10 items not to store under the kitchen sink, according to experts


The kitchen sink cabinet is a convenient storage spot that often gets cluttered with all sorts of cleaning products, extra dishes, and other miscellaneous items. While it may seem like the perfect catch-all location, there are actually several things that experts warn should not be stored under the sink.

Improper storage can lead to safety hazards, damage to your plumbing, or just create an unsightly mess. This article will explore 10 items you should avoid keeping under your kitchen sink, according to cleaning and organizational experts. Learning what should stay out of this prime real estate can help you utilize the space properly and prevent problems down the road.

Cleaning Products

Why You Should Avoid Storing Cleaning Products Under the Sink

Many people use the cabinet under the kitchen sink as a handy home for all their cleaning products and supplies. However, pros say this can be a risky place to store some powerful cleaners. Spills, leaks, and chemical reactions are some of the potential dangers.

Cleaning expert Dana Humphrey of White House Black Shutters says the humidity and possible leaks under a kitchen sink mean you should avoid storing anything caustic or corrosive there. Harsh chemicals like oven cleaners, drain cleaners, and acidic products can corrode pipes or react with water leaks, causing noxious fumes or explosions.

Instead, Humphrey recommends keeping these products in a dry garage or basement storage area. Milder cleaners like surface sprays, dish soap, and laundry detergent are generally safe to keep under the sink. But store them on upper shelves away from the plumbing to prevent leaks from reaching them.

7 Safer Items to Store Under the Kitchen Sink

Rather than filling the space with risky cleaners, organizing pro Anjali Prasertong of Clutterbug suggests better options:

  • Dish soap, sponges, scrub brushes
  • Laundry detergent, spot removers
  • All-purpose cleaners, window/glass cleaners
  • Rubber gloves, cleaning cloths and sponges
  • Mops, brooms, dustpans
  • Plastic trash bags and recycled bags
  • Air fresheners, odor absorbers

Prioritizing these milder, safer cleaning products helps keep your under-sink area tidy without the hazards.

Flammable Products

Why Flammable Items Don’t Belong Under Your Sink

Another category professionals warn to keep away from under the kitchen sink is flammable products. This includes any containers holding flammable liquids, sprays, or gases.

“Storing flammable products under your sink puts them in close proximity to the electrical and gas appliances that have open flames,” points out home maintenance site Home Selfe. The combination of flammable chemicals, ignition sources like the garbage disposal switch, and possible water leaks can be very dangerous.

Fire and safety authorities strongly advise storing any flammable materials away from heat and electricity in a detached shed or garage. Common flammable sink items to avoid are cleaning products containing alcohol, nail polish remover, and aerosol sprays.

7 Safer Alternatives to Flammable Cleaners

To steer clear of flammables under your kitchen sink, green cleaning coach Erin Pheil suggests safer options like:

  • Baking soda as a scouring powder
  • Castile soap for heavy-duty grease-cutting
  • White vinegar to kill germs and dissolve grease
  • Hydrogen peroxide for disinfecting and whitening
  • Lemon juice to remove stains and cut grease
  • Borax powder to scrub surfaces
  • Microfiber cloths that can clean with just water

Sticking to these non-flammable standbys keeps your under-sink area safer.

Incompatible Chemicals

The Dangers of Storing Incompatible Cleaners Together

With the array of cleaning products the average household uses, your under-sink cupboard can become a hazardous mix of incompatible chemicals. But professionals caution that some cleaners should never be stored together due to potentially dangerous chemical reactions.

For instance, mixing bleach and ammonia creates toxic chloramine vapors. Storing cleaning vinegar and hydrogen peroxide near each other produces aggressive acid. And keeping spray cleaners and laundry detergent in close contact can cause leaks or spills to create toxic gas, fire hazards, or explosions.

To prevent dangerous interactions, the American Cleaning Institute advises reading all product labels and never storing incompatible cleaners near each other. Keep them on separate shelves or designate specific areas for each chemical category like bleaches, acids, detergents, etc.

