Trash Compactor Sizes and Guidlines

A trash compactor is a vital appliance for any kitchen. As its name suggests, a trash compactor is made to compact trash and reduce its overall volume, making it easier to dispose of. If you’re looking for a trash compactor, one of the first things you should consider is its size.

The typical home-use trash compactor will measure between 12 and 15 inches wide, have a depth of around 24 inches, and stand about 35 inches tall. When looking at trash compactors, you have two options: a freestanding unit or an under-counter unit.

However, the standard size of a trash compactor only tells half the story. For the remainder of this guide, I will speak in-depth about trash compactors—both freestanding and under-counter units—as well as determine whether or not a trash compactor is a sound investment for your home.

Trash Compactor Sizes

trash compactor sizes

Like most residential appliances, trash compactors come in a variety of sizes. There are compact units that are designed to slip underneath your counter, while there are large freestanding units that can gobble up large quantities of trash.

On average, a home-use trash compactor will measure 12-15 inches in width, 24 inches deep, and stand roughly 35 inches tall. Another way to think of this is that a trash compactor takes up around as much space as the standard-sized kitchen trash can.

As previously stated, homeowners have two types of trash compactors to choose from—freestanding and under-counter units.

A freestanding trash compactor is a large-sized trash compactor that you can fit anywhere in your kitchen. They are typically far too tall to install underneath counters. However, their large size allows users to fit more trash in them before disposal.

An under-counter trash compactor is a small-sized trash compactor that you can fit underneath counters. However, due to their compact size, users can place them anywhere in their kitchen and not worry about them taking up too much floor and air space.

The main thing to consider is how much space in your kitchen you can allocate to a trash compactor. For those living in apartments, an under-counter trash compact might be the better option. On the other hand, if you and your family deal with dozens of gallons of trash weekly, a large-sized freestanding unit might be more appropriate.

Trash Compactor Volume

Something else customers should be aware of is the volume of the trash compactor. In other words, how much garbage (in liters or gallons) can you fill the trash compactor before it needs to begin compacting the trash?

A quick look at dozens of residential trash compactor models will yield an average volume of 18 gallons or just over 68 liters. As such, you will need to be aware of the holding capacity of your garbage bags to ensure that they are the right size.

For the most part, garbage bags that hold between 18 and 25 gallons are ideal for the standard trash compactor. However, the right garbage bag size ultimately depends on the trash compactor’s overall volume.

What Are Trash Compactors Used for?

At first glance, you might think that a trash compactor can be used to compress all sorts of trash. For the most part, this is true. You can place paper, plastic, dust, wrappers, and all sorts of debris inside the trash compactor without issue.

However, it’s important to note what your city’s waste management center deals with. For instance, most waste management centers will not accept:

  • Raw meats
  • Fruit rinds
  • Used diapers
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Motor oil cans
  • Cigar and cigarette ash
  • Explosive materials
  • Flammable materials
  • Firearm ammunition

In addition, you should know that certain substances may be harmful to your trash compactor. For instance, chemical liquids may wreak havoc on the stainless-steel finish and electrical components inside of the appliance. The liquids from compressed dirty diapers may leak into the trash compactor’s gears and become a breeding ground for bacteria.

So, to be safe, you should look at the instruction manual that comes with the trash compactor to see what it can and can’t compact, as well as what you shouldn’t toss in the trash compactor’s bag.

Do You Need a Trash Compactor?

While a trash compactor is a nice-to-have appliance that makes dealing with large quantities of garbage less messy, only you can decide whether or not a trash compactor is worth the investment.

However, trash compactors may reduce the amount of household garbage that leaves your home since their sole purpose is to push air out of the garbage to produce a tiny, easy-to-dispose-of block of waste. In addition, you might want to take advantage of a trash compactor’s crushing ability, which makes squeezing aluminum cans, cardboard boxes, and plastics a lot easier on homeowners.

But what about organic materials, like old meats and fruit and vegetable peel? Well, trash compactors can help in breaking down organic materials to make them decompose a lot quicker. After crushing meats, fruits, and veggies in a compactor, you can toss the compressed debris on a compost pile, which will eventually turn into a high-nutrient feed for your backyard garden.

So, while it’s possible to do all of these things without a trash compactor, a trash compactor streamlines the trash preparation process, which is a real-life and time-saver for many homeowners.

Trash Compactor Safety Tips

Trash compactors are not toys, no matter how fun they can be to use. It has a descending block that slowly falls down and crushes garbage to a tiny, manageable block.

This means that anything you place inside a trash compactor will be gone for good. So, if you turn on the trash compactor while your smartphone, watch, or any valuable is inside the appliance, your valuables are as good as gone. Plus, you should keep your limbs and fingers away from the trash compactor at all times, even on standby mode.