We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What is a Dustbin?

Mary McMahon
Updated: May 16, 2024

A dustbin is a container which is designed to hold refuse until it can be removed or otherwise disposed of. The term “dustbin” is generally used in British English; other terms for the same type of container include trashcan, rubbish bin, garbage can, or litter bin. Many people are familiar with dustbins in some form of another, since the need to control refuse is common to most communities around the world.

There are various styles of dustbin, designed for specific uses. Household dustbins tend to be small, so that they can fit in a variety of places, while curbside bins are larger, allowing people to transfer rubbish from indoor dustbins into larger outdoor ones for periodic collection. In addition to basic dustbins for home use, it is also possible to see especially large versions and dumpsters for industrial use.

Many people use the term “dustbin” to refer specifically for a container for unwanted garbage, differentiating a dustbin from a recycling container or a greenwaste bin. In many communities, growing concerns about the generation of waste materials have led to a diversity of dustbin options, encouraging people to recycle goods whenever possible, rather than tossing them in the garbage to be burned or buried in a landfill. One interesting side effect of this is the shrinking of dustbins; in many areas, dustbins are much smaller than recycling and greenwaste bins, to encourage people to reduce the amount of garbage they create.

In some communities, the “dustbin police” may attempt to enforce recycling, sometimes poring through their neighbors' garbage to search for recyclables, and then confronting neighbors with the incriminating evidence. This practice is frowned upon in some regions, by people who feel that their privacy is violated when people rummage through their garbage, but people who act as garbage police argue that the benefits of their actions outweigh the associated discomfort. By making people understand the importance of recycling by shaming them, dustbin police hope to encourage an increase of recycling in their areas.

One common problem with dustbins is odor, caused by the leakage of various items while they sit in the dustbin. Often, odor passes through garbage bags and bin liners, and it can cause dustbins to smell distinctly unpleasant after an extended period of time. A soak in baking soda and vinegar can significantly cut down on odor, and people can also use a bleach soak to kill any odor-causing bacteria which may be skulking in the depths of a dustbin.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Eviemae — On Jul 12, 2011

One of the worst things about my trashcan is actually a twofold problem. It is a good sized trashcan (I’m talking about the kitchen bin here) but I think it could be five feet tall and ten feet wide and still not be large enough for my family.

There aren’t that many of us really; my husband, myself, my four year old daughter and my two year old son. But by the trash that we collect in a days’ time, you would think there were about forty men and their family’s using our can!

This leads to the second problem. The trash gets piled up against the side of the island. And that leaves nasty gunk all over it. It flows over into the floor and gets kicked around.

If I don’t empty my trash at least twice a day, it looks like I haven’t emptied it in a month, and I have to spend an hour cleaning the wall and floor, too.

By Perdido — On Jul 11, 2011

I bought an attractive dustbin a few years ago when my friend opened up her craft shop. She had handmade items like candles, purses, and even trash cans.

The can I chose was bright teal with glittery white feathers glued around the rim. I bought it because it was so pretty, and the idea of a beautiful container to hold ugly things appealed to me.

At the time, I didn't think about how feathers around the mouth of a trash can would be a bad idea. Once I started using it, I noticed that pencil shavings and dirt often got caught in the feathers, and when I tried to clean them, the mess just fell on the floor and needed vacuuming.

By blackDagger — On Jul 11, 2011

Okay; I have the funniest story in the whole world about me, and England native and a dustbin.

I was working with this English lady in a coffee house. Naturally, she had a dialect and I did as well (southern). Sometimes we got a little confused to say the least, and this was one of those times.

If you’ve ever worked in a place like this, you know that the floors get really dirty, really quickly. At the end of the night you have a whole mini-mountain of dirt that has to be swept up.

Well, one of my first days on the job this lady tells me to throw the pile into the dustbin.

Being southern, I call a dustbin a trash can, and I had no idea whatsoever that that was what she meant. I thought she literally meant there was a special place where dust was collected from the floor and then kept at.

Imagine my embarrassment and her good natured guffaw of laughter when she asked me what I was searching for, dustpan in hand!

By kylee07drg — On Jul 10, 2011

@StarJo - I do the same things with my leftover fish. I also have problems with old fruit that I need to throw in the dustbin.

At least a couple of my bananas often go bad before I can eat them. If I throw them in the trash, then they smell strongly and attract fruit flies.

I love fresh pineapple, but when I cut it up, I have the spiky rinds and top to dispose of somehow. I wrap them in newspaper and a plastic bag. Then, I tie it tightly to seal in the odor. Though it has a pleasant smell at first, within a day, it will smell spoiled.

For bananas and pineapple, I find it's best to place them in smaller plastic bags and place them in the outdoor wheelie bin. I push this bin out to the road on garbage pickup day.

By StarJo — On Jul 10, 2011

I have found that you should never leave fish or shrimp leftovers in your indoor garbage container overnight. When you wake in the morning, your whole house will smell like rotten seafood.

If I have fishy leftovers, I either give them to the dogs or put them in a small plastic bag in the outdoor trash can. Unless I used some ingredient in preparing the fish that is unsafe for my dogs to eat, I will give it to them to avoid the hassle of wrapping it up.

When the garbage man comes on Friday, he always leaves the lid off after he picks up the trash. I leave the trash can out there for the rest of the day without the lid on to let it air out, especially if I had plastic-bagged fish in there.

By Sara007 — On Jul 09, 2011

If you have a dustbin and are tying to figure out how to kill the unpleasant odor it emits I suggest a couple of steps. First, you could buy scented garbage bags if the bin is in a heavily trafficked area of your home. These bags are available in a huge variety of colors and are perfumed enough to keep nasty odors at bay.

If you are not in the mood to buy more expensive scented garbage bags you can toss a dryer sheet into the dustbin and I find it really absorbs odors. Just make sure you change it regularly or you may be faced with an icky spot to clean up.

By manykitties2 — On Jul 09, 2011

If you are going to buy a dustbin for your home it doesn't have to be unattractive. There are actually numerous more stylish versions available in-store and online.

For myself I managed to find a set of dustbins for my home that perfectly matched my decor. The best thing was that they didn't really even look like a place to toss your rubbish.

The dustbins I purchased were made to look like potted plants, with the plant on top, and the vase part being a concealed garbage can. This was great as it preserved by decor while still providing space for a necessary item.

By JaneAir — On Jul 08, 2011

@sunnySkys - When I bought my last kitchen dustbin I neglected to grab the top to it and I've regretted it ever since! It's been awhile but I might go back to the store and see if I can buy just the lid.

There are a lot of funny names for a dustbin, but one the article didn't mention is "the gray file cabinet." I had a teacher in elementary school who used to refer to the trashcan this way. As in, "If you copy off of your neighbor, you test won't be graded. It will go into the gray file cabinet." I always found this very entertaining. And just for the record I never saw her put anyones paper into "the gray file cabinet."

By sunnySkys — On Jul 08, 2011

Ugh! Trashcan odor is such a gross household problem. However I've found a few simple steps hep cut down the odor a lot.

When I buy a new trashcan, especially for the kitchen, I always get one with a lid. This stops unpleasant odors from wafting out of the trashcan into the air I'm breathing. I also try to put food waste down the garbage disposal in the sink instead of in the trashcan. This sort of stops the problem before it even starts. As far as smelly things, such as cat litter, that can't go down the garbage disposal I double bag those before I throw them away.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.