Ever wondered if there was a way to reduce the amount of full garbage bags you throw out? Reducing the number of garbage bags would not only help by using less plastic but would also mean fewer trips to the garbage can or dumpster. Trash compactors are great for these reasons and more. Read on to learn more about what trash compactors can do for you!

The Purpose of Trash Compactors

A really simple way to reduce your footprint in landfills is to reduce the amount of trash you throw away. This, in turn, means purchasing fewer items that will eventually end up in the trash. But, there are some items that you just can’t see yourself without, and unless you make everything yourself you will likely never be able to escape throwing at least some trash away. Trash compactors can help by reducing the impact of the trash that you do end up throwing away.

How Do Trash Compactors Work?

Trash compactors, also known as garbage compactors, are essentially garbage cans, but with one difference: a hydraulic press found within. This press compacts the trash placed inside of the compactor, reducing the amount of empty space. The compacted trash can be easily bagged like normal, but this time with much more trash inside of it.


Have you ever had to take out the trash just because the bag is full of lightweight material that takes up way too much space (wrapping paper for example)? Trash compactors can help press these materials down so that you completely fill the bag. Being able to press additional items into each trash bag has the added bonus of not having to walk out to throw your trash into the outside garbage can or dumpster!

What About Commercial Trash Compactors?

Commercial trash compactors work very similar to household compactors. A hydraulic pump attached to a ram compacts trash. This is done on a much larger scale with commercial compactors and they can hold many times more trash than a household compactor. The same rules apply for what you can and can’t put into a commercial garbage compactor (more on the below).


The main difference with commercial compactors is the way they are emptied. Rather than dumping the compacted trash into a garbage bag and throwing it away, the entire container of the commercial compactor is hauled off to the landfill to be dumped and returned.

What Can You Put in a Trash Compactor?

Trash compactors are pretty good with compacting nearly anything you throw in them. This is great, but you’ll want to stay away from certain items when considering what to compact.


You really can throw just about any household trash item into the compactor and it will be okay (don’t forget to recycle before you throw anything away!). However, there are some things you should avoid throwing into the compactor, including:

  • Aerosol cans containing hazardous or explosive chemicals – these can be pressurized and explode when compacted. Whip cream, shaving cream, and the like are okay to throw in the compactor.
  • Food waste such as raw meat – these can cause odors to spread and will make your compactor hard to clean.
  • Explosive materials – shotgun shells and fireworks don’t mix well with being compacted. Leave them out!
  • Containers for insecticides or other toxic materials – compacting these could release hazardous chemicals.

Basically, if it’s a hazardous product or would cause tough cleanup or odors, leave it out of the compactor!

How Strong is a Household Trash Compactor?

Depending on the model of compactor you get, you could have a compression force of about 2,000 pounds. That isn’t super helpful with knowing what each compactor is capable of. When searching for the right compactor, you’ll want to take note of their compression ratio. For example, a 4 to 1 compression ratio means that a pile of trash can be compacted down to ¼ the size compared to just throwing trash in a regular garbage can. That means you can hold about 4 times more trash in a single bag. Talk about fewer trips to the dumpster!


Trash compactors are great ways to reduce the amount of volume your trash takes up at landfills. By compacting the trash together it takes up less space, meaning less footprint as well as fewer trips to the dumpster. If you are looking to reduce the number of trips you have to take to the dumpster, consider a trash compactor!