Where To Put a Trash Can In the Kitchen (9 Placement Ideas)

Discover where to put a trash can in the kitchen, including the placement, important tips, and the different types to consider for this part of your home.

kitchen designs with trash cans

Knowing where to put your trash can in the kitchen before performing a renovation or new build helps you utilize the available space for a more hygienic and efficient space.

However, if you just moved in or currently have a kitchen that does not have a dedicated garbage area, you need to decide the best area to place your trash that fits your household needs.

In this article, we’ll help you find out the best location for your garbage, the size to use, and what type of bin to choose.

Trash Can in the Kitchen Placement Ideas

kitchen with trash can under counter overhang

Whatever kitchen style or size you have, a well-maintained garbage system is essential to maintaining the health of your household and your convenience. Not to mention, messy garbage is an eyesore, considering the kitchen is a gathering hub for family members and guests. So, where do you put your trash can in the kitchen?

 Inside a built-in cabinet dedicated to trash

inside a built in cabinet dedicated to trash

If you have a large kitchen, you can build a low-profile cabinet with a style that blends with your existing kitchen theme. Create divisions to encourage segregation.

Under the sink countertop

under the sink counter

One of the most common areas to place your trash can is under the sink counter, which is accessible to the preparation area and hidden away from view.

In an odd or hard-to-reach cabinet corner

in an odd or hard to reach cabinet corner

Corners or any other odd areas inside your base cabinets are perfect for a slide-out or pull-out trash bin that utilizes the available space.

In a utility room or pantry

in a utility room

You may have a utility room that is near your kitchen area. If it is large enough, you can build a dedicated cabinet for your garbage bins.

Near a back door

near back doorIf your kitchen has a backdoor, it usually leads to the outdoors or through the garage. Placing the trash bin near the back door allows you to easily take out the trash without maneuvering through the kitchen and other areas of the house with trash in hand.

Under the kitchen island

under the kitchen island Similar to placing it under the sink, you place the trash can under kitchen islands and dedicate a side for a trash bin. The garbage can have slide or pull-out hardware, so you can easily pull out the bin when throwing away peelings or any food waste during preparation.

At the end of the countertop

at the end of the countertopIf you prefer a stand-alone trash bin, you can easily place it at the end of the countertop so you have an efficient workspace. You don’t need to walk back and forth when cleaning or disposing of food waste.

Near the cutting board chopping area

near the chopping areaYou can either dedicate a drawer beneath the prep area or attach a detachable trash bin to the side of your kitchen counter.

Behind a door

Waste basket behind a door

Adding a waste bin behind the door can be convenient, but it could also pose some problems. Many doorways will be partially blocked due to a bin positioned there. This situation would usually work best for those with double doors where only one is in use or by purchasing a narrow waste bin.

Garbage Can Placement Questions

kitchen with small trash can under counter and bench

How much space do you have in your kitchen?

When you are living in a small 1-bedroom apartment or condominium, you will probably have a kitchen that’s around 70 to 100 square feet. This means every square foot of space you use is valuable, and a provision for a garbage bin should be well-planned to maintain an efficient yet hygienic workspace.

Utilize the space under your sink as a garbage area. It’s easy to throw peelings and other food waste on the countertop and keep the can hidden from view. However, this means you get a limited kitchen trash can size, so you may need to add a bin for dry or recyclable items that can be readily placed near the exit or utility area. 

There are expandable trash bags that can be fastened on the side of a cabinet or countertop that are perfect for dry waste. For easy disposal, place a plastic bag over the expandable bag, and when full, easily slide out the bag when you’re ready to put out the garbage.

Average Trash Container Sizes Per Location

under the sink Under the sink: 7 to 10 gallons (15 to 18 inches)

corner trash can•Corner Trash Can: 12 to 16 gallons (24 to 30 inches)

kitchen Island or pantry Kitchen Island or Pantry: 20 to 30 gallons (30 to 40 inches)

How many people use your kitchen regularly?

Based on the data from the EPA, the average person produces 4.40 waste pounds daily, that is, without the 1.51 pounds of recycled waste. So, in total, you’ll need to accommodate a total of 5.91 pounds of trash per person. Therefore, the more people living in your household, the more waste is generated, which means the larger the trash bin or the more trash bins you need.

