Best Trash Bags of 2020
The simplehuman bags are the best in our fleet, provided they work for your purposes. That's an interesting qualification, right? Allow us to back up. Simplehuman makes a whole line, like many other manufacturers. The thing is, they make all their bags to work with their own trash cans; cans and bags are mated by a lettered size. Any given lettered size has a volume and a shape. Two letters might have the same or similar volume but different shapes. Simplehuman wants you to use their trash cans and their bags together, but their bags also work really well in other cans. Ascertaining which simplehuman model works for you is a little tricky. We can tell you that "Size M" simplehuman bags work in at least some "tall kitchen" trash cans.
Once you get the correct size, the simplehuman brand bags are the best we tested. They are strong, resist odors better than most we tested, and come packaged in a way that makes dispensing neater and better than any other option. The drawbacks are the mentioned potential size confusion, as well as their expense. These bags are for the patient and discerning shopper. If you take the time to figure out what you need, you will be rewarded with high performance.
For extended, regular use of 30 gallon bags, we recommend the Glad ForceFlex Plus. The size and shape are standardized for typical 30 gallon cans (note though, that 32 gallon cans are more common and that 30 gallon bags will not work on the larger cans. Strangely, 30 gallon bags are very common while 32 gallon cans are the most common in this range), the closure is simple and clean, the stretchy plastic is confidence-inspiring, and these Glad bags performed better than most in our sniff test.
The ForceFlex were decent in our strength tests. Of the four rounds we performed though, (with four different versions of each model of bags), the ForceFlex Plus delivered one outlier performance. The outlier, poor performance was significantly poorer than this model's other scores, which suggests the possibility of manufacturing consistency issues. These bags are great for those that know they have a 30 gallon can and will use it regularly and with high loads and smelly contents.
Amazon's own Solimo 13 gallon are simple and inexpensive. In the max-strength version of our tear resistance test, it stretched to the tester's maximum reach with 75 pounds before finally failing. This stretchy performance was unique and appreciated. Only larger bags with thicker plastic matched this particular performance. In a sealed-off "sniff test", this unscented Solimo bag model scored near the center of the pack.
The primary drawback is in construction consistency. Through our testing process, we used or destroyed at least five of every single model of tested bags. In doing so with the Solimo bags, out of a total of eight bags investigated, we discovered one that had a failed seam. It was just a small gap, but it was there. We also observed this issue with the other model of Solimo bags. Less expensive products, like this Amazon-branded option, are going to be inherently more prone to such manufacturing inconsistencies. The particular problem we observed was readily noted and accommodated. These are great, strong bags.
When you need a stock of 30 gallon bags for occasional and light-duty use, we recommend the Amazon Solimo 30 Gallon. It isn't anything out of the ordinary, but it is a great value. As best we can tell, most trash is collected in kitchen size (13 gallon) bags, whereas most 30 gallon size bags are purchased for use in a garage, yard, or at parties and picnics. For these uses, value is more important.
With all that in mind, we recommend the 30 gallon Solimo. Just as with the smaller kitchen-sized Solimo bags, we found a product concern. One of the seven Solimo bags we tested and examined had a drawstring that wasn't attached. No non-Solimo bags had any such significant manufacturing inconsistencies that we could find. Despite our minor gripes, the Solimo is something we can recommend to you.
You don't always use trash bags for just trash. In some contexts, you might use them for organization and transport of things other than refuse. Most trash bags work well for this, but the Glad Tall Kitchen Handle Tie bags work better than most. Further, for some people and in some trash collection situations, handles and a tie closure are preferred to drawstring closure. When you want a handled kitchen bag, we recommend the Glad Tall Handle Tie.
The handles are molded of the same material as the rest of the bag. There is no reinforcement around the rim of the bag, as you would find with a drawstring bag. This makes the overall construction and application of the Glad Handle Tie less robust than of the others we tested. Because of the handled construction, these bags are less strong in almost all the ways than all the other bags. Choose these for their handles, not for their strength.
The Glad Tall Kitchen is a perennial high scorer among other reviewers, and some of our testers reported them to be their favorites prior to this test. To be sure, there is almost nothing wrong with these trash bags. However, there is also nothing incredibly special about them either. In our strength testing, they scored near the bottom of the heap, for instance.
They are widely available and can be purchased in nearly limitless configurations of package count, scents and sizes. We liked the look of the grey color scheme, if only because it is different from the typical black or white.
The Hefty Ultra Strong tall kitchen bags did the job. We weren't disappointed with any of the attributes, nor were we overly impressed with anything. The construction is simple and familiar, and the drawstring closure slides smoothly. To dispense, Hefty sets the package up with a perforated box flap, and then you pull each bag off the roll.
In our strength testing, we found pretty uniformly low performance from the Hefty Ultra Strong. In no situation did it hold more than 40 pounds. Your bag of kitchen trash will likely never weigh this much, but your kitchen trash will contain pointy objects. When snagged with a testing object, much like the blunt end of a click-style pen, the Hefty Ultra Strong failed with as little as 14 pounds. We'd expect stronger performance of a product branded with the phrase "ultra strong". Despite our complaints, these bags were serviceable and are something we can recommend, especially if you find them at a good price.
