind, independent research using it in Hawaii where things rust very quickly. Starting at about six months of use, he noted a spot here or there, but he still loves it.
The other reason we’re not worried about corrosion—OXO offers a rare satisfaction guarantee: “If for any reason you are not satisfied with this product, return it for repair, replacement, or refund.”
Who shouldn’t get this
If the pipe that sticks out of the wall in your shower is larger or smaller than a standard 0.5-inch diameter pipe, the OXO 3-Tier’s hook will either not be able to fit around the pipe or it will be too loose and slide down. The pipe is a standard measurement for a reason–most people have them–but still, if you’re concerned be sure to measure before you order.
Runner-up (for adjustability or high spigots)
If you’re willing to spend a bit more for something with a nicer finish, or if adjustability is a must-have feature, we like the simplehuman Adjustable Shower Caddy and the even more adjustable Plus version. Both have a weighty build quality, super-secure screw-in clasp installation, and fully adjustable bottle shelves that move vertically and horizontally. The Plus adds the ability to expand in length from 27.6 inches (same as the non-Plus version) up to 39.6 inches, giving you flexibility to position it out of the way of a hose or to accommodate an exceptionally high shower spigot.
Installation is a bit more complex than the “hang it and done” approach of the OXO, but it’s also more secure. The hook that attaches the caddy to the spigot has a screw-secured latch. You then stick the suction cup apparatus at the bottom to the shower wall. Don’t worry if it doesn’t perfectly suction on. Once it’s loaded up, it’s heavy enough that slight bumps won’t cause it to swing around. To move the adjustable shelves, you unscrew the tension dial along the spine of the caddy, and slide the shelf in any direction. That way you can accommodate taller bottles and optimize it for your space.
The shelving is well-thought out. Both caddies have two main bottle holder shelves (with holes for holding bottles upside down for easy dispensing) that can hold a salon-sized bottle. The top shelf includes a razor gripper, while the bottom one has a cup on the left side for toothbrushes or other shower doodads. Both caddies also have a soap dish at the bottom. Beneath that, there’s a hook for a loofah. The Plus version adds a third, smaller shelf that isn’t all that useful, but also has a full-width bar that’s good for hanging washcloths.
Because the caddies are fairly new releases, there’s not much data on how rust-prone they are in the long run. I can say that our testing unit shows no signs of wear after a month of use and point to Amazon reviewers who say they haven’t had rust issues after several months, but at the same time, there are a couple of Amazon reviewers who have had problems after just a few weeks. In any case, simplehuman has an exceptional track record for customer service and its “simple” warranty should take care of any problems that arise within the five-year warranty period.
All in all, there’s little to complain about with either of the simplehuman Adjustable Shower Caddies. Except for the price. While $40 isn’t that much to pay for something you’ll use everyday, the fact that the perfectly acceptable OXO can be had for $30 makes it a hard upsell. The Plus at $60 is actually a better value proposition, because it’s a more affordable option for people who would otherwise need to shell out more than $100 for a reliable tension-pole caddy.
It doesn’t hang over the shower pipe, but wedges between the floor and ceiling and can be assembled in 10 minutes without tools. I slid the three baskets onto the main aluminum pole, fit the top pole into the main pole, measured the height of the shower to determine which of two poles to attach at the foot, and then squeezed the whole thing into place in a back corner of the shower.
A powerful interior spring kept the caddy wedged between floor and ceiling. Even freestanding—that is, not in a corner, as intended—it exhibited none of the shaking, shimmying, or twisting of other pole caddies, such as the OXO version.
And it holds as much as a drugstore. Five 16-ounce bottles fit in each of the height-adjustable baskets, which slide up and down and secure via sturdy cam locks. Two razors fit in a holder on a second shelf, which also has a soap tray. Loofahs can hang off two hooks on the third shelf. Wash towels drape over the height-adjustable, swinging towel rods.
