Friday, October 30, 2015

Take Out the Trash: DIY Toddler Sized Wheeled Trash Can and Garbage Man Costume

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I'm continuing with the short break from the owl bathroom renovation to bring you guys a cute DIY Halloween post. It's a little outside of my realm of decorating and renovating but it's a tutorial I felt I needed to do for all those parents and grandparents of toddlers who love garbage trucks.

Ha, yes, I will admit my son loves all things garbage truck related. As soon as the loud, clunky garbage truck can be heard on the street, Jackson is off to peer through the window or to go outside (weather and attire permitting) to see. Our daily activities are jam packed with his numerous garbage truck toys and watching garbage trucks on you tube. 

Since Jackson is three he is old enough to pick out his own Halloween costume. It was no surprise to me when he immediately said he wanted to be a garbage man. Normally I'd do a short online search for a costume, find the cheapest and cutest one, spend $15 or so, and be done. Quick and simple.

Not this time. My search revealed nothing, not one costume for sale anywhere. Apparently garbage men don't rate in a world where superheroes, firefighters and police men are saving the day. What I did find though were pictures of toddlers in homemade garbage men (and garbage truck) costumes.

Ok, so I guess I had to make Jackson's garbage man costume. It looked pretty easy. Most of the pictures of toddler garbage men were wearing jeans and a t-shirt, donning safety vests and toting pint sized garbage cans on wheels. No problem, I thought, I'd just buy a safety vest and a little garbage can on wheels. The safety vest was easily found and cheap, I found one on eBay for $5 shipped. I checked that off the list.

The garbage can was another story. Who would've thought that kid sized trash cans on wheels don't exist (except in China, for a ludacris amount of money). There has got to be an easy way to make one, I thought. A bunch of kiddos out there had wheeled trash cans with their costumes so maybe there was a tutorial or something on how to do it. No, not a single one. So I came up with my own plan, that I asked Cory to help execute.

This was my plan: I figured we could buy a small trash can with a flip lid, drill holes on both bottom sides, slide a metal rod through and attach plastic grill wheels to the rod. Cory had his doubts, especially when we were in Menards and I was looking for the supplies we needed, but I figured it would work out perfect!

I picked up a 7.5 gallon flip lid trash can at Walmart for $9. Jackson really likes Waste Management so I spray painted the can green and bought some inexpensive stickers off eBay to decorate it. I knew this garbage can would turn into a toy he would play with for years, and he could help take out the trash with it ;), so I wanted it to be unique and personal.

I had thought we could just pull the wheels off of a gas grill that a tenant left at one of the apartments but after Cory tried every way possible (even kicking the poor forgotten grill) he decided those wheels were there to stay. So I purchased inexpensive grill replacement wheels for $3.99 each (which I later spray painted black for a more authentic look). I then bought a threaded metal rod for 79 cents. Using Cory's expertise we also bought 8 washers and 4 nuts to make the wheels spin and to keep them in place. Here's the broken down supply list:

Toddler Sized Garbage Can on Wheels Supplies

  • small (child size) trash can, I used a 7.5 gallon touch flip lid
  • 2 grill replacement wheels
  • threaded metal rod
  • 8 washers (2 slightly smaller than the other 6)
  • 2 regular nuts
  • 2 neoprene nuts

Cory put together the trash can while I was at work so I have no pictures of the process. However I can explain it and show you after pics :).

Cory wanted the rod, once installed, to be as close to the outside of the can as possible so that Jackson could tote around real garbage later without it getting stuck in the rod. This is totally a personal preference and you can put the wheels anywhere you want to make your can look more authentic. 

He measured in and up on both sides and drilled holes slightly larger than the size of the rod so it could slip through. Then he measured the width of the can, the wheels and all of the nuts and washers to come up with length he needed to cut the rod. He used a pneumatic cutting tool to cut the rod (you can also use a hack saw or an angle grinder to do this).

Then he slipped the rod into the can and started the wheel assembly. First he slipped two washers, one larger and then one slightly smaller onto the rod against the can, then he screwed on one regular nut followed by one washer, then the wheel was slipped on followed by one more washer and finished with screwing the neoprene nut on. 

Cory said doubling up on the washers may have been overkill but since Jackson is a destructive 3 year old he wanted to give it as much room to move as possible.

