Buying Guide: 3 Things You MUST Know About Can Liners

By Nicole Tinkham

If you’ve ever purchased a waste can liner that didn’t quite fit, this guide is for YOU. Purchasing the wrong size liner is actually quite common. With many sizes and types, even we find liners to be confusing, and we’re the experts! PRINT this guide out and keep it by your side when placing your next order so you know exactly what you need. Here are the three mains things you need to be looking for in a liner: Density (plastic type), gauge (thickness), and capacity (size). This blog will take you step-by-step in the buying process so you can make confident purchases and be the office hero. Let’s get started!


The density of a liner refers to the type of plastic. HIGH-DENSITY liners can handle large loads but also tear and puncture easily. These are best used for light materials such as paper, paper plates, paper cups, and anything with smooth edges. Use high-density liners by your desk for your office waste basket. You’ll notice that they’re measured in microns as opposed to mils but we’ll talk about this later in the blog.

Use LOW-DENSITY liners for rough objects with sharp edges (metal, glass, plastic eating utensils, sticks, etc.). These bags are super strong and more resistant to tearing than that of high-density bags but have a lower load capacity.


The gauge is the measurement of the bag’s thickness. High-density bags are measured by MICRONS. One micron equals one-thousandth of a millimeter. One MIL on the other hand equals one-thousandth of an inch and is how we measure low-density bags. Basically, the larger the waste can, the more mils/microns are needed for the liner. Here’s a conversion chart to help you understand how each are measured.



The capacity is simply the size of the bag. You’ll most likely be looking for the number of gallons the liner holds which can range from about 8 gallons to 55 gallons.  If you know the dimensions of the waste can, you can also choose a liner based on width and height.

Once you’re familiar with what you’re looking for, can liner purchases should be a piece of cake. Remember: DENSITY, GAUGE, and CAPACITY. Once you have those factors down, all that’s left is minor details such as color (black, white, clear), whether or not it has drawstrings, and quantity per carton.

So now it’s over you…

Have you identified the size and style that you need?
Have you been buying the right size liner for your waste cans?
Will you print this blog out so you can buy with confidence next time around?

Let us know in the comments below so we know how much this helped.

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