Hefty Strong 30 gallon trash bags can be found at nearly every major retailer, are built with stout plastic. They also readily dispense from the box. In one strength test, we got this bag to hold 75 pounds before it failed. Bags like this turned our test into a good stay-at-home workout.
In multiple iterations of our odor control "sniff test", the Hefty Strong delivered mixed results. However, we like that the Hefty Strong bags offer the performance that they do without textured or overly elaborate construction and materials. This is a simple trash bag. Stretchy, "quilted" style bags work well and seem to use less material overall, but they don't inspire the same confidence that a monolithic bag like this Hefty does.
Why You Should Trust Us
We test hundreds of categories. Each time we do, we seek expertise in the field and employ a proven-but-flexible protocol. We always purchase the products at retail, and design objective, repeatable tests that tax each product in a measurable way, which exceeds the "real world" demands that will be placed on the product. We employed long time tester and review editor Jediah Porter and empowered him to coordinate testing of strength, odor resistance, product consistency, and dispensing.
Testing strength involved a series of different weighting and tearing examinations. Testing odor resistance included sealing a tablespoon of a distinctive, strong, inoffensive (for tester sanity…) liquid into the bag for hours. We used Pine Sol cleaning fluid as the odor source. We then had multiple testers examine the emanations from each bag. Product consistency and dispensing were tested in normal use. In total, we used or tested to destruction a minimum of six of each model.
Analysis and Test Results
We divide our testing and analysis into four subcategories: strength, odor control, product consistency, and dispensing. Our scoring and ranking reflects the relative weights of these different criteria.
Strength is a measure of how much it can hold and how it resists tearing. We tested both these things. We loaded each bag with absolute maximum weight for overall strength assessment and initiated tears under load to assess tear resistance. We found some patterns in performance. Mainly, and primarily, maximum strength and tear resistance are directly correlated. Most of our award winners are also our strongest bags.
The 30 Gallon Glad ForceFlex Plus is the strongest bag we tested. Over and over again, it delivered consistent and high results in our tests. Next, the simplehuman Code M bags were very, very strong, and the plastic is "stiffer" than others. As we loaded the simplehuman bags, they didn't stretch until just before they catastrophically failed. On the other end of the spectrum, the Amazon Brand Solimo kitchen size bags were remarkably stretchy. Test bags began elongating with the very first weights and continued until the original shape was virtually indistinguishable.
The Glad Tall Kitchen Handle Tie bags were the weakest in the test. The very reason we most liked them — their built-in handles instead of drawstring closure — is the reason they weren't as strong. It turns out that the drawstring closure sleeve on most bags serves to reinforce the rim of the bag.
Odor control is essential but difficult to assess. Like other comparative testers online, we discounted scented bags and their impact on actual odor control. Masking smells isn't the same as truly containing them. Our odor ]analysis considered only odor containment and not masking. Our odor control testing involved sealing a strong smell in each bag; via various sniff tests, we gauged how much of the smell escaped. Our findings were not unanimous, but observed patterns give us confidence in our findings.
There is no question that the Amazon Brand Solimo Kitchen bags were best at containing odor. Interestingly, as noted above, their plastic was considerably different than the others; it was way stretchier. Whether this unique plastic is associated with odor resistance or not, we can't tell you. But we can tell you that these bags, sealed up in your garage between trash pick up days, will let out less smell than others.
Other high performers included the Glad ForceFlex Plus and simplehuman. The thin plastic of the Glad Handle Tie bags let out more smells than the rest.
We found some variation between the bags in a single box. These bags are likely mass and machine-produced and packaged with little quality control, which we found some examples of. The quality control issues were definitely associated with brands. We "tested" product consistency by using many bags of each model. In all we tested, the biggest issues were with the Amazon Brand Solimo bags. Both models of Solimo bags had one failed bag in the first half dozen or so. One bag had a disconnected drawstring, and another had a gap in a seam. Neither is major, but both are notable. Other issues were minor; mainly, we noted in our behind-the-scenes scoring of product consistency when a model had widely varying strength scores across the test runs.
Underneath your kitchen sink is already a mess; you don't need a bunch of unused bags filling the space with their chaos and unfurling. The best dispensing system we encountered is with the simplehuman. Simplehuman packages their bags in soft-sided packages akin to tissue packages. You pull one out, and a corner of the next protrudes ready to be deployed. Tension in the opening and between all the bags left inside holds it all in place, ready for your next bag need.
The next best-dispensing arrangement is a small box of bags with a corner, perforated opening for dispensing from the roll within. The kitchen-sized Amazon Solimo bags had this sort of dispensing, as did the Glad Tall Kitchen Trash Bags. Larger packages of bags have clumsier delivery. The most annoying dispensing we found was the big, flap-closed box of two rolls of Glad ForceFlex Plus bags.
We've done the dirty, strenuous, stinky work of testing bags. It isn't glorious, but we find it fun to compare and analyze products — even the most typical of kitchen necessities. We considered all you might need or want to know about trash bags and then worked hard to assess and compare the best on the market. Our team takes this seriously and taps into expertise with trash, statistics, and close analysis of a wide range of products on the market.
— Jediah Porter