Safely Organizing Your Cleaning Products

Professional organizer Jodi Helmer recommends these tips for safely storing cleaning products under your sink:

  • Group by type – bleaches, glass cleaners, soaps, etc.
  • Never mix chemicals like bleach and ammonia.
  • Use shelf dividers or trays to separate categories.
  • Put child safety locks on cabinets.
  • Keep chemicals in original containers.
  • Store cleaners away from food items.
  • Put most toxic products on highest shelves.

Paying attention to organization and separation ensures you won’t create a risky chemical cocktail under your sink.

Bulky Items

Why You Should Avoid Cramming Large Items Under the Sink

The cabinet under the kitchen sink often becomes the dreaded junk drawer or clutter catch-all in many homes. But storage pros say bulky items have no business under your sink.

Cramming in large supplies like big bottles of laundry detergent or economy packs of trash bags can quickly make this small space unusable. “Large items waste the prime real estate under your sink,” says home organizer Gretchen Culp.

Overstuffing the area can also damage plumbing. “Anything crammed in too tightly puts pressure on the pipes and can cause dangerous leaks,” warns Mike Moore of Virginia Plumbing Repairs.

Moore has seen the expensive damage caused by bursting pipes and warns homeowners to avoid packing their under-sink cabinet full of any big, heavy items.

Ideal Items to Store Under Your Kitchen Sink

To maximize the space properly, Culp recommends sticking to flat or smaller everyday items:

  • Dish scrub brushes, sponges
  • Small trash bags, paper towels
  • Dish soaps, hand soaps, cleaning sprays
  • Rubber gloves, microfiber cloths
  • Shallow cleaning buckets, spray bottles
  • Steel wool, scouring pads
  • Apron, towels, cloths

Storing only essential, smaller supplies prevents wasted space and damage while keeping necessities handy.

Appliance Manuals

Why Appliance Manuals Don’t Belong Under the Sink

That cabinet under the kitchen sink might seem like the logical place to stash manuals and warranty paperwork for your appliances. But Chrissy Halbardier of Decluttered Soul explains why these paper items don’t belong there.

Moisture, leaks, mold, and mildew are very common problems under kitchen sinks. Paper products stored there can easily get wet, smudged, or ruined. Plastic sleeves provide only limited protection.

Halbardier recommends keeping appliance manuals in a designated storage binder somewhere dry like a bedroom closet or home office instead. This ensures important documents stay safe in optimal conditions.

Better Items to Store in Your Under-Sink Cabinet

While appliance manuals and other paperwork don’t belong under your sink, organizational expert Marie Kondo suggests useful items like:

  • Scrub brushes, cleaning rags, microfiber cloths
  • Dish soap, hand soap, dishwasher pods
  • Small trash bags, paper towels, sponges
  • Surface sprays, glass cleaner, powder cleansers
  • Rubber gloves, scouring pads, steel wool
  • Apron, towels, cleaning bucket, mop heads

Storing daily use cleaning and maintenance products means this prime space stays useful, tidy, and clutter-free.

Medications and Supplements

Why Medications Don’t Belong Under the Kitchen Sink

It’s common to stash a few daily medications or vitamins under the bathroom or kitchen sink for convenience. However, pros say the damp, variable temperatures under your sink can actually damage many medications.

“Temperature fluctuations, high humidity, and possible leaks under your sink can cause pills, tablets, and capsules to break down more quickly,” says pharmacist Jenna Levy.

Direct light and moisture exposure also lessens medication potency over time. Levy recommends always storing medicines and supplements in their original containers in a cool, dry bedroom or bathroom cupboard instead.

Better Things to Keep in Your Kitchen Sink Cabinet

While medication has no business under the sink, professional organizer Cassandra Aarssen recommends dedicating the space to items you use daily like:

  • Dish soaps, hand soaps, surface sprays
  • Dish scrub brushes, sponges, cleaning cloths
  • Small trash bags, paper towels, microfiber cloths
  • Rubber gloves, scouring pads
  • Aprons, cleaning buckets, mop heads
  • Dishwasher pods, cleaning powders
  • Essential oils, air fresheners

These frequently used cleaning and housekeeping products get more benefit from under-sink storage.

