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Trash Compactor Buying & Installation Guide

Everyday life generates a lot of trash! Recycling and other environmental programs have drastically reduced the amount of trash sent to landfills in the last 30 years, but Americans still generate approximately 250 million tons each year. Installing a trash compactor in your home can reduce the volume of your contributions by as much as 80%! Today's models are more efficient, quieter, and more practical than ever. Find out more about this easy way to reduce your home's negative environmental impact.

Why a Trash Compactor?

The detritus of modern life is a sprawling, unpleasant problem, and it's sometimes hard to see the solution. But every little bit counts! Installing a trash compactor in your home can reduce your contribution to the landfill by lowering the volume of trash you produce by up to 80%. You'll take out the trash five times less frequently. It's easier for you and significantly easier on the transportation, storage, and disposal infrastructure. Today, they're easier, more available, and more cost-effective than ever.

How Does it Work?

Basically, by squishing your trash into oblivion. The main unit is like a very strong trash can, which you can fill with just about anything that isn't flammable or explosive. Glass bottles and jars, plastic containers, food waste, paper, aluminum cans, and more are all safe to subject to compaction. When the compactor is at least 1/2 full, go ahead and press the "start" button. An extremely powerful metal ram descends from the top and smashes everything down to 2/3 the size of the full drawer.

Some compactors come with advanced settings or odor controls. Units equipped with timers relieve you of even thinking about the task - they'll compact at a specified time or day. Others have an odor-removal system that allows you to leave compacted trash in there longer. When it doesn't take up much room and doesn't smell at all, it's like trash doesn't even exist!

Trash Compactor
  • For maximum compaction, wait until the drawer is nearly full to compact.
  • Bottles and cans compact best laid on their sides.
  • Keep things clean by laying newspaper or bags across the top of your load.
  • Never force anything too large into the drawer. If it can't fold and fit, it's too big!
  • Always wear thick gloves when cleaning your compactor or changing bags - glass fragments can be dangerous.
  • If your unit has it, be sure to regularly change your odor control unit or air freshener.

A trash compactor does still require trash bags. They'll line the walls of your compactor and make it easy to remove your dense blocks of trash. Each model and manufacturer requires a specific type of reinforced bags to fit their machine perfectly, so find out what you need before you order. Most compactors come with plenty of bags to get you started.


A freestanding trash compactor is just that - freestanding. These units plug directly into a wall outlet and simply take the place of your old trash can. There are a number of colors and finishes available to meet your kitchen.

Trash Compactor

These trash compactors are out of sight! Installing your compactor as part of your cabinet and appliance system makes for a neat look and clean finish to your kitchen. Your unit will come with complete installation instructions - read them thoroughly and follow them exactly for proper safe execution. What follows is a short guide to what to expect:

  • Tools will be required. It's advised that you have the following on hand: Jigsaw, extension cord, flashlight, handsaw, screwdriver, adjustable wrench, blocks of scrap wood, hammer, drill, 2-inch hole saw, pry bar, level, shims, cabinet screws, and countertop screws
  • Determine where you'll install your compactor. An existing 12- or 15-inch base cabinet is ideal - any wider the cabinet will need to be removed and filler pieces inserted.
  • Check the surrounding cabinets for hidden utilities that will restrict space, like gas and water lines.
  • Secure a source of electrical power near the base - it'll need to be mounted next to the compactor or in a nearby cabinet.
Trash Compactor

Measurements below represent the space needed for a trash compactor measuring 15W x 24D x 34H inches. Use it as a reference, substituting the true dimensions of your unit.

Trash Compactor
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