Updated November 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best trash bags

On a global scale, we generate more than 2.6 trillion pounds of trash per year. People in the United States create more than 254 million tons of trash annually. If you divide that garbage accumulation into total trash by population, the average American generates as much as 2,972 pounds yearly, or about 5.91 pounds of trash daily. As a result, we use a lot of trash bags.

Plastic trash bags are a convenience most of us take for granted. Whether you need them for garbage disposal, recycling, or pet waste, your home should never be without a healthy stock of trash bags. The thickness, size, and color of trash bags vary, and you may require a specific style of bag for the task at hand. While most modern trash bags are made of plastic, some companies produce biodegradable bags that will break down after a short period, reducing your environmental impact.

Learn more about the different types of trash bags available and how to find the perfect bag for your needs.

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You will likely need different types of trash bags for your pet waste, recycling, and food waste.

Key considerations


No matter the size of your waste basket, garbage can, or dumpster, there is a trash bag that will fit. Household trash bags are available in a wide range of sizes, from 2.6 gallons to 65 gallons. Industrial bags come in 90- and 95-gallon sizes. A trash bag should make use of the full volume of the container, but you will also need a bit of excess material to hang over the lip of the container to hold the bag in place.


The thickness of the material of a trash bag determines the weight it can support without tearing — and anyone who has experienced a trash disaster knows how unpleasant a torn bag can be.

For common day-to-day household trash, a .7- to .9-millimeter bag will do the job. However, for heavier trash or bulky objects with sharp edges, 1.5-millimeter or thicker material is a safer bet. Heavy-duty construction clean-up bags for large trash disposal jobs are available in up to 4-millimeter materials.


Trash bags are available in a wide variety of materials. Economical lightweight trash bags made of thin plastic work well for household garbage, while sturdy plastic bags with extra puncture resistance are best for heavy trash.

Lightweight plastic trash bags prove especially useful for wet, messy, odorous garbage, such as food waste. They are also useful for lining waste containers, garbage bins, the dumpster, or the cat’s litter box.

Mid-weight plastic may be designed to stretch to accommodate bulky or awkward objects without tearing. This is particularly useful when bagging recyclables and other hard objects.

Heavy plastic rarely stretches, but it can support just about any type of waste and can protect you from broken glass or sharp metal objects.

If you are looking for an environmentally friendly waste solution, there are many options available. While these are often significantly more expensive, they produce far less waste and lessen your negative impact on the environment.

Some environmentally friendly trash bags are biodegradable. These may require certain elements — like sunlight or moisture — in order to break down. Other bags are made of recyclable plastic, which is useful if you have a recycling program that accepts plastic bags.


Some bags may be treated to block odors, which is especially useful when bagging food waste. Others are scented to mask odors. While scented bags cover up odors instead of eliminating them, they can help to keep your kitchen smelling fresh. You should choose a scent carefully, as some can be overpowering or may not suit your tastes.


Trash bags may have drawstrings, flaps, or no closure method at all. If you need to carry your bags a considerable distance, drawstrings are a must-have feature. Bags with drawstrings are generally more expensive than those without. Flaps are fairly easy to tie, but they may tear if the bag is overfilled.

Alternative uses for trash bags

Trash bags don’t have to be for waste removal alone — there are a few other ways this basic household item can come in handy.


When you’re moving from one place to another and you’re short on boxes, large trash bags can get the job done easily. If you are packing items like clothing or blankets, you can easily pile up several filled bags on top of your other belongings, saving a considerable amount of space. Many people also use trash bags as laundry baskets or “make-do” luggage.


Use black trash bags to protect plants from a hard freeze, to ball tree roots for transport, or as a groundcover topped with mulch to prevent weeds from sprouting. Or, you can use clear plastic trash bags to make a “mini-greenhouse” to produce seedlings or to extend the growing season by protecting plants from cooling temperatures.


While many see trash bags as a basic household item, they can be essential during a catastrophe.

"Biodegradable trash bags for organic waste are often made of a green organic material that dissolves upon exposure to the elements."

Trash bag prices

When shopping for trash bags, consider not only the quality of the bags but also the value of the total package, as bags are sold in packs containing anywhere from 6 to 1,000 bags.

Inexpensive: In the lower price range, ordinary 20-gallon kitchen trash bags cost from $12 to $16 for a package of up to 120 bags. These are usually made of thin plastic.

Midrange: In the medium price range, expect to pay from $16 to $20 for around 120 bags of light to medium thickness. In this price range, trash bags typically have pull tie closures with handles and odor-neutralizing properties. 

Expensive: In the highest price range, between $20 and $60 biodegradable and industrial trash bags are available in a range of quantities. If you are looking for construction-ready bags or bags for a business, you can buy bulk packs of up to 1,000 bags in this price range. 

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Did you know?
Bags for the disposal of hazardous waste are red, warning of the potential danger of the contents.


  • When purchasing compostable trash bags for collection of organic home or yard waste, look for certified biodegradable trash bags. Made from sustainable hemp, cornstarch, or other plant-based materials, these bags are eco-friendly: entirely disposing within less than six months of exposure to the elements.
  • Are you looking for a way to cover up odors? Scented kitchen trash bags can help to control the odor of spoiled food waste. Some brands may make claims about how long their bags can eliminate odors for.
  • While many see trash bags as basic household items, they can come in handy in case of an emergency. In a survival situation, for example, you can use a trash bag to protect a wound, keep supplies dry, make a tourniquet or a sling, or create a makeshift poncho for protection from the wind and rain.

Other products we considered

If you didn’t find what you were looking for in our top recommendations, we have a few other products to consider.

The ProGreen 100% Compostable 2.6-Gallon Bags are small, biodegradable trash bags are perfect for the home, office, or vehicle. These little bags are also ideal for gathering compost from the kitchen and adding it to the garden compost pile. Just toss the garbage on the compost pile, bag and all.

UNNI 100% Compostable Pet Waste Bags are great for picking up after pets and reducing your environmental impact. Made of sturdy, leak-proof, plant-based materials, these little trash bags are also great for hunting, fishing, or hiking.

My AlphaPet Dog Poop Bags are another excellent choice for pet owners. With their bright red design, these bags indicate that potentially hazardous waste is contained within. Use these handy totes to easily pick up pet poop. They are leak-proof and cost just pennies per bag.

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Trash bags can prove useful in long-term disaster situations. You could use them to gather water, build a raft, take shelter from the elements, or patch a leaking roof. You could even build a shelter with a bit of duct tape and paracord.


Q. How do I determine which size of trash bag fits my waste container?
Most waste containers should have their volume printed on the container itself. If yours doesn’t, you can measure the container yourself and do a bit of calculation. First, measure the circumference of the mouth of the container and divide the result by two — this is the width of the trash bags you will need. Then, measure the height of the container. Add about 6 inches to the result to determine the height of the trash bags you will need. This should allow you to find bags that fit your waste container with a bit of overhang to stay securely in place.

Q. Are the different colors of trash bags meant for different purposes?
The color of trash bags isn’t terribly important, but it can be helpful to conceal the contents or indicate what is stored in the bag. We recommend clear trash bags for lightweight paper trash, blue or green garbage bags for recycling, and black for general refuse. Use solid-colored bags for pet waste.

Q. How are medical-grade trash bags different from those I buy at the grocery store?
. Medical-grade trash bags, such as blue disposable emesis bags, can be used when you experience motion sickness during travel and need a way to contain and dispose of vomit. Medical-grade trash bags are leak-proof, puncture-proof, odor-neutralizing, and color-coded for safety.

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