Anything Perishable or Edible

Why You Shouldn’t Store Food or Drinks Under the Sink

It might be tempting to stash snacks, cooking oils, canned goods, or drinks under your kitchen sink. But food experts strongly advise against storing anything perishable or edible in this area.

“The under-sink environment is far from food-safe,” warns nutrition specialist Willow Jarosh MS, RD. Dampness can lead to mold growth. Chemicals and cleaners can accidentally contaminate food items. Leaks, pests, and temperature fluctuations also create unsafe conditions.

Instead, reserve your under-sink cabinet strictly for cleaning products and kitchen tools. Keep any food or drinks in the pantry, fridge, or cupboards designed specifically for edibles.

Better Items for Your Under-Sink Storage

While any food or drinks should stay out of the under-sink area, organizing expert Peter Walsh recommends great items to store there instead:

  • Dish soaps, hand soaps, surface sprays
  • Dish scrubs, brushes, cleaning cloths
  • Small trash bags, paper towels
  • Cleaning buckets, spray bottles, gloves
  • Rubber gloves, scouring pads, sponges
  • Mops, brooms, dustpans
  • Steel wool, microfiber cloths
  • Aprons, towels for drying dishes

Keeping the space focused on housecleaning supplies and tools prevents contamination and safety issues.

Anything That Doesn’t Have a Home

How “Misc” Clutter Can Ruin Under-Sink Storage

Professional organizer Marie Kondo warns that the cabinet under the kitchen sink should never become a dumping ground for miscellaneous items without a proper home.

Allowing a mishmash of products to accumulate there ruins the usefulness of this prime storage real estate, Kondo explains. You can’t find what you need when cluttered with random items.

Instead of designating under-sink as a catch-all, give every item a designated spot in your home. Kondo’s rule is if it doesn’t have an established place, you likely don’t need the item. Don’t let rarely used items crowd out essential daily products.

Ideal Items to Store Under the Kitchen Sink

While misc clutter has no place under your sink, Kondo recommends reserved the space for frequently used cleaning and maintenance supplies like:

  • Dish soaps, hand soap, dishwasher detergent
  • Paper towels, trash bags sized for your small trash can
  • All-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, scrub brushes
  • Sponges, microfiber cloths, cleaning rags
  • Rubber gloves, scouring powder, steel wool pads
  • Mop, broom, cleaning bucket, spray bottles
  • Apron, drying towels, scouring powder

Giving everyday items an established home under the sink keeps the area tidy.

Leftover Chemicals from Past Home Projects

Why Leftover Chemicals Should Not Be Stored Under Sinks

After finishing a home renovation or DIY project, it’s tempting to stash any leftover chemical supplies under the bathroom or kitchen sink for future use. But safely storing powerful chemicals requires special precautions.

The Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code warns storing open chemical containers under your sink puts occupants at risk. Spills, fumes, and chemical reactions with other products can all cause dangerous accidents and toxicity.

Instead, licensed contractor Bill Samuel recommends properly sealing and labeling any hazardous leftovers and storing them away from living areas in a detached shed or garage. Only keep what you will use up in the next 6 months. Properly dispose of the rest per local hazardous waste guidelines. Don’t leave toxic products languishing under your sink.

Better Storage Options for Your Under-Sink Area

While chemical leftovers shouldn’t linger under the sink, home improvement expert Ron Hazelton says ideal items for under-sink storage include:

  • Dish soap, scrub brushes, sponges
  • Paper towels, microfiber cloths, cleaning rags
  • Dishwasher pods, all-purpose cleaner, gloves
  • Small trash bags, scouring pads, drying towels
  • Cleaning bucket, spray bottles, apron
  • Window cleaner, air freshener, mop heads
  • Broom, dustpan, scouring powder
  • Hand soap, surface cleaner, steel wool

Storing daily cleaning products creates a useful, safe space.

Anything That Blocks Plumbing Access

Avoid Blocking Plumbing Access Under the Sink

Many homeowners cram their under-sink cabinet full of their most-used items for convenient access. But certified plumber Ryan Bussard warns this can cause problems if you block access to the plumbing.