Scraping the attractive aluminum pole with a metal blade produced flecks of gooey white, suggesting that the aluminum is coated, but rust doesn’t appear to be a concern. The packaging makes the bold and rare claim “rust proof,” simplehuman backs its products with a five-year warranty, and few reviewers squawk.
Care and maintenance
If you already own a shower caddy but see it rusting, you might try to bring it back to life. Many writers and bloggers suggest washing it with baking soda and vinegar to remove rust. If the rust disappears but leaves exposed metal, you can paint over the naked metal with nail polish or clear Rust-Oleum, which should slow deterioration and leave you with a caddy that’s as good as new-ish.
Again, we looked at more than a hundred shower caddies over 15 hours, testing the 12 most promising, to come to our conclusion. These are some of the ones we didn’t pick.
The simplehuman Adjustable Shower Caddy looked excellent and featured the most secure shower pipe hook. But it proved a couple inches too short to take advantage of a typical shower, as mentioned. OXO’s adjustable Steel Lift & Lock Shower Caddy offered some nice extras like a clip-on shaving mirror, but these weren’t enough to justify a 100-percent price increase over the 3-Tier. Especially when adjusting the shelves to the ideal height places them exactly where the 3-Tier’s sit.
The Zenith line, including the highly rated Expandable Handheld Shower Head Caddy, looked sturdy and exceptionally well-built, but slid off the shower pipe repeatedly, thanks to the hard-plastic hook. And the top shelf of the Kemp model blocked the stream of water coming from my standard showerhead.
Other Zenith models were dismissed even earlier. The Manhattan Collective Shower Head Caddy arrived with bent wires. Whittington Collection offered no guarantee that its Teak Shower Caddy wasn’t destroying precious, gorgeous forests.
The white plastic coating on the Bed Bath & Beyond Large Shower Caddy was already cracked and chipped in the store.
The InterDesign Rain’s marbled plastic shelves looked tacky.
InterDesign’s Linea Adjustable Caddy fit several 32-ounce bottles, but only if you spread the shelves as far apart as possible. But the shelves sagged sadly under the weight of said bottles, so we don’t recommend it. There’s a simple wire soap dish, but no hook for a towel, loofah, or razor.
We had high hopes for the no-rust promise of Zenna’s Never Rust caddy, but unfortunately we didn’t use it long enough to find out if it was true. While we didn’t see any rust after two weeks of testing, the shelves didn’t have the clearance to accommodate any 32-ounce bottles on the second shelf. If you set anything but tiny bottles on the top shelf, they interfered with our shower’s spray. The Zenna has two hooks, which jut out sharply and give it the appearance of being very cheaply constructed.
The Spa Creations oversized caddy, available in Bed Bath & Beyond stores, seemed big but turned out to be just wide; Its bottom shelf was too close to the top shelf to accommodate 16-ounce bottles.
Metaltex’s Onda model offered a three-year warranty but was hardly big enough to fit more than one shampoo bottle, a bar of soap, and a sponge.
The Better Houseware Deluxe Chrome Shower Caddy looked excellent—a real contender, even—but simply draped over the shower pipe, prompting some buyers to screw it to the wall.
Crate and Barrel and CB2 didn’t offer hanging caddies, and Ikea assumed I wanted to mount its caddy on the wall like a proper shelf.
Frontgate’s sustainably harvested Teak Corner Shelf Caddy was large, beautiful, sturdy, durable, the recipient of an average rating of 4.9 stars out of five from 92 users—quite possibly the best-rated caddy on the Web!—and cost about $300. Plus shipping.
Wrapping it up
The 3-Tier hits the sweet spot. It is sturdy, rust-resistant, attractive, well-featured, fairly priced, and just the right size for two adults. On top of this, it comes with a satisfaction guarantee. It might not inspire the profoundest love, but it won’t disappoint. And in the surprisingly cruel and complex world of shower caddies, that is a triumph.
Originally published: March 16, 2016