what size kitchen bin do i need

A bin isn’t the most exciting thing in your kitchen, but that doesn’t make it less essential. Just having a kitchen bin isn’t enough. To make your kitchen practical, you need to get the right size.

If your bin is too small, you’ll have to empty it frequently. Too large, and it will take up a lot of space.

To answer “what size kitchen bin do I need?” we will look at the different sizes and types of storage and consider everything to find the right bin that will work correctly in your kitchen.

How Are Kitchen Bin Sizes Measured?

Kitchen bins are measured in litres (L) which is how much waste volume they can hold. You’ll find bins measuring from four litres for food waste and large freestanding units up to 120 litres.  

You’ll also need to consider their physical dimensions and how they will fit where you will put them.

Different Kinds of Kitchen Bins

There are three categories that most kitchen bins fall into. The best type for you will come down to personal preference, the available space and whether you’re adding to an existing kitchen or putting together a new layout.

Freestanding Single Bins

Freestanding bins are the most common and come in an extensive range of sizes and designs. A freestanding bin has a single bucket that you’ll use with garbage bags to keep the mess contained and allow for easy removal.

Smaller households that don’t produce a lot of waste will find that a smaller design of around the 30-litre size is probably sufficient. If you’re short on space in your kitchen, look for a slimline design with a smaller than standard footprint. These compact bins are ideal, although they require regular waste disposal, unlike bigger options.

Medium-sized households will typically need about a 50-litre capacity. Larger homes might need a freestanding unit bigger than 60 litres.

Freestanding Recycling Bins

Recycling bins have separate compartments that allow you to neatly separate your waste without using and storing different containers in your kitchen. A kitchen recycling bin will typically hold around 60 litres of waste in total. They come divided into two or three compartments, which might need removing more often depending on your production of the specific type of waste.

Larger homes can use multiple single bins to make a recycling area. This has many benefits over dumping the rubbish together in one larger bin and sorting it outside at the wheelie bin.

recycling containers

In-Cupboard Bins

If you are planning a new kitchen or refurbishing an existing one, pull-out, in-cupboard bins are the ultimate in maximising space and keeping your waste capacity hidden. Built-in cabinet units won’t take up any valuable floor space. There are many designs available to fit both pull-out doors and hinged door cabinets. You’ll need to check the space you have available carefully before purchasing. 

Pull-out, in-cupboard, or cabinet bins often come with multiple compartments so you can sort your recycling in situ. They can typically hold up to 60 litres, although smaller buckets are available if space is limited.

How Can I Work Out What Size Kitchen Bin I Need?

To accurately answer this question, you’ll need to consider a few different factors and how often you’re happy to empty it.

Logically, the more people there are in your home, the larger the container you’ll need. Unless you want to be taking it outside multiple times a day, you’ll require a suitably big container.

Small households can usually make do with a smaller design. This is useful as you might have a smaller kitchen with less space. Even if you have the area in a smaller house, a big bin will still need removing now and then. If you leave it for several days, it will smell, especially in warm weather. So there aren’t any benefits in getting one that’s too big.

Your Available Space

If your kitchen design has limited space, you might have to settle for a smaller bin that needs emptying more frequently than you’d like. Remember to look for slimline models that take up less space but still have good capacity.

Having your waste storage built-in in a cabinet is excellent for saving floor space but comes at the cost of using cupboard storage space which might be a problem.

tidy cooking area

Be aware that large or unusual cabinet bins might need unique or larger bags that cost more and might not be so freely available to buy.

Recycling Requirements

Your local requirements for recycling might affect what you should purchase. Home recycling can be made easy and hygienic by having a multi-compartment recycling bin in your kitchen.

You can readily sort your plastic, paper, cardboard and organic waste from your general waste. And when it is time for collection, you can easily lift the storage basket or bags from the bin to take them outside.

How Quickly You Fill Your Wheelie Bins

An effective way to work out what size bin you ideally need is to check how much general rubbish your household generates. The easiest way to do this is to see how quickly you fill up your wheelie bin each week. A standard council wheelie bin is usually either 120 or 240 litres.

By checking how long it takes, you can see how much waste you make each day. Once you have that figure, you can look for a kitchen bin that holds at least two-three times that amount of rubbish, so you will have to empty it about every two or three days. Depending on how often your outside bins are collected, you might want to plan in excess capacity in your kitchen.

Quick Guide to Choosing the Right Size Bin

As a rough guide, here are the general capacity requirements for kitchen waste bins assuming that you empty them every other day.

  • Small household (one or two people) – bin sizes between 15 to 40 litres
  • Family (two to four people) – bin sizes between 40 to 50 litres
  • Large household – bins with more than 50-litre capacity

Making Your Choice

As seen above, the big question “what size kitchen bin do I need?” can have a few different answers. It depends on how many people are in your house, how much rubbish you generate, the available space in your kitchen and how you need to recycle.

Larger bins are not always better. They take up a lot of space, and even if you’re not filling it quickly, they still need to be taken outside. Otherwise, they’ll start to smell.

The perfect bin for your kitchen balances the minimum amount of space taken without the need to empty it too frequently.

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