Interior

5 Trash Can Sizes Every Homeowner Should Know

You might not realize it, but trash cans come in a lot of different sizes. Pick the perfect receptacle for any room in your home after reading this guide.
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homeowner throwing trash into trash can in kitchen
Photo: istockphoto.com

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Like them or not, trash cans are part of our everyday lives. We use them all the time, and every home has at least a couple. With these rubbish receptacles being such a normal part of our days, it only makes sense that we know their typical sizes and the rooms in the home that they’re best suited for.

Trash can sizes are described by volume with the typical unit of measurement being a gallon. This guide will explain the five trash can sizes every homeowner should know so they can choose the right trash can for any room in their home.

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1. 3 to 5 Gallon Trash Can

Amazon Basics Round Cylindrical Trash Can With Soft-Close Foot Pedal, 20 Liter/5.3 Gallon, Brushed Stainless Steel
Photo: Amazon.com

The 3- to 5-gallon trash can is the smallest of the trash can sizes. It’s also the standard trash can size range for bathrooms since its compact size doesn’t take up a lot of floor space, but people can still throw out small items like tissues, hygiene products, floss, and other smaller waste. They often come with hands-free lids, whether in the form of a sensor or a foot-activated lever, allowing the user to throw out their waste without touching the can. This range is the perfect bathroom trash can size.

A 3- to 5-gallon can would also be fine in a smaller bedroom, or even as a small recycling bin in a kitchen cabinet.

Best For: Bathrooms, small bedrooms
Our Recommendation: AmazonBasics Round Cylindrical Trash Can at Amazon for $32.60
The AmazonBasics Round Cylindrical Trash Can features a brushed stainless steel finish and a removable pail for easy clean-up.

2. 7 to 10 Gallon Trash Can

Rubbermaid Deskside Wastebasket
Photo: Amazon.com

A 7- to 10-gallon trash can is another common trash can size, and this one can be found in a wide variety of rooms. Generally, these cans are used in high-traffic rooms where folks hang out, but there isn’t a lot of garbage production. For example, one may sit in the corner of a living room and collect small bits of debris over time, or in an office where they can be used for shredding paper or collecting water bottles for recycling.

A 7- to 10-gallon can may also be a good fit in a craft room or homework space, where paper scraps and be tossed into the can to keep things neat. These cans are compact but hold enough waste for a few days.

Best For: Living rooms, offices, craft rooms
Our Recommendation: Rubbermaid Deskside Wastebasket at Amazon for $15.70
The basic Rubbermaid Deskside Wastebasket is compact but holds plenty of garbage for most living spaces outside of the kitchen.

3. 13 to 20 Gallon Trash Can

Glad 20 Gallon / 75.5 Liter Extra Capacity Stainless Steel Step Trash Can with CloroxTM Odor Protection
Photo: Amazon.com

The 13- to 20-gallon trash can is the real workhouse in the trash collecting world. This is the typical kitchen trash can size suitable for collecting all sorts of waste, including food scraps, food packaging, and other materials used to prepare meals. The kitchen trash can is also a catch-all for all sorts of other garbage in the home, including tissues, paper towels, junk mail, and other waste.

These cans are almost always used with a trash bag or can liner. These trash bag sizes are designed to fit the can and keep the can cleaner and make disposing of the waste easier once the can is full. Depending on the size of a kitchen trash can, it may be installed inside a kitchen cabinet and roll out on tracks, or on the floor. In the case of the latter, they’ll usually have a lid to contain smells, keep bugs away, and prevent furry friends from putting their noses where they don’t belong.

Best For: Kitchens
Our Recommendation: Glad 20-Gallon Trash Can at Amazon for $144.99
The Glad 20-gallon trash can features stainless steel construction, odor control, and built-in storage for typical kitchen trash bag sizes.

4. 30 to 48 Gallon Trash Can

Hover Image to Zoom Roughneck 32 Gal. Easy Out Wheeled Trash Can in Black with Lid
Photo: Homedepot.com

For a larger trash can capable of holding plenty of waste, consider a 30- to 48-gallon can. These cans are large and typically found outside, and their main job is to collect multiple bags of garbage and keep them under a lid until trash day.

These large, outdoor trash cans might serve other purposes, as well. They work well in a garage or home workshop, or they can be used to collect yard debris like leaves and sticks. These cans are usually a good fit for standard contractor-style garbage bags and some other sizes of trash bags, as well.

Best For: Outdoor trash and yard debris
Our Recommendation: Roughneck 32 Gal. Easy Out Wheeled Trash Can at The Home Depot for $34.97
Roughneck 32-gallon trash cans feature plenty of volume and built-in wheels for easy rolling.

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5. 64 to 96 Gallon Trash Can

96 Gallon Black Rolling Outdoor Garbage/Trash Can with Wheels and Attached Lid
Photo: Homedepot.com

A large trash can, like those in the 64- to 96-gallon range, is typically found at the curb on trash day. They usually have large wheels and handles that make them easy to roll. They also feature hinged lids that trap odors and keep pests away from the can.

Smaller households may need a can in the 64-gallon range, which is typically enough for a week’s worth of garbage or two weeks’ worth of recycling. Larger cans in the upper part of the size range are typically for larger households, or those who schedule bi-weekly trash pickup since they can hold a lot of garbage.

Best For: Trash storage and garbage pickup services
Our Recommendation: Toter Black 96-Gallon Can at The Home Depot for $124.00
With built-in wheels, tons of volume, and a sturdy design, the Toter 96-gallon can is great for large families or biweekly trash pickup.

The prices listed here are accurate as of publication on 9/1/23.