Kitchen Trash Can Sizes and Guidelines (with Drawings)

Kitchen trash cans come in a variety of sizes, ranging from small under-sink trash cans to freestanding tall trash cans. The type of trash can you need for your kitchen will depend on a number of factors which we will explore below to help you make the right decision.

Some common kitchen trash sizes include 7 to 10 gallons, 12 to 16 gallons, and 20 to 30 gallons. 

Sizes of Kitchen Trash Cans

kitchen trash can dimensions

There is no standard size of trash can for a kitchen because different people will have different size needs according to how much waste they create and the size of their kitchen.

The size of a trash can is not measured according to its dimensions, but instead, the volume capacity of the trash can is what is used to define the size. The most common size of trash can used in a kitchen is around 13 gallons, but you can choose your own capacity based on your needs.

7 to 10 gallons

This size of trash can is best suited for use under a kitchen sink. If you have limited space in your kitchen, or you prefer to have your trash can hidden away from view, then storing it under the trash can is a good solution.

The main drawback of these smaller trash cans is, of course, that they do not hold much waste, and therefore if you produce a lot of waste, you will find that you have to empty your trash can more regularly.

12 to 16 gallons

This is the most common range of sizes for kitchen trash cans. Trash cans with volumes in this range can be small enough to fit under the kitchen counter while still big enough to hold the waste of a large family.

20 to 30 gallons

These extra-large trash cans are great if you have a lot of people living in your home or you find that you make a lot of waste each week. However, they do require a certain amount of space and so are only an option for kitchens with a spare corner available.

Kitchen Trash Can Considerations

How Many People Reside in Your Home?

The amount of people who live in your house is likely to correlate to the amount of waste you produce, which will help you to decide how big your kitchen trash can needs to be. A single person is going to produce a lot less waste each week compared with a family of five, for example.

If you find that you get through a lot of garbage each week, then you should be looking at a trash can with a high volume capacity. Typically, it is recommended that if you have one or two people living in your home, then an under sink trash can will suffice for all of your kitchen trash needs. This includes trash cans which have a capacity of between 7 and 10 gallons.

For homes with three or four people residing in them, opt for a larger trash can capacity of between 12 and 16 gallons. If your home has five or more occupants, then you’ll want to go for an oversized trash can with a volume of 20 to 30 gallons.

How Often Do You Empty Your Kitchen Trash Can?

How Often Do You Empty Your Kitchen Trash Can?

The frequency with which you empty your trash can is going to affect how big your kitchen trash can needs to be. For example, if you only take the trash out once a week, then you’ll need a kitchen trash can that can hold a whole week’s worth of garbage. However, if you empty your trash can from the kitchen on a daily basis, then a smaller trash can is all that you will need.

Commonly, people who reside in hot climates will take their trash out more frequently and store it in a big outdoor trash can until garbage collection day. This is because flies and other pests can become a problem in garbage cans during hot weather, which you don’t want to have in your kitchen.

How Much Waste Do You Produce?

The amount of waste you produce will, of course, be affected by the number of people living in your home, but it can also be a result of your lifestyle. If you use a composter, then you are going to have a lot less waste than a family who puts all of their food scraps in the kitchen trash can.

If you try to avoid buying products with plastic packaging, or you use refillable shampoo bottles rather than buying new ones, then your waste is also going to be less than those who don’t shop as sustainably. If you keep all of your recyclable packaging separate to your trash, then this will also have a huge effect.

If you are conscious of your shopping habits and the impact this has on waste, then you may not need a large trash can, and a smaller under sink trash can will be suitable. If you do not compost your food waste, then you will likely need a larger kitchen trash can with a capacity of between 12 and 16 gallons.

Where Do You Want Your Trash Can To Be Positioned?

Where Do You Want Your Trash Can To Be Positioned?

The available space you have in your kitchen is a big factor in your decision to buy a trash can. Even if you have decided that your family warrants a large trash can due to the amount of waste you create, this will be no use if you have nowhere to put it.

If you have no available floor space for a freestanding trash can, then look for one which will fit under your sink, or if you need a larger trash can, you can clear out a kitchen cabinet and purchase a trash can that will fit inside it.

This is a great option because it keeps the trash can out of view and contains unpleasant smells within the cabinet.

If you have a very compact kitchen with no free space for a trash can, you may wish to keep one in the garage instead.