Cleaning up after a home project can be a big task in its own right. Even relatively minor jobs can leave you with thousands of pounds of debris. For example, an old microwave you’re tossing can weigh 50 pounds, while outdated countertops can weigh up to 20 pounds per square foot.

You can either rent a dumpster to get rid of your household debris or go fully DIY and haul your junk to the dump yourself. Use the comparisons below to decide which option makes the most sense for your project.

Renting a Dumpster vs. Dumping Trash Yourself: The Basics

When deciding whether renting a dumpster or taking your trash to the dump is the best disposal method, you should consider three important factors: hauling capacity, amount of work required and convenience.

Renting a Dumpster Going to the Dump
Hauling Capacity Choose from several dumpster sizes that can typically haul between 2,000 to 20,000* pounds. Use a pickup truck, which will typically have a 1,000 pound (half-ton) hauling capacity.
Amount of Work Dispose of all debris at one time with a container in your driveway. Simply walk or toss all of your debris into the dumpster, and have it hauled away when you’re done working. Make multiple trips to the dump if you have more than 1,000 pounds of debris.
Convenience Fill your dumpster as you work, and get rid of debris without leaving your home. You can keep your dumpster for about a week or longer with a standard rental period. Take breaks from your work to make trips to the dump. Note that you must make your trips during the landfill’s operating hours.

*Note: Available dumpster sizes and weight limits vary by location. Research sizes in your area before making a decision.

Hauling Capacity Comparison

To give you a better sense of what each option can hold, the chart below shows how many dumpsters or pickup truck loads are needed to haul the average amount of debris produced by a few common home projects.

Project Dumpsters Pickup Truckloads
Household Junk Removal

(Up to 3,000 pounds of debris)

One 10 yard dumpster 3 to 4 pickup truck loads
Room Remodel

(Up to 6,000 pounds of debris)

One 20 yard dumpster 6 pickup truck loads
Multi-Room Renovation

(Up to 9,000 pounds of debris)

One 30 yard dumpster 9 pickup truck loads

*Note: weight limits vary by location. Research specifics in your area before making a decision.

As these charts show, dumping trash yourself might be worth the effort if you’re dealing with less than 1,000 pounds of debris. However, renting a dumpster would be a better choice for anyone tackling a larger project or who can’t spare the time to make multiple trips to the dump.

What is the Cheapest Way to Dump Trash?

The cheapest way to dump your trash depends on what type of project you’re working on. View the comparisons below to determine the most cost-effective disposal option for your needs.

How Much Does It Cost to Go to the Dump on Your Own?

Price is another important factor when determining if taking trash to the dump on your own is the best choice. The exact cost to go to the dump will depend on the rates charged by your area landfill and how their pricing structure works. Landfills typically charge by weight, but their rates can work in a few different ways:

  • Scenario #1: Charging a fee per load, where a “load” is defined as a certain weight of debris.
    • Example: $60 per every 200 pounds.
  • Scenario #2: Charging a base fee up to a certain amount of debris, followed by an additional fee for each pound over the base weight.
    • Example: $100 for the first 200 pounds; 10 cents per pound after that.
  • Scenario #3: Charging a fee per pound of debris.
    • Example: 10 cents per pound.

Regardless of which pricing structure is used, be aware that unless you know the exact weight of your debris, you won’t know the final cost until you’re already at the dump – and are already locked into paying whatever the total is.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Dumpster?

While some dumpster rental companies also charge by weight, Budget Dumpster charges a flat rate for disposal, up to a specified weight limit for each dumpster size. This means that you’ll know the total cost of a dumpster rental upfront, making it easier to budget for disposal.

The national average cost of a dumpster rental is $494, though prices vary based on location, dumpster size, debris type, debris weight and the length of your rental period.

Renting a Dumpster vs. Dumping Trash Yourself: The Verdict

Taking trash to the dump yourself makes sense if you have only one or two pickup truck loads of debris to get rid of, don’t mind pausing your work to make more than one trip and are comfortable with not knowing the total cost of disposal ahead of time.

But for any project with more than a couple of pickup truck loads of debris, a dumpster rental will save you time and effort, and give you peace of mind, knowing what the final cost will be from the start.

If you’re considering a dumpster rental, get a free customized quote to learn about available sizes and pricing in your area.