Here's Why You Should Never Store Your Trash Can In A Cabinet Or Pantry

While it might seem like a great idea to store your trash can either in a cabinet under the sink or in your pantry, you might want to give it a second thought. That's because storing garbage in these areas can actually pose some serious health and sanitation issues. Aside from being magnets for germs and a co-creator of mold and mildew, which will cause any nose to start breaking out into a sneeze-fest, trash cans aren't usually designed to contain any accidental spills or splatters. This means possible cross-contamination, which could get you, or someone you love, very sick.

Size also comes into play. While your pantry might offer a few areas for an unsightly (and smelly) bin of garbage, under-sink storage isn't quite as spacious. On top of that, trash just smells. (It is the remains of old food and other unsavory items, after all.) If you put a stinky pail of garbage in a dark space, particularly a small one, you're going to get a lot of funk. The problem with funk is that it can permeate into porous material, like the cabinetry itself (or even your dried food). The most obvious issue is also more common: Smelly garbage attracts all sorts of things, four-legged and beyond. The problem is that once uninvited guests get into your home, you're going to have some serious issues trying to get them out. So why put yourself in that position and tempt fate?

Finding the perfect-sized trash can can be a hassle

While it's hard to believe, finding a trash can that fits perfectly inside your cabinet can actually be a bit of a chore. That's because the space available under your sink is often shared with other items, not to mention the piping and possible garbage disposal. This ultimately leaves you tasked with finding a bin that's not only small enough to fit in an already compact space, but also one that has a large enough capacity so that you're not having to dump it every single evening. 

It's a fine line between form and function. If you've purchased a bin that doesn't even hold a few empty sparkling water cans and a box from yesterday's lunch, then you're going to need to do more trash can research. If you install a sliding attachment that pops your can out when you open the cabinet door, that takes up even more space. On a lighter note, that smaller trash can could be a great addition to an office, bedroom, or bathroom. Placing your rubbish bin in a pantry means finding a location that's out of the way, but not so much that you'll forget about it. In the end, it might end up being located in the middle of your pantry, which means it's more prone to being knocked over.

It's not very hygienic

Keeping your trash can under the sink, in a cabinet, or in your pantry may not be the best idea if you want to keep things germ free. Thanks to condensation, potential leaks, drips, or the occasional spill, it's not uncommon for the area under your sink to get a bit damp. This moist environment ends up becoming a breeding ground for mold and mildew, which can start growing not just in and on the trash can itself, but in the walls and dark corners of the cabinetry. 

If you've been sorting your garbage bin under the sink and also noticed an increase in sneezing whenever you go to do a load of dishes, you might want to check below. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, mold and mildew can instigate asthma attacks; make your throat, eyes, and nose itch; and put you into a sneezing and coughing fit. Alternately, keeping your garbage bin in your pantry isn't recommended for at least one obvious reason: It's like a smorgasbord for bugs and creatures that don't belong in your house.

It can begin to get smelly

Small, cramped spaces that don't get a lot of airflow mean an abundance of stink. If you currently keep your trash can under the sink and have happened to throw away something covered with raw meat juice, just imagine letting that ferment in a damp, dark space. You'll never want to open that cupboard. Plus, accidental messes are inevitable. If you're storing your magic can in the pantry and haphazardly toss some old leftovers in that general direction, you can expect that there will be more than a few accidental messes to clean up. But old food means you're potentially contaminating the surfaces of anything that's in the vicinity of the garbage guzzler. 

If pungent aromas aren't enough, perhaps finding out that the smell can permeate into surrounding items might make you change your mind. This includes, but isn't limited to, porous surfaces like compressed wood, paper bags, and even dried foods. Lastly, you're tempting fate by leaving your stinky trash in a dark and/or confined space, because the odors given off by your garbage are like an invasion invitation for critters and creepy crawlies.

It can eat up valuable kitchen storage

When you decide to store your trash can under the sink, in a cabinet, or even in the pantry, it may seem like a clever way to save space in your kitchen. But by tucking your trash can away in one of these hidden spots, you're actually sacrificing valuable storage real estate. Those particular areas should be used to store more appropriate and essential items.

For example, under your sink it's best to store certain cleaning supplies, a small fire extinguisher, and tools that are specific to fixing kitchen gadgets (like your garbage disposal). Cabinet space should be reserved for pots, pans, spices, and kitchen gadgets, like hand blenders and coffee grinders. Lastly, the only things that should call your pantry home are perishables and baking supplies, kitchen staples, spices, pet food, and snacks. Your trash can does not belong in any of these.

You won't always remember to empty it

A trash can isn't the most attractive thing to have in plain sight. It's totally understandable to want to tuck it away to keep your kitchen looking pristine by stashing it in your cupboard or pantry. But here's the thing: When you do that, you're bound to forget about it every so often. Just like Murphy's Law, you'll only remember that it needs to be dumped right after the garbage truck has done its weekly pick-up.

When your trash can is right there in plain view, it's pretty hard to ignore. You can't escape its presence, and unfortunately, you might even catch a whiff of it, too. (Though, the smell can be minimized by purchasing a lidded trash receptacle or using a deodorizer.) The upside to keeping your can out in the open is that it serves as a constant reminder of when it needs to be emptied. Plus, if you have visitors over, you won't have to worry about showing them where it's located and getting some potentially odd stares. Trash can in the pantry? Never heard of that one.