5 Reasons Not to Keep Your Kitchen Trash Can in a Cabinet

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

I firmly believe that some things are best left out of sight. When someone walks into my kitchen, I definitely don’t want the first thing they see to be a trash can. So stashing that trash bin in a cabinet seemed like a logical, aesthetically pleasing solution. Bonus: Keeping it behind closed doors meant I wouldn’t have to waste (get it?) precious square footage.

I’m sad to report, however, that keeping garbage in the cabinet below my sink has proven to be a bad idea. Here are five reasons I no longer keep my trash can in my cabinet:

1. It stinks. Literally

I don’t know about your garbage, but personally, I’ve found that food scraps that sit for more than a day start to reek, giving the whole cabinet lingering garbage smell. This is especially true since it’s nearly impossible to have a trash can with a lid if you’re storing it in a cabinet.

Sure, I could have gotten a lidded can and just pulled out the entire thing, removed the lid, tossed in my garbage, replaced the lid, and then put the can back. But who has time for all those steps? I know I don’t! Speaking of steps, I also realized I couldn’t really use an option with a foot pedal either.

Note: I know a lot of people who keep their trash can in a cabinet to prevent their nosy pets from getting into it. But if you get a can with a lid or, better yet, one that requires a pedal to open, your furry friends will have a tricky time dumpster diving.

2. It’s inconvenient (and kind of unsanitary)

With the can hidden behind a door, I had to open said door every time I wanted to throw something away. And the need to throw something away almost always occurred when my hands were dirty or sticky. So then I’d end up getting peanut butter or batter on my cabinet knob or handle, which was less than ideal.

Once, I threw out that empty container that once held chicken breasts. Only I missed the can and I got chicken slime all over my stash of paper towels, which sat next to the trash can. And it took me a half a day to realize it had even happened!

This is not to say I wouldn’t miss a can that sat out in the open, but rather that I would have seen it right away. I would have been able to simply wipe down the floor and adjacent wall (with clean paper towels).

3. It limits your trash can options

Trying to find a trash can that fit in my cabinet (and around the various pipes) was limiting. It obviously had to be small and, once it got too small, it wasn’t exactly helpful. One time, I tossed a Chinese takeout container and my bin was immediately full. Then I ended up hanging plastic bags from my cabinet knobs and that was even uglier than if I had just put out a can in the first place.

4. It’s a waste of cabinet storage space

While there’s something to be said for maximizing floor space (real estate is at a premium in my New York apartment), I realized that I was actually sacrificing something much more valuable by using a cabinet to store my trash can: storage space. Now that it’s gone, I have tons of room for cleaning supplies, plastic containers, and reusable tote bags. It’s basically a bonus closet now!

5. It makes you forget to take out the garbage

Remember that whole out of sight, out of mind thing? Yeah, that’s not so good when you have a can full of egg shells and vegetable scraps. With my trash can sitting out in the open, I’m not able to overlook the fact that it’s overflowing, which serves as a constant reminder for me to think about whether or not it’s trash day.

Where do you keep your trash can?

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: 5 Reasons I Don’t Keep My Trash Can in a Cabinet