Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

Optimize Your Small Kitchen Space With the Ideal Trash Can Dimensions

Gabriela Connell
4 minute read

If you’re struggling to fit a kitchen trash can in your small kitchen, you’re not alone. Limited floor space, crowded counters, and tight corners make finding the right trash can a challenge.

Large, bulky trash cans constantly get in the way and create clutter. Taking out the trash becomes a chore as you try maneuvering an oversized can through a tiny kitchen. Fortunately, selecting the ideal size trash can doesn’t have to be frustrating.

Why Trash Can Size Matters in Small Kitchens

The Struggle of Fitting a Trash Can in a Small Kitchen

Small kitchens already pose numerous organizational and storage dilemmas. You likely battle to find space for essential appliances and meal prep items. Now add a trash can into the mix – one more thing that requires precious real estate.

what size trash can for kitchen

Standard kitchen trash cans with larger capacities and widths end up causing headaches. They dominate your limited counter space or get wedged into corners. You’re constantly squeezing past or bumping into an unsightly large wastebasket that blocks your workspace.

How to Choose the Right Trash Can Capacity

Most kitchen trash cans range from 13 gallons on the smaller end to 30 gallons for extra-large capacity. For context, 13 gallons is about the size of a medium bucket. Now imagine that huge wastebasket crammed under your kitchen sink or counter!

Instead, when space is limited, look for slim cans with 10-13 gallon capacities. Take a moment to assess how much trash your household generates daily. A 10-13 gallon slim can neatly holds a standard kitchen bag’s volume of waste.

With a small trash can, you’ll simply empty it more often. But not having to wrestle an oversized receptacle out of a confined kitchen is worth the trade-off.

Optimal Trash Can Dimensions for Small Kitchens


Standard kitchen trash cans range between 25-30 inches tall. This allows easy access without excessive bending down. But in cramped kitchens, a low-profile slim can under 25 inches high can be a space-saver.

Take measurements of existing cabinets or spaces you want to place the trash can. Ensure there’s adequate height clearance, so a lid can open fully without hitting shelves or counters.

You want to avoid hunching down or straining to open a trash can multiple times a day. Find a height that enables comfortable, ergonomic access.


The most critical measurement in small kitchens is trash can width. Look for slim rectangular cans no wider than 15 inches that can neatly slip into tight crevices.

Avoid cans over 15 inches wide that end up jutting out awkwardly or dominating your limited countertop real estate. Even a couple saved inches make a difference in tiny kitchens.

Consider the clearance around the space where you’ll place the trash can. Allow a few inches of breathing room from walls and corners so sliding the receptacle out stays accessible.


For a small kitchen trash can, an ideal depth is around 15 inches. Excessive depth isn’t necessary and consumes precious floor space.

However, also avoid extremely shallow cans under 12 inches. This narrow opening may restrict the size of trash bags you can use.

Find a compromise depth between 12-15 inches that gives adequate bag room without occupying too much depth in a tight space.

Trash Can Opening Types

Along with the right dimensions, an easily accessible opening makes trash disposal simpler. Flip-top openings are the most convenient for tossing trash items of various sizes.

Swing-top designs take up less space when open but can be narrower. Make sure the opening adequately fits your typical trash items like food boxes and containers.

Measure existing kitchen waste you discard to determine the minimum opening size you’ll need. Avoid openings under 10 inches wide or those with restrictive shapes.

Material and Design Choices

Stainless steel is a sleek and modern choice suitable for small kitchens. It resists odors, cleans easily, and has a polished aesthetic.

Durable plastic trash cans are affordable, lightweight, and strong enough to hold up with heavy daily kitchen use. Just be aware plastic may show dirt more over time.

Consider fingerprints, ease of cleaning, and your kitchen’s style. A metal like stainless steel adds a reflective surface that makes a kitchen appear roomier.

Special Features to Look For

Added features help maximize convenience in small kitchen spaces:

Even simple additions like wheels or a step can offer big benefits in small, cramped kitchens. Look for models with features that match your needs and preferences.

Examples of Top-Rated Slim Kitchen Trash Cans

Not sure where to start your small kitchen can search? Here are a few slim trash can options praised for space-saving design:

Simplehuman Slim Step Can

This stainless steel can is just 12 inches wide and under 25 inches high. The fingerprint-proof finish stays clean and resists smudges. The durable steel pedal allows hands-free opening.

iTouchless Deodorizer Can

With odor-eliminating carbon filters and sensor-activated opening, this low-profile can simplifies trash disposal. It’s sized at 11 inches wide and 22 inches high.

Hefty Slim Touch Top Can

For an affordable option, the Hefty Slim can provides a 10 gallon capacity in a narrow shape under 15 inches wide. The flip-top lid allows easy opening.

Struggling to fit a standard trash can into your petite kitchen? Applying a few simple guidelines makes choosing the right sized can much easier:

With the ideal slim trash can equipped with space-saving dimensions, you can conquer your small kitchen clutter. No more excessive bending, squeezing, and overflowing cans. A correctly sized wastebasket helps make your tiny kitchen more functional and organized.