Weekend project: Tackle the area beneath your kitchen sink

I have to admit that I never think about the area under my sink. Even when I reach inside of it to grab the dish-washing detergent, I keep my eye on the soap and nothing else. It’s a dark pit and can be a scary place if left unattended.

This weekend, I want you to tackle the area beneath your kitchen sink. Would a pull-out drawer or shelving system help you to better organize the space? (I love ours, which is pictured, but I don’t know where the previous homeowner purchased it.) Are there things down there that can be thrown out or relocated to a more appropriate space? Are you accidentally hoarding sponges because you forgot you have already purchased two dozen of them?

Remember, too, that I’m not a fan of having your trashcan beneath your sink. I understand that if you have dogs, small children, or an incredibly small space that you may have no other choice. But, if your trash could be moved someplace else, maybe now is the time to consider that option.

If the area beneath your kitchen sink is organized, what about the area beneath your bathroom sinks? Can those areas be straightened or the space more efficiently arranged?

These areas are best to keep clear of clutter because of the damage that can result if a pipe bursts or your drain starts leaking. Plus, it’s good to be able to tell if your pipe or drain is leaking — something that is difficult to do if you have too much stuff in this place. It’s best to keep valuables out of these spaces and the area easily accessible for a plumber. The last thing you want to do is have to waste time clearing a path for someone who is about to cost you a hundred or more dollars an hour.


This post was originally published in February 2008.

27 Comments for “Weekend project: Tackle the area beneath your kitchen sink”

  1. posted by Katie on

    Actually… our below-sink clutter saved us once when we had some mysterious leak from the faucet. I opened the cabinet and to find all of our many vases nearly overflowing… and all of it was water that would otherwise have soaked through the cabinet. Hurray for clutter!

    (Just kidding… we’ve since downsized the vase situation.)

  2. posted by Sab on

    The ONLY thing I do right about the areas under the sinks is that I line them with self stick floor tiles instead of leaving them bare or using shelf paper. I like being able to clean the floor of the cabinet easily during those rare events when I pull everything out and try to throw things away.

  3. posted by Daphna on

    Lee Valley has several excellent kitchen storage products. For under the sink:



    And for making use of corner spaces:

    And more generally:

  4. posted by Shannon on

    Ooh, that Lee Valley stuff! Another thing to lust over that I can’t afford on my student budget. ๐Ÿ™ Someday I’ll have my own space and money to organize to my heart’s content!

  5. posted by Sarah on

    My husband has been hospitalized several times, and each time we have come home with hospital-issue rectuangular plastic containers, much like small dish pans. I store stuff in them, both under the kitchen sink and under the bathroom sinks. I always make sure one is situated under the trap, one under the water line valve, one under the garbage disposer. Drips corralled until repairs can be done, many times. Items collected by type. Cast-off hospital items re-used. Job done.

  6. posted by Debbie M on

    I like to use those plate racks (or the kind with wooden dowels coming up) to store very long/tall things under the sink that don’t fit anywhere else like cookie sheets, cutting boards. I also have one for lids for pans right behind my stack of pans. I have a few more things hanging from nails in the side of the cabinet.

  7. posted by Geralin Thomas on


    Student budget did you say? A lot of people can’t afford “the good stuff” under their sinks; here is a less expensive alternative: shelves made to go inside school lockers. They work like a charm and can be found from August — October in any big-box store selling school supplies.

  8. posted by jcat on

    We have a pull-out unit very similar to the one pictured, and we got it at Ikea! Cheap!

    Of course it’s not in the catalog or online, but in the store they have it in the same area they have the other under-sink cabinet and drawer-organizing stuff.

  9. posted by Sasha on

    Good area to point out, often overlooked. My under sink areas used to be a jumbled mess until I really looked at what I needed under there and now it’s organized and spacious. I like to use different containers to hold similar items. I have one rectangular container for all my cleaning products another container for extra toiletries, etc.

  10. posted by kim on

    I was thinking about this last week and ordered a pull-out made by SimpleHuman (from The Containter Store). It came today so this may be my evening project. I’m betting I can throw away half of what’s down there.

  11. posted by Ann on

    We use the small dish pans to hold that stuff too. Got them at the dollar store. Our under-sink areas are all empty. We have a 3 year old. The dish pans make it easy to get the stuff from the top shelf of the pantry/ bathroom closet.

  12. posted by Hooked on Houses on

    I’m afraid of what I’ll find under there, to be honest! It’s been a while since I tackled that dark, scary place under the sink where old sponges go to die. I think you’ve inspired me to tackle it for once and for all, though. Wish me luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. posted by matt on

    Great post, and nice organization under your kitchen sink! But the trash can must go under the sink in some cases. We’ve got a small-to-moderate sized kitchen, so space-wise it makes the most sense.