Storing items right in front of the pipes prevents plumbers from easily accessing shut-off valves for repairs. And keeping products too close to plumbing fixtures puts them at risk for water damage from leaks.

Bussard requires at least 12 inches of clearance in front of any under-sink plumbing to avoid headaches on service calls. So store items to the sides or far corners instead. Leave plumbing easily accessible.

Storing Items Away From Plumbing Areas

While the plumbing wall should stay clear, cleaning expert Melissa Maker notes you can safely store items well to the sides like:

  • Scrub brushes, sponges tucked into corners
  • Sprays, soaps lined up on side walls
  • Small trash bags, paper towels on shelves
  • Rubber gloves, aprons hung from hooks
  • Scouring pads, steel wool in organizers
  • Microfiber cloths folded in bins or baskets
  • Cleaning rags, towels in divided holders

Smart storage away from pipes provides plumbing access without sacrificing space.

Mold Prone Items

Why Mold-Prone Products Don’t Belong Under the Sink

Dampness and humidity under your kitchen sink can lead to mold growth pretty quickly. That’s why professional organizer Sunny Gault recommends never storing any mold-prone items there.

Porous organic materials, cardboard, paper products, and natural fiber cloths will become musty and moldy in these conditions. Even closed plastic containers can foster moisture and mold issues under your sink over time.

Instead of stashing sponges, rags, or paper towels under the sink, Gault suggests keeping them in cabinets less prone to humidity. Store cleaning rags in the laundry room, sponges in the dishwasher, and paper towels in the pantry. Pick only mold-resistant products for under-sink storage.

Better Options for Your Under-Sink Cabinet

When organizing the space under your kitchen sink, Gault recommends moisture-proof items like:

  • Rubber gloves rather than cloth gloves
  • Microfiber cloths instead of paper towels
  • Silicone scrub brushes rather than wood
  • Plastic bins for organizing products
  • Metal cans or trays for product storage
  • Glass spray bottles instead of plastic ones
  • Ceramic dish for holding sponges

Choosing resistant materials prevents mold issues in this damp space.

Heirlooms or Valuables

Why Your Sink Cabinet Isn’t the Place for Valuables

The under-sink cabinet does provide a bit of hidden storage which makes it tempting to stash valuables there. However, security experts warn this is one of the worst spots to keep anything irreplaceable or meaningful to you.

Insurance agent Gabrielle Black explains under-sink cabinets are common targets for burglars and also prone to water damage. Items stored there are at high risk for loss or destruction.

Instead of tucking away heirlooms or expensive items under the sink, invest in a quality home safe, bank safe deposit box, or other secure off-site storage for meaningful possessions. Don’t jeopardize losing valuables to thieves or plumbing disasters.

Safer Things to Store Under Your Kitchen Sink

Rather than heirlooms or other priceless items, professional organizer Peter Walsh suggests keeping utilitarian cleaning products under your sink like:

  • Dish soap, dishwasher detergent
  • All-purpose cleaner, window cleaner
  • Scouring powder, scrub brushes
  • Sponges, microfiber cloths
  • Rubber gloves, steel wool
  • Paper towels, small trash bags
  • Cleaning rags, scouring pads
  • Spray bottles, plastic buckets
  • Aprons, drying towels
  • Broom, mop, dustpan

Storing replaceable items creates a worry-free and functional space.

10 Things Not to Store Under the Kitchen Sink FAQs

Still have questions about how to make the most of your under-sink storage? Here are helpful answers to common queries:

What are the risks of storing cleaning products under the kitchen sink?

Storing certain potent cleaners under the sink poses dangers like chemical reactions, leaks ruining containers, vapors in the enclosed space, and accidents if containers spill or leak near open flames from appliances. Any cleaning product containing bleach, acids, ammonia, alcohol, or other corrosive or flammable ingredients are best kept in a garage or shed.

Should I store daily medication under my sink?

No, medication should be kept in the ideal conditions recommended on