Ultimate Dumpster Rental Guide

Beginner’s Guide to Renting a Dumpster

If you are here reading this, I assume you have a big project coming up and you need to dispose of a large amount of waste. You know you need to order a dumpster, but renting a dumpster is intimidating and you have a bunch of questions. What type of dumpster do I get? What size dumpster do I need? What can I even put in a dumpster rental? Have no fear! After reading this ultimate guide you will have all the info you need to rent a dumpster like a pro. Let’s get started.

What kind of dumpster do I rent?

There are different kinds of dumpsters that are available to rent. There are lots of terms for the different kinds of dumpster rentals such as roll-off, construction, commercial, front load, mini-dumpster, and trash trailer. Here is a breakdown of the different types of dumpsters so when you rent one you know exactly what to order.

dumpster in albuquerque new mexico residential driveway


A roll-off dumpster, or construction dumpster, gets its name for the steel wheels on the bottom of the container that allows it to “roll-off” the trailer as it is delivered. They have an open-top, but for safety and convenience roll-off dumpsters have doors at the front that swing out allowing you to walk in to place large items. They are around 20-22 feet long and can hold 10-40 cubic yards of trash! Roll-off dumpsters are rented out for specific large jobs like construction debris, or a large home cleanout and are picked up once the job is done. A common rental period is 30 days.

Blue Commercial Dumpster


A commercial dumpster, or front load dumpster,  is the type that you typically see outside restaurants and businesses. Trash is loaded into commercial dumpsters from the top. They are smaller than roll-off dumpsters ranging from 2 cubic yards to 8 cubic yards. Commercial dumpster rental periods are ongoing for long periods to support a business with once or twice a week pickup schedules.

Mini Blue Dumpster In Driveway


Mini-dumpsters are like roll-offs in that they are used for one-off jobs. The only difference is that they are smaller than roll-offs ranging from 6 – 15 cubic yards. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some look like commercial dumpsters on trailers, while others look like miniature roll-off dumpsters. The rental periods are similar to roll-offs and are around 30 days.

Green Trash Trailer

Trash Trailer

A trash trailer, or dumpster trailer, is a trailer that has been fitted with high walls or surrounded by a steel cage. Trash trailers sit on rubber wheels and are pulled behind a vehicle fitted with a hitch such as a truck. They range from 10-16 feet and hold 10 to 20 cubic yards of waste. 

What size do I need?

Dumpster sizes are based on the number of cubic yards they can hold. A cubic yard is a square block 3 ft wide, 3 ft tall, and 3 ft deep. Here are some quick and easy ways to estimate how much waste you have in cubic yards so you know exactly what size dumpster is perfect for you.

Pickup truck method

    • A full-size truck bed is about 3 cubic yards
    • A 10-yard dumpster is close to 3 truckloads
    • A 20-yard dumpster is close to 6 truckloads
    • A 30-yard dumpster is close to (you guessed it) 9 truckloads!

30 Gallon Garbage Bag Method

    • You can fit bout 5 normally filled 30-gallon garbage bags in 1 cubic yard
    • A 10-yard dumpster can hold 50 garbage bags
    • A 20-yard dumpster can hold 100 garbage bags
    • A 30-yard dumpster can hold 150 garbage bags

Appliance Method

    • A standard oven or a washing machine is about 1 cubic yard
    • A 10-yard dumpster can hold 10 ovens 
    • A 20-yard dumpster can hold 20 ovens 
    • A 30-yard dumpster can hold 30 ovens 

So now that you have a good idea about how much each size can hold, it’s time to do some measuring for your project. Whatever your project is whether cleaning out a garage or demolishing a deck, or tearing down a fence, please make sure to measure it so you can rent the right size dumpster. The workflow for measuring will go like this. First, measure the dimensions of your project in feet. Then multiply the dimensions together to get cubic feet. Then convert to cubic yards. Here’s a quick example.

Let’s say we have a shed that measures 5ft x 7ft x 7ft that is filled to the brim with junk that has got to go. Multiply the dimensions to get cubic feet 5 * 7  * 7 = 245. We need to convert from cubic feet to cubic yards. It’s easy! To convert from cubic feet to cubic yards you just have to divide the cubic feet by 27. So our shed has 245 cubic feet of trash so we divide that by 27 to get just over 9 cubic yards. A 10-yard dumpster rental is exactly what we need. 

What items are not allowed in a dumpster?

Dumpster rentals follow many of the same rules that your regular trash service uses. We have to be careful what we are putting in our landfills so we will need to follow some rules when filling up our dumpsters. You can put most of your household or construction waste so long as it isn’t hazardous. Here are a few examples of items that are OK to throw away.

