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Clever Ideas for Hiding Trash Cans in the Kitchen

When it comes to kitchen design, one overlooked aspect is the placement of the trash can. Nobody wants to see a big metal or plastic trash can sitting in the middle of their kitchen. It’s unsightly and takes up valuable space. It’s true that there are some very fancy trash cans out there. Ones with automatic “touchless” features, ones made of lovely brushed metal, ones with playful, curved designs. But it remains that trash cans are the receptacles for items we’ve thrown away and for the most part, we don’t really want to think about them. Out of sight, out of mind (until it’s time to take the garbage out).

So what’s the best way to keep your kitchen garbage out of the way but still easily accessible? Unless you’ve got an old-fashioned garbage chute, probably the smartest solution is to keep trash tucked away is to make use of your cabinet space. Best of all, a cabinet door will add an extra buffer against smells. With the right design, you should be able to access your trash can just as easily as if it were out in plain sight.

There are trash cans designed specifically to be used under the counter, although it’s always worth measuring to see if your current kitchen trash can fits before going out and getting a new one. A standard kitchen trash can for a 13-gallon trash bag generally measures approximately 13.5″ x 13.5″ 24″H, which may be a bit bulky to stow away in a cabinet. The next smaller size of bag is for 8 gallons, which is for waste receptacles approximately 11″ x 14.5″ x 18″H (dimensions can vary greatly depending upon the shape of the receptacle). The depth of 11″ generally works with most cabinets, for which the standard depth is 12″.

Base Cabinet

For a more seamless look, some homeowners opt to put their trash can inside a base cabinet. The false drawer front for this type of installation generally needs to be custom-made, but it’s not a difficult task for a carpenter or even a handy homeowner. To start, simply measure the dimensions of your trash can and add an inch or so on each side for clearance. Then, measure the opening of your base cabinet and subtract the width of the door (generally about an inch). The difference between these two measurements is what you’ll use to create your false drawer front.

As an alternative to a false drawer front, some opt for a tilt-out trash can. These cans are designed to be installed in base cabinets and work similarly to a false drawer front, except that the door is hinged at the bottom so that it can be tilted out for easy access. Tilt-out trash cans generally come in two sizes – small (for 8-gallon bins) and large (for 13-gallon bins). Nelson Cabinetry offers already premade Base Waste Basket with a usable drawer and special designed drawer to house a trash can inside the base!

Wall cabinets

Shelves for kitchen cabinets are usually adjustable, and with RTA cabinets you can decide on a shelf configuration that works best for you. Nelson’s kitchen wall cabinets, for example, come in three heights (30/36/42″) and have adjustable shelves – two in 30/36″ and three in 42″. It comes in a variety of widths, most of which would provide sufficient dimensions for fitting a standard 8-gallon trash can. The 15″ wall cabinet, for example, is 15 inches wide and 12 inches deep, which would accommodate a standard 8-gallon bin. For larger bins that fit 13-gallon trash bags, it may be necessary to research non-standard, under-the-counter sizes like this one from Hardware Resources, which measures 14.88″ (W) x 10.393″ (D) x 22.25″ (H) and would fit Nelson’s 12″/15″/18″/21″/24″/27″/30″/33″/36″ wall cabinets. And for the larger wall cabinet designs that have two doors, you could easily set up a matching second can for recycling or compost.

Pantry/utility cabinets

Stand alone kitchen pantry cabinets and utility cabinets will give you even more options because of their depth. Nelson’s pantry and utility cabinets, for example, measure 24″ deep, meaning you could theoretically fit in two standard-sized 8-gallon receptacles.

Transform a cabinet into a roll-out drawer

You can turn a cabinet like our base cabinet single door/single drawer model into a roll-out trash can hideaway that integrates into your kitchen cabinetry. You can buy kits for around $80 to set up a sliding rack that you place the garbage can on (try googling “cabinet roll out drawer kit” or “cabinet pull out drawer kit” to get some ideas). But if you’d like to make it a one-step process so you pull out the door instead of opening it and then pulling out the rack, you can set up a rack for the trash cans and a slider system and then attach the door to the front of the rack. A lot of homeowners have chosen this elegant solution for their waste bins, so there are a lot of how-to videos available on the Internet, if you are looking to save some money and coming up with a quick kitchen DIY home improvement project.


As you can see, there are a number of ways to keep your kitchen garbage out of sight but still within easy reach. Whether you opt for a false drawer front, a tilt-out trash can, or tuck your trash can away in a corner cabinet, the important thing is to make sure that it’s easily accessible so that you’re more likely to use it and less likely to let garbage pile up.

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Nelson Cabinetry is an online distributor of high quality kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. We pride ourselves in delivering a high quality product via an easy to use, convenient website. Placing your cabinet order has never been easier and you can do so from the comfort of your home, office or job site.


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