REthority is reader-supported. If you buy a product we link to, we may earn a commission.
Skip to Content

The Most Common Trash Bag Sizes in 2022

The Most Common Trash Bag Sizes in 2022

There is a wide range of trash can sizes, from residential kitchen trash cans to commercial 60-gallon garbage cans used for recycling.

Therefore, knowing what size trash bag you need to use is essential to ensure it fits properly. Keep reading to learn about the most common garbage bag sizes for your home.

What Are Common Garbage Bag Sizes?

There are many different types of trash cans out there, but the most common sizes you’ll find are 13 gallons and 20 gallons. If replacing the bag in your kitchen, opt for the 13-gallon. For an outdoor trash can, a 20-gallon should do the trick.

Let’s start with why you must select the right size trash bag for your garbage can.

Bag Size Matters

You might not think about it much, but the size of your trash bag significantly impacts how well you can use it. If your trash bag is too small, things will either fall out or make a mess when you pull it out.

Smaller bags need to be changed more frequently. Although larger bags hold more, they may become too heavy to lift when filled. If your trash bag is too big, it may not fit appropriately in your garbage can or recycling bin.

Trash bag size is essential because it affects how you use your garbage container. The best bags are big enough to hold a lot of trash but small enough not to weigh you down when they’re full.

In this guide, we’ll explain the following:

  • Trash bag sizes
  • How to determine what size you need
  • Things to consider when purchasing bags

Here are some of the most common trash bag sizes and what they are used for.

Common Trash Bag Sizes

Woman in a cream shirt holding a few of the most common trash bag sizes

Vitalii M/Shutterstock

The variety of sizes on the market can make it hard to choose the correct garbage can bag for your needs. What size bag is best for the kitchen?

What about waste bins in the kitchen, living room, and bedroom? Use this information to find the best garbage can liner for each room in your home and outside.

Kitchen

You will dispose of the majority of your garbage in the kitchen trash. The largest container in your home should be the trash can in your kitchen because you will use it the most frequently.

Kitchen trash cans vary in size, depending on how many people you have in the home, how often you cook, and the space you have for a garbage can.

The average kitchen garbage bag size is 13 gallons. However, kitchen garbage containers range from 10 to 20 gallons. We’ll help you measure or estimate the size of your can later on in this article.

Office

Standard office trash can capacities are between 7 and 12 gallons, making them roughly the same size as a traditional kitchen garbage can. Several people may share the office trash can.

But it gets cleaned out more often and is used for smaller things like food containers, notes, and mail. A home office used by only one or two people will be emptied less frequently and generate less waste, so a smaller 5-gallon can and bag may work better.

Bathroom

Typically, the capacity of a bathroom trash can is between 2 and 4 gallons. They are smaller than a standard kitchen garbage can since they are used for disposing of paper waste, which takes longer to accumulate.

Smaller sizes are more common for bathrooms because of space constraints. Get a 2 or 3-gallon bag if you’re the only one who uses a small bathroom. Buy larger bags, between 5 and 6 gallons, if your restroom is for more than three people.

Countertop

Vanity or countertop trash cans are made to hold things like cotton swabs and balls used for makeup. They are the tiniest on the market, so you need the smallest trash bags because they contain little more than two gallons of garbage. They offer a practical disposal option while taking up minimal room on a vanity.

Curbside

Curbside garbage cans range in size from over 20 gallons to well over 65, and they are designed to store trash for a whole week until the garbage truck pulls up to remove it.

Some people prefer keeping a liner in their curbside garbage cans, which is unnecessary. Curbside recycling cans should never be lined with a garbage can bag.

Outdoor

Choose 40-55 gallon plastic bags for outdoor waste like twigs and leaves. Lawn debris can get pretty wet and heavy, so it’s essential to use a bag that can hold up.

Lawn debris can also have leaves and small branches, which may tear through the plastic of your garbage bags. Outdoor bags are typically heavier and thicker to prevent tearing.

If you want to reduce the amount of plastic bags in your home, consider using paper yard waste bags. Despite being paper, they’re very rugged and hold up well to the weight of your lawn debris.

Paper yard waste bags are made from recycled paper and are compostablePaper yard waste bags are great for disposing of leaves, grass clippings, and other small debris.

If you have a garden and want to make your compost, use 30-gallon paper yard waste bags instead of plastic so that pieces of plastic do not end up incorporated into the compost. Paper yard waste bags are biodegradable, so they won’t cause problems with landfills or the environment when thrown away.

