When it comes to garbage cans, size matters, and the last thing you want is a garbage can that's too small for your needs or one that's too large and takes up too much space. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all. The size of garbage can you need depends on the amount of waste you generate and the available area.

The garbage can for your specific space should be based on its durability and the time required to maintain it. No matter what size or type of garbage can you choose, make sure it has sufficient capacity to keep your waste under control. That's why it's essential to choose the right size and shape of receptacle for your needs.

Common Trash Can Sizes

Dozens of different container types can serve as an appropriate trash can, and they come in many sizes. Measure up how you can use different trash can sizes in various areas of your home or the office, bathroom or bedroom.

4 Gallon

Four-gallon garbage cans are perfect for small spaces like bathrooms, bedrooms, or offices. These trash cans are ideal for rooms where odor control and quick cleanup are a top priority. These trash can options can sometimes feature convenient push-top lids that seal in odors while allowing easy disposal of trash more frequently. Doing so keeps your home smelling fresh and your area clean.

Another example is a four-gallon trash can in the office. These handy mini wastebaskets are ideal for office supplies, recycling paper and plastic cups, among many other basic waste items. They can fit below any desk and be out of the way at all times.

7-10 Gallon

This size garbage can is excellent for medium-sized spaces like kitchens or laundry rooms. It is a more significant receptacle to hold food waste and other more considerable amounts of trash but is still small enough to hide in a tall cabinet or a pantry. This is also a popular size for indoor recycling bins that can either stack side-by-side, next to the trash can or in a convenient kitchen corner.

12-16 Gallon

Probably the most common size trash can. Most standard trash bags are around 13 gallons, so a 12-16 gallon trash can is probably seen the most in a typical kitchen.This trash can would be sufficient for a small family of 3-5 people. If you are changing a standard kitchen bin about twice a week, it is safe to say it is probably around a 12-16 gallon capacity.

20-30 Gallon

If you need a bit more space, a 20-30 gallon trash can will do the trick. If you live in a large household or are looking for a receptacle for your break room, this should be an efficient size. For more than ten people, 20-gallon trash cans set the standard. You don't want to be emptying trash cans every day so that the larger cans can buy you a few extra days.

32-44 Gallon

This size garbage can is excellent for industrial applications or outdoor use. garbage cans of this nature serve huge spaces like warehouses or commercial buildings. In addition, parks and other outdoor recreation areas can utilize 30-40 gallon trash cans for convenience. Help keep your space tidy when employees might not be able to get to the receptacle daily, and it may have to collect for a few days.

40-45 Gallon

Along with outdoor recreation, it's crucial to consider high-traffic areas. Trash cans and recycling bins on sidewalks or outside businesses get a ton of foot traffic seven days a week. It is not uncommon to see this outside of a company or on a sidewalk near a strip mall or busy intersection. Similar to the 32-44 gallon, this trash can is usually found at a location where it might not get attention every day.

55-56 Gallon

Using 55-56 gallon garbage cans is best to house a week's worth of garbage. If you live in a city where sanitation manages household trash weekly, a receptacle of this size typically is provided for you. It's a perfect size can to house the garbage until the sanitation workers can pick it up. In addition, it can effectively hold multiple standard trash bags, roughly a week's worth of household waste.

60 Gallon

This size garbage can is excellent for very heavy-duty use or industrial applications. Contractors and demo teams probably utilize 50+ gallon trash cans the most. When you are disposing of pieces of lumber, drywall or other renovation materials, you need to think big. Not to mention, these trash bags are thicker due to the commercial or industrial materials used in them. Therefore, they take up much more room than your standard trash bag.

Choosing the Right Trash Can Shape

When choosing the correct garbage can, it's essential to consider the size of the space you'll be using it in and the amount of garbage you typically generate. For example, high-traffic places or industries that produce a lot of waste may want something more robust. Once you've taken the location factors into account and the use, you'll be able to find the best trash can. You will want a can that doesn't take up too much space but effectively has the capacity for the amount of people's waste that frequent the area.


Rectangular trash cans are more compact and can easily fit in a corner. Due to their slim nature, they typically hold paper waste. These trash can shapes are ideal for office areas or smaller rooms like bedrooms or bathroom spaces because they take up less space and can be easily stored under a desk or in a corner. Also, the bathroom or bedroom is an option since these can be parked in a corner and not take up a lot of space or attract attention.


Circular trash cans are perfect for households as they are easier to clean and have a more aesthetically pleasing look. Circular trash cans can hold more waste based on capacity since they don't have corners, and there is no wasted space in the bag. In addition, the container much more easily forms to the bag's natural shape as the load grows and makes changing it a breeze.


Square trash cans can be used for either type of waste but are often seen in a commercial setting. In a public space, it's crucial to have a more prominent rim, so it's more accessible to those using it. Like a circular trash can, square garbage cans are shaped to hold a substantial amount of waste in a relatively smaller area. Store behind a counter or in a corner to avoid crowding.

Benefits of Various Trash Can Sizes

With the right size trash can, you will have a cleaner home with less time spent tidying and emptying. For example, keep your kitchen counter uncluttered, your workplace organized and clean your bedroom without taking unnecessary trips to the dumpster. Different size trash cans help keep waste separated and housed until it is collected. Think of your receptacles as organizational bins. The more you have and the more ideally placed the garbage cans are, the tidier your space will be. Upkeep will be convenient and take nearly no time at all.