    Regardless, this is great blog! Very enjoyable…

  14. posted by Shannon on

    Thanks for the budget-conscious ideas! I am extremely organized despite a lack of funds, but I do often wish for ways to make things the way I really want them to be!

  15. posted by Kris on

    We keep a our mop pail under the pipes ‘just in case’. Other items under the sink are extra sponges, household spray (Mrs. Meyers that we mix ourselves), a big jar of vinegar for cleaning and dishwasher soap. Oh, and a fire extinguisher. Anything else that’s chemical related (which we’ve really tried to get rid of all of those) is stored in the garage where our two boys can’t get to it. Those items include carpet cleaner, draino, Fabreze and a can of bug spray. Once we get rid of our carpeting (I detest carpet), the carpet cleaner will be gone. And the draino I might as well get rid of as we use Bac-Out now and that works much better anyway.

    Oh, and I love the idea of the cast off hospital bins being to such good use. Fabulous idea.

  16. posted by Beth on

    I spent a Saturday this past January cleaning out the abyss that was under my bathroom sink. I now have clear shoeboxes which are labeled “Oral Care”, “Skin Care & Shaving”, “Hair Supplies”, “Summer Items” (i.e. aloe lotion, suntan lotion)and one box just for all of those samples you get in the mail. I was amazed on how many things I could toss – and that I don’t have to buy deodorant, razors, or toothpaste for months! Plus, it makes sense to go through makeup and other items periodically and discard any old items.

    I also keep a travel container packed with toothpaste, deodorant, mouthwash, a new toothbrush and extra contact lens supplies just in case I go away for a weekend or have to take a change of clothes somewhere for a night out.

    Now I know where everything is, have room for my cleaning supplies under the sink – instead of the hall linen closet – and am probably saving money because I am not buying that toothbrush every 3 months when I already have 3 laying around somewhere but can’t find them.

  17. posted by Melanie on

    Erin, might you consider adding a “Weekend Project” category?

  18. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Melanie — Great idea! I think there will only be three or four posts in the category as of right now … but we have plans to have more, so this is a great suggestion!

  19. posted by Sarah on

    Too funny, I just did this last weekend! I had this highly annoying under sink “disorganizer” like this:

    It was really terrible, not wide enough to hold many things and so all of my bottles of cleaner kept falling off the back. Also it was hard to stack things on the top shelf so they fell off. I replaced it with a caddy for cleaners in spray bottles and a small basket for sponges, dishwasher tabs, and other stuff. So glad to be rid of it!

    I would also love to see a weekend projects category…with spring coming up it is a great time to declutter!

  20. posted by Jason on

    Nice tips. Here’s another one you might find helpful. Install door racks. I find this very convenient as you don’t have to reach back underneath the sink for the common under the sink items like liquid soap etc. It also can save a bit of space too if you do it right. This is especially helpful for the older folks who would like to save their backs:)

  21. posted by Erin Doland on

    There is now a Weekend Projects section in the category list. Unfortunately, there are only three right now … but we’ll add more over the coming weeks, years, decades ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. posted by Christine on

    I am actually a garbage under the sink advocate. I thought about getting a step can, but then realized I’d not only have to spend beaucoups bucks on it, but I’d also have to put it somewhere. Now, I have my small can, another smaller can for recyclables, and a few select cleaning items (dishwashing liquid, spray cleaner, and baking soda for sink scrubbing) under the sink. (And, it’s a really small area there…not much space at all in my kitchen, I’m afraid!).

  23. posted by Lara on

    Spending money on rarely-seen storage accessories seems like a waste. There shouldn’t be places like the Container Store.

    Don’t buy so many chemicals in the first place.

  24. posted by Mikey on

    My tip is to use a vinyl flooring remnant to line the bottom — if you get a leak or spill, cleanup is easy.

  25. posted by WilliamB on

    It’s often recommend that you don’t keep all those chemicals under the sink at all – too easy for anyone, such as pets or visiting children, to get to. What I’d like for mine is foot pedals for the faucet. That’d be such a help during dishwashing and make it much easier to save water.

  26. posted by Pat on

    Con-Tact makes an under-the-sink vinyl mat that you can cut to fit. I got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond. I like it because you can wipe it clean and, if you have some disastrous event and it gets really cruddy, you can toss it and get another.

  27. posted by Susan | Kitchen Capital on

    I don’t think I’d put the trash can under the kitchen sink either… I’m glad you re-posted this, we certainly need a constant reminder to tackle the area beneath the kitchen sink. Sometimes we just throw in whatever we can inside the cabinet.

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