Should I put garbage pull out under the sink?

The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the house and where waste is produced. In order to work efficiently and keep it clean, it is important to find an ideal location for your garbage and recycling pull-out.

The space under the sink is perceived by many of us as a possible location to place the garbage and recycling pullout but is this the right decision? The answer is no.

The best location for your garbage is in a side cabinet adjacent to the sink. Since the sink is the hardest working appliance in the kitchen placing the garbage under it means being constantly disturbed to move out of the way for someone to have access to the garbage pullout, or even for yourself to keep having to pull away and step back from the sink to dispose of scraps. If however, there is no cabinet to spare on either side of the sink, putting the garbage and recycling pullout under it is a good compromise.

Ideally, when planning out the sink area in the kitchen (cleaning and prep zones), the order is the sink in the center, dishwasher to one side, and trash pullout on the other side. Having the dishwasher to one side of the sink makes for an easy load and having the trash pullout on the other side makes for easy disposal of scraps while working at the sink with the big added bonus of being out of the way of whoever is working at the sink.

I find that many people underestimate the importance of utility spaces such as closets, laundry rooms and that also includes trash disposal locations such as in the garage where garbage and recycling bins are stored in many homes and of course the kitchen. Having these areas well organized and easily accessible have a positive impact on our daily routine. It is extremely frustrating to need to dispose of something either during cooking or on your way out when in a rush only to be met by a pullout that will not pull out, an overflowing trash can, or simply have it out of reach. This is why you should give the trash disposal location in your kitchen both thought and space. Be generous and don’t be afraid to give it its own cabinet. An easy to get to, use, and maintain trash pullout is a useful and important contributor to a well-functioning kitchen and household in general (think of how many fewer arguments you will have over who is going to empty the trash).

As I said before, one very important thing to remember is that the kitchen sink is the hardest working kitchen appliance. About 90% of our kitchen working time is spent at the sink that is in the PREP ZONE (For more about kitchen zones and how differentiating them can make you much more efficient in the kitchen read here). At and around the sink is where most kitchen garbage is “created” and needs to be disposed of, so it’s only natural and efficient to place the garbage and recycling in this zone. But is under the sink the right place? Just because scarps and other items to dispose of end up near the sink this does not mean that under it is the most convenient and efficient place to have the garbage pullout. But if you have no space in a side cabinet adjacent to the sink you should definitely consider it.

When should you put your trash under the sink?

Like I said, putting the garbage and recycling pullout under the sink is a compromise. Relatively good compromise (it’s better than having no space at all for the bin and it’s just standing there, in the middle of the kitchen, on its own since it doesn’t fit in any cupboard or drawer, although it may be or seem convenient it is not pretty).

A scenario that may call for an under-the-sink trash pullout location is in a two or more working kitchen where there is more requirement for counter space. What I mean by that is that if there are typically two people that need to work at the kitchen at the same time, and there is only one sink in the kitchen, having the work surfaces on either side of the sink means that both cooks will have access to the sink and garbage disposal. So in this particular case, it may be practical to locate the garbage pull out under the sink so that way both cooks have a close reach to it. As I always say, think about how you and others use your kitchen and understand what works best for you.

Here is what you need to consider before placing your garbage under the sink:

1. What type and how many garbage containers do I need such as food, paper, and plastic recycling
2. What size of containers are efficient
3. How much clearance is there for the containers
4. What plumbing is in the way – pipes, sink
5. What else might be good to store under the sink- sponge, cleaning supplies, garbage bags

By answering these questions you will be on your way to best maximize your sink cabinet space, making it easy to access and organize your garbage and recyclables.

What size is your sink ?(size and depth)

During the planning stage of your kitchen if you decide to have your garbage pullout underneath the sink then consider your sink size and depth. Why? Sometimes all you need in order to fit a proper garbage container is an extra 1/2” or so and that may mean a sink that is slightly more shallow may be what you need in order to make room for a proper-sized garbage container. Sinks are available in various depths and although a deep sink is a good idea sometimes a 9” deep sink will offer the same benefits as a 10” one without compromising sink function. This may seem insignificant but trust me, every bit of extra space for garbage disposal makes a difference and will save you time having to do less emptying of the container, changing of bags or liners, and less garbage runs. I don’t know how it works in your house but in mine, it’s always a battle to get someone to be the one to empty the bins. An overflowing bin somehow becomes invisible. On the upside, it’s very exciting (and a relief) when I open the garbage pullout only and see it either empty or have enough room for whatever item I need to throw out. The things that make me happy…

Consider the plumbing

There’s a lot going on under your sink like a plumbing dishwasher connection. and let’s not forget that you need occasional access to it. if the sink cabinet is small as it is and when subtracting the space occupied by the pipes, sometimes it does not allow for a decent size garbage container. Don’t go for a small garbage container. it’s going to make your day-to-day use of the kitchen unpleasant. It will be better to place your garbage pullout elsewhere where it is convenient and easily accessible.

The size of your sink cabinet (width and depth), what is in it like plumbing – pipes, and sink, and what needs to be kept in that spot, also how much space you have on either side of the sink and what your need of these cabinets, is some of the information that you need to have in order to make a good decision whether or not to place the garbage pullout there. If you have enough space under your sink for a good size garbage pullout container, easy access to it then yes, place the trash pullout there. But, if the sink cabinet is small and does not allow for a decent size garbage container and if there is another cabinet available next to it then the answer is no, place your garbage pullout elsewhere that is convenient and easily accessible.