Construction or Household Waste Allowed

  • Dirt
  • Countertops
  • Sinks
  • Toilets
  • Countertops
  • Furniture
  • Tree branches
  • Weeds
  • Tree trimmings
  • Leaves
  • Glass
  • Roof shingles
  • Wood
  • Concrete
  • Asphalt
  • Brick
  • Rock
  • Drywall
  • Carpet
  • Tile Flooring
  • Stone
  • Fencing

Hazardous or Dangerous Waste Not Allowed

Now for safety and environmental reasons, some materials are not OK to throw away in a dumpster rental. Nobody wants a dumpster fire so flammable liquids are a no-go. Other dangerous liquids that are harmful to the environment are also not allowed. We don’t want any of those hazardous liquids to get into our drinking water! Here is a list of items that can’t be disposed of in a roll-off. If the driver sees any of these items he will ask you to remove them.

  • Medical waste
  • Flammable Liquids such as gas, oil, lighter fluid
  • Propane tanks
  • Paint cans and Laceurs
  • Freon
  • Car tires
  • Asbestos
  • Household cleaning product
  • Inks and Resins
  • Hazardous Material
  • Adhesives
  • Explosives
  • Pesticides
  • Appliances with freon
  • Bed Mattresses
  • Large Appliances
Dangerous Materials Not Allowed in Dumpster

What is the best place to put a dumpster rental?

    A hard flat surface is an ideal location for a roll-off dumpster rental. This could be a hard-packed dirt lot, a parking lot, or a driveway. For home rentals, the driveway is usually the best. You can also choose to store your dumpster rental on the street, but keep in mind that if you do you will have to pay for a permit from the city of Albuquerque’s Municipal Development Department. Soft grass should usually be avoided since the weight of the dumpster can sink into the ground and ruin the grass. Since a dumpster can damage your yard, we don’t recommend you park it there.

    Whatever place you choose to store your container just make sure there is plenty of space around and above the container. The delivery driver must lift one end of the container high into the air so that it can “roll-off” onto the ground, so don’t plan on putting it in low clearance overhangs or garages.

    Tips and tricks for renting a dumpster

    Order the right size

    The fees for going over your weight limit or for having to call the rental company to empty the container and bring it back are steep. It is way more cost-effective to do your homework and order a container that is big enough to hold your project.

    Protect your driveway

    Some might worry that a big heavy container might damage their driveway. While rare it can happen. But no worries! There are easy steps you can take to prevent driveway damage. Just take 4 boards and place them on the driveway for the container to sit on and the weight of the container will be distributed across the surface of the boards protecting your driveway. You can use plywood, 2×6, or 2×8 boards cut into 3-4 foot lengths.

    Do not overfill (shouldn’t go over the top)

    This goes hand in hand with “pick the right size”, but don’t overfill the dumpster. Items should not be sticking up past the top edge of the container. If they are they can potentially fly loose during transportation. If the driver sees an overfilled container he might ask you to remove the excess.

    Spread debris around evenly

    The containers have doors so that you can walk in a strategically position your waste. You should take advantage of this by putting your items in the back of the container first, then work your way to the front. When you are done your trash should be spread evenly across the container. This will save the time and effort it will take to rearrange the debris if you toss it in willy-nilly.

    Cover asphalt with shade

    During the summer, our wonderful New Mexico sun can heat an asphalt driveway quite a bit. When this happens the asphalt becomes softer. A large heavy item like a roll-off dumpster might sink into a hot asphalt driveway. To prevent this you can place boards on the ground as previously suggested, but you can also be extra sure your driveway is safe by providing a little shade on the dumpster once it has been delivered.

    Don’t block the dumpster

    When your rental period is over the driver will come to pick up the container. If you have blocked access to the dumpster with a parked car or construction material the driver will have to come back later and you will be charged a dry run fee. Don’t let this happen to you! Know when your rental period ends and be sure to keep the dumpster accessible for removal.

    Maximize your Dumpster Rental Usage

    Get the most bang for your buck by safely packing as much as you can without overfilling.

      • Using garbage bags to store smaller items. You will be able to fit more into the dumpster if your trash is organized in this way
      • Make sure to put large items in first and put small items last
      • Break down large objects. Things like bookshelves are bulky and take up a lot of space. Break them down into smaller sections so that they don’t take up space.

    And finally, ask questions from us!

    If you are unsure about anything just pick up the phone and give us a ring! We pride ourselves on excellent service. Contact us and our knowledgeable staff will happily answer any questions you may have.

      Congratulations you are now a dumpster renting pro! Take your newfound skills and order a dumpster to fill with your project debris. Good luck!