Meal clean-up is a daily event (for those with small children, it may be an hourly event). Yet, it’s the activity we want to feature least in our decor. When designing a kitchen, do not underestimate the impact the clean-up zone will have on efficiency, style and aesthetics. Centered on the sink, the clean-up zone includes the dishwasher, trash and recycling.

Bright, open and neat as a pin, the clean-up zone in this kitchen uses a strategic assortment of storage solutions to keep clutter out of sight.
Bright, open and neat as a pin, the clean-up zone in this kitchen uses a strategic assortment of storage solutions to keep clutter out of sight.

Sink Space

A faucet is not as sexy as a professional range, a custom backsplash or a built-in buffet with glass doors. However, it is the most-used appliance in your home. Furthermore, the sink is often the hub of the high-profile clean-up zone.

Strategically outfit your sink base cabinet with storage solutions and you will reduce clean-up time and leave your countertops clutter free.

With the Super Sink Base, clean-up is more efficient and clutter out of sight. The package includes pullout baskets, a 3-bar towel rack, a gallon-capacity drip liner and a tip-out tray for small items
With the Super Sink Base, clean-up is more efficient and clutter out of sight. The package includes pullout baskets, a 3-bar towel rack, a gallon-capacity drip liner and a tip-out tray for small items.

Dishwasher Location

Next, consider the dishwasher. This is typically installed next to the sink base to simplify plumbing. I locate the dishwasher as close as possible to the eating area and in reach of storage for dishes, glasses and silverware. If there will be two sinks, try to position the larger sink near the cooking zone to receive pots and pans. The dishwasher can be installed next to either the primary or prep sink.

woman in kitchen with white cabinets, white marble countertops and paneled dishwasher cuts fruit
No sponge or towel clutters this beautiful white marble countertop. See the Bosch dishwasher (to the right of the sink)? No, it’s concealed behind a cabinet door panel.

Disposal Options

Location is critical for trash and recycling. The worst place for it is under the sink. Ideally, the trash should be located between the eating area and the dishwasher. Therefore, after-meal clean-up is a linear clear-scrape-load process. A pull-out trash and recycling cabinet not only provides a neat, trim look, but keeps toddlers and pets from messy and potentially dangerous contents. If you have the space, you may want trash/recycling cabinets in more than one location.

pull-out trash and recycling center in shaker white cabinets
A two-bin trash and recycling pullout is neat, trim and secure from toddlers and pets.

Clean-Up Storage

Finally, be strategic. The cabinet under your sink is prime real estate. Limit items stored there to products and tools used in the kitchen on a daily or weekly basis. Everything else finds a new home or hits the trash.

hand drawing of kitchen sink clean up zone with open cabinet doors and labels on dishwasher panel, pullout baskets, pullout trash cabinet and tipout tray

Consider the contents of the sink base pictured below. The feather duster, blinds duster, bucket, insecticide sprays and collection of used plastic bags belong in a closet with the vacuum cleaner and mop.  Outfit the cabinet with a waterproof drip floor and pullout baskets. The inner cabinet will be so fresh and beautiful, you will want to open the doors to show off to guests.

sink base cabinet with doors open in before image has piles of clutter in after image is well organized neat and clean
Get inspired and declutter your kitchen with a ruthless sort and the right storage accessories.

Do you have any clean-up zone strategies to suggest to our readers? Please share your thoughts in a comment below.

kitchen designer donna jones of cliqstudios

Donna Jones has been designing kitchens and baths for over 13 years. She loves finding creative solutions for problem spaces, making improvements that affect her customers’ lives every day. She feels homeowners deserve top value for their investments in remodeling and construction.