Cabinet or drawer under the sink? What is best option for your garbage bin size and acsess?

There is a big trend of having wide drawers all around the kitchen including the sink cabinet. The look is neat and everybody likes drawers but this does not necessarily mean that it is the best or only smart-looking option. Sink cabinets have a lot going on inside, drain pipes, dishwasher plugs and piping, and sinks to mention a few. This means that there is less clearance and space available than in the other cabinets, making it that much more challenging to store large containers in.

Drawer under the sink

If you opt for wide drawers then that means that the containers you can use are more likely to be at the bottom drawer which means a longer reach for the disposal, and the bin will be shallow than the ones you will get if you opt for a side by side pullout cabinet.

TIP – Invest in a good drawer hardware
Did you know that the garbage pullout is the one drawer that is opened the most often out of all kitchen drawers? This is why it is even more important to invest in good drawer hardware such as high-quality easy glide tracks and good handles, for this cabinet in particular. I personally prefer a hands-free opening mechanism on this particular pullout for the simple reason of fewer germs on the hardware.
In fact, if there’s room in your kitchen budget may I suggest looking into installing an electrical opener (such as a SERVO-DRIVE). They make the cabinet opening dare I say, a delightful experience. The pullout slides out effortlessly and quietly (think indulgent late-night snacks – just putting it out there ). Such mechanisms may seem frivolous at first and require some electrical work, but once you try them you will understand how much easier and quieter opening the garbage pullout is. And since you and your other kitchen members will be opening and closing this pullout constantly it may just be worth the investment. Who knows – it might actually make garbage disposal fun and exciting, so much so that you will have people such as kids and significant others fighting over who gets to throw garbage and recycle. One could only hope. But it could happen. Maybe.

Cabinet pull out under the sink

The advantage of having the pullouts on either side of the sink is that this allows for a larger garbage bin with the big added bonus of being able to just slightly shift aside out of the way to allow access to the garbage without having to stop whatever task you are doing at the sink.

This is where I must give credit to my son who literally saved our kitchen sink cabinet by pointing the latter to me. My original kitchen plan was to continue on with wide drawers on all the lower cabinets for a uniform look. But when my son looked at the plans while I was measuring for the space I will have for bins and other storage he pointed out to me that it will be better if we have left and right pullouts rather than the two drawers I was planning on. This, he explained, will make for a better functioning kitchen prep zone. We will be able to get bigger bins because and it will not be a nuisance for whoever is working at the sink to have to move away whenever someone else needs to throw something out or get something from the cabinet. I am so proud of him, almost brought tears to my eyes. Almost. He also reassured me that the look of the kitchen will not be compromised by the change – wait, who is the designer here? He was absolutely right. So proud. I guess after all these years of talking design at home some things do sink in (couldn’t help the pun, enjoy).

Ask your plumber if they can conserve space that pipes or drains take up by moving them a bit closer to the wall if possible and off to one side. This will allow for more room in this cabinet.

Also good to know there is typically more room on one side of the sink than the other depending on where plumbing and electrical access are located. This means that you can have a larger container on one side of the sink.

Plan ahead and organize your garbage pull out

There are many trash disposal kits and hardware on the market designed to be installed under the sink. Many incorporate trash storage as well as cleaning supplies and trash bags compartments (things you might want to have handy there). looking up the different styles and types that are available during your kitchen planning will help you to fully utilize your cabinet space and allow you to make design adjustments to accommodate for the one you want. But don’t worry if your kitchen is complete and you are adding on and improving it, these accessories are available in a large range of sizes and styles and so you are sure to find one that will be a great fit for your kitchen.

Lastly, should you get a garbage containers that come with a lid?

One concern that is brought up with trash stored inside kitchen cabinets is that the smell may linger in the cabinetry. For that reason, there are some garbage containers that come with lids. Lids do help with the smell concern but I personally find them more of a nuisance than a help. When you need to throw something into the garbage it is something that you need to do quickly and sometimes your hands are dirty or wet. You already need to open the door and so having to lift up the lid and replace are added actions that I find annoying and inefficient at best. Then there is the added bonus of having to wash the dirty lid. Emptying the trash bin and replacing the bag is already one of the main unwanted kitchen tasks that nobody seems to want to do, cleaning a dirty lid will just make the task even less desirable. In a busy kitchen, trash bins get filled up quickly and so they need emptying often, not leaving smells time to linger. If however, you don’t need to empty your bins daily and do mind the smells then a lid could help you out, or if you have something that may be particularly smelly you could (could do what I do) bag it in a small bag, close it tightly and throw that into your bin until you are ready to empty it completely.


Under the sink can be the right place for the garbage pull out if you have adequate space for large enough bins for your lifestyle (think about how much trash you produce daily and how many times a day you may need to empty the trash) and there isn’t another available cabinet next to it. Keep in mind that the trash pullout is the most frequently opened cabinet it is that much more important to have it in the right place. Using the right hardware and bins will help using this pullout easy and stress-free. Check the size of your sink cabinet, look at and measure the plumbing and electrical that may be there, and research the accessories that you wish to install to be able to better decide if the location is right.


My name is Adi and I have been an interior designer for 17 years and loving it. Over the years I have designed many kitchens. Finding smart and easy to take care of materials, sourcing appliances, lighting, flooring and customizing the kitchen gives me joy. DOKITCH.COM is my way of passing my knowledge on. Feel free to explore..

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