What Size Trash Can to Get for Every Room in Your Home

Woman taking trash bag out of trash can in kitchen

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When designing a space, you typically focus more on your color palette, style, decor, furnitures, and the other aesthetic pieces that make or break a space. But one very important feature often gets forgotten about: the trash can. Although this item does not necessarily add to the looks of a room, it most certainly changes the way the room functions.

Choosing the correct size trash can ensures that this necessary item both looks good and functions effectively in any given room. A trash can that is too large will take up unnecessary space and feel clunky, while a trash can that is too small will need to be emptied constantly. So what size trash can is right for each room? Let’s look at how you can choose the right size for your space.  

What to Consider

There are a few important things to keep in mind before purchasing a trash can. These include how many people live in your home, how much trash you create in each room, whether or not you have a dedicated recycle or compost bin, and features that make the trash can more user-friendly or functional. 

The number of people living in your home directly affects how much trash is produced each day. For example, a couple would typically produce much less household waste than a family of five or six. So, in most cases, it’s reasonable to think that a house with only a few occupants will not need as large of a trash can as a house with many residents. 

Each room’s activities will create differing amounts of trash, and therefore will need different sizes of trash cans. For example, a bedroom doesn’t usually accumulate much waste, while an office will need a larger can for paper waste and other work items. By keeping in mind the activities in each room, you will better be able to determine the size of the trash can that you need. 

Going along with how much trash each room creates is the use of a recycle or compost bin. If you have these receptacles, the amount of trash you create will be less than someone who puts all their waste in a trash can. If this is the case, you may be able to choose a smaller trash can than someone who does not have a recycle or compost bin.  

Trash cans also have different features, such as lids, automatic opening and closing lids, or seals to keep smells inside. Deciding where the trash can will go and what kind of trash will be put inside will help you determine whether these features are worth considering. 


The kitchen produces the most waste in the house since it is where all the cooking is done. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that the kitchen is also the location of the largest trash can in the home. Generally, kitchen trash cans are around 10 to 20 gallons. For homes with few people, a 10 to 14-gallon trash can should work just fine.

However, keep in mind where the trash can will be stored. If you have a small kitchen, a large 20-gallon trash can may not fit. And, if you plan on keeping the can under the sink, you must be sure that the can is short enough to fit within the cabinet dimensions.

Key Features to Look For:

  • Closing lid to cover up unsightly trash
  • Sealing to keep trash can odors under control 
  • Solid material to contain food items or spills


The bathroom produces a much smaller amount of waste and therefore does not need a large can. Typically, small 2 to 6-gallon trash cans work nicely in bathrooms. This again depends on how many people live in the home. It is also important to keep in mind how large your bathroom is. A compact half-bath will require a smaller trash can to avoid taking up too much floor space, while a larger en suite bathroom may have room for a larger, more decorative trash can. 

Key Features to Look For:

  • Closing lid to keep trash hidden
  • Easy opening mechanism, usually a foot lever
  • Compact size
  • Easy trash removal, such as a removable plastic liner


A bedroom does not usually create large amounts of waste. A small 2 to 4-gallon trash can is usually your best option. Depending on the floor space available and the proximity of other trash cans, you may wish not to include a trash can in your bedroom and instead keep a larger one in the closest bathroom or office space.  

Key Features to Look For:

  • Compact size 
  • Attractive design to match decor 


An office usually creates a substantial amount of waste, from paper products to old mail and snack packages. A medium-sized can of around 7 to 10-gallons is a functional choice for an office setting. If the office is only used by one person, you may be able to opt for a smaller can. Just be sure it is large enough to save you from having to empty it constantly.  

Key Features to Look For:

  • Stylish material
  • Compact size, if kept under a desk