The Best Bag for Your Trash

Which Trash Can Liner Is Best For You?

Do you find yourself wondering why your garbage bag always leaks or tears? Are you double bagging your trash because you’re unsure which bag you should be using? It all comes down to the density, size, and seal of your garbage bag.

Finding the best bag for your trash doesn’t have to be confusing. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to ensure you’re purchasing the best liners for your receptacles. From microns to mils and the difference between high and low density trash bags, you will be ready to get what you need.

Low Density versus High Density

There are several key differences between low and high density bags. They are used for vastly different things, have varying weight allowances, and are measured differently. Low density trash bags are more commonly used than high density bags, but only in specific ways. Let us explain.

Low Density Trash Bags

Low density trash bags, or linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) trash bags, are made from high quality resins. These allow the bags to be thicker, flexible, and more resistant to tears or punctures. LLDPE bags are incredibly durable and great for outdoor trash cans, bars, demolition & construction debris, kitchen trash, and more. They are ideal for trash that contains:

  • Cardboard
  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Sharp Food Waste
  • Glass
  • Irregularly Shaped or Jagged Items
Low density bags are measured in mils, which is 1/1000 of an inch. A higher mil count will equate to a thicker bag. For instance, a standard kitchen trash bag is .9 mil, while a contractor bag can be as high as 6.0 mil. The mil size will vary depending on the use of the bag itself.
Trash and recycling cans outside to be picked up

High Density Trash Bags

While LLDPE are more commonly found in receptacles, you will find high density polyethylene trash bags (HDPE) widely available, as well. These are produced from high molecular density resins in tightly packed straight molecules. They are directionally strong because of those straight molecules only facing one direction. However, they are thinner and therefore not as puncture resistant. This makes them ideal for carrying soft, yet heavy loads that do not have rough edges, like:

  • Dirt
  • Towels
  • Shredded Paper
  • Restroom Waste
  • Office Waste
  • Smooth, Heavy Objects
  • Clothing

High density bags are measured in microns, which is 1/1000 of a millimeter. Generally, high density bags vary from 5 to 24 microns in width, also dependent upon the use of the bag.

How To Tell Them Apart

While both high and low density trash bags have their similarities – they’re both used for trash, after all, there are two key differences to help you determine the density; all you must do is touch them and listen to how they sound. HDPE will be stiffer and sound “crustier”. LLDPE trash bags are quieter and smoother to the touch.  


The bottom of the bag is crucial to both how it fits into the receptacle and the ability to prevent leaks. There are three distinct types of seals, all useful for specific kinds of garbage disposal.

Flat Seal

The flat seal is exactly that: flat. It resembles a pillowcase. Flat Seal bags are generally leak proof but can be clumsy to handle, as they do not usually conform well to the insides of most trash receptacles. Home kitchen garbage bags are usually flat seal, as they are easily packaged to save space in a home. They are sized in 2 dimensions.

Star Seal

Star seal bags are most widely used, as the bottom can easily conform to any shape garbage can. They are sealed in a central spot on the bottom, with the folds of the bag coming out to form a star shape. They eliminate gaps along the seal where leaks can occur and are, therefore, able to distribute weight evenly and maximize carrying capacity, virtually eliminating leaks. They are sized in two dimensions.

How to Identify What You Need

Proper fit and size are necessary when choosing a trash can bag or liner. You want to ensue you’re not wasting precious plastic, so be sure to measure your trash can to find out which gallon size and length bags are best for you.

Remember the three things you need to consider when purchasing your bags:

  • Density
  • Seal
  • Size

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