Average waste bin size according to the number of users

 2 persons: 7 to 10 gallons

 4 persons: 12 to 16 gallons

 6 persons: 20 to 30 gallons

How much trash do you generate daily?

kitchen with cabinets drawers and backsplash

When finding the right size and type for your trash can, individual habits, such as what type of foods they eat, should also be considered. If your family does take out often during the week, you may want to invest in a large disposal bin that is mainly for food, dry garbage, and recyclables. 

However, if most of your family members cook meals, you may want to consider composting bins or dedicating a large enough space for biodegradables. Other lifestyle factors include:

Having a garden: Planting in your backyard or having inside plants can encourage you to make compost. You don’t need large and complex bins to make compost, as there are commercial compost bins that can hold biodegradable organic waste and are secure enough to be placed inside a home.

While most houses don’t have dedicated recycling areas as part of their design, try to designate a place for sorting recyclable waste that is close to the kitchen, practical to store recycling unit collection, and easy to carry outside – Practical Self-sufficiency The Complete Guide to Sustainable Living Today, Dick Strawbridge, James Strawbridge 

Efforts to recycle: If your household makes an effort to recycle food packaging, such as metal cans or cardboard boxes, this can influence the type and size of your container.

It also helps if you have a recycling collection near your home where your recyclables are collected for free or with a minimum charge. You may also find junkyards or recycling companies that buy specific items, such as aluminum cans or bottles.

Garbage collection schedule: The less waste you produce and the more often your garbage collector picks it up, the smaller your collection bin can be. However, you’ll need a backup space to place uncollected garbage if your waste collection company misses a schedule.

Would you like a trash container that is hidden or out in the open?

kitchen with countertop bar stools and window

When you have pets at home, a hidden trash can might be a better option in your kitchen, and when properly sealed, it can lessen the access of insects or pests. It can also leave a tidier and cleaner look in the kitchen as opposed to having an exposed stand-alone waste bin.

Exposed Bins: Best for Medium- to Larger Kitchens

 It shows if it’s already time to dispose of a full trash can.

 When it’s time for disposal, you don’t need to open or take out the garbage can from a hidden compartment.

 Encourages you to separate items and keep the garbage area clean.

 Easily upgrade or change your bin when needed.

Hidden Bins: Best for Small Kitchens and Homes with Pets

 More visually pleasing and an opportunity to blend the garbage area with the surroundings, such as by using a similar cabinet design and finish.

 You don’t have to worry about pets or pests accessing your waste products.

 Seals off odor and is perceived as more hygienic in a kitchen space.

 Utilizes unused space, such as under the sink, or can be placed in odd corners of the kitchen.

Types of Garbage Cans for the Kitchen

bin for trash inside kitchen

Trash cans for kitchens available on the market have significantly improved with added features in accessibility, odor control, aesthetics, maintenance, and hygiene.

Slide out bins

slide out the trash binsThese bins can be installed under an existing base storage cabinet, under the sink, or in a dedicated built-in cabinet. The slide-out trash bins have specialized cabinet hardware that extends the bins outward for easy access and can hide away when not in use.

Stand-alone cans

stand alone binsThe most basic type of trash can for kitchens is the stand-alone bin that is not attached to any part of the kitchen, making it easily moved or taken away. Stainless steel garbage bins are the best material for your kitchen waste, as they can be easily cleaned and are a material where bacteria and fungi are unlikely to thrive.

In addition, most stainless steel or metal bins are made to blend with the modern aesthetic. There are plastic options that are more lightweight and are also easily cleaned and installed in hidden compartments.

Motion-sensor waste cans: 

motion sensor refuse cansA variation of the step-on trash can is the motion-sense unit that can open automatically without touching or stepping on any part of the container. When you hold your hand against the LED light or approach the garbage bin, it senses the motion and automatically opens.

Swing-lid cans

swing lid waste disposal cans A common feature of stand-alone garbage containers is a swing-lid, with an opening that swings open on a hinge when pushed on a side, and gravity brings them back to close. This style is helpful for keeping the smell contained and preventing hands from touching the dirty surface of the container’s lid.

Indoor compost cans

indoor compost cansThese trash cans will usually use natural aerobic microbes to decompose biodegradable matter into liquid or solid compost. There are compost bins that can be connected to WiFi for control and monitoring. Thus, you may need a power outlet for a smart composting container. More hi-tech compost products even have membership programs with subscriptions.

See more recommendations for kitchen waste cabinet solutions in our article about the different trash compactor pros and cons on this page.

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