Pull Out Trash Can vs Freestanding: 10 Smart Pros and Cons!

Think it doesn’t matter where you put your trash can, whether it’s a “portable” one or a pull out trash can?)

Think again!🤗 (jazz hands!)

The placement of this highly-used item in your kitchen (and other spaces) matters a lot! If you were to calculate how many times per day, week, month and year you make the motions you do relating to this item, you’d be surprised at how much time you can save just situating it differently or thinking through it another way.

This kitchen organization guide walks you through all this in much finer detail and shows you how to do it, but today we’ll focus on the pros and cons of a pull-out trash can vs freestanding!


5 Pros of Pull-out Trash Cans!

We chose to do a pull-out trash can in our big California house kitchen, and what did we think?

(We had a freestanding in our beach house after that, but I’ll share about that later.)

  1. Saves space: A pull-out trash can be installed inside a cabinet or under a counter, saving valuable floor space. (See the 5 reasons you should have drawers instead of cabinets!)
  2. Odor control: Because the trash can is enclosed inside a cabinet, it can help contain unpleasant smells and keep the kitchen smelling fresh. (We don’t typically throw bad-smelling things in our garbage can, but many things can just be unpleasant if in there for a couple days.)
  3. Conceals waste: The trash can is hidden behind a cabinet door, keeping the kitchen looking neat and tidy.
  4. Customizable: Pull-out trash cans come in various sizes and configurations, plus you can always add a pull out cutting board drawer above it (like we did)!
  5. Accessibility: A pull-out trash can be placed at a more comfortable height for easy access and switching out the bags.
pull out garbage can in white kitchen cabinets in pull out trash can drawer
Learn how to design and build your own drawers!


3 Cons of a Pull-out Trash Can!

  1. Installation: Pull-out trash cans require installation, which can be a bit complicated and time-consuming. It can also be a challenge for those with limited DIY skills or mobility.
  2. Limited capacity: Depending on the size of the cabinet, pull-out trash cans may have a smaller capacity than freestanding ones. (But with proper planning, this one really shouldn’t be a problem!)
  3. Maintenance: The pull-out mechanism can sometimes become dirty or jammed, requiring extra cleaning or maintenance. Or the slide mechanism can get out of shape if you have kids at home who tend to smash down and/or force these pull-outs to go where they want them. While kids and teenagers can be politely reminded, there are just some (most?) days that the reality of underdeveloped brains strike. 🙂
woman in white kitchen chopping food into pull out trash can
Our cutting board drawer is one of my favorite features in our kitchen!


5 Pros of a Freestanding Garbage Can!

  1. Mobility: A freestanding trash can can be easily moved around the kitchen or even outside for cleaning or maintenance purposes.
  2. Easy to use: Freestanding trash cans can be placed anywhere you need them in the kitchen (and are pretty straightforward to operate!).
  3. Large capacity: Freestanding trash cans often have a larger capacity than pull-out ones, meaning less frequent emptying. (This can be a pro or a con for some people!)
  4. Easier to clean: Because freestanding trash cans are not installed, they can be easily moved and cleaned.
  5. Hands-free operation: A freestanding trash can can be opened and closed with a foot pedal or a hand wave, minimizing the need to touch the lid or can. (I’d love to put this on a cabinet-mounted one!)
woman in white kitchen chopping vegetables into a garbage can on the floor
Click here for our FREE Interior Design Guide!


5 Cons of a Freestanding Garbage Can!

  1. Unattractive: Even with a sleek design, a trash can is still a trash can and may detract from the overall aesthetic of the kitchen.
  2. Takes up space: A freestanding trash can takes up valuable floor space in the kitchen and keeps you from being able to use the space above it (unless you mount something to the wall or put it under a table or cabinet, taking up even more cabinet space!).
  3. Not always hands-free: If you want a freestanding trash can with a lid, it’ll require you manually opening and closing the lid, which can be inconvenient (and/or unhygienic!).
  4. Tripping hazard: If not placed in a safe location, a freestanding trash can could potentially create a tripping hazard, especially in a small or crowded kitchen.
  5. Visual distraction: A freestanding trash can can be an eyesore in an otherwise beautiful kitchen, reminding you of what you’ve thrown away and keeping you from living in the present!

But where’s the perfect place for your trash can? (DON’T ASSUME your trash can will go in “that” spot!) Go through our Kitchen Organization Steps to find the perfect placement for every single item in your kitchen!


See why you should do drawers instead of cabinets in your kitchen!

We also show you how to easily DIY your own drawers in this Drawer Guide!

Or, you can…

  1. See our 21 Kitchen Organization Hacks that make life easier!
  2. Score big with “How to Save Money On Your Kitchen!” (and what doesn’t work!)
  3. Get 3 free tips for this cutting board drawer over our trash can (and why you should never have a hole in yours!)

PS: To see all our house & kitchen projects, click HERE!

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