Where to put a trash can in a small kitchen

It's not exactly glam, but putting your trash can in the right spot can really make a difference

Trash can in white kitchen
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Something I didn't really think of while decorating was where to put a trash can in a small kitchen. An organized kitchen is a game changer when it comes to the everyday making and planning of meals. Knowing where every item “lives” in order to have an easy flow is essential to me for my peace of mind.

In the coziest of kitchen layouts, planning what goes where can be difficult. In order to find the best place to put a trash can in a small kitchen, understanding how you want the space to function is key. 

You may have everything else organized but be at a loss on where to place the trash can. Whether you want your small trash can to be easy to access or completely out of sight, we asked experts how to identify the best place for it to live in your tiny dorm or rental kitchen. 

Where to put a trash can in a small kitchen

If you're fresh out of ideas for where to put a trash can in a small kitchen, we've rounded up some expert solutions you're sure to love. Get creative and find some new nooks and crannies you may not have thought of before.

1. Utilize vertical space

For architect and interior designer Ladina Schöpf, this question hits close to home. “I specialize in small spaces– living in a small apartment myself,” she explains. Her solution? “In terms of organizing a small kitchen when it comes to dealing with trash and recycling, it's important to maximize vertical space,” she answers. “Utilize stackable storage containers to save space and keep the area clutter-free.”

2. Try under the sink

Interior Designer Joe Cangelosi of Joe Cangelosi Design suggests a common spot: under the sink. “In a smaller kitchen the absolute best place to place a trash or recycling bin is in a lower cabinet, such as under the sink. This way, the bins are completely out of the way most of the time, and can be pulled out when needed. This way, you're not tripping over them all the time, and this can also save precious square footage in a smaller space,” he says. 

3. Utilize wall space

Interior designer David Mason suggests finding a space you’re not already using. The founder of The Knobs Company, with over 10 years of experience, suggests that “for extremely small kitchens, consider using wall-mounted options such as a slim trash can with a lid or even a hanging bag holder. These options take up minimal space and can easily be tucked away when not in use.”

4. Install a concealed trash can 

For Daniel Rahm, owner of ATX Kitchen Remodeling, the best trash can design is a concealed design. “For me, a pull-out trash bin is an ideal choice for small kitchens, as it optimizes space by utilizing under-cabinet areas efficiently. As a kitchen remodeler I recommend it for its concealed design, easy access, odor control, and customization options that blend seamlessly with your kitchen's style,” he says. 

5. Use a rolling cart

For ultimate flexibility, cleaning service professional and owner of Germicidal Maids, Michael Gottron, suggests finding a rolling cart trash can. “In kitchens with limited cabinet space, a rolling cart with built-in trash and recycling bins can be a lifesaver. It offers flexibility, allowing you to move it as needed and tuck it away when not in use.” 

From tucking it away in a hidden cabinet in the corner of your kitchen to making it accessible for you're cooking, making space for your trash and recycling bin will depend on your kitchen's setup and your own day-to-day preferences. Whether you want to try and add a stackable bin to take up more vertical space or you need a trash can on wheels for easy access, there are plenty of products on the market to suit your small kitchen needs. 

3 of the best trash cans for your small kitchen

Are you ready to commit to the right kitchen trash can for your small kitchen? These buys will help you follow our experts’ advice. 

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

Meet our expert panel

LS Projects GmbH
Ladina Schöpf

Ladina Schöpf, an experienced Swiss architect and building site manager, blends her educational credentials from ETH Zurich with multicultural working experience spanning Spain, Brasil and Portugal. Over the past decade, she has completed a rich portfolio of renovation and new build projects. She believes in the power of efficiency in design and construction, a concept she applies in her work in an innovative way.

Joe Cangelosi Design
Joe Cangelosi

Born, raised, and educated in New York City, Joe Cangelosi is an Interior Designer whose main business principles are to first take the time to listen to his Clients’ unique preferences, needs and lifestyle, and then help define and achieve the best possible Design for their homes and workplaces. Each project is performed with individualized care and attention to detail based on the collaboration of the Client and Designer, and upon completion, the space will have been transformed into one that is beautiful, functions well, and can be enjoyed for years to come.

Daniel Rahm

Daniel Rahm is the Owner, Partner, and CEO of Austin, Texas-based remodeling company ATX Kitchen Remodeling. 

David Mason

David Mason is an interior designer and founder of The Knobs Company. 

Michael Gottron

Michael Gottron is a cleaning service professional and owner of Germicidal Maids, a local family-run professional cleaning company that services Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Ladera Ranch, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, and Aliso Viejo.


How can I disguise my trash can in a small kitchen?

Storing your trash can out of sight will help elevate the overall look of your tiny kitchen and won't cause an eyesore. Think about placing yours under the sink or in a cabinet. If you have to store yours in a visible spot, invest in an aesthetically pleasing design or a color that matches your kitchen to help it blend in.

How can I get rid of odor?

First of all, make sure your trash can has a lid so no odors are escaping to begin with. It may seem obvious but also make sure you're taking out the trash regularly so the odors don't build up. And when it doubt, treat yourself to one of the best air fresheners to help get rid of any unwanted smells. 

Your small trash can is just the start of day-to-day kitchen waste. You'll also need to dispose of your recycling but you can use the same tips to help disguise additional bins. 

If you want to cut down on your garbage waste, try composting for a more eco-friendly option. You'll just have to remember what can and can't go in a compost bin, so it's within regulations. 

Kate Santos

Hello! I’m Kate Santos, a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. In the design world, I got my start working as an Editorial Intern for Dwell magazine in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve written about design and architecture in many national magazines and online publications, including Playboy, Hunker, and The Culture Trip.

I grew up in a very old house in North Carolina and am still influenced by the rustic, charming, antique and aged elements of a home. Sustainability and longevity is extremely important to me and I believe learning to reuse materials or purchasing items you’ll love forever goes a long way. I also lean towards the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi when designing my own home, embracing the perfectly imperfect items I can find.