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.
After 13 hours of 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 ten best, the 3-Tier came out the winner. Wirecutter founder Brian Lam, doing his own independent research and testing, blind to my work, came to the same conclusion.
The $30 caddy does nothing special, but unlike competitors, it succeeds at all the core duties of a shower caddy. Is organizing products in a shower really so complex that we need to talk about core duties? Astoundingly, yes.
The shower is a harsh environment
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 shower—one with a .5-inch-diameter shower pipe and roughly 28 inches between the showerpipe and flow controls—won’t work in a slightly smaller shower with a handheld showerhead attached to a flexible pipe.
Our goops and creams only add to the difficulties. Which of the wide variety of shower product sizes should the caddy accommodate? Slender one-ounce tubes? Bulbous, salon-size 32-ounce bottles? The answer can affect everything from shelf design to overall size. And what about soap? Should the caddy rob valuable space to offer a tray devoted to Irish Spring?
Most shower caddies address these challenges in classic fashion: essentially a couple of shelves hung from the showerpipe, with suction cups to hold them in place. People prefer this style, often called “over the shower” or “hanging,” but plenty of other designs exist—shelves that attach to the walls via suction cup, shelves that hang over the shower door, shelves that attach to a pole wedged between the ceiling and floor, even shelfless designs such as a colorful rubber squid whose dangling tentacles grip bottles.
So which is best? Unfortunately, few impartial experts offer guidance. 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 (five more hours).
We focused on the classic over-the-shower design because it’s the most popular, 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.
I tested over 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 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.)
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, etc. If the rust disappears but leaves exposed metal, you can paint over the naked metal with nail polish or clear rustoleum, which should slow deterioration and leave you with a caddy that’s as good as new-ish.
If you are a bit handy or plan to live in the same place for a couple years, you might consider installing shelves instead of buying a caddy. Joe Provey, blogger for home-improvement guru Bob Vila, thinks shelves or a wall-mounted caddy are so easy to install that he can’t imagine why anyone would bother hanging a caddy over the showerhead. His instructions are here.
But maybe you hop between rentals. Or your old caddy is beyond repair. Or your collection of toiletries has outgrown your shower’s windowsill. Or you don’t have a windowsill. If so, then a new shower caddy is just what the bather ordered.
We like the OXO 3 Tier. The simplehuman Adjustable Shower Caddy and Zenith “Kemp” No Rust Shower Caddy appeared strong contenders, but ultimately only the 3-Tier hit all the right notes, starting with size.
It measures roughly 27.5 inches long, 10.5 inches wide, and 4.25 inches deep—ideal for most showers. It accommodates at least five 16-ounce bottles and a handful of smaller ones—enough for two typical adults.
Its rubberized hook might look shallow, especially compared to the locking hook of the simplehuman, but it slips easily over a standard .5-inch showerpipe and remains in place. When I bopped it three times from the side it didn’t slide or jump off the pipe.
The 3 Tier’s X-shaped suction cups at bottom increased the feeling of solidity and was easy to attach. I reached around the caddy’s slender, central wires; 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.
As for features, the 3 Tier also hit the sweetspot. Loofahs or towels hang off two hooks on the bottom. A draining, removable clear-plastic cup about the size of two decks of cards holds toothbrushes and razors. 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. At bottom, a shelf with one draining tray for soap and one for a pumice stone.
The lack of adjustable shelves turns out to be a non-issue. To get the same amount of usable space from the shorter simplehuman, I had to configure it one of two ways. Shelves spread unattractively wide in opposite directions, so the caddy was walking like an Egyptian. Or with the bottom shelf lowered all the way onto the soap tray, which was then rendered useless.
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.
On Amazon, 90 reviewers give the 3 Tier a less-than-stellar, but still respectable average rating of 3.9 out of 5, some citing rust. “Only few words can describe the disappointment that I have with this shower caddy and most of them are four letters,” writes 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 I will track and test over time, 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, NY, for example, writes, “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. After 6 months of use, he’s noted a spot here or there, but he still loves it.
The other reason we’re not worried about corrosion—OXO also offers a rare satisfaction guarantee. “If for any reason you are not satisfied with this product,” it reads, “return it for repair, replacement, or refund.”
Internally our editors were split about whether the design looked economical or minimalist. And we wish it came with a shaving mirror. But those are quibbles.
A tension pole caddy
It doesn’t hang over the showerpipe, but wedges between the floor and ceiling and 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. Washtowels 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 their products with a 5-year warranty, and few reviewers squawk. On Amazon, 114 reviewers give the tension shower caddy an average rating of 4.7, among the highest on the web. They say things like “worth every penny.”
Again, I looked at over a hundred showerheads over 13 hours, testing the 10 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 showerpipe 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 showerpipe repeatedly, thanks to the hard-pastic hook. And the top shelf of the “Kemp” model blocked the stream of water coming from my standard shower head.
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.
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 accomodate 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 showerpipe, prompting some buyers to screw it to the wall.
Crate & Barell 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 5 from 92 users—quite possibly the best-rated caddy on the web!—and cost $299. 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. 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.
OXO Good Grips 3 Tier Shower Caddy, Amazon.com,(Pics are of the old model.)
simplehuman Tension Shower Caddy , Amazon.com,
"As a guideline, here are the heights we use in our bath remodeling. For multiple users, we use the average height of the users. Do not include children in height calculations. User Height 5' 5'-3" 5'-7" 6' 6'-3" 6'-6" Shower Controls 38" 41" 44" 47" 50" 53" Shower Head 63" 68" 71" 75" 78" 81"
6 Simple Bathroom Storage Tips and Tricks, Bob Vila blog,"Who likes staring at toiletries? A better way is to hang your organizer near the back of the shower area. Doing so may require that you install a hook in tile, but that’s easier than it sounds. Use a punch to nick the tile and bore an anchor hole with a masonry bit. While you’re at it, install a few extra hooks for hanging brushes, shower caps, and washcloths and stuff."
Rolls-Royce of Shower Caddies, Amazon.com, April 25, 2012,"This shower caddy is expensive but worth every penny. It's incredibly sturdy, doesn't rust, and the shelves are adjustable and removable. You can tell that a lot of thought went into the design. I've got mine loaded up with a ton of different bath products, including two 32 oz. pump bottles on the bottom shelf, and no part of the caddy has budged or slipped. I'd recommend it to anyone."
Plumbingzone.com professional plumbers forum, December 13, 2011,"This is from the IPC Commentary: 417.4.1...'The height of the shower head above the floor is not regulated by the code. The standard design practice is to locate the shower head between 70 and 80 inches above the floor.' That is government legalize that loosely translated means: Put it wherever your customer wants it."