Picking the Right Trash Bins for My House

Every room in your house collects garbage of some kind – baby wipes, dusting cloths, tissues… It all piles up and if you don’t have the right size trash can in each room you can find yourself with a trash bin that is too big for the room making it awkward and unsightly, or too small which leaves you stuck emptying it all the time or with overflowing trash littering your floor. But which size trash container is right for which rooms in your house? With so many different options and styles out there to choose from, how do you know which trash bins are best for the different rooms in your home?

Living Room

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Used For: Small waste such as napkins, tissues, and cleaning items such as wipes or disposable dusters
Ideal Trash Can Size: 4 gallons
Best Trash Can Style: Small, decorative and open; the easiest solution is a bathroom trash can that matches your living room décor.
Additional Notes: Not all homes will have a living room and those that do often give it a separate use than that of the family room. It’s most often used for more formal gatherings – holidays and parties where the focus is less around the television and more around the people. Because of this, you’ll want a garbage can that is more decorative – very similar both in size and style to what you would use in a bathroom. Ceramic and other decorative types of trash bins in smaller sizes tucked in corners or near chairs are the best trash containers for this more formal home room.

Family Room

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Used For: Food containers such as yogurts, tissues, cleaning supplies, toys, other household debris
Ideal Trash Can Size: 12-16 gallons
Best Trash Can Style: Go for something that is motion activated and has a lid so that the trash is hidden and you’re not spreading germs! Large openings are good, especially for homes with kids that tend to be in a rush.
Additional Notes: Family rooms are one of the highest traffic rooms in the house. They serve as a center of all activity along with the kitchen and the bedroom. You want a trash container in this room that matches your décor, is easy to use, and large enough to meet the needs of everyone moving through it. However, just because you want a larger bin it doesn’t mean you need to reach the size of a kitchen trash can! There won’t be quite as much waste in this trash can as there will be in your kitchen, so you can get away with something in the corner that’s about the same size as what you keep in your home office.


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Used For: Food, Paper waste, cleaning supplies
Ideal Trash Can Size: 12-16 gallons or 20-30 gallons
Best Trash Can Style: Sturdy trash bins are best for the kitchen, if you can install one in a cabinet or even indulge in a trash compactor that’s best! Stick to foot-pedals and motion-sensing when possible for trash cans out in the open to reduce spreading germs and bacteria.
Additional Notes: There is an easy to remember rule of thumb for kitchen garbage cans – 5 gallons a person, or 10 gallons for 2. Keep this in mind when selecting what size or how many trash bins to keep in your kitchen. Also, look for accessories such as antimicrobial linings, air freshener or deodorizer compartments, and lids that stay open. You may even want to consider a trash bin with an interior lining that you can remove and rinse out then replace and put a bag over just to keep things even cleaner!

Dining Room

Used For: Paper waste, light food waste, cleaning products like dusting or polishing cloths
Ideal Trash Can Size: 4-7 Gallons
Best Trash Can Style: For the dining room you want a small trash can that can be easily tucked away and out of sight; go for something with an open top. This trash can shouldn’t be used for scrapping plates or big messes, just for light tidying during the day or after clearing the table.
Additional Notes: Most people don’t think of having a trash bin in their dining room, but having a small bin just big enough for the occasional disposable duster, debris from a quick sweep of the floor if your dining room has a non-carpet floor, or to throw away used napkins at the end of the night makes keeping your dining room tidy much simpler and convenient. This isn’t a trash bin that needs to be large, in fact, if you can get away with a four gallon bin that you can tuck into the back of a china cabinet or behind a curtain, even better!


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Used For: Sleeping, Playing Games, Relaxing
Ideal Trash Can Size: 7-10 gallons for children’s room, or 4-7 gallons for an adult room
Best Trash Can Style: For children’s rooms focus on something fun to encourage them to use it! Go for bright colors that match their décor, or add fun accessories like a basketball hoop. Always make sure you keep it lined – kids are notorious for throwing food waste into their bedroom trash bins. Adults can get away with a small waste can and it’s best placed near the closet – it should be large enough to handle things like dry cleaning bags and tags, but small enough that you can tuck it inside the closet and out of sight if desired.
Additional Notes: The bedroom should be a sanctuary for children and adults alike, but getting kids to keep their rooms clean is hard enough – getting an exciting trash can that encourages clean up as a sport or game will help keep them throwing garbage away.


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Used For: Tissues, cleaning supplies, feminine products
Ideal Trash Can Size: 4-7 gallons
Best Trash Can Style: Stick to materials like plastic, ceramic, or all-weather organic materials like wicker. Remember that water is a constant in the bathroom and you want a trash can that won’t absorb water and provide a great home for bathroom bacteria and mildew.
Additional Notes: Most bathroom trash bins don’t need to be big or bulky, in fact if this is going to be a trash can that sits out where company can see it you’ll want to go with something easy to clean like ceramic. You need to be able to clean off the outside of the trash bin to keep bacteria under control! If it’s going to be hidden, go with something that is hard plastic that can be wiped down as well!

Laundry/ Mud Room

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Used For: Lint, dryer sheets, pocket debris, cleaning products such as disposable mop sheets and wipes
Ideal Trash Can Size: 7-10 gallons
Best Trash Can Style: Sturdy, not easily knocked over and wide mouths are perfect for this trash can.
Additional Notes: Chances are neither your laundry room nor your mud room have the space available for a larger bin and if you can get away with something smaller – 4 to 7 gallons – that would be even better. The size of the trash bin is determined by the size of your family, how many loads of laundry you do, and what sorts of things are tossed in the trash when you come home from errands or kids come home from school. You want a trash can that’s small enough to fit by your dryer for convenience or near the door if it’s in a mudroom.

Garage and Workshops

Used For: Trash from cars, home improvement debris
Ideal Trash Can Size: 20-35 gallon, 32-44 gallon
Best Trash Can Style: Big, large capacity, sturdy round garbage cans, go for something that isn’t impossible to find bags for! You’ll want to be able to line it and remove the bags otherwise you may not be able to get your local waste management company to handle disposal!
Additional Notes: Thankfully the need to have an aesthetically pleasing trash bin in the garage or workshop isn’t there. Instead, go for a sturdy bin that’s large enough to handle all kinds of trash – including outdoor and green waste, but also common enough that you can pick up bags from a local hardware store so you can have them disposed of easily!

Home Office and Craft Rooms

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Used For: Shredded paper, paper products, food containers, craft supplies
Ideal Trash Can Size: 10-13 gallons
Best Trash Can Style: Wide mouthed and sturdy, these trash cans are best if they are short and squat so they can fit under the desk near the feet.
Additional Notes: The home office and craft room are unique rooms that often end up combined with other rooms in smaller homes like the family room. The best kinds of trash cans are short, sturdy and easily kept beneath tables where work takes place – people who do sewing need a place to dump fabric scraps that is easily in hands reach, and folks who do a lot of office work want an easy place to toss their trash without having to think about it.


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