Nobody likes trash cans. I'm talking those trash cans with no lids that you try to hide under your sink or behind your couch so nobody will see them. Either they don't have a liner, and the bottom gets totally encrusted with all sorts of nasty, or the liner falls down inside when you throw something away and you have to fish around to find it (ick!), or the liner hangs out over the edge of the trashcan in a very non-vogue unsightly manner. Its time to make a custom insert for your trashcan so it holds it holds its liner in place discreetly inside the trashcan. No more mess either in or outside the trashcan!

I made mine at
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Step 1: Collect some cardboard

Picture of Collect some cardboard
The amount of cardboard you need depends on the trash can you're going to doctor up. As a general rule, if the trash can can be completely placed inside the cardboard box you're looking at using, you'll have enough cardboard. Once you go through the process once you'll have a better idea of how to more economically use your materials (not that there's a world shortage of cardboard boxes).

You're going to need a cardboard sheet uninterrupted by cuts or flaps. The sheet should be at least the height of your trash can minus one inch, and its width should be the outer circumference of the trash can plus several inches. You'll be cutting the box into two pieces and gluing them back together, so you need use the extra width as overlapping surfaces to glue together. I had maybe 16 inches extra and thought that worked out pretty well.

The corrugations should run vertically top to bottom because that will help us bend the cardboard to the curves and/or corners of the sides of the trash can, and will give some much-needed strength to the pull tabs of the insert.
jack85598 months ago

When gluing, wouldn't it be easy to position the cardboard with plenty of glue applied into the can, insert a bag and fill the bag with water to make the cardboard hold into a form-fitting shape and also hold pressure in the glue joints? When cured, siphon the water off and that part should fit really well. As for the vacuum holding the bag to the bottom of the can, the openings or the 'flutes' of the cardboard should allow air into the bottom of the can, won't it? If not, gluing a small stick of dowel down one corner should remedy that. After fitting and gluing it together and being satisfied with the fit, coating the outside and inside of the cardboard with a sealant would help increase the overall life of the insert.

Water? so simple and flipping clever!

golond (author)  jack85598 months ago
A water-filled bag is an AMAZINGLY good idea to hold the pieces in the proper place while the glue sets. As for the life expectancy of the insert, the next one I make will be out of corrugated plastic, which should have the same hand-bendable properties as the cardboard (no heating required) and should last indefinitely.

The only issue I've had with bags and trapped air is getting air caught underneath the bag when putting everything into the trash can, but I'm willing to just give it a shove to settle everything into place. User przemek did mention having trash bags suction themselves into the bottom of a trash can and glued a tube to the side of his trash can, but as you point out, if using the insert from this instructable that wouldn't be an issue due to air gaps next to the pull tabs.
sgillespie26 months ago

Very well written. Thank you for the great idea.

doo da do8 months ago

Folded news paper also will absorb the liquid.

Great idea, I will give it a try. Doodado

uwezi8 months ago

Cool idea!

roof rack8 months ago
Nice. A 1/2 to 1 inch layer of clumping cat litter in the bottom of the can absorbs bag leakage made by sharp objects.
joshua50008 months ago

very nice, I will do it!

Another way to make gluing up easier; spread white glue over both areas that will touch each other, and let it dry, more or less. Then, a thin layer of glue on one side will give you a fairly quick, more controllable bond between the two layers.

pschimme8 months ago

Wouldn't it be easy just to cut a couple of slits into the rim of the trashcan and then feed the bag through them?

golond (author)  pschimme8 months ago

Thanks for your comment. In my case the trash can is metal, so cutting slits into it would have been difficult. Additionally, one of my goals was to keep the bag as hidden as possible by keeping it contained within the trash can.

chabias golond8 months ago

This is also handy if you have a cat that likes to chew the plastic bags that hang over the rim of your wastebasket....especially the one in your bedroom, in the middle of the night.

chabias chabias8 months ago

BTW, that's her in my avatar.

pschimme golond8 months ago

But then you get to use power tools, and come on, you get to use power tools...

przemek8 months ago

I kept having a problem pulling out a full bag out of the can. Sometimes the bag would seal against the inside of the can and the vaccum action would make it really hard to pull up, up to the point of ripping the bag. I thought of drilling a hole in the bottom, but that wouldn't contain leaks so I thought of something better: I glued a piece of 10mm diameter plastic tubing in the corner, from near the rim to the bottom of the can. I used goo-glue---hot glue wasn't adhering well to the can.

yudystuff8 months ago

Super cool kids will "fun" emptying the garbage now thank you

cifer8 months ago
Good idea. If I may offer a suggestion, I think that it would be easier to use double sided carpet tape instead of the glue. You can find it at most hardware stores.
golond (author)  cifer8 months ago

Thanks for your input. The glue-up was definitely the most awkward part, so an industrial, long-life, double-sided tape sounds like a great alternative.

Flyinseamnky8 months ago

drop the bag into the trash can, pull the top over the lip, and secure it with a rubber band. problem solved.

golond (author)  Flyinseamnky8 months ago
Thanks for your suggestion, but one of the 'problems' I was addressing with this project was preventing the bag from hanging out of the trash can itself. If aesthetics are not an issue, the rubber-band-around-the-rim solution does certainly does prevent the bag from falling down inside the can, and is much easier. See for a great implementation of that idea which allows you to use any size rubber band on any trash can.
binamin678 months ago

very nice

muddog158 months ago
I like it.
Chanit08 months ago
this is what a real engineering must be. clever and useful solutions for everybody and everywhere problems! thanks a lot for sharing.
krispunke8 months ago
Ingenious! You should think of a way to make it modular & adjustable (2" tall strips, flexible J-shape with a simple push-to-lock gutter & rail connect, with each piece scored for snap-off adjustment), get some prototypes 3D printed and patent it ASAP. This is one of those extremely simple but brilliant ideas that is functional, handy and fills a spot current unoccupied. Normal folk: good, no ugly bag showing. Hotels/Care Centers/Hospitals: good, we look more hygienic (sidebar: look into if this would actually be cleaner or safer)...... Anyway, I like this Instructable and wish you good luck!
foobear8 months ago

This is really smart! great idea!

Vermanen8 months ago