14 Tips and Tricks for Your Trash Can and Bags

Updated: May 17, 2023

From combating odors to improving storage, these tips and hints will make your trash can and bags more functional.

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hand putting broken down box through a hole in the lid of a garbage can
Family Handyman

Garbage Bag Holder-Upper

Tired of the garbage bag slipping down into the trash can? Cut out the middle of the lid with a utility knife and snap the outer rim over the bag to keep it in place. This works great for recycling, not so great for stinky stuff! — Susan Dalhaug.

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anonymous person packing a bag for camping using a garbage bag as a liner inside the backpack
Family Handyman

Keep Your Camping Gear Dry

To help keep your clothes and supplies dry, line your camping bag with a plastic garbage bag before packing. Close the garbage bag with a twist tie, not the drawstrings. — Jen McKlusky.

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person putting newspaper in the bottom of a garbage can
Family Handyman

Easy-Clean Garbage Can

Food juices leaking from trash bags into the bottom of your garbage bin make a nasty and smelly mess. Put newspapers — or even some sawdust — in the bottom of the bin, under the bag, to soak up liquids and make cleanup easier. — Nate Sohns.

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14 Tips And Tricks For Your Trash Can And Bags Family Handyman
Family Handyman

Trash Bag Dispenser

You can build a simple dispenser for your trash bags with 1/2-in. pipe and a few fittings. Screw a floor flange to the cabinet, thread in a three-inch-long pipe nipple, and then thread a 90-degree elbow onto the nipple. Cut the vertical pipe so it’s a bit longer than the width of the roll of bags. Thread the vertical piece into the elbow and slip on the roll. — Travis Larson.

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a trash can lying horizontally on a lawn with s bluetooth speaker inside
Family Handyman

Trash Can Amplifier

I use my Bluetooth speaker all the time, indoors and out. When I was working outside one day, it started to rain. To keep my speaker from getting wet, I set a plastic trash can on its side and stuck the speaker inside. It not only kept my speaker dry but also amplified and directed the sound, which I’m sure my neighbors appreciated! — Brad Holden.

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close up of Garbage Bag secured With a Hook
Family Handyman

Super-Secure Garbage Bags

Trash bags and waste bins should work perfectly together, but that’s rarely the case. As trash bags start to fill up, the bag slithers into the bin and you have to dig it out. To keep handled or drawstring trash bags in place, all you need are two medium or large self-adhesive command hooks. Position the hooks at a spot that allows full use of the bin.

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man securing a bungee cord around the top of a trash can to secure the bag
Family Handyman

Bungee Cord Trash Bag Holder

It’s simple: Overhang the trash bag along the top of the trash can and secure the bungee cord on top of the bag. You can hook two bungee cords together if one isn’t long enough to go around.

I’m not a fan of bungee cords because they usually don’t hold well. I’m thinking of all the cords I’ve picked up along the highway during my runs. But I found a use for them in holding trash can liners in place on my large workshop trash can. — Ed Hunkele.

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hand placing a roll of garbage bags at the bottom of a trash can
Family Handyman

Keep Extra Bags in Your Garbage Can

Taking out the trash is my least favorite chore because there are so many garbage cans around the house. To make the job easier, I store a roll of garbage bags in each can under the bag in use. This way I can quickly a set up another bag the next time I take the garbage out, and there’s no need to make another lap around the house placing bags in each can. — Chuck Holzer.

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14 Tips And Tricks For Trash Cans: Bag Holder
Family Handyman

Trash Bag Holder

You can buy fold-up lawn and garden bag holders for good money at the hardware store, but an old TV tray frame works just as well — maybe better — and it’s free. It’s the perfect size for a 30-gallon bag. For larger bags, tie a knot in the edge to take up the slack. — Tim Phelon.

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person using toilet bowl cleaner to clean the inside of a garbage can in a basement utility room
Family Handyman

Trash Can Cleanup

Try using a liquid toilet bowl cleaner to wash the inside of a dirty trash can. It will cling to the sides for better cleaning. A toilet brush will help you reach down inside the trash can. Rinse well for a clean can.

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man placing a bag of trash in a green trash can with the lid attached with two zip ties in a garage setting
Family Handyman

No More Flying Garbage Can Lids

Are you tired of losing your garbage can lid? “Hinge” it to the barrel with zip ties. Drill 1/4-in. holes for the ties and double them for extra strength. The lid will flip open and stay attached to the barrel. You’ll never have to search for your lid again

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person pouring paint into a 5 gallon bucket that is lined with a garbage bag
Family Handyman

Really Easy Paint Container Cleanup

Use your extra trash bags as bucket liners liners to make a five-gallon paint bucket. This tip is especially helpful when working with messy materials such as paint or grout.

Place the trash bag inside the five-gallon bucket and make sure there’s enough bag left over at the top so it won’t collapse inwards. When using this handy hint with paint, tie the bag shut to use for another day of working on your project. And once you’re done, poke a hole in the bag to drain the paint back into the paint can. This makes for easy clean up!

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drilling holes in trash can side
Family Handyman

Drill Holes in Your Trash Can

When a trash bag fits tightly around the rim of the trash can, it forms a seal. This leaves a new bag bubbled up and hard to fill, and makes a full bag hard to remove. A few 1/4-in. holes drilled into my plastic trash cans solves both problems. – Jim Manning.

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14 Tips And Tricks For Trash Cans: No Tip Trash Can Securing Cable
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No-tip Garbage Cans

There’s really a simple way to keep those garbage cans from getting knocked over by the wind. For each garbage can, all you need are two 3/4-in. screw eyes and a 30-in. hook-end elastic cord from the hardware store.