To complete his garbage man costume I purchased a few garbage related patches and sewed them onto the shirt sleeves. I also found a Jackson patch that I sewed onto the safety vest. We got lucky and borrowed a garbage man hat from my Dad (I did see tons of Waste Management hats on eBay if you're not that lucky) who lives out in Arizona, and coincidentally is a garbage man. I know what you're thinking ;) but really we never encouraged Jackson's love for garbage trucks even though my Dad happens to be a garbage man. Jackson's fondness of garbage trucks came as an unexpected, pleasant surprise and only made us wish more that my parents still lived in town so Jackson could see his garbage man Grandpa at work.

Here's some pictures of the finished costume. I had to bribe Jackson with candy so he would let me take them ;).

On a side note (and an even crazier coincidence) our garbage man happened to work with my Dad before my parents moved 5 years ago. He loves seeing Jackson and tells us hilarious stories about working alongside my Dad. He's also informed us that there are tons of kids out there that love garbage trucks and come running outside to see him and his truck. He lets Jackson throw garbage into the back of the truck and he smashes the garbage so Jackson can see the truck at work.

After the Halloween parade at Jackson's school we just happened to be taking the above pictures of Jackson in his costume when the garbage man stopped by. Of course we raced outside to see him and show him Jackson's costume :).

How awesome is our garbage man? We couldn't have asked for a better garbage man to have with Jackson loving garbage trucks so much!

Jackson literally jumped for joy when he saw that his little garbage can fit on the truck!

Seriously, how many garbage men would let a kid smash the garbage? I'm pretty sure our garbage man made Jackson's day :)!

I know this hasn't been a typical post from me but I just had to do this DIY Halloween toddler garbage man tutorial because, well, there aren't any out there in Internet land. Or at least there aren't any tutorials on how to make a toddler sized trash can on wheels. Hopefully I can help out at least one parent or grandparent of a garbage truck obsessed kid to make their child's day with their very own garbage can. I can certainly attest that Jackson loves his trash can :).

Hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween! More on the bathroom reno is up next. I cannot wait to show you all 😊!
*Edit* I found a couple pictures of Jackson trunk or treating with the garbage man costume and can with his cousins that I just had to share!

Until the next time!


  1. Awesome!!! my 5 year old is absolutely obsessed with garbage truck's & cans & until this, I haven't seen anything out there to purchase or make a kid size can! Thanks so much!!_

  2. I'm so glad I could help out another mom to a garbage truck fanatic ;)

  3. This is the best thing ever!! My son is obsessed too. We take weekly videos on our cell phones and transfer them to his ipad and he watches them all of the time. It's funny, our garbage man's name is George. My parents got Cole (my 3 year-old son) a garbage truck documentary (which he loves) and the very first line in the movie is the narrator getting out of his garbage truck and saying, "Hi, my name is George!" Now Cole is convinced that every garbage truck driver is named George. Cole named the recycling truck driver "Different George." I love your project and will build Cole a can or two over the weekend. Thanks for the great idea.

  4. That's so great to hear that other kids share the same obsession :). I would love to see pics of your garbage cans! I hope your son loves them as much as mine does ;)!

  5. Where did you find these on eBay? The only thing I found were decals that were clear around the logo! I must order these for my OBSESSED son!

  6. Can you tell me where you found the vest for your son's costume?

  7. I found all the decals on eBay. I looked up every different variation of garbage stickers I could think of such as waste management, wm, toxic waste, garbage, etc. I also got the safety vest from eBay, it says ikea on the tag but I'm not sure if they still sell them or not.

  8. This is going to be my son Jaxon's costume this year. He is 3 and has been obsessed with trash trucks for half his life

  9. Hi! Thanks for this post. We are making this costume for my three year old. I have a question- where did you get the wheels? We can’t seem to find any...

  10. Where did you find the wheels? My son would love this as a costume!

  11. I love this!! This will be my son’s costume this year since he also obsessed. Where did you find the replacement wheels?

  12. How adorable! Very creative and a fun and original idea.

  13. Contact your local hometown garbage man and ask for their stickers. Most buy stickers to put on their cans and would be happy to share a few as it is free advertisement in their service areas. My son runs a local garbage business and supplied them for kids last year. This year I am making costumes for my three grandchildren. They will be 10 mos, 2, and 3 at Halloween. The youngest will be the garbage truck (We will make it around a wagon he can ride in. One will push a trash can on wheels similar to this one and the other will push a recycle bin.. And of course Nana is making their vests to advertise for their daddy's business. I am so excited for this project.

  14. Hello what color spray paint did you use?


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