14 Kitchen Design Guidelines, Illustrated (#6)

“Dirty Dishes and Garbage: Your Dream Kitchen Will Certainly Have Both”

Kitchen Layout Dishwasher Placement
Dishwasher should be located within 36″ of the edge of the kitchen sink

In previous Guidelines we discussed the concept of the “Work Triangle.” When it comes to doing the dishes and cleanup your spouse or kids will certainly appreciate what I call the “Dirty Triangle.” This is the close relationship of the sink (hopefully featuring a garbage disposal), garbage receptacles, and the dishwasher. Another component of the this cleanup area is adequate counter space, but not too much otherwise this can become the parking lot for dirty dishes that are left for somebody else to handle. Let’s face it- that somebody else usually ends up being you!

Standard building practice has always been to locate the dishwasher within 36″ of the cleanup sink (See Kitchen Planning Guideline 13). Aside from the obvious convenience aspect to the user both units share common plumbing and electrical terminations that require them to reside in close proximity. The waste receptacle on the other hand has been often times forgotten in the layout of the kitchen. It can be found anywhere from under the sink to across the kitchen to out in the laundry room. In your new kitchen do the entire family a favor and plan to add a pullout waste receptacle. Located within it’s own dedicated base cabinet the pullout receptacle typically comes with at least 2 waste bins (1 garbage & 1 recycle). Locate this waste receptacle within the Dirty Triangle. This convenience will keep your cleanup and prep chore a much tidier process. The other nice feature of the dedicated waste receptacle is that it frees the space under the sink which is already a home to the garbage disposal, plumbing, and various detergents. If you have little ones these cabinet doors will have child locks and that is the last thing you want to encounter with a handful of dirty garbage. If your new kitchen will not be getting new cabinets there are also various after-market hardware assemblies that easily mount in existing cabinets to hold roll out waste bins.

If you are into composting then now is the time to combine this virtuous habit with the inevitable daily drudgery that is kitchen cleanup. You may already have a countertop compost container which are nice but you

Built In Waste Baskets
Waste Receptacle Placement Guildelines

can always take your composting to the next level by incorporating a built-in compost receptacle within your
countertop which includes a lid and bucket below (See Kitchen Planning Guideline 14). The benefits of this built-in unit is that the compost is placed directly into bin either during meal prep or cleanup saving you counter space. The built in compost receptacle will also decrease the wear and tear on your garbage disposal.

In the cabinet design phase be sure to ask your cabinet designer of about all the bells and whistles that are available such as sink front tip out trays. That sounds like a mouthful, yes, but they are simply a nice place to house your sponges and dish cleaners; out of sight and off the counter. The more you can plan to eliminate clutter and maintain continuity in your Dirty Triangle, the less of a chore the inevitable cleanup process will be for who ever ends up doing the dishes in your new kitchen.


The images and diagrams are courtesy of National Kitchen & Bath Association


Look for our next post when we’ll introduce Design Guideline #7 “Kitchen Countertops Aren’t Just For Looks”

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