Construction

Contractor or construction trash bags range in size from 45-70 gallons. Construction trash bags are designed to hold large amounts of debris, so they’re an excellent option for contractors who work in construction or demolition.

You may also find these bags used by homeowners who want to clean their garages or basements.

Now that you have figured out the size you need, you can choose the bag that will fit properly. But how do you know it will work? Let’s review the two ways you can be sure to get the right size.

How to Choose the Right Size Trash Bag

Woman choosing a standard sized trash bag and peeling it away from the roll

Cat Us/Shutterstock

To determine what size trash bag you need to use, you’ll need to look at the can you’re putting it into. There are two ways to determine which is the right size trash bag for your garbage can:

  • Calculate based on dimensions
  • Estimate based on garbage can width

Calculate

To determine what size trash bag you need, you may use one of the many online calculators available or even the one on your phone. The dimensions of the trash can, including its height, width, and diameter, will be needed.

Circular Garbage Cans

First, measure your garbage can’s width (diameter) and multiply that number by 3.14. The width of your garbage bag is just the result of dividing that number by two. Then, measure the height and add four inches for the overhang. Add half of the diameter you found earlier to cover the bottom of the can. 

Square and Rectangular Garbage Cans

You can calculate the width of a square or rectangular trash can by adding up the perimeter of all the sides and dividing that total by 2. You should measure the height of your garbage can.

Then, add four inches should be added to account for the bag’s overhang while it’s within the can. Also, add half the width of the diameter you found earlier to compensate for the bottom of the bag inside the can.

Estimate

A more straightforward method to determine the perfect size bag you need is to estimate the width of the garbage can you’re using. When shopping for a trash bag, it’s essential to know the approximate size and shape of your garbage can.

To estimate a garbage can’s gallon capacity, measure the width of its mouth. For example, if a 24-gallon trash can is about 40 inches wide, choose a 40-45 gallon bag. Most sizes are relatively standard, so although it may take trial and error to get the exact correct size, you should be close.

Things to Consider

Several standard size trash bags filled and tied ready to be taken out

DeawSS/Shutterstock

There are several things to consider while standing in the aisle at the store, looking at all the different sizes and types of trash can bags.

Frequency

Consider how often you change out bags. If you have a large family or live in a busy household, you’ll need to change your trash can more frequently. One bag will last longer if you use it for small items like tissues.

Amount

It’s important to consider how much trash you produce before purchasing a bag size. If your household generates a lot of waste and you can’t decide between two different sizes, then larger bags may be better for you.

Features

Trash liners come in various sizes, but depending on the brand, they may include additional features. These trash bag features include:

  • Scents designed to help control odors
  • Drawstrings or flap ties
  • Stretch or expandability
  • Thickness for heavy-duty use
  • Made of recyclable materials

Frequently Asked Questions

Man taking out the trash in a standard size trash bag

Naris Isaraphukdee/Shutterstock

Here are some frequently asked questions about trash bags and choosing the correct size for your trash cans.

How big are kitchen trash cans?

A standard kitchen trash can is about 13 gallons and holds 50 liters of garbage. Standard-sized kitchen garbage bags will fit in these cans just fine, and you can even buy scented or thicker ones if desired.

How big are bathroom trash cans?

The average bathroom trash can size is 2–4 gallons. An ideal trash can for a single person should be about 3 gallons or less, so you may want to consider getting a smaller can. If multiple people use the bathroom, a larger can will be more convenient.

What is the smallest trash bag size available?

The smallest trash bags are 17″ x 18″, filling 2.6-gallon bins perfectly. These little guys will fit your bathroom, car, or work garbage cans like a glove!

So, What Are the Most Common Size Trash Bags?

Garbage bins come in various shapes, sizes, and storage capacities. In addition, there are different bag sizes available to accommodate these containers. There are also multiple bag types and strengths, such as the drawstring, tabbed, and scented.

For a kitchen trash bag, consider the 13-gallon size. For bathrooms, 2-3 gallon bags are more appropriate. Finally, for outdoor cans, use 20 gallons or larger ones as needed. If you’re away from home to check the container, you can quickly decide if the bag is too big because it won’t fit.

The approximate width of the container will give you a good idea of the size. A 24-gallon container 40 feet wide yields a 40-45-gallon bag, and so on.

To choose the right garbage bag, you need to think about how much trash you produce regularly, where you plan to keep it (your kitchen, backyard, or study), and how much space you have available in the can you plan on putting it in.