This is where to put a trash can in a small kitchen, according to designers

It's not the first thing we think about, but considering the location of the trash will make your whole kitchen more functional

gray kitchen with stainless steel trash can
(Image credit: Getty images / in4mal)

When mood boarding our dream kitchens, trash can location isn't usually top of our lists, but there are three reasons not to overlook it – especially if you're tight on space. 

First, for a truly functional design, a small kitchen needs to be looked at as a whole, with lots of moving parts. Second, a trash can that's far away is inconvenient, making everyday tasks from putting away groceries to cooking breakfast that little bit less seamless. 

And third, dedicating some of your small kitchen storage space to your food waste will improve the flow and overall aesthetic, therefore making the heart of your home feel more curated and stylish.

Where to put a trash can in a small kitchen

The kitchen is the engine of the home and making sure the layout works will keep things running smoothly. Knowing where to put the microwave in a kitchen can also make the space more practical. Here's where to put a trash can in a small kitchen, according to kitchen designers.

1. Next to the sink and dishwasher

blue kitchen cabinetry with patterned wall and stainless steel sink and appliances

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'I would always advise having the trash next to the kitchen sink and dishwasher, but also close to the food prep area,' says Lucy Searle, global editor-in-chief at Homes & Gardens. 'Doing so means that when you are prepping food, you can easily and quickly dispose of everything from tins to peelings, and when you are clearing away meals, you can easily clean plates of leftover food that you're not saving before rinsing and transferring them to the dishwasher. 

'It forms a neat side to the kitchen triangle that cuts down on the number of steps you will need to take around the room.'

Lucy Searle
Lucy Searle

Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens for over 30 years, starting within the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-1990s. Lucy is a serial renovator and also owns rental properties in the UK and Europe, so brings first-hand knowledge to the subjects she oversees. She has also remodeled nine kitchens so has plenty of experience finding the best layout and placement for everything from the oven to the microwave.

2. Under the kitchen sink

kitchen cabinets and porcelain sink

(Image credit: Future PLC)

One of the best trash can kitchen storage ideas we have seen is having it attached to the inside of a cabinet door, ideally the cabinet under the sink, as then it'll be away from any cookware. This keeps the trash hidden, minimizing odors and helping make your home smell nice.

'Hanging a trash can on the inside of a cabinet door is a great space-saving solution that can keep your kitchen looking clean and tidy,' agrees Alessia Lamonaca, the owner and lead designer at New Mode Home. In all cases, she says it is best to choose a trash can with a lid. A trash can with a lid that fits securely is more hygienic and less likely to attract flies and other pests.

3. In a tilt-out cabinet

If you hate taking out the trash, this might make it less of an ordeal. As well as being easy to use, a tilt-out cabinet, available at Wayfair gives you additional storage space with extra drawers, perhaps for storing spare trash bags and trash can odor eliminators, at Walmart

Another benefit of this option is that it provides some countertop space, and while you may not want to store items you use for cooking right next to the trash, it's useful extra space for cookbooks and catchalls to help keep your kitchen organized.

'I recommend a stainless steel or wood tilt-out cabinet,' says New York-based interior designer Artem Kropovinsky. 'For a more sophisticated look, choose a tilt-out cabinet that matches your kitchen cabinets. This option provides a luxurious feel as well as the extra storage space,' he adds.

Tilt-out trash cabinet | $165.99 at Wayfair

Tilt-out trash cabinet | $165.99 at Wayfair
This sturdy and functional cabinet currently has 16% off and keeps trash and recycling concealed.

Artem Kropovinsky headshot
Artem Kropovinsky

Founder of NYC-based interior design firm, Arsight, Artem Kropovinsky has a decade of extensive global design experience, connecting a cohesive, collaborative team of passionate professionals, and working on projects in the U.S. and worldwide. 

4. In a pull-out drawer in your 'clean-up' zone

pull-out trash can under kitchen sink next to dishwasher

(Image credit: Getty images / Aliaksei Shaviakou)

Waste is incredibly important to think about when planning your kitchen layout ideas, enthuses Jackie Schagen of Jackie Schagen Design. Creating zones, for example, a cooking area, a social area, and a clean-up area, can help break it up, making planning out the space easier and ultimately giving you a more functional space that allows more people to use the kitchen at once.

'Ideally, we design your clean-up area to have a waste pullout on one side, your sink in the middle, then your dishwasher on the other side,' she begins. 'Left to right is personal preference, but the sink sandwiched between the waste pullout and the dishwasher is ideal.'

5. Tucked into a nook

'If your small kitchen layout makes it hard to hide your trash can, I'd always try to tuck it into a nook or corner,' says Zara Stacey, content editor at Homes & Gardens. 'It totally depends on the shape of your kitchen, but if you can tuck it into any corner or unused space, this stops it from being the first thing the eye lands on. Personally, I think it's much better to have a hub for the main trash can and recycling rather than having them in different places, as it saves you walking back and forth.'

Zara Stacey, content editor,
Zara Stacey

Zara joined Homes & Gardens in February 2022 as a Content Editor. After studying English Literature at University, she has worked as an Ecommerce Website Editor, Content Writer and Buying Intern at multiple independent businesses within the luxury retail and lifestyle sectors. Zara's role at Homes & Gardens unites her love for the world of design and desire to create inspiring written content that helps readers make the most of their spaces. 


What are the best ways of hiding your trash can?

A slightly more functional option than simply putting a trash can in the cabinet under the sink is to install a pull-out trash can, at Amazon. Another solution is to create space in kitchen cabinets and put your trash in a corner cabinet on a rotating, pull-out system.

Where should you put your trash in a galley kitchen?

Put the trash can under the sink if possible to help maintain flow in your small galley kitchen, or place it at the end of the narrow space. Keeping it near the door will make taking the trash out easier, but then you are also greeted by the trash can as you enter. In this case, make sure you have a sleek and streamlined design, in stainless steel or a color. This 'totem' design trash can by Joseph Joseph, at Amazon, is being described on TikTok as the 'world's most perfect garbage bin' with its three sections for recycling, food waste, and general waste.

If a short walk to the trash can is unavoidable, you can try a food waste caddy, at Amazon for quickly clearing away peelings and offcuts while cooking. These either go on the counter or attach to the inside of the cupboard door and will make cooking feel more straightforward.

Millie Hurst
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is a freelance lifestyle writer with over six years of experience in digital journalism. Having previously worked as Solved Section Editor at Homes & Gardens and Senior SEO Editor at News UK in London and New York, Millie has written for an array of homes brands including Livingetc and Real Homes and was formerly Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She has written and edited countless features on home organization, decluttering and interior design and always hopes to inspire readers with new ways to enjoy their homes. She lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and loves to weave nature-inspired decor and nods to time spent in